Lagonda Rapiers by oldcar

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Lagonda Rapiers 

Compliments of oldcar @


From time to time I mention my Lagonda Rapier on my thread under Our Cars and Restoration Projects/Packard Coupe but I thought that I really should start a thread dealing with Lagonda Rapiers here where they belong.

For all those who are blinking and asking "What is a Lagonda Rapier" they are a small British car made for one year in 1934/5, until the Lagonda Company (absolutely nothing to do with Aston Martin until the late1940 when David Brown who had recently bought Aston Martin needed a decent 2 OHC engine and bought Lagonda)went into receivership. After the wash-up the Rapier continued in production, as Rapier Cars Ltd until 1938/9.

Lagonda's original design brief to Timothy Ashcroft the engineer in charge of the small team given the task of creating the car was..Produce the best Light Car in the World. The result was a brilliant little sporting car with an 1100cc 2 ohc 4 cylinder engine and an ENV pre-selector transmission. Total combined production of both the Lagonda Rapier and the Rapier was less than 400 cars.

To my knowledge there are about half a dozen of these cars in the US. One of the things that make these little cars so interesting (to look at) is that neither factory built a standard production body. EVERY car has an individual coach built body. No two are exactly the same. This is illustrated by the photograph taken yesterday of five of the cars situated in Melbourne Australia. Four are Lagondas and one a Rapier, they all have a body built by a different coachbuilder. Can you tell the difference?

Bernie J.



It goes without saying, these cars have nothing to do what so ever with the 1950/60 Rootes Group produced "Sunbean Rapiers" which were in effect a tarted up Hillman Minx.

Hi Steve

You never know where I will pop up next. I thought that my all too frequent mentions of the Rapier on my "other" thread was becoming too distracting. Don't knock MG TA,s I was out with a friend in one last night. Going to a VSCC meeting. While I have owned several MGs I would never consider myself a MG enthusiast.

Bernie J.

Not all Lagonda Rapiers were open sports cars. This one is an ultra rare four seat "four light" Saloon. The very British term "four light" does not refer to the number of headlamps but the number of side windows i.e. two each side= 4.

It was one of the original shipment of seven cars (Five bare chassis frames) to Australia in 1934. It is one of two (both surviving) saloon (sedan) bodies built by the Supreme Coachbuilding Co in Nth Melbourne. It was repainted black in the 1930s and still wears the same paint. You can just see traces of the red pin-striping. Its interior trim is completely original. Its present owner has had the car since the 1950s. All seven of this original shipment still survive. In fact only one Rapier of the 21 imported into Australia has disappeared. It was stolen from outside a hotel in 1949 and despite being reported as "recovered" in 1950 in the Police records it has never been seen since.



This one is for Michael Rohrmoser (Austria) if he looks in. It is a 1936 Rapier with a Ranalah Drop Head Coupe body. I rebuilt it in the early 1990s. When last heard of in 2007 the then owner had recently passed away, it was then in France, prior to that it had been in Austria between 1997 and 2005. It has dropped out of the Rapier Register and it would be nice to know where it is now. Its English Registration was YS 8375.

Bernie J.


Hi Michael

It looks like you are into our sort of motoring. Is the Brooklands original or has it been up graded with a 12/4 engine? When you tire of the Riley's mundane performance you should be just about ready to up-grade to a Rapier. It took me 13 or 14 Rileys before I realised that there is a much better car! One that has a proper 2 OHC engine with a proper crankshaft. (Fully counter balanced with 2 inch diam big end journals)

Bernie J.

Hi Steve

You missed the other important one. Fenders are "WINGS" or in Austspeak mudguards. 

Sorry! I have owned almost as many MGs as Rileys but PLEASE do not call me an MG enthusiast! It just took me longer to find out how bad they are. I thought that they were all Morris Minors. 

I do not have either Octagonal eyes or MG written all over my underpants. And yes I do have two eyes. Some of my best friends own MGs, which just goes to prove that I am kind to dumb animals...

Bernie J.

MG Midget, MGB, MGBGT x2, MGZA Magnet x2, MG Ytype plus several Morris 8 & 10 Specials.

All long gone thank goodness

Steve is of course quite correct! With a total production figure of under 400 they are rare however with what is probably the best survival rate for any single model over 50 years old they don't seem all that rare. There were THREE Rapiers on the VSCC Inner Urban Rally in Melbourne (Aust) on Sunday, plus another Rapier owner who was in his Lagonda 3 Litre but only one MG TA. The one problem is that Rapier owners love driving them.

Having said all that I would hope that we can hear from some other Lagonda Rapier owners (past and present) from all around the world, especially some of the Americans. We know that you are out there....

Bernie J.


What makes Lagonda Rapiers so great. 

The heart of the matter is the engine. For those you could not understand the copy of the original factory drawings here is photograph of a standard 1100cc Rapier engine.

Bernie J


Happy Christmas to all British car enthusiasts where ever you may be.

Bernie J


For those interested in trivia, Ken's Rapier is a Abbott body tourer. Ken is just the second owner from new. He has recently finished restoring it following a long long hibernation in a lock up garage in the UK. 

I can only repeat his plea, anyone with knowledge of one of these fascinating little cars anywhere in North America,or for that matter anywhere in the world. Please let us know. 

After all the Lagonda Rapier has one of the best survival rates of any one model, anywhere!

Bernie J.


For some unaccountable reason "KG" our Rapier had developed an air leak somewhere between the carburettors (Twin SU) and the cylinder head. This has resulted in an inability to slow the idle speed down to less that 1500 rpm. It usually idles at 800 rpm. Both carbs have been stripped down and checked, the faces of the manifolds checked to make sure that they were flat and the flange of the carbs checked in the same way. There is no excessive wear on the throttle spindles. These were replaced not all that long ago. New gaskets have been cut and the two short sections of rubber hose connecting the balance tube have been replaced. I am now about to go and assemble it all back together Fingers crossed. We have our first event for 2012 at the weekend.

After some final small adjustments it seem that my efforts have not been in vain.

It is now ticking over at a nice steady 800 rpm.

Bernie J.


Hi Ken

That is obviously an old photograph of your engine, are you still using the RAG carbs? I must confess I had never heard of them before your contribution to "Ever Keen". I note that they are on an original inlet manifold. I gave up using one of those long before when rebuilt KG in 1978 and have used "Barkers" ever since the late 1960s or early 1970s,

I have actually traced the trouble back to the angles on the ball ends on the short link between the bulkhead lever and the throttle spindle. That and the angle and length of the primary pull off spring. 

Why this has become an issue after so many years I fail to comprehend. I think it may even go right back to when Beatrice Shilling was racing the car in the 1950-60s. 

It is probably since I de-tuned the engine about five years ago to make it more tractable for road use that idle speed has become an issue. After all who expects a 2 OHC engine with 10.5:1 comp, lumpy cams and big valves to idle at 800 rpm?

I must be getting old.

Bernie J.

Hello again Ken

I have managed to dig out an out photograph of KG in Beatrice Shilling form taken at Cadwell Park with a desperate David Seath at the wheel probably about 1974/5 before he migrated to Australia.


Bernie J

Hi Keiser31

You sure get about. That is a very nice 3 Litre, they are a great car but rather large and heavy. I have owned two a 1928 Tourer and a 1934 Maltby Drop Head Coupe. 

Rapiers are very different and were only made in minuscule numbers. If you would like to learn more about what makes these little cars so fantastic you can get a copy of the limited (350 copies) edition book I edited for the Rapier Register from the Secretary (Dewi Williams) There just a few copies left.

Bernie J.


The big thing about these little cars is just how user friendly they are. Last night we competed in the VSCC of Aust. Night Navigation Trial. Now written into the script was torrential rain and gale force winds. Having completed the first 30 or so miles wisdom prevailed and we erected the hood (Top). From door to door we completed 180 miles at an average 45 mph. Mainly over extremely dark and wet country roads driving mainly at between 55 and 65mph. We arrived home at around 1.30 am. The Rapier is seen here at the Finish Control alongside a fellow competitors Model A.

Difficult as it may be to believe this is the same car as seen racing in the UK in the photograph in the earlier(#20) post.

Bernie J.



Here in Melbourne Australia we have just had a rather unpleasant day in the high 30sC. combined with very nasty gale force winds. This morning we had a approx 75 mile run as a lead up to the Vintage Sports Car Clubs Annual Awards Presentation Luncheon. In the first Photograph you see Bruce Rodgers and his friend Peta in Bruce's Bertelli bodied Rapier crossing Cobbledick's Ford This can have up to 4ft of water flowing over it mid winter.

In the second photograph you see two Rapiers, Ted Geermans and his partner Fran Geermans (blue) with their trophies. The PVT (Post Vintage Throughbred) Cup for the Best Performance in Club Competition in a 1930s car and the Atlanta Trophy for the Best Lady Driver. With the white car Helen & Bernie J. Crossley Trophy for the Best Overall Performance in Club Competition and Helen, the Navigators Trophy for the Best Navigator in Club road Navigation events over the past 12 months.


Bernie J..

Owners of lesser cars (MG, Riley, Morgan, Austin Healy etc) please note the size of the ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT brakes. And that is just for starters........ The wheels on the blue car are 18 inch and the white 17 inch. Tires are Blockleys and Michelin.


MG, Riley, Morgan, Singer etc owners look away now!

Another photo of Lagonda Rapier owners enjoying themselves actually driving their car. If you look carefully you can see some other cars coming down the gentle slope in the background. An easily achievable 6,000 rpm equates to 70+ mph in THIRD gear. Black and white photography gives a nice "Vintage" feel to the picture.



I am often asked, "How I come to use such a rare car so much, so enthusiastically and drive such great distances? Am I not afraid that something will break or wear out?" 

The answer is simple. These little cars were so well designed and built to such a high standard that provided you don't attempt to cut corners on the quality of restoration work and maintenance i.e. regular service using the best quality lubricants don't have problems. "But what about spares? What do you do for spares?"....

Now we come to the whole purpose of this post. I have just received in the mail the most recent Spares Price List from the Rapier Register. This remarkable club with less than 200 members catering for the surviving 300+ cars of the slightly less than 400 produced some 75 years ago, provides what must be the best single model spare parts service in the world. Run on a co-operative basis parts are usually priced under what you would expect to pay for the equivalent part for a post 2005 popular car! This year's price list runs to 24 A4 size pages, all single spaced typing. There is virtually not a single gasket or engine, brakes, steering, gearbox or rear axle part than I cannot have in my letter box within 72 hours of ordering. Try doing that with your 2010 Honda or what ever. I should add that I live 20 hours flying time across the world from the "Spares"....

I should add that a small number of the parts in stock are original Lagonda Company spares probably manufactured when the cars were new 1n 1934-6.



Hi and welcome,

great to make contact with one of the US owners.

Have you done a compression check. Running on two cylinders sounds like a head gasket without actually hearing the engine running otherwise you may have two spark plug leads crossed but normally you would have some backfiring or spitting back through one or both carbs. The other thing you could check that it is actually running on both carbs. simply putting your hand over one inlet then the other with the engine running at tick-over should tell you. Do you know if it still has an original inlet manifold or a pair of "Barker" inlets. You are welcome to pick my brains if you are n need of assistance. I have about 40 years experience in re-building & running Rapiers.

A leaking head gasket between either 1 & 2 or 3 & 4 cylinders is not unusual the bores are quite close together. Head gaskets are thin single sheet copper. The register have them in stock.

Keep in touch

Bernie J.


At this very moment I have the gearbox (ENV 75 Preselector) out of our Rapier and spread all over my bench. I will try to arrange some suitable photographs just make sure that there are no children looking.

Bernie J

As promised attached are some photographs that very few people ever get to see. The insides of a Preselector gearbox. First inside the case showing the camshaft and selection springs note the small selector lever and detent plate on the outer end of the cam. Next photo shows the brake band harness viewed from the rear with the large spring that actually powers the gear selection and the "busbar" that exerts the spring pressure on to the selected band.

The top gear is different in being engaged vis a friction lined cone clutch. finally two photos showing the first gear drum and planet gears and finally part of the problem. The white metal (babbit) spigot bearing between first and reverse gears very much needing attention. Please note all these photographs were taken as the box was dismantled and before any attempt to clean either the case of the internals. ENV boxes use needle roller bearings in all the planet gears.

Bernie J.


I think that babbit was chosen because they were working to very tight clearances. with not a lot of material to spare. I don't know how long that material had been in there. I was sold what was supposed to be a "fully rebuilt" unit! This is the first time I have had this particular box apart. It is ten or 15 years since I fitted it. When you are buying from one of the worlds (then) leading exponents on Preselector gearboxes you expect it to be "right". My main complaint was that it has always (from day one) been very noisy in first and second gear. I now know why.

Bernie J.


It is all very frustrating.

I now have completely stripped the gearbox and have failed to find anything broken or a possible source of the failure to proceed. While the box is apart I will take the opportunity to replace the very worn needle rollers in the planet gears. So that the car is off the road for as shortest time possible I will use a borrowed (wide ratio) gear set while I am rebuilding the original (close ratio) set. This means taking the box out a second time but at least I can use it and take my time with the rebuild. One good thing that has come out of this is that I have found someone locally who has new-old stock ENV parts. They may even have a complete close ratio gear set.

Bernie J.

Hello Roger 

Thank you for looking in again.

The "posts" for the needle rollers simply press out. Possibly none of the Auto trans you have rebuilt are almost 80 years old and almost certainly have not led such an "active life". The last time this particular box was apart was almost 20 years ago since then It has not only led a hard life here in Australia but on two separate occasions has spent time not all that far from your home base climbing all the historic alpine passes including the Stevio and the Col du Galibier. Added to all that I somehow doubt that you use 6,000 rpm in your Cadillacs very often. It is a pity that there is no provision for sound track to go with the photographs.

Bernie J.

Hello Roger

While the ENV Preselector gearbox is similar to a modern automatic trans in that it has epicyclic gearing the method of engagement is quite different in that it relies on a large spring to operate the brake bands as illustrated in the attached drawings. 

Bernie J.

Hello again

Sorry that was not a good choice of drawing as Top gear is in fact a cone clutch. The drawings below show the engagement of one of the intermediate gears which rely on the brake bands for engagement. The problem I had seems to be that the busbar failed to pick up a strut and with no resistance went to an over centre situation so that depressing the change pedal (Clutch) failed to compress the spring and the busbar remained in the up position.

Bernie J.


The gearbox is slowly coming together. I have just located a cache of NOS ENV Spares far more than I could ever use but the vendor will not split them. If there is anyone out there who can use or is likely to need things like gear brake bands or top gear cones self adjuster springs or top gear star springs etc let me know now!

Bernie J.


Hello Julian

There are several Rapiers in NZ but unfortunately with the exception of one, they only rarely see the light of day. The Kingswood Service Station car was originally the Factory Motor Show chassis which explains why it was not sold and fitted with a body until the end of the 1930s. It was first road registered in 1940. The last I heard of it it was owned by Heiner Roessler and housed in his Museum in Germany. Automuseum Melle

Its story is covered briefly with some more photographs in my book "EVER KEEN" page 29-30.

Abbott built a large number (by Rapiers Standards) of bodies, Tourer, Drop Head Coupe and Fixed Head Coupe, on Lagonda Rapiers. Ranalah provided the bulk of bodies on Rapier Car Co chassis. Tourer or Drophead coupe with just one known two seater roadster. Neither Lagonda or Rapier Cars built their own bodies on Rapier Chassis. All Rapier chassis were fitted with coachbuilt bodies. Of the 394 cars built, total production 1934-38, no two are precisely the same, every one is unique.

Bernie J.

Hi Ken

Great photograph! Now that you have BLP 79 out and about I hope that you are heeding my advice and keeping well away from Tuning "Experts" with rolling roads and exhaust gas analysers. I have just recently learnt of yet another Rapier to suffer from the dreaded "lean mixture=hole in piston" syndrome. Rapiers are the aristocrats among light cars and as such love and demand a rich diet. Nothing less than 98 octane fuel and plenty of it. Don't be put off by a slight haze of black smoke emitting from your exhaust pipe. Even at todays prices, petrol is still a whole lot cheaper than pistons, and ever so much easier to put in.

Bernie J.


Wow! Almost a month later I have almost finished my PhD in Preselecterolgy. One thing I have learnt is there are no quick fixes and just when you think that you got all the adjustments right one will turn around and bite you. The other thing I have learnt is that those frightfully jolly British chaps do not supply spare parts to foreigners! Ho no, you simply pack up you gear box and airfreight it across the world, when they have "fixed" it they will tell you how many cartloads of cash to send BEFORE they return your box to you.



Going in at last. I really need my head read. These boxes weigh the virtual ton, the best way to re-install them is from underneath. no wonder the torn ligaments in my right shoulder never quite heal. Oh well! at 75 I only have at best another 25 years to keep punishing myself. You will note that my car is not quite show standard but then it never goes to shows or similar static displays. If you want to see it you have to catch it first.



At last after three mind blowing weeks the Lagonda is all back together. The rebuilt gearbox is so much quieter it makes it all worth while. I still have to do a full road test but every indication is that the operation was successful and the patient even better than it has been for quite some time. We have a full weekend event scheduled for the 23rd/24th of this month which should give it a good workout.



Hi Roger and thank you.

Here in Melbourne (Australia) the Fourth of June is the fourth day of Winter! I had hoped to take the Lagonda Rapier for a test drive this afternoon but unfortunately the weather gods gave us a perfect English summer day....Cold winds and driving rain, so I stayed inside and wrote a couple of long e-mails. (Like 2000 words).



Hi Roger

Enjoy the sunshine. I hope that you are going to drive to the top of Mount Ventour on the way home. Either that or detour to climb the Col du Galibier, Col d"Izoard etc

We climbed Ventour in the Lagonda Rapier some years ago, the Stelvio etc in 2004 then the Galibier etc in 2009. Only thing is that you may have to take along a can opener so you can take the top down. 

Re the top; I am not referring to those well tanned ladies on the beaches at Monte Carlo etc.


Bernie J.


This one is for all my pre-war British car owning friends:



Another two photographs from the Equipe Australie "Rapier Raid" on the French Alps in 2009.

Perhaps Roger went the same route driving his old small car. Don't be shy Roger you can tell us what you actually drive.

Bernie J.


Well at last today I got to road test the Rapier's rebuilt gearbox. At first it was slipping in top gear, Perhaps I should explain in case some of you missed earlier that top gear is actually a cone clutch. Fortunately this can be micro adjusted using the self adjusting mechanism built into Preselector gearboxes, do this with the engine switched off, you simply select the required gear in this case 4th or top and "pump" the change (clutch) pedal up to 20 times. This can then be tested by starting the engine and with the hand brake applied, select top gear bring the engine up to 2,500 rpm and slowly release the pedal. Provided the engagement adjustment is somewhere near correct the engine should stall. You may have to go through the "pumping" process two or three times before you achieve a positive result. 

Once you have got to the stage where the engine stalls as soon as you start to apply load you can then proceed to the road test stage. Find a good steep "test hill". Driving at 30 mph in top gear there should be no sign of slipping. This can be further checked by applying some light pressure on the change pedal with the engine pulling hard in top gear. Naturally it will now slip but drive positively (without any slip) as soon as the pedal is released. You can test the engagement of any gear in this manner. 

I am pleased to report that following some (brutal) testing the box is driving well and the difference in the noise level in the lower gears is amazing, they are actually extremely quiet whereas before conversation at a normal level in first & second was impossible. I cannot wait for our next VSCC event in two weeks time.

Bernie J.

To explain the above Preselector transmissions rely on friction lined brake bands contracting on to the selected gear drum to engage that gear. As the friction material wears over time the bands require adjusting (tightening) to do this the nut at the end of each pull rod needs to be screwed down. This is done each time that particular gear is selected. Hopefully at least some of you will understand the attached diagrams and photographs. You may need to go back to my earlier post #34 with photographs of the dismantled gearbox to full appreciate all this.

Bernie J.


As we actually use our Rapier on the road and occasionally at night, for quite some time now I have been concerned about the visability of just the two little strips of light that Lucas "D" tail lights afford. After being given a modern LED strip stop-tail light it did not take long to decide where it should go. The extra "STOP" light in addition to the general lighting improvement will not go astray when driving in traffic. If we are going to use our cars we must make some allowances for the other people on the road.

Bernie J.


Hi all

We (two adults and our luggage for a weekend) have just completed a 212 mile drive in the Rapier. This included several long steep climbs and was accompanied by a howling gale, freezing rain and mist. The temperature gauge never got over 70degrees C. Oil pressure a steady 55 to 60 psi. The speedo was seldom under 50 mph and for most of the journey hovered between 60 and 65mph. We used just over seven gallons of 98 octane unleaded fuel averaging a remarkable 27.5 to 30 miles per gallon. Oil consumption virtually nil. Despite being mid winter here in Australia the top remained stowed away for the entire journey (as usual). The rebuilt gearbox is now a pleasure to use with first and second no more than a pleasant whine.

Bernie J.


English Classic Car Auction house "Coys" are again demonstrating their total ignorance of all things Vintage and Classic Car. In their website advertisement for an AC engined Rapier special they state "It produced 50 bhp (37 kW; 51 PS) at 5400 rpm, a very good output for the time, and production of the engine was sub-contracted to the Coventry Climax company who were to make it famous. Unluckily it was also quite fragile in use, and as in the case of today's Rapier, other units were used as replacements."

I have never read such obviously incorrect and misleading rubbish in my life. I urge all Lagonda enthusiasts to go online at their website and protest their ridiculous and patently incorrect and misleading statement.

Bernie J.

Hi again Last weekend we attended the VSCC of Aust Winter Driving Tests for the first time for quite a while David Cordy had his Rapier GTZ 155 out braving the somewhat chilly conditions. Why not register for the forum or if you already have perhaps we can see some photographs of your Rapier in action.

Bernie J


Jim Williams from Van Wyk Southern Carolina sends photographs of the progress on his Eagle two seater Rapier engine and magneto. He asks if anyone has a 4 cylinder BTH Mag he could buy as a spare?

OK, Bernie, I am here with my first post to this thread. The pile of parts representing the magneto were assembled by me yesterday. I had disassembled the magneto because it was last serviced probably 50 or more years ago, and I feared that the bearing grease would be in poor condition. Good that I did so, as the grease was a hardened mass. I was careful to put a keeper across the magnet immediately after removing it. After assembly of all the cleaned parts, I got a good spark across a spark plug with a relatively easy flip of the wrist. Without a plug a swifter twist will produce sufficient spark to jump the safety gap inside the mag. The safety gap prevents excess voltage from damaging the windings if the magneto is operated without plugs to spark across. I expect that the magneto will be fine, but I would like to have a spare for touring. BGT-268 has been off the road, stored in a barn for most of the time, for more than 40 years. It has number three of the original Eagle bodies.



Glad that you finally made it Jim, good to have you along. If you cannot find a BTH mag a Lucas GA4 is a handy substitute. The distributor cap varies so you would have to carry one complete with plug leads but otherwise one should bolt straight on. When inspecting your mag internals be sure to check that the windings are not "spongy" . The shelac insulation deteriorates with age and can melt, run, to the bottom of the case, then solidify when the engine cools down, locking up everything. Usually the rubber "Simms" coupling is the first thing to give when you attempt to start the engine next, hopefully saving the fibre timing gear.

Bernie J.


Do not be shy this thread is open to all owners of Lagonda Rapiers and to anyone who either has previous experience or who admires these remarkable little (1100cc) extremely British sports cars. Why not log on and tell us about your Rapier adventures. 

Right now mine has just cost me another Aust $150 for "86 in an 80 kph zone". My mental calculations of MPH into KPH were just a trifle slow! ( The Rapier speedo is calibrated in MPH.) That and rapid changes of speed zones along an almost deserted country road, varying from 100 to 60 kph with minor changes in-between with 10 kph increments up and down over a five kilometre stretch of road. Our taxes at work, making our roads a safer place not to be. N/B. None of the money raised in this way will be spent on improving the roads. But some if not all go to making our Police Force the best paid in Australia (after bonuses).

Bernie J.


Having looked very closely at the "thread" for the MG TA for sale including all the extra photographs and the video I now know why I like my Rapier so much. There simply is no comparison. You will not buy a Rapier for anything like $29,000 but if you only have that much to spend? At least you won't be getting too many speeding fines!

Bernie J.

I know that I sometimes upset people but I have owned lots of MGs (and other sports cars) raced against them, driven in competitive road events against them, I have misguided friends who own them but to me with one or two possible exceptions MGs are over rated and a waste of space. It is virtually impossible to compare an MG with a Rapier as there is simply no comparison.

Bernie J.


With the 75th Anniversary Meeting of the Rob Roy Hill-climb coming up on Sunday,(Australia's version of Shelsley Walsh) today has been spent giving the Rapier some TLC. Oil Change, the sump holds two (Imperial) gallons, gearbox three and a bit pints, Penrite HPR 30 in both. New (full flow screw-on canister type) oil filter. New spark plugs and distributor points. In lieu of the standard BTH Magneto my car runs a Bosch distributor. Tomorrow I have to replace the (foam plastic) air filters then get underneath to check the rear axle oil level and finally give it a wash and a quick polish and it should be ready to go.

Bernie J.


Rob Roy Hill Climb. After a very wet week the pit area and dummy grid/assembly area was extremely muddy The attached shot shows our son Steve in the Rapier making his way to the start. With all the mud wheel-spin made getting off the start line quite a problem, water still draining across a couple of the corners did not help much either. With luck I should have the official results tomorrow.



Merde! as the French are wont to say... The bureaucracy in Australian (Amateur) Historic Motorsport has gone totally mad!

Due to some minor discrepancy in my competition licence both Steve and I wasted a day rushing up and down the hill. I have now been told that due to the said discrepancy, neither of our times were recorded and that they will not appear in the results. MERDE!!!!



You can see a short video of Rob Roy at "" Some of you may find it interesting. Sorry not an MG "B" in sight.



I have just received an e-mail from Jim Williams in South Carolina. Jim who I have mentioned before is an octogenarian and has owned his Rapier since the 1970s. He is doing a major engine rebuild carrying out all the work himself. His most recent task has been replacing the water transfer plates from the rear of the cylinder head.



Hello again

Last weekend there were two Rapier on the VSCC of Aust (Victoria) Two day Rally. This was a Road Navigation event over as the title implies Two Days. Our total distance covered was just over 370 miles for the two days. Being a sports car club many of the entries were British cars but unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view there were no Bentleys, no MGs and no Rileys Most popular Marque was Vauxhall with two 30/98s and two 14/40s. Attached are some photos taken at the re-start on sunday morning and at the lunch stop on sunday


Some weeks later on the way home from a recent outing some slip under load in top gear was noticed. This failed to respond to some fine adjustment so with our next competitive event in just four weeks it was decided that the only real solution was to replace the friction lining on top gear, in effect a cone clutch. so this morning the gearbox came out and is now up on the bench. Fortunately this operation does not involve a complete strip down but requires the front cover and input shaft to be removed. For those interested I will try to post some progress photographs tomorrow.


Thank you Ken

I checked the clearances between each gear annulus last time I had the box apart but I will have another look I also intend to replace the large ball race that carries top gear male cone. My car does have to work fairly hard for its living. Since the last time I had the gearbox out it has been running (mainly in club competition) with a drive plate in lieu of the clutch. I had been running a modern diaphragm clutch for some years but it had created an many problems as it had solved. I will be able to tell you more once I have the front off the box this morning, yesterday much of the day was consumed with Grandfather duties. I have found that the garage is not the ideal place to entertain a very active five year old and an equally enthusiastic three year old.


With the box apart it was soon obvious that the problem lay in wear on both the male top gear cone and the friction lining in the cone. Fortunately I have in stock both a reconditioned (hard chromed) male cone and a secondhand female cone with an almost new friction lining so the box is well on the way to being re-assembled and back in the car. Providing there are no distractions it should be almost back together by this evening. You can see in the second photograph that the male cone is virtually bottoming in its female counterpart. Back to work.



My friend and fellow Rapier owner Bruce Rodgers has been going through some old files and has sent me some of his photographs from our 2009 European tour. Here are a couple that I thought some of you may like to see. You may even recognise the location of at least one. Bruce's car is the one at the rear. It is the only Rapier to have been fitted with a Bertelli (of Aston Martin fame) body. 



Hello all Lagonda Rapier owners

Please don't be shy I do not want to carry the whole thread! Some of you must use your cars if only occasionally. I have been going through some old photographs that may inspire you into action. The first is of Helen with KG at the historic pit counter at Reims, France in 1999. the other shows our daughter Anna and son Paul playing in the mud on a VSCC Observed Section Trial. This section of "road" is usually reserved for 4WD only. All the smoke that you see is not from the exhaust but tyre smoke. Our next visit to Europe is planned for 2014.


It seems that we must be the only Lagonda Rapier owners that actually use their car on a regular basis. No one else has added anything to this thread since our last post in November 2012. This does not mean that we have not had KG (CH1998) out but we have been busy with other things. Last Sunday saw us out despite the cold and wet. (it is late Autumn here in Australia) for the VSCC of Victoria, Australia's Day Navigation Trial, we covered 233 miles door to door leaving home a 8.45 am and returning at 6.45 pm. The Rapier went extremely well and averaged 23 Miles per (imperial) Gallon. Not too bad considering for much of the day the speedo did not fall very far under 60mph and frequently went well above this and much of the route took us on winding, narrow secondary roads, mainly through hill country.



Sometime I have to remind my self, the owners of lesser vehicles often have no conception of what constitutes a GOOD car. Given that the Lagonda Rapiers are all almost 80 years old and the entire production did not exceed 400. That is right FOUR HUNDRED in total, they can be excused if they have not even seen one, let alone have been lucky enough to own one. Most people having once owned a Rapier will never go very long without one. As a very limited production car they are virtually totally hand built with what for the time (1934) was an incredibly sophisticated specification for a four cylinder 1100cc car. Two overhead camshafts, a crankshaft that the owners of lesser vehicles would die for. 4 Speed close ratio preselector gearbox. Girling brakes that made the Rapier the first car to stop in less than 30 ft from 30 mph. A fully balanced engine capable of being consistently run to 5,500-6,000 rpm. Depending on the final drive ratio this translates to 70mph in third gear and over 90 mph in top. All this with handling to match. Every Rapier chassis to leave the Lagonda factory was fitted with an individual coachbuilt body making every Rapier unique. Thanks to the Spares service supplied by the enthusiastic members of the Rapier Register (Spares) in England, Lagonda Rapiers have a survival rate that is unsurpassed by any other car.


We are just starting to think about our next visit to Europe with the Rapier (2014) and in the process of reviewing past trips I came across what must be one of my favourite photographs of the car. This one taken in 2004 during a lunch stop in the Swiss town of Wessen, the alps towering above the town. Marvellous motoring! 

The decal on the centre bottom of the windshield is the pass from the "Drivers Parade" at the LeMans 24 Hour for that year. You only get one of those by being there and being invited to take part in the "Parade".



A little while since I posted here, it seems that most if not all the USA based Lagonda Rapier owners are like their cars, safely tucked in and sound asleep. Hope that Santa can still find you.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas to all.

Not too shabby after 35 years constant road use?

Still the *Best Light Car in the World.


* Not my claim but the Chairman of the Lagonda Co in July 1934.


Hi Mike 

CLB is alive and well in the hands of a Rapier Register member in Somerset. If you send me an e-mail I can give you their contact details. I will take the liberty, if you have no objection, of forwarding your photograph and details to the Register Archivist. The "Register' confirms that it was indeed the 1936 Autocar Road-test car.


In my other life I am the Australian Secretary of the Rapier Register (and a life member for my sins.)

Hi Mike

Ann P would be interested if you have any other Rapier photographs for the Register Albums.

BPK is alive and well and is now back in the UK after its long holiday in the USA.

As I have stated elsewhere, considering the very small numbers produced, (less than 400) the Lagonda Rapier probably has one of the best survival rates of any car produced in the last 100 years.



Hello Al

A good question. but first you have to look at the two cars you are comparing. The SS100 had either a 2.5 litre or 3.5 litre engine while the Rapier has a 1.1 litre. Having said that, on the road, obviously a 3.5 Litre SS will be faster in maximum speed but that is all. In acceleration over a quarter mile there would be very little difference while in road holding and braking the Rapier is well in front. A SS100 could not live with a Rapier on a twisting mountain road. While I have never owned a SS100 I did build and own a 3.5 litre SS-Jaguar special which was shorter and lighter than a SS100. It handled much better than a SS100 mainly because the engine was about six inches further back in the chassis giving better weight distribution. In terms of survival it is almost impossible to know how many "genuine" SS100 survive because there have been so many fake "replica" cars made. The Rapier Register keeps extremely accurate records of the Rapiers and can tell you where every car built is or what happened to it. The attached is a random selection of one page of the Register giving the cars in registration number order, the date they were first registered, where they were first registered, who they were sold by, the engine & chassis numbers which coach-builder built the body and the body style and the "Remarks" tell where the car is today or what happened to it. 

Even today many Vintage and Classic Sports Car enthusiasts will tell you that the SS100 is something of a "Promenade Percy's" car, essentially a "Show Pony". Only in recent years has the SS100 has become eligible for membership of the VSCC in England.


If you look at the entry for KG 5363 you can read a condensed history of my car.

You need to "click" on the chart twice to bring it up to readable size.

Hello Michael

To the best of my knowledge the Letters give an indication of where (the County) the car was first registered the Numbers simply give an indication of the date registered in numerical order. The number is issued to the first owner or perhaps more accurately the Dealer selling the car when new. Probably an English reader can give a better explanation.



The ship having been delayed by 7 days, we hope to load the five Rapiers (and one Riley) into the container for their sea voyage to the UK next Thursday or Friday.


With the car virtually ready to go into the container there were just one or two little jobs left to do.

The main one was to check that the carbutettors were nicely "in tune". This can be litterally taken in the musical sense of the word as will soon be revealed. 

The very first thing with a pair of twin or dual SU carbs is to make sure that they are synchronised. To do this it is necessary to release the throttle shaft coupling (See Below) so that each throttle can be moved independently. With the motor running and nicely warmed up and the air filters removed, Listen to each of the intakes in turn through a short length of rubber tube or hose. You will hear a hissing noise, by listening each in turn adjust the idle screw (Moving in very small adjustment each time) on each until the hiss sounds for both carbs is the same in loudness and tone. You can then re-tigthen the coupling making sure that you did not disturb the setting in the process. The carbs should now be synchronised. Next thing is the check the mixture. Most modern (1950s & 60s SUs have a little piston lifting needle under the right hand side of the dashpot (see photograph below). Again with the motor warmed up and running at an idle lift one piston, if the engine speeds up the mixture is too rich, if it slows or stops it is too lean, if the motor continues to run at an even idle the mixture is correct. If your carbs do not have these lifters you must lift the piston very slightly with a flat blade screw driver or similar, This should be approx 1/32 in) Proceed to check the other carb, if the mixture is either too rich ot lean this can be adjusted by screwing the jet adjusting nut (see diagram) ONE FLAT AT A TIME Screwing "Up" to weaken and "Down" to richen, rechecking the mixture with each adjustment. 

Many people are un-aware that, with SU carbs in particular, the level of the float in the float bowl can effect the mixture strength. This is checked bu carefully removing the float bowl lid making sure that you do not drop the metering needle. The float level is measured by the clearance between the lever that rests of the top of the float and bears onto the bottom of the needle regulating the supply of fuel into the carb. To check this use a short piece of metal rod placed between the "prongs" and the lid of the float bowl. (The shank of a twist-drill is ideal.)

This varies depending on the year and size of the carburettor and the diameter of the float bowl. Sealing of the needle on its seat can be checked by gently blowing through the inlet on the side of the float bowl lid. (See attached chart below).

Most (post WW2) SU's Have dampers incorporated with their dashpot screw-in oil caps. (See below) These should be topped up once per month, (depending on the amount of driving done) Note NOT filled to the top of the dashpot but filled to the top of the chamber in the piston guide.

Finally once per year it is a good idea to remove the Bandjo fitting bringing the fuel into the float bowl, there should be a small conical filter that requires cleaning before replacing back into its place in the junction.


There is often discussion about the correct oil to put in dashpot dampers. Most instruction books simply say "light oil" An ideal oil is as far away as your supermarket home hardware shelves, usually marketed as "3 in 1" or Sewing machine oil. Engine oils are generally too thick and too viscous. Singer Sewing machine oil is usually readily available, a 100 ml container, as shown, should last some considerable time.



Browsing through old Car books is often a rewarding past time. I discovered these gems in the introduction of a 1924 "Repair Manual"

"Many car owners are quite capable of undertaking their own repairs, or even a complete overhaul with a little instruction. The only difficulty confronting the majority is a want of confidence. It should be realized that the dismantling and re-assembling of a car presents as little difficulty, and certainly as much pleasure , as a "jig-saw" puzzle. 

Motor car parts are made within such accurate limits that with careful handling, they are bound to go together again as before they were taken apart."

In an advertisement in the same book.

"This Splendid all-the-year-round Motor Coat keeps one warm when the wind is keen and cool, clean and comfortable on hot or dusty days.

Double buttoning fronts prevent wet getting through the button-holes whilst wind-cuffs protect the wrists and fore-arms.

Detachable linings of Fleece, Fur or Leather regulate the warmth."

Oh! what jolly fun the modern automobile driver is missing out on!




Yesterday (27/3) was "Packing Day" with the six cars (5 Rapiers & 1 Riley) being crammed into a 40ft Shipping Container.

Previously we had prepared the steel channel section beams that was to form the "structure" to support three cars directly above those standing on the floor of the container. This exercise which also involved the services of a "tilt-tray" tow truck took some six hours. After months of drought like conditions it was predictable that the day was to start with steady rain as we drove the 30 kms to the Container Depot. Two of the cars arrived on trailers, one coming from interstate, almost 1,000 kms the other from out of town. The remain four arrived with their tops down regardless of the weather. To facilitate the loading the three cars to be loaded on the top also had their windscreens either lowered or completely removed. The tow-

truck being used to lift these up to the level of the top "deck".

Unfortunately the weather conditions were not ideal for photography but hopefully these few will give you some idea. Our shipping agent Greg very kindly organised the use of a large "shed" where we could dry off the cars before they were loaded. Bertelli Rapier owner Bruce Rodgers, a retired Engineer is to be congratulated on the terriffic job he has done in Planning the structure, ordering the steel etc and doing the bulk of the preparatory work. Without his input the alternative was to ship just three in a container virtually doubling the cost of shipping the cars from Australia to Europe.

Unfortunately the route instructions for our journey around France is too large a file to post here but anyone wanting a copy can send me a PM with their e-mail address.



Hello Barry

Owing to the situation in the Middle East these days all shipping from Australia to Europe now goes across the Pacific, through the Panama then across the Atlantic. That is why ships take six to seven weeks for the voyage.

Regarding Insurance in the UK and EU. Some years back the British Classic Car Insurance Industry decided that they would no longer offer Insurance to visitors wanting to drive their own cars. Fortunately Hagertys felt that this was rather unfair and decided to open an office in England. They now insure virtually all the "foreign" visitors to the UK and those like us who use the UK as a start point, in the process picking up millions of dollars worth of business. Just think of all those owners of Bugattis, Bentleys, Rolls Royces etc etc all wanting to take part in Rallyes or like us just want to organise their own tour. Our shipping man has just recently shipped 17 Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts. He is kept busy shipping Vintage and Classic cars just out of one port in Australia, AND he is just one shipping agent. 

If you are wondering about our "Equipe Australie" signage, that is simply French for "Team Australia", so that there is no confusion in the minds of the French public, mistaking us for English.



More photographs from "Packing day" these from photographer John Doutch. His profesional eye was quick to pick up the subtle differences between Radiator treatments. Four cars all the same make and model but each one different.

Now for some different photographs of loading the container.

Two of the "top-deck cars waiting their turn. Geoff Burford in his 1934 Riley 12/4 2/4 seat "Special" & my 1934 Lagonda Rapier "Eagle" two seater.

Thank you Whtbaron

Here are a couple more interesting pics for you.

First is Geoff's Riley engine and for comparison a Rapier engine. The Riley has two cams high in the cylinder block with short pushrods to operate the valves while the Rapier has two overhead cams working directly onto the valves. Both use Preslector gearboxes.

The Riley is 1.5 Litre with a bore of 69mm and stroke of 100mm.

The Rapier is 1.1 Litre with a bore of 61.5mm and a stroke of 90mm.

My own Rapier is one of just a handful of 1.5 Litre with a Bore of 72.5mm and a stroke of 90mm. This is possible due to a batch of very special cylinder blocks commissioned by members of the Rapier Register during the 1970s.



Hello Barry

Not by 1934, by then "Diecast" aluminium was the usual material in use. The carbs on the Riley are later probably 1950s or even later, the float bowl lids are a big "give-away". 

Those on the Rapier engine are the original as illustrated by the lack of a flange for a bolt on air filter, that and the horizontal carb to manifold flanges. My own car being something of a "wolf in sheeps clothing" has later 1 1/2 in carbs, with air filters, in lieu of the original 1 1/8 in.


You need to look to find........ Compare this pic with the one of the standard Rapier engine above. How many differences are obvious? At least THREE should just about jump out and bite you.


Getting one's priorities right.......


Bernie j.


Moving right along 

I had become tired of attending to a recalcitrant starter motor which had tended to become worse in recent times the one  sure cure was to replace it. The good people at Power-lite in the UK listed a one of their geared starters to suit the Lagonda Rapier. Having enquired and discovered that even after paying UK£ 90 freight it was still affordable, I ordered one. Remarkably it arrived just four days later. England to Australia!


Another day and it is fitted bolting straight on and not requiring any change to the electrical wiring.

Absolutely super! If I am worried about its possibly "modern" appearance, I can paint it black and it will all but disappear. I am told that as an added bonus it is 5 kg lighter. Brummmm.

Installed 22-3-16  1.JPG

Starter motor Arrived 11 am 21-3-16 1.JPG


Thank you Paul

First thing is to sell, give away or take it to the scrap man, what ever the Renault must go before I seriously look at anything else. I have a hard and fast rule. One project car at a time, apart from anything else. I simply do not have the space for another car. As it is my 1996 Peugeot 405 SRi lives out in the open. As my "daily" driver, it goes out once or twice per week. The birds and a possum make sure it is washed every time before it ventures out onto the street. The Lagonda lives under the car-port along with my wife's VW Jetta. The house is cleverly placed on our block so there is no car access on either side. The garden is mainly Australian native plants with several large Eucalyptus trees. We built the house almost 45 years ago and I planted most of the trees. Concrete driveways and large trees do not mix very well as is evident from the condition of the drive.  The size of the house is deceptive from the front. We have raised four very healthy and active children. We now have nine grand children. Our first grand-daughter has just (last Friday) turned 21 years old. You do not grow lawns under Eucalyptus trees! While "ever greens" they constantly drop leaves and shed bark. Our tallest trees would be 60-70 ft tall.

That little red spot on the garage door? See Below, Vehicles exit, No Parking Thank you.



11 Glendora Lane 1.jpg

Eucalyptus trees 01.JPG

Eucalyptus trees 06.JPG



Last Sunday we went on our local VSCC "Autumn Leaves" run. Firstly I should explain that living south of the equator our seasons are the reverse of those in the North. Much of the route was over un-sealed (gravel) roads. Lots of people worry about driving their "precious" cars on dirt. Below is todays photo of the Rapier showing just how dusty the tyres got.

%22Dusty%22 Rapier%221.JPG


It is only by looking underneath my car that you can appreciate the difference between it and a standard Lagonda Rapier. 

KG 5363  05.JPG

KG 5363  03.JPG

KG 5363  02.JPG

KG 5363  04.JPG

KG 5363  01.JPG

KG 5363  06.JPG


While I am waiting for my next restoration project to arrive (1924 Amilcar) the Rapier is safely tucked up in my miniscule garage.





The Amilcar was a non-event, I have now moved on to a 1912 Humber 11Hp. This one is very much a "proper car" You can see it on "Our cars & Restoration Projects" it came just how I like them. It has been totally dismantled for something between 50 & 60 years. It is moving along nicely. The photo is how it would have looked 104 years ago.



While i have not spent any time here on this part of the Forum for a while I have not been idle. Today I have been giving the Lagonda Rapier a minor tune (spark plugs, points and condenser) in preparation for a little drive we are making, starting next Tuesday. I still have to check the oil levels in the gearbox and rear axle then give the chassis and suspension a grease.

For anyone still using Google Maps "Get Directions". We are leaving home (East Doncaster, Victoria, Australia) next Tuesday morning to drive north to the start of the VSCC of A, George Green Rally. This will start at Wentworth Falls in the "Blue Mountains"of New South Wales. It will take us two days to reach the Start. The Rally takes us first to Bathurst then Dubbo where we will spent three nights with "Out and Back' drives each day. we then return South to Finish at Bathurst (again). From there we have another two day drive home. In the process we will be covering between 2000 and 2,500 miles. (Actually driving the car, not towing it in a trailer.)


Bernie j.


 We have just returned from the Rally in Northern New South Wales (Australia) a total of about 2,000 miles. Most uncharacteristic the Rapier decided to have a "hissy fit" and came the last leg of our homeward journey on the back of a recovery vehicle. Following some unseasonable heavy rains and extensive flooding some of the roads were a mass of "pot-holes" as a result the exhaust headers had developed a couple of large cracks with most of the exhaust comming back into the passengers face. Added to this the distributor points had closed up and the car was running very badly. I could have re-adjusted the points on the road side but welding up the exhaust would have been a little more time consuming. With the car at home it was a straight forward repair once I had the headers on my work bench. Now a week later and following some "TLC", a good wash and a quick polish the Rapier is ready for it's next outing. It was not all bad news as in addition to the flood damaged roads we travelled over some great "drivers" roads to the west of the "Blue Mountains" At times we could drive for an hour or two or without seeing another car.


Going back through some old photos I came across these two taken 12 months apart. This car was bought during the 1970s as a "Kit" of bits and imported to Australia from the UK. These were taken in 1980 and 81. The car is now believed to be in Belgium but has not been seen or heard of since about 2005 or perhaps earlier. Last seen it was painted Red. It was raced both as a Racing Car without mudguards, lights etc or as a Sports Car complete with mudguards etc.

Rapier at Sandown 1981  2.jpeg

Rapier at Sandown 1980. 1.jpeg


KG has been relegated to the carport once again as the current project car the 1912 Humber has taken oven all the available space in the "garage". Being a nice lazy day I decided to flush the radiator as It seemed a bit inclined to push out some URKEY water after its (mis)adventure to central NSW. It did not take very long for the water to run out clean so Ihave buttoned it all up and will wait to see how it is after next weekends Pre-Christmas Run.

It need have no fear It (KG) is still by far my favourite car, it is such a joy to drive. It will however deserve a proper clean and polish before Sunday mornings run.




Despite it being officially summer today has been overcast and very chilly, we had some steady rain first thing this morning. Having done some study on spark plug gap recomendations, I have discovered that I have for years been doing the wrong thing!

Instead of opening up the gap I should have been closing it down. Now in search of easier cold starting I have closed the gap down to .20 thou of an inch. I can now report that the motor started readily with just using the choke and without flooding the carbs. There was no sign of missing or wetting the plugs that had plagued me for some time.

Looking up Rapier Guru, Paul Nickall's, Rapier Data Book, I note that he recommends a spark plug gap of .19 thou. Information I had tended to dismiss as KG differs from a standard Rapier in that the masking in the cylinder head that shields the spark plugs has been removed permitting the use of longer reach projected tip plugs and it has coil ignition rather than the standard magneto. Mistakenly I had opened up the gap to .30-35 thou. on the assumption that the wider gap would give a better spark.

Now I know!




Hello Paul

The more I read the less I know, there seem to be any number of opinions on this as with every other subject. My primary interest in this was to see if I could improve the cold starting of my Rapier. It has been difficult to start from cold and seemed to require much more fuel to initially start but once started it would misfire badly for about five minutes before it would settle down on an idle at about 800/1000 rpm. While it is not an exceptionally cold morning It started easily and completely without misfiring. Once started and warmed up it always starts easily "on the button".

I have not had it out on the road so I need to take it for a drive before I will know if there is any improvement or falling off in power. Even then there are so many other variables it is difficult to know. 




Having gone out on a "little drive" the Rapier backfired under acceleration quite badly until it warmed up. I have now opened the plug gaps out to .025" and will now wait until tomorrow when I can do a cold start test again. Perhaps I am growing fussy in my old age.

I like to think that having these things to keep my mind active is far better than sitting in a rocking chair or worse.




With old motor cars you never know what they are going to throw at you next. Having been persuaded to go on the VSCC "Inner Urban" Rally, Basically a drive around the city of Melbourne visiting various themed historical sites the car continued to misbehave to the point it was coming to a point where I was reluctant to drive it any further and it came home on the back of a tilt tray recovery vehicle. Doing a compression check revealed virtually NO compression in number one cylinder. Time to take the cylinder head off and investigate a little further. Starting straight away (Sunday afternoon)I now have the head all but ready to lift off. There are just two nuts hidden away under the front of the head to be removed.

What is to be revealed, a headless valve or a hole in the piston, or worse? Oh Joy!



With the cylinder head removed it has revealed that the exhaust side of number one piston has been badly eroded (by detonation?). I suppose that I should be grateful that only the one piston seems to have been damaged. My "Engine Man" tells me that with a little luck I may be able to obtain (have made) just the one piston. I will not know exactly how good or otherwise the other three are until I get the engine out. I need to remove the crank to extract the con-rods and pistons out through the bottom of the cylinder bore.  All a good test of my mobility and clear thinking given my senior senior's status.


People tell me that I must slow down now that I am over 80. I suppose, that must have something to do with why it has taken almost a day and a half to take the motor & gearbox out of the car and have the head and sump removed.

Tomorrow I can take the gearbox off and turn the motor over (upside down) so I can remove the crankshaft and then the con-rods and pistons. Until someone can convince me otherwise I suspect the petrol I had to buy at some out of the way service stations during out ten day trip to central New South Wales was a long way from the normal 98/100 octane fuel that the Lagonda usually uses. I had a similar problen several years ago after doing a long trip using out of the way petrol stops. Many have just the one pump and what comes out of the hosepipe is what you get. 





I don't think many of you will have seen these. For what is as standard an 1100cc car and in the case of just a handful 1500cc "specials' considering that these were made in 1934 at a time when Singer Le Mans, MG P types and awhole rash of lesser cars had two main bearing crankshafts said to be made from bent wire, there is no comparison. In my cars engine the connecting rods look remarkably similar to 4.2 Litre XJ Six rods mainly because they are the same. In the past 80+ years there is no record of a crankshaft breaking in a Lagonda Rapier engine.

One look should explain this.


Bernie j.


1 person likes this

Hello Paul

While I would sooner not to have to do it, I quite enjoy taking the engine apart, everything is so nicely made. I suppose in the 35+ years I have owned Lagonda Rapiers I must have rebuilt these engines a dozen or more times and I never complain. All the cars except one, a Drop Head Coupe, have been used in competitive Motor-sport, Circuit racing, Hill Climbs and Sprints, The present one has also done a lot of miles in (high-speed) Touring both in Australia and Europe. While I was driving the single seat racing car it had a engine freshen up about once per year.


Bernie j.

Amilcar Rapier027.jpg


Hello John 

Everything will be given some close inspection before and during re-assembly

The tops of the existing pistons all had ceramic coating while the skirts had been treated with a teflon coating. My engine man tells me that the bearings are all OK to go back in, perhaps because of my policy of only using Penrite HPR 30 engine oil and changing it every 1,000 miles, at the same time changing the modern screw on type oil-filter. Re the carbon on the piston skirts, I am not sure but I think that it is a little more than usual. Looking back through my records The motor had a major rebuild in 1996 and a "freshen-up" (piston rings and big-end and main bearings in 2003. It has done quite a few (hard) miles since, including three visits to Europe.

I replaced the timing chains (3) and tensioner blades about six months ago. I have all the valves out of the head and will give them a light grind to tidy up the faces and seats. The head has all hardened inserts fitted some time ago. For a 1500cc motor, the head has quite large valves, the inlets are  1 9/16 inch diameter. Generously proportioned double valve springs mean that there is no likelyhod of valve bounce. Inlet valve seats run right to the edge of the combustion chamber. Inlet ports are free of any obstructions. For comparison the spanner is to fit a 5/16in across the flats nut. Please note the combustion chambers and ports have yet to receive their final clean & polish, remember this is a "production" (albeit very limited)  12HP "sports touring car" engine first made in 1934.

You also should also remember that Tim Ashcroft, the Rapier designer's, brief was " Produce the Best Light Car in the World".  The other thing to remember is that this car was owned, driven and ultimately raced in the 1940s-50s by the then head carburation specialist at the English Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, Beatrice Shilling.  Her life is the subject of a little book "Negative Gravity", it makes interesting reading if you can find a copy. IBSN 0-9546165-0-2. It is available secondhand but be warned it is not being sold at "giveaway  prices".






Negative Gravity. 1.jpeg


This morning I made the long drive across town to the outer eastern industrial area of Dandenong, to take the four pistons to "Special Pistons" who made them originally in 1996, so they could make another set for me. After inspection they agreed that the original gudeon pins were showing such a neglible amount of wear and that they would be happy for them to be used again.  It must say something about my Lubrication policy and that with the Rapier sump (oil pan) holding 8 pints (imperial) of oil, the internals of the motor despite being asked to run to 5,500-6,000 rpm in moments of anguish are generally well looked after. The gudgeon pins are exactly the same size as used by the 4.2 litre Jaguar XJ6 engine, so the saftey margin is more than sufficient.

Fate has decreed that I am not that lucky. I have now ordered a set of four pistons.

These cost Aust $220 the set of four in 1996. Todays price I imagine will be about the same, EACH.




Hello John


What Mr Fate did was to cause detonation damage to two of the pistons with some signs of it on the other two. This is one of the hazzards of going off the beaten track and buying fuel at remote places where they may only have the one pump, what ever comes out of the hose is what you get. Our Rapier engine is really set up to run on 100 octane. In Europe almost every Shell service station has at least one pump dispensing 100 octane petrol. Most of the local service stations have all three grades of petrol, 91, 95 and 98/100. Basically the "2003 Freshen-up" was to rectify similar but less severe fuel related damage. On that occasion we were much closer to home and we did not have a fast return trip down an Interstate, four lane, highway.  Normally we  maintain what ever the speed limit is or just over it on those trips. Between 100 and 115 Kph. (65-70+ mph) 90+ Mph is possible given the opportunity.

This engine has lasted since 1996 with European tours in 1996, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014, a bag full of Alpine Passes along with lots of competitive miles here at home.

The cylinder bores will be given a light go with the hone to break any glazing but not a full-on rebore.  For the freshen up in 2003 we used all over the counter replacement parts, Jaguar 4.2 Litre XJ6 Big-end and Isuzu Light truck Main Bearings, Honda Piston Rings and a Chev V8 rear oil-seal. All the relevant part numbers are recorded and I have full confidence in my friends at Crankshaft Rebuilders. They have been doing my engine work for as long as I can remember, probably longer. I can walk out into the 'shop and talk to the various operatives working on my jobs. I do my own 'final" assembly.

With the Christmas shut-down (our summer holidays) nothing much will happen until after the second week of January. I  can do a lot of cleaning and we go to my sister's place on the coast for a week or so for "New Year".  Also I have to sort out some spare Humber parts for a friend in the UK.


Bernie j.


Anybody unsure of the effects of detonation, very often the result of poor quality fuel, along with over advanced ignition in high compression engines should look at Detonation Damage to High Comp pistons? in your search engine. (Google etc) There are some very graphic photographs and explanation of just the sort of damage my Rapier engine suffered. Fortunately the Rapier has a cast iron cylinder head and block or the results could have been much more devastating! 



As Australia is situated in the Southern Hemisphere we are now enjoying our SUMMER with days well into the 30s Centigrade. Almost without exception the Auto Industry takes its Annual Holidays in January tacking them onto Christmas and New Year. This means that any work carried out by others comes to a stop. For example the piston manufacturers are closed until Mid-January, even after they return to work I will probably have a wait for up to a month and probably even more before I see the Rapier's new pistons. The same applies to the work I am having done on the Humber engine. 

I trust that you all enjoyed a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy New Year.




Bernie j.


During some discussion about the Lagonda Rapiers performance with a friend I looked up some results of the VSCC's Geelong (1/4 mile) Sprints held during the late 1970s and 80s. These are from the book History of the Geelong Sprints.

1979:- 18.97, 1980:- 20.40, 1981 (Amilcar Rapier Spl.) 16.98 and 82:- 16.50. 1984 :-19.40, 1985:- 18.08. The Amilcar-Rapier was a single seat racing car built around  shortened and much modified 1920s Amilcar Chassis and Rapier engine gear box, axles, brakes and wheels. I am sure that I have shown you photographs of it before but in case you have not seen it here is one for you. KG's times in 1984-5 were both with the car running as a fully equipped sports car. In 1979 and 80 I would have been competing in an earlier Rapier two seater. This ran at various events as either a "racing car" without lights or mudguards etc or as a sports car fully equiped. But that was all a very long time ago........

Amilcar Rapier004.jpg 

BYY racing at Sandown Historics.jpg 

BYY at Winton5.jpg 


Here we are now well into the New Year and we have just returned from our brief holiday on the coast with my sister and her family.

I left for the coast somewhat reluctantly directly after a summer rain storm which had overflowed the gutter directly above my work bench giving the dismantled Rapier cylinder head and all its component parts a good drenching. At that time I simply locked the door and said to myself, "If this rain had come even 12 hours later there would have been nothing I could do about it!

I have now unlocked the door again and checked out my work bench and its contents for damage. I can report that the damage was just a few spots of light surface rust on the face of the cylinder head. 


I can now go back to finishing the valves and start to re-asemble the cylinder head and valve gear.  But before that I will take the head over to my friends at Crankshaft Rebuilders to make sure that the face of the head is percectly flat.





Bernie j.


Summer has finally arrived in Melbourne Australia, there is very little work being done on either the Lagonda or the Humber, today or yesterday, the temperature was/is around 35 to 38 degrees centigrade. 





Bernie j.


Hello Paul

Yes, Melbourne Australia has been voted the world's most liveable city. Snow is unheard of, frost is extremely rare as the daytime winter temperature is around 10/15 degrees and in summer it seldom goes as high as 40 degrees Celsius. 

Traffic can be a problem if you drive into the CBD but we do have an efficient system of Freeways, We live approx 13 Kms from the city and if for some reason we need to go into the main business centre we prefer to go by bus, These are very efficient with no more than a 10 minute wait.  Our "other"public transport is either tram or train.  We have great parks, tree lined streets and lots of gardens. . Mostly streets are laid out on a grid pattern.  We have several large shopping "malls" within a four or five kilometres.  You could say that life is good!

You should visit some time.


Enough of all that! It is a cooler afternoon and ideal to  go back to working on the Rapier cylinder head. 




Hello Mike

Surely not in California?


I think that the same things are happening all around the world. Fires in the Summer and floods in the Winter. Fortunately we live in a very domesticated suburb on a hill far enough away not to be worried by fire and about five kilometres away from the river and far enough up the hill, not to be worried about flooding. 


Meanwhile I have spent the afternoon attempting to sort out the one exhaust valve which "caught" a fragment of piston ring. It is going to need a lot of grinding to have it so it will seal but in the process it will close up the tappet clearance so a similar amount will need to be ground off the end of the stem. Not a really satisfactory out come, I have two other exhaust valves left from an earlier rebuild but I would sooner not use either from preference.  


Hey! It is an 80 year old car; why am I being so fussy?


Very simply because:- 

1. It is my car and it is a LAGONDA RAPIER....

2. I want to be able to drive it without worrying anywhere in the world we chose to take it.

3. When I say drive it I mean DRIVE IT!




Hello Mike

There are a number of possibilities depending on how wealthy you are. In the UK you could try Aston Workshop. This used to be Beamish Morgan run by Rapier Register and Lagonda Club member John Mc Donald, he has now retired. You can find them at If you are very very wealthy you could look at LMB Racing in Belgium. They too have a web site. Or if you are poor like me you can try Auto Surplus in Blackburn Vic.Aust. If you are contacting them you can use my name as a reference. If you are looking for competition quality you could send an email to Ian Shugg at Crankshaft Rebuilders who do nearly all my engine machine work. www.Crankshaft Rebuilders. Vic. Au.

Again you could use my name as an intro. I am sorry but I do not know anyone on your side of the pond.

I have just finished lapping in and fitting the Rapiers valves. Next thing is to install the cams along with the cam followers etc. I can then measure the valve (Tappet) clearance and order some new valve stem "buckets" These are similar to those used by Alfa Romeo and are available in a variety of thicknesses going up in one "thou" rises. Before ordering any new buckets I will go through my stock.  These can be "adjusted" by inserting shims but that is not totally satisfactory as very thin shims tend to hammer out. Before fimal assembly I have to wash out all the cam followers etc. In typical Lagonda thoroughness these are drilled to deliver oil at full engine pressure right to the "pad" where it runs against the cam-lobe. Naturally the cam bearings also run under full pressure. The only disadvantage is that it is not recommended that you run the engine with the cam covers removed. That is unless you want the entire interior of the garage "lubricated". Going back to my quandary re the damaged exhaust valve. I ended up using a used valve that previously been in the same exhaust port. When I did the huge engine rebuild in 1996 I had fitted eight new valves. At that stage the inlet valves had grown appreciably in head size. I have this bad habit of  not throwing out anything that may still have some life. The used exhaust valve that I ended going back into the same port that it had come from initially. I have a habit of numbering parts as they are dismantled. To double check I made certain that it was an exhaust valve by holding a magnet against the head.



Many of you will have seen this photograph before but I think that it worthy of a second look. It shows our friend and fellow traveller Bruce Rodgers climbing the Col du Galibier in the French Alps. It was taken by Helen during our 2009 visit. He is driving his 1936 Rapier.





While I am waiting for the piston manufacturers to come back from their annual end of year holidays, I have kept myself entertained assembling the valves back into the cylinder head. I find assembly work while challenging most satisfying.The following photographs show the head with the valves & cams in place on my work bench, The next photo is looking directly into the combustion chamber, next is looking into the inlet port with the valve partway open and then an inlet cam showing the cam follower. I still have to install the "bucket" shims that govern the amount of tappet clearance. the next showing the cam follower. These are a Rapier Register replacement part and are slightly more robust that the originals. Machined all over and made of a top quality steel, their elegant design and finish, as with everything about the engine, makes it all worth while.   Finally an Antique Cigarette tin containing a collection of bucket shims.There also some of the small round shims that can be used to acheive the correct clearance.  These sit between the cam lobe and the end of the valve stem, changing the thickness of the shim governs the tappet clearance.

I never get bored working on this beautifully made little engine. Looking at the first photograph again you will note the vernier adjustment on the drive end of the camshafts, this gives incredibly fine adjustment of the valve timing.

If you look very closely at the first photograph you will be able to see, nearest the camera, my "timing marks" two centre punch "dots" one on the front of the cam bearing housing the other almost directly below on the camshaft. Cams are driven by three chains, one from the "half time" gear to a triple sprocket on the front of the head then two seperate chains one to each cam. The generator, water pump and distributor are all gear driven from the side of the timing gears, the Oil pump is driven from the front of the triple sprocket. This way the  chains are kept as short as possible. They kept at an even tension by three "Weller blade (spring) tensioners, one to each chain. The four hex (bolt) heads that you can see along the outside of the "valley" locate the pivot ends of the cam followers. These screw out to permit the cam follower to slide side ways away from the end of the valve stem. This permits the bucket (shim) to be removed and exchanged to give the requried tappet clearance.   Once set this should not need any further adjustment until the next "top" overhaul. Even after almost 50 years of playing with these delightful engines I am still full of admiration for Tim Ashcroft, the man who designed them in 1933.   He really did tick all the boxes!

That even after 80 years they can be and regularly are taken to 6,000 rpm is almost beyond belief.  

The Directors of the Lagonda Company thought that 12 months and with the assistance of just one draughtsman was sufficient time to do the job. I know that I have said this before but it is worth repeating. His design brief was simple. We want the "Best Light Car in the World".









Going back to my earlier post. In the first photograph the tubes between the camshaft bearing caps carry oil under full pressure to the camshaft bearings. The bearing housings are further drilled to then take oil to the pivots for the cam followers and finally through a drilling down the length of the cam follower the oil is metered to the "pad" that runs against the cam lobes. You are advised NOT to run the engine with the cam covers removed. That is unless you want to be drenched in a shower of oil.  Oops! The washers etc you can see through the spark plug hole are the ones in the open container on my work bench that can be seen in one of the other photographs........ The smaller "pointy" cams were originally for spring "dampers" to iron out any vibration. These were found to be an un-necessary complication and removed when the cars went for their "first service".


Bernie j.


Thank you Paul

I am just sorry my photography is not as clear as I would like. The other thing to remember is that the Rapier was a small, just over one litre, capacity (10HP) made in very limited numbers, less than 400 in total over 80 years ago. That so many have survived is testimony to the high quality of both design and manufacture.


Bernie j.


Rapier Timing chain Drg,324.jpg

In case you missed it earlier the "bottom end" of the motor is also impressive for 1934. At a time when MG, Riley, Singer, Morris and Austin were all still using just two main bearings for their crankshafts Lagonda were using this crank in the Rapier engine.




I know how many of you like photographs, here is something very different, taken by Helen in the French Alps during our  2009 visit. It is a road typical of the ones we love driving on. You can just see the Rapier in the left hand bottom corner.  Absolutely magic.


Bernie j


Anyone for a Cruise or a Luxury Tour? You will not see anything like this......France, Belgium. Italy, Switzerland & Germany. And the local people want to talk to you!


H's Photos_2496.jpg





Hello Mike

Right now I either have forgotten or have never known Tim Ashcroft's age when he was first enployed by Lagonda. It should not take more than a day or two to rectify this. I suspect that his job with Lagonda may have been his first professional engagement. Some people use the Alfa valve clearance shims but I prefer not to as they have a comparitively short skirt and have been known to jump out at high revolutions. 

The big thing about those cam followers is that in addition to taking oil where it is most needed that they can be moved sideways giving access to the buckets/shims making tappet adjustment relatively quick and simple. No need to disturb the timing or lift the camshafts.

One of the two prototype Rapiers became Tim Ashcroft's personal transport. 



Hello Mike

My good friend and Rapier Register brains behind the Spares Scheme, Mike Pilgrim tells me that Ashcroft was employed by Lagonda specifically to design the Rapier.  This is referred to at the bottom of page 263 of "Lagonda - a History of the Marque" by Arnold Davey and Anthony May.  It says that Ashcroft was an engineering consultant to an iron foundry at the time.
Irvin Thomas Ashcroft was born at Northampton, England, on 13th July 1895.  On 16th September 1914 he applied to join the Royal Engineers, but on 19th October 1914 their Motor Cycle Section discharged him as "unlikely to make an efficient soldier".  His name appears on a Royal Flying Corps list, and  he is also listed as having Service Number F1349 in the RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve).

That makes him in his late 30's when he joined Lagonda when he was employed specifically to design the Rapier engine.
When the Lagonda Company went into receivership towards the end of 1935, Ashcroft along with ex Lagonda Co Director, Bill Oates and Nevil Brockelbank, who provided some of the necessary finance, setup the Rapier Car Ltd to acquire the remaining Rapier parts and continue assembly of the cars which were then "badged" as Rapier as distinct from Lagonda's. In total about 40 "Rapiers" were sold between 1936 and 1938. The Lagonda name was removed from the cam covers, the top of the chassis plate with the Lagonda name etc was guillotined off and new badge with the name "Rapier" designed for the Radiator. Naturally the Rapier Register caters for both Lagonda Rapiers and Rapiers. 





The attatched scan of a lapel badge illustrates the two different Radiator badges. Over the years there has been a number of variations on the Lagonda Badge. The one shown here is the correct one for the 1930s. If you have a "Rapier" badge it is a very rare item with something less than 80 cars being built between 1936 and 38.

There is absolutely no connection between Lagonda, Rapier and the Hillman Minx based Sunbeam Rapier from the 1950s & 60s





I am still waiting for either the new pistons for the Lagonda, or some action on the Humber engine, despite everything else, many firms take their Annual Holidays (3 weeks) in conjunction with the Christmas/New Year Holidays (10 days). Now it seems that with the number of Asians making their home in Australia, we will soon have another holiday for "Chinese New Year". We are told this coming year is the year of the Rooster.

Australian businesses have to cope with more gazetted "Public Holidays" than anywhere else in the world. Added to this many "workers" have a long  (3 day) weekend every month just because they can. It is called a RDO, the "Rostered Day Off!"

Australia is the only country in the world where we have an Annual Holiday for a Horse Race. The first Tuesday in November is "Melbourne Cup Day". Because this is always a Tuesday it seems un-necessary to go to work on the preceeding Monday, making it into a four day weekend. Oh! I forgot about all the Muslim "Holy Days".  We are frequently told by Politicians, how wonderful it is that Australia is a "Multi-cultural Society".

Being retired, I work seven days most weeks, the others I try to work eight days......... Being over 80 years old I now have to work twice as hard as I may not have all that much time left!



I should not complain I have a friend who has been waiting for over two years to get some tricky machining work done on a replacement oil pump for his Amilcar. 

Thank you Paul

I wear denim jeans most of the time so I hope that some of that rubs off on me too. I don't do Bowls but a game of Petanque every Monday morning has to be good. Keeping score helps with my mental capacity too.

We were at a VSCC BBQ last night and it is surprising how many members are 80 and over, perhaps that is because we all keep well lubricated, lots of bottles of good Australian Reds. Shiraz, Cabinet Sauvigion or Merlot for preferance. If you are not already drinking them you should try some, but in sensible quantities. A bottle shared with a good friend over a meal, a couple of nice rare steaks is ideal. Australian beef of course.

I don't know about matching it with the Humber it is 105 already but the Lagonda is only two years older than me so I hope that I can stick with it for a while yet.




Talking to a number of people at my local VSCC’s BBQ on Friday night I seemed to have some difficulty in explaining why I needed to have special pistons made for my Rapier.Attached is a photograph of one of pistons fitted to the then new cylinder block in 1996. These are forged pistons supplied by Special Pistons in Dandenong.(Australia)The raised crown is not only offset but also “handed’ with cylinders 1 & 3 having the raised section biased towards the front and cylinders 2 & 4 biased towards the rear. In addition the crown has recesses machined into each side to give clearance for the valves. Given the camshaft timing and the amount of lift these are necessary to avoid the valves striking the top of the pistons. Valve timing and tappet clearance is critical as one or two degrees error in the timing could cause the valves to hit each other and or the top of the piston, This also applies to the tappet clearance with just two or three thou reduction resulting in the same result. All this is compounded by the size of the inlet valves (42.5mm Diam). The main detonation damage to the pistons was broken top piston rings. A piece of broken ring being caught between an exhaust valve and the valve seat was sufficient to cause the head of the valve to be distorted when it was struck by the piston. There was further damage to the pistons when escaping gas burnt through the ring lands on two pistons.The second photograph is of the under side of the cylinder head, this shows very faintly the out-line of the top of the cylinder block and the degree of offset for each cylinder.My engine has a new (in 1996) cylinder block, this is in effect "over-bored" 10mm taking the bore from 62.5mm to 73mm increasing the capacity from 1104cc to 1498cc The stroke remains "standard" at 90mm.  LMB Racing in Belgium have taken these blocks to an even larger bore and by making a new longer stroke crankshaft made them 1650 cc. 

KG special piston 1.jpeg





Hello Mike, thank you for your interest.I will have to check the new pistons when they arrive but I would think that they will be the same depending if they use the original spec or copy the sample pistonIf the original spec approx 10 : 1 if a copy of the sample 8.5 : !, There are no other changes planed. The tops of the original pistons had ceramic coating, I will probably ask for this to be done again.I had some material machined off the top of the original pistons when I de-tuned the engine some years ago. This is something I will have to check when they arrive.It is a much more pleasant car to drive on the roads since it was de-tuned. Instead of having to run it between 3,500 and 6,000 rpm it now pulls from about 1,750/2,000 rpm and seldom goes over 4,500/5,000 rpm.  Valve timing was 35/75 it is now 20/60. Lift at the cam is .310.  It like to run on 98/100 octane. It can use 95 but never 91 that is when I ran into trouble when all I could obtain in "out-back" New South Wales was 91 or worse. Some "Service Stations" had just the one pump and whatever came out of the hose was certainly not High-octane petrol. It was probably OK when I had about half a tank of 98/95 and was running on a mixture but after a couple of re-fills of junk-fuel XXXX, or as the French would say Merde!By comparison with the above details the original 1934 factory valve timing was:- The inlet valves opened at TDC and closed 52 degrees after BDC. The exhaust valves opened 55 degrees before BDC and closed 8 degrees after TDC. In 1934 the compression ratio was 7.5:1. At the time this would have been considered quite high.  Bj


Hello Mike, thank you for your interest.I will have to check the new pistons when they arrive but I would think that they will be the same depending if they use the original spec or copy the sample pistonIf the original spec approx 10 : 1 if a copy of the sample 8.5 : !, There are no other changes planed. The tops of the original pistons had ceramic coating, I will probably ask for this to be done again.I had some material machined off the top of the original pistons when I de-tuned the engine some years ago. This is something I will have to check when they arrive.It is a much more pleasant car to drive on the roads since it was de-tuned. Instead of having to run it between 3,500 and 6,000 rpm it now pulls from about 1,750/2,000 rpm and seldom goes over 4,500/5,000 rpm.  Valve timing was 35/75 it is now 20/60. Lift at the cam is .310.  It like to run on 98/100 octane. It can use 95 but never 91 that is when I ran into trouble when all I could obtain in "out-back" New South Wales was 91 or worse. Some "Service Stations" had just the one pump and whatever came out of the hose was certainly not High-octane petrol. It was probably OK when I had about half a tank of 98/95 and was running on a mixture but after a couple of re-fills of junk-fuel XXXX, or as the French would say Merde!By comparison with the above details the original 1934 factory valve timing was:- The inlet valves opened at TDC and closed 52 degrees after BDC. The exhaust valves opened 55 degrees before BDC and closed 8 degrees after TDC. In 1934 the compression ratio was 7.5:1. At the time this would have been considered quite high.  Bj


Happy Luna New Year.


Hello All

I am still waiting impatiently for the pistons but to fill in a day or two I have decided to do something about the balance pipe on the inlet manifold. This has been bugging me for years and years so there is not time like the present but not tonight it is past my bedtime already.



Hello Ben

Your wish is my command.

To speed the process up a bit I will copy the relevant part of an email to Mike Pilgrim one of the technical gurus of the Rapier Register.

While I am (still) waiting for the new pistons to be made I have been filling in time correcting a problem that had been worrying me for the past 30 odd years. The previous balance pipe on the inlet manifolds was almost completely ineffective because it was made using 1/4" pipe. Too small to be of any real beneficial use.


In the interim I have proceeded with my modification of my existing Barker manifolds. This has involved drilling out the original David Seath 1/4 inch balance pipe off-takes enlarging then to  accept the 9/16” OD / 7/16” ID steel pipe from my (useful) scrap box. I then took a length of 1” OD steel tube also from the USB and drilled matching 5/8” holes  1 1/4” from each end. Not having any welch plugs of a suitable size in stock I found two large (mudguard) washers with 1/4 “ holes in my "only slightly used washer bin".These I welded over each end of the 1” pipe filling in the 1/4” hole at the same time. Placing the 9/16 pipe in the holes drilled in the Barker manifolds I could trace the shape of the inside of the manifolds onto the 9/16” pipe at each end. I then cut this into two equal lengths and ground one end  of each to match the inside of the manifolds. I could then weld these into the 1” pipe which I then cut in half. Finally I could then fix these into the Barkers, Fixing steel into aluminium I used a high temperature-high strength two pack epoxy cement. I have yet to obtain a length of 1”ID petrol resistant rubber hose. I also have to clean up the inside of the manifolds with a ball shaped grinder and some fine emery paper. Initially I will place a 1” OD 1/2” ID washer in the rubber connector. As I am still waiting for the new pistons for KG’s motor I am unable to report on the final result.  Due to the close proximity of the cylinder head (cam box) this balance pipe must go on the underside of the manifolds when in situ. While it goes against the recommendations of Phillip H Smith it is something I will have to live with. Life  as I have found during the past 80 years is full of compromises. It will give the next owner of KG something to think/worry about, whoever and whenever that may be. It has been running with the David Seath arrangement hanging underneath the carbs for a very great number of years.For those not familiar with his work, Phillip H Smith,FIMechE MSAE is the author of several books on the design and fabrication of both inlet and exhaust systems and is considered by many people to be "THE" authority on this often vexed subject. In his book, Scientific Design of Exhaust & Intake Systems, he suggests that the balance pipe should be placed on the upper side of an inlet manifold. N.B.  Phillip, H Smith devotes just two pages out of 275 to the subject of "balance pipes". I should add that the "Barker" inlet manifolds were originally designed and made by then Rapier Register member David BarkerThey have been for years the "go to" inlet manifold, they are designed to take 1 1/2" SU carburettors in lieu of the original 1 1/4" carbs and enhance the all round performance of even otherwise standard Lagonda Rapiers. Being made as two matching inlet stubs the do not have any balance pipe. Many people still run them without this however in view of my recent experience I have considered the fitting of a balance pipe worthwhile.Bj






The photograph below shows the earlier attempt at fitting a balance pipe. I think that this having an internal diameter

for the connecting pipes of just 1/4" OD was too restricted to be effective. The second photograph may help to explain the difference between the old and the new (bottom).





Hello Moe

You were right the first time. When the manifold is attached to the side of the cylinder head the carbs are horizontal. They are normal 1 1/2" SUs because the location of the distributor the rear carb has a left hand float bowl and the front one has a right hand float bowl. 

It gets rather crowded but it all fits together and it all works extremely well. Perhaps it is a little different the motors you are used to looking at.

1934, Four cylinder, 1500cc, 2 OHC,




In some ways the whole car is an up-grade:- The chassis front and back axles gear box etc are original as is the engine with the exception of the cylinder block. I have shown this before but when I bought the car it was a very rough racing car with the engine in bits, I had owned and restored  four other Lagonda Rapiers previously. I seem to make a habit of buying "basket cases" and restoring them the only difference is I have only sold this car once to a University Professor who had it for almost two years without ever driving it. I had to deliver it to his home when he bought it. After two years when I bought it back it was standing where I had parked it in his very large garage. the only difference was that it was standing on four very flat tires. I should add that these had been new when I sold it, when I got it home one opf the first things I did was to take them off and throw then away. I learnt my lesson and now vow that I will never sell it again. But going back to when I first bought it i gave it a last nut and bolt, including taking the chassis entirely apart, restoration. It was fitted with one of a very small batch of exact replica Eagle Two seater bodies that some members of the Rapier Register in England had built. These are such a good copy of the 1934 originals that the aluminium skin cracks in all the same places as the ones sold in 1934. Over the years the engine has been subject to an ongoing programe of improvement. Again Members of the Rapier Register have played a vital part in that they arranged for a batch of a dozen or so new cylinder blocks to be made. These differed from the orininals only in that the cylinder bores had been "adjusted" to permit the bore to be increased from 62.5mm to 73mm

Increasing the engine capacity from 1104cc to 1498cc. Over the years there have been two or three different grinds on the camshaft The one i have settled on now is nominally a 20/60. This combined with a compression ratio of 9.5 : 1 seem to suit the sort of driving that we do in the car.

The gearbox is a standard (close ratio) ENV75 Preselector. There is NO clutch fitted and the drive is taken up on the first gear band when starting off from a stationary. Wheels are Rudge KO (42 Long) these are 17 inch and wear Michelin 17 x 450/500 Super Comfort. These are a tyre still made by Michelin having been first introduced in 1934. The interesting thing about the "Super Comfort"is that they were the first low pressure tyre ever made. Written into the side wall is the advice."Maximum Pressure 20psi. Having experimented with different pressures I can say that you vary from the recommended 20psi at your own risk. Mr Michelin knew what he was talking about! 

To get back to your question. The standard Rapier SU Carburettor size was either 1 1/8" or 1 1/4". The Rapier Register spares scheme has had made a number of sets of the "Barker" inlet stubs to take 1 1/2" Carburettors. To take full  advantage of these my car has larger inlet valves and enlarged and polished inlet ports. The whole package has been developed over the years including changing from Magnetoto the much more reliable Coil and distributor. The  brakes are still the standard Girling cam and roller mechanism fitted first on the Rapier in 1934, the first production car to be fitted with these outstanding brakes. To make the most of these super efficient brakes the Rapier uses 13 inch drums. The Lagonda Rapier is credited as being the first car "ever" to stop in less than 30ft from 30 mph. When I first bought the car in the late 1970s it have been used solely as a racing car in the UK since just after the end of WW2. i.e. In the early 1950s. It had belonged to and was first built as a racing car by Beatrice Shilling who had worked during the war in England as the Carburation Specialist at the  Royal Aircraft Establishment (Farnborough). As the car is now used as a sports/touring car I have replaced the outside exhaust with a four branch (extractor) system which fits neatly under the bonnet (Hood). It is a very confortable long distance touring car for two people and their luggage, it very easily keeps up with most modern traffic. On past visits to the UK and France I have driven through Central London and around the Périphérique in Paris.

The three photographs show KG 5363 with 1. Beatrice Shilling driving it in the 1950s, 2. More or less as it was when I bought it in 1978 and 3. Racing at the Victorian Australia Winton Circuit in the 1980s. 4. My extremely patient and very good navigator wife Helen with the car as it is today, (There has been a small change to the luggage rack to improve handling on tight Alpine roads) This one was taken about ten years ago with the car stopped at the Historic Pit Counters at the Reims Grand Prix circuit in Northern France.







Now what was it you wanted to know?




Hello Moe

Wash your mouth out you naughty boy!

I am sorry to disappoint you but it is important to keep in mind  my ability to service everything. Accordingly there is nothing that could not have been done in the 1930s in or on the car.

Above is a photograph taken during the 2004 VSCC Jubilee Rally at Harrogate in the north of England.

This was taken in the cattle Pavillion at the Harrogate Show Grounds.

A pinion bearing in the differential had chosen that moment to fail. OK we are on the other side of the world 1,000s of miles from home in Australia. What would you do? Call for a recovery vehicle to take the car back to the shipping agent so it could be shipped home and finish the Rally in a modern hire car?

What I did was to borrow some jack stands, jack the car up and remove the diff centre, remove the pinion to obtain the number of the two pinion bearings. After a phone call to the Bearing Specialist in the next town I organised one of my English friends to drive me there and back first thing next morning, By "afternoon tea time" the diff was back in the car and we were back on the road that night and finished the rest of the week long Rally.

Two weeks later we were enjoying motoring in the French Alps.

Looking at the attached photograph you may notice typical of England it was a little wet underfoot AND under the car. With the exception of the two jack stands all the tools used were in the took kit carried in the car.



Hello Paul

Yes in broad terms although there are a number of significant differences. One of the main differences is that in a Wilson 'box the planetary gears run on bronze bushes while the ENV uses needle roller bearings. Generally the ENV box is smaller and lighter. Despite not holding any "Wizard qualifications" I do all the work on my gearbox myself.

From my observations most of the" Professionals" who work on preselecctor gearboxes also claim to travel by flying broom and have a black cat sitting on their work benches.



Hello Paul

You will find a lot of information on the ENV 75 box on the English Crossley website

The smaller 10Hp Crossley from the mid 1930s also offered the Preselector as a option. Their description and service info is probably the best available for now. There is a new book hopefully to be available later this year that will cover all aspects of owning driving and servicing the ENV 75 transmission. It is co-written by the Rapier Register Technical man Paul Nickalls.

See also; 


Once you have driven a car with a Preselector gearbox you will wonder why they were not more widely available.


For those who failed to understand/appreciate my little joke about flying on brooms and black cats. #248

This was meant to imply that many of the "experts" who work on Preselector gearboxes along with those who "rebuild" magnetos  often claim to be Wizards who work Magic cures. i.e Practice Witch-craft.



Hello Again Moe

The Rapier's distributor is a Bosch I am not sure of the model but it is the smallest 4 cylinder distributor I could find at the time,1979. It is a very snug fit as are most things with the Rapier engine, It is gear driven from the end of the gear driven generator. You can see why I have one left hand and one right hand carburettor float bowl. It is actually all very accessible, all you have to do is to open the right hand side of the bonnet (hood). Put out your hand and it would be the first thing that you would touch. Almost as accessible as an Ford A model, or a Dodge Four.




Hello Mike

I think you mis-read my comments regarding the future (post rebuild) compression ratio. At one stage my Rapier's engine was on 14:1which was completely impractical for a road car, it was subsequently lowered to 12 :1 and then 10:1.Each change involved stripping the engine and maching material off the crown of the pistons.

I will not know what the "new" Compression Ratio will be until I collect the new pistons this afternoon. Increasing the bore by 10mm made a huge difference to the compression ratio.

You may be interested to learn that I took the Rapier's Distributor to my "man" on Tuesday and had a talk with them about the pros and cons of Electronic Ignition. The Jury is still out.

The problem originall arose while we were away in Northern New South Wales when the new fibre "nose" on the points wore at an alarming rate. As the points gap is reduced the ignition is advanced. Wear on the fibre "nose" as it runs against the centre cam in the distributor causes the points "gap" to slowly close up and in the process advances the ignition. Fitting "electronic ignition"does away with the reliance on the distributor points and is said to give a more reliable and stronger spark.




It is  always difficult when contributing to a "Forum' as diverse at this one. It is impossible to know the level of knowledge and "activity" of your fellow contributors. It would be interesting to take a census asking those  who read all this, how much they understand. How many actually do any work on their cars and at what level.?


At last I was able to drive down to Special Pistons, on the other side of town, and collect the four new pistons. I have deposited these with my friends at Crankshaft Rebuilders. As currently all my spare space is overflowing with Humber "stuff" I have asked then to assemble the pistons into the block and to refit the crankshaft. It is not that I have not done this myself before (dozens of times) but I did not want to be chasing parts around on the carport floor, which fills up with leaves everytime the wind blows, along with "buckets of dust and dirt". This is going to add considerably to the cost of the rebuild but I cannot see any other alternative.   It will add a couple of weeks to the already too long down time but right now I cannot see a sensible alternative.



So why am I doing this engine rebuild?

I am attaching photographs of two of the pistons out of the Rapier's engine. the first two show a piston with detonation damage at an early stage. The second piston shows significant damage due to detonation. What causes detonation, generally a combination of poor fuel and over advanced ignition. In the second photograph you can see light etching around the side of the piston between crown and the top ring.

In the third and fourth photographs you see the result of this etching continued, along with broken top and second rings. A tank full of suspect fuel combined with slightly over advanced ignition and it could happen to you.

That is of course if like me you enjoy driving your car. 








Now for something of interest for everyone.

Every so often I make a detour through our local Charity Shop looking for a new tool bag. This time I struck gold, a neat little bag with good sized compartments made in wonderfully soft Italian Leather. easy to stow away in an odd corner in the rear compartment of the car. 

This one was a bargain at just $5.oo And It will not rattle, scratch the paint work or mark the upholstery and trim. As a bonus the money go towards a good cause.





Oh dear! is my face red? After all that work of puting the larger diam balance tube together I have discovered that there is no way that I can use it. One way up, as I had expected it fouls on the underside of the cam box. Turn it over and it looks ok until you try the mount the carburettors, No matter how you approach this task it is impossible to bolt the carbs onto the manifold. There simply is not room to get a spanner onto the nuts or bolt heads.

The quickest part of this job has been to remove the balance pipe. I have now decided that for the time being the only thing to do is to go all the way back to square one! To use the inlet stubs without any balance pipe. This is how they were originally intended when they were first designed in the 1960/70s. By doing this I can proceed with assembling the engine and get the car back on the road. By now I should have learnt not to allow these distractions to interfere with the work in hand.  I have decided to assemble the bottom half of the engine at my friends Crankshaft Rebuilders workshop. With the Humber taking up far more than is it's fair share; there is just not the room in my "garage" and assembling it out in the open is not to my way of thinking an option, What is the point of spending several thousand dollars on having all the special work done then assemble it with dust and leaves etc blowing over everything every time the wind blows.

Ok it adds a week to the time the engine is out but that is better than having to pull it all down again in six to eight months time.



In much less time than it takes to drive to the shops I have started the task of re assembling the carbs onto the inlet stubs. First task was to cut the gaskets to go between the two flanges. All that was needed was some gasket card that I had "in stock" under the bench, a pair of scissors

A small ball-peen hamer and a suitable punch. Less than 15minutes later I had the two new gaskets ready to be used. The little "rat tail file is used to clean up any over lapping material. I am sorry that my bench is in less than pristine condition but it is where I have been working for the past 40 years. It has seen a lot of use.


Bernie j.  




Anyone who is becoming impatient you are not half as impatient as me. Why is nothing simple, 99.9% of the required work is done and yet I am waiting and waiting to collect the Rapier engine so I can asemble it and put it back in the car. Even then having left the distributor for a two day check It is now I am told they are waiting for a part to come from America, FOR A BOSCH DISTRIBUTOR, It is coming I believe via a Indian in a canoe or perhaps even by a specially trained seal.


Woof Woof




Many of you by now will have come to realise our Lagonda Rapier is far from "standard" this of course extends to the oiling system in the motor. The heart of this is a British Concentric oil pump original fitted to the quicker Mini Cooper S.

This mounted externally on the front of the cylinder head where it is driven off the front of the triple sprocket for the timing chains.

The Oil is picked up from as near to the centre of the sump as possible and taken to the pump by a high pressure hose. From the pump another high pressure hose delivers the oil to a modern "spin-on" full flow oil filter mounted on the original oil filter fitting. Like everything on the Rapier engine even mundane things like the oil sump have been given a great deal of attention. It is for a start a very generous size for what was originally a 1100cc engine. It holds almost 2 Imperial Gallons. In side the sump a series of cast in "fences" keep the oil from sloshing about. In my engine this is capped by a sheet aluminium "Windage tray". Inside all this the oil "pick-up" is of generous proportions and this routes to oil to the outside at a convenient sport at the right hane front corner. Looking at todays photographs you may be able to understand all this a little better. With this set up even with the engine at operating temperature The oil pressure seldom falls below 40psi at a 800-1,000 rpm idle and runs all day at the relief valve blow off pressure of 60psi.

Some of the more observant will have noticed the strange fitting with a domed cover and a handle or lever projecting out of one side situated in the top, left hand, corner of the sump.

This of course is the drain valve, yes a real valve, that when the handle is turned toward the front the valve is lifted allowing the used oil to drain out. Being built to suit the requirements of a "Better class of owner" , this could be done without the need to clamber under the car. When the last of the oil has drained you simply move the handle towards the rear and the valve is closed. You can then add the new oil. The underside of the sump has a generous number of "fins"to assist with cooling and to add strength to what otherwise would be a rather large flat slab of aluminium.


Bernie j                        








You may wonder why the pick up tube is so mis-shapened. First it has to pass under one of the baffle plates then, each of the fixing studs that hold the sump to the bottom of the crankcase passes through a cast in oil tight tube. You can just see them in the third photograph. These form quite a barrier that the pick up tube must pass through. When you look at the sump closely it is a very complicated example of the foundry-mans work (art).




Ready, Set,---------------




Bernie j.


The crank alone weighs 58lbs. But I am no longer strong enough to lift the short motor alone, I have a little friend I call my chain block.

It has several places in both the carport and the garage where it likes to hang-out. The rest of the time it lives in the little wooden box it came in when I bought it about 45 years ago. I prefer to work alone and it is all the help I need.

The trunk lid goes back just far enough past vertical to permit a lift straight up. I can drive the Peugeot away leaving what ever I have lifted swinging in the breeze.



All 1934 1500cc engines should look like this, how many do?




This one is out of sequence because I felt that it was too dark to use  but at least it does give some idea of how and where I work. After all who would want to work along side an 80 year old duffer?

 I certainly would not want to work with them!

Some misguided people may think that a 1996 Peugeot 405 SRi is a collectable car. Mine is virtually a one owner in almost mint condition. I think that it makes a very comfortable and reliable work horse. Most French Farmers would agree with me, although they would probably prefer a diesel.



Hello Paul

These things do not just happen, some years ago I cut the hole in the ceiling then removed a row of tiles from the roof so I could place a length of steel angle across the rafters. A length of chain was wrapped around this with the ends joined by a "D" shackle and a loop of the chain fed through the hole. I could then replace the roof tiles.

Re re-assembling the engine I have everything apart from nine of the ten head studs that have been misplaced.




Hello Mike

Those big-end bolts and nuts are a standard 4.2 Litre Jaguar XJ6 so they go with the con-rods. I am sure that Mr Jaguar could explain how they are self locking. Did not assemble the bottom end this time. I would think that the blue may be some remnants of Bearing Blue used by old fashioned mechanics when checking that there are no high or low spots when assembling.  I must be becoming neurotic in my old age I was terrified of breaking piston rings if I had assembled it myself. Silly isn't it?

I use a minimum of Loctite and I refuse to use any silicone based "Make-A-gasket".  I use only old fashioned "Aviation" shellac based non hardening gasket cement with heavy brown paper or sheet cork

 I do like wiring the heads on small bolts etc. You can see this in one or two of todays pics.







One the subject of silicone based "Gaskets in a Tube" there are one or two photographs taken as I took the Humber engine apart. They show lovely long silicone "snakes" just waiting to be free so they can crawl into the works.