Among the most exclusive Aston Martins of the modern era, and certainly one of the least frequently seen, the Taraf is in actuality not an Aston Martin. It is a Lagonda, a storied name that dates back to the earliest years of the automobile, 1906. When Bentley was acquired out of bankruptcy by Rolls-Royce in 1931, legendary engineer Walter Owen Bentley was contractually obligated to work for his former rival, much to his chagrin, but left Rolls-Royce for Lagonda after his obligation ended. As technical director at Lagonda, he led their projects before, during, and after World War II, ultimately overseeing the design of a lovely and thoroughly modern twin-cam inline-6 which caught the attention of David Brown, who had recently bought Aston Martin.
Aston had an appealing sports car design but lacked a modern engine to power it, and David Brown’s purchase of the both companies in 1947 provided the ingredients to create the first of a now iconic line of sports cars. This car, the DB2, combined Aston Martin’s car design with the W. O. Bentley engine he saw through at Lagonda, and this engine ultimately went on to power Aston Martin’s hard-earned victory at Le Mans in 1959, driven by none other than Carroll Shelby.
The David Brown merger of Aston Martin and Lagonda saw the latter marque suffer somewhat, although they had been in plenty of financial trouble prior to the merger, and to his credit, David Brown did not allow Lagonda to fade completely into obscurity. 2.6 and 3.0 liter luxury models were produced most of the way through the 1950s. When Aston Martin Lagonda’s iconic DB4 model appeared, a Lagonda-badged four-door version of the car was introduced, selling in very limited numbers, just 55 examples between 1961 and 1964. This feat was repeated in the 1970s with a car based on the Aston Martin V8, but only seven were made because something altogether more extraordinary was in the works.
Designed by William Towns, the Aston Martin Lagonda was an outrageous space-age vision for the future that the small company was foolish enough to put into production. A striking four-door design, the car was undoubtedly far too ambitious, incorporating an LCD digital dash and touch sensitive buttons, which together with a host of other complex features, delayed the car by three years. When it finally did arrive on the market, it was more expensive than a Rolls-Royce Corniche or Ferrari 400. Fortunately the proven mechanicals of the V8 were employed, and ultimately 645 of them were built over a 10+ year production run which ended in 1990.
The name Lagonda lay dormant until Aston Martin showed Lagonda-badged SUV concept in 2009, and five years later, the Taraf was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. Using the excellent underpinnings of the contemporary aluminum Aston Martins, the Taraf had a completely new look, obviously influenced by the iconic Lagonda of the 70s and 80s. Despite this, it looks neither kitsch or retro, but is instead genuinely stunning. Which it should, because it was the world’s most expensive four-door car by a significant margin. Available exclusively for the Milddle East market, the Taraf was always destined to be rare, and just 120 examples were built.
This particular example was imported to the United States under the Show and Display clause, which is apparently how it’s been used because it has covered just 152 km. It is stunningly finished in dark blue with a two-tone cream and blue interior with magnificent detailing, including intricate headliner stitching and a refrigerator mounted between the rear seats. Although it has been driven sparingly, the car was serviced by an authorized dealer in March of 2022, receiving its 4th year service at that time. A new battery was fitted in August of 2022 as well. The car comes with its owners manual (with service entries stamped) and umbrella.