Meet Harjeet S. Kalsi and his 1982 Aston Martin Lagonda
Evaan KherajCar and driver
Extract from the September 2021 issue of Car and driver.
Harjeet S. Kalsi created an anomaly. Defying the model’s reputation for appalling reliability, its 1982 Aston Martin Lagonda runs flawlessly. It has been around for almost two decades.
As a young boy, Kalsi stumbled across a magazine test drive of the Lagonda, and the car got stuck in his mind like an earworm. He was 30 years old before he met one in person, while on a trip to Kuwait. He bought the next Lagonda he saw, a Series 2 car with bespoke pearl paint. When Kalsi bought it, the engine blew clouds of black smoke, the desert heat had destroyed the interior, half of the dashboard was not working, and the electricity to the seats was broken. He still had it shipped from Kuwait to Canada and brought it back to his home in Surrey, BC, from the local docks. “The seat was stuck all the way to the front,” says the six-foot-two Kalsi. “It turned what should have been a dream into a nightmare.”
Kalsi, an electrical engineer by training, rolled up his sleeves. “I remember tearing everything up and I couldn’t find any alien technology,” he says. “It was the reputation, but the legendary Lagonda was really just a car.”
Kalsi built an octopus-like device to measure the intake vacuum of the 5.3-liter V8. He fine-tuned the four Weber carburetors. He fixed the finicky Javelina LED dashboard, replaced the Lagonda’s ridiculous number of relays, and restored the hacked wire harnesses. He learned leather upholstery to redo the interior and fiberglass repair to save badly damaged front and rear bumper skirts.
He has since used these self-taught skills to restore other cars including a Citroën CX, a Studebaker Avanti, and a Peugeot 604. He has also expanded into the production of hard-to-find parts for classic cars and has just completed the replacement tests for the Lagonda’s light and horn relays, a weak spot he discovered during its restoration two decades ago.
Many people have told Kalsi that his Lagonda will never perform reliably. But Kalsi is a quiet man of confidence. “I wasn’t afraid of it,” he says. “I thought to myself if something is done by hand, why shouldn’t I do it?” “
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