Period: Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s
Coachwork/Panelling By: Specialist Historic Panels and DMark Concepts, Don Standhaft
I was first introduced to Joe Harding by Ian Skinner a carpenter based in Semley. Joe wanted a body for a Lagonda V12 Le Mans. It was immediately obvious how enthusiastic he was about Lagondas. Back in those days it was hard to settle him down, he’d be charging around the workshop – keen as mustard.
Joe and a colleague had already built some V12 Le Mans cars with bodywork by Dick Brockman. Dick had sadly passed away so Joe was looking for someone to take on the coachbuilding having moved down to Dorset.
I was asked to take on the coachbuilding for all his subsequent Lagonda V12 Le Mans projects.
Joe was left with two angle iron frames and a few half finished panels. I then took over the frame and panel making from this point onwards.
On the first car we continued on from the Harding/Brockman build using up the remaining resources and making anything that wasn’t available.
By the second build we were making all the panelling ourselves.
The 5th car was to be a Lagonda V12 Le Mans to be used himself which he was also going to race. He was after a style noticeably a V12 of course, but unique.
Joe’s brief was to incorporate a roll cage, an air intake on the bonnet and the ability to remove the body quickly for race meetings. I came up with some ideas which Joe was very happy with, the Gunville Special was born!
The body was built in two parts rather than the standard three part constructions seen on the earlier builds. This design enabled the body to come off extremely quickly with only a few screw fixings.
We used a tubular construction rather than angle iron for frame, the bonnet and front bombs were also redesigned amongst many subtle changes.
I really enjoyed this project, and was very happy with my work.
Spending most of the time in America it has been well received all over the world. Christened the Gunville Special where it was built after the village Tarrant Gunville near Blandford, Dorset.
I consider this build as one of my career highlights.
In all I built complete 5 Lagonda Le Mans V12’s for Joe including this one.
A friend of Joe’s, Mel Cramer of AES Engineering in Poole built the engines and was instrumental in all the builds.