This isn’t a car - this is a stab in the face on wheels. How can this be real? And wait until you see the interior...
This car belongs to Harjeet Kalsi, a local gent with a small and extremely interesting car collection. He currently has four cars: a diesel Citroën CX with custom body-work and an automatic transmission swapped in, a low-mileage E28 524td, a supercharged Avanti R2 with the rare 4spd manual ‘box, and this trans-dimensional refugee. Full story, interview, more pics below at driving.ca, one of my regular outlets.
If you visited the All British Field Meet in Vancouver before, you’re probably familiar with the car; Harjeet is a regular attendee, and his 1982 Lagonda always draws a crowd. He found it in Kuwait (in this colour) in the late 1990s, basically a gutted shell, and brought it back to its current near-perfection. Thing is: in a car show, surrounded by forward-control Land Rovers and three-wheeled Morgans, some of this machine’s impact is lost. Take it out for a drive amongst the beige econo-boxes of the Lower Mainland and, well, you mostly get the below reaction.
It’s astounding. It doesn’t matter whether you’re horrified by this car, or enraptured by it, nobody fails to have a reaction. To drive, it’s a bit like a Jensen Interceptor - that ‘70s V8 GT feel - but with very quick steering. Of course the driving experience isn’t so much about the actual dynamics of the car as it is having your face melted off by the interior.
Madness! And everything works: the digital display, the power-adjustable seats, the selectable two-mode air-horns. Everything’s functional and mind-bogglingly ahead of its time. It’s that first part that’s really surprising. Lagondas are known for being Lovecraftian horrors in the reliability department: At The Mechanics of Madness, The Dunwich Electrical Horror, The Check Engine Light of Cthulhu - that sort of thing.
Not only does this thing work flawlessly, it’s pretty much all been restored by one guy, and he didn’t really have any restoration experience before he started on this thing. He learned as he went: paintwork, electrical, wood and interior trim, mechanical. Harjeet picked it all up by doing - on a frickin’ Lagonda.
So obviously there are near-supernatural levels of mechanical sympathy going on here, but there’s still a message that comes with the car. “Why be afraid of it?” Harjeet says, during our drive, “This car was made by human beings, and it can be fixed by human beings. I always encourage people to try to work on their cars, to learn. Worst thing that can happen is you’ll break something - but it can be fixed.”
Along with an astounding car, a really great attitude. I can’t wait to see how his Avanti restoration turns out.