Daimler Company

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The Daimler Company Limited
Fatefrom 1960 a division of
Jaguar Cars
Abbey Road, Whitley
Coventry CV3 4LF
Successor(s)Jaguar Cars continue to use the Daimler name
HeadquartersCoventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Key peoplePercy Martin
Edward Manville
ProductsMotor vehicles
Parentfrom 1910 to 1960 The Birmingham Small Arms Company
SubsidiariesLanchester Motor Company
Daimler Hire
Daimler Air Hire
Daimler Airway
Transport Vehicles (Daimler)
Hooper & Co
Barker & Co
Hobbs Transmission
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This article is about the Daimler brand and its owner the British automobile manufacturer The Daimler Company Limited. For other uses derived from the German engineer and inventor Gottlieb Daimler, see Daimler (disambiguation) For the two direct descendants of Daimler's original enterprise, see Daimler-Benz (and its successor Daimler AG) and Austro-Daimler.
The Daimler Company Limited
Fatefrom 1960 a division of
Jaguar Cars
Abbey Road, Whitley
Coventry CV3 4LF
Successor(s)Jaguar Cars continue to use the Daimler name
HeadquartersCoventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Key peoplePercy Martin
Edward Manville
ProductsMotor vehicles
Parentfrom 1910 to 1960 The Birmingham Small Arms Company
SubsidiariesLanchester Motor Company
Daimler Hire
Daimler Air Hire
Daimler Airway
Transport Vehicles (Daimler)
Hooper & Co
Barker & Co
Hobbs Transmission
Daimler Marque
Daimler logo.svg
Daimler DE 36 "Green Goddess", Hooper limousine (1949) 8853058256.jpg
5½-litre 150 bhp Straight-Eight drop-head coupé 1949
Product typeMotor vehicles
OwnerTata Group through Jaguar Land Rover
Related brandsJaguar Cars
Previous ownersThe Daimler Motor Company Limited (1896–1904)
The Daimler Motor Company (1904) Limited (1904–1910)
BSA Group (1910–1960)
Jaguar Cars (1960–1966)
British Motor Corporation (1966–1966)
British Motor Holdings (1966–1968)
British Leyland (1968–1984)
Jaguar Cars (1984–1989)
Ford PAG (1989–2007)
Registered as a trademark innot known
Flutes: Daimler's traditional radiator grille topped by now-vestigial cooling fins adopted by 1905

The Daimler Company Limited, until 1910 The Daimler Motor Company Limited, was an independent British motor vehicle manufacturer founded in London by H. J. Lawson in 1896, which set up its manufacturing base in Coventry. The right to the use of the name Daimler had been purchased simultaneously from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft of Cannstatt, Germany. They were purchased by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1910, which also made cars under its own name before World War II. In 1933, BSA bought the Lanchester Motor Company and made it a subsidiary of Daimler.

The company was awarded a Royal Warrant to provide cars to the British Monarch in 1902; it lost this privilege in the 1950s after being supplanted by Rolls-Royce. The company occasionally used alternative technology; the Knight engine which it partially developed in the early twentieth century and used from 1909 to 1935, worm gear final drive used from 1909 until after World War II, and the Wilson preselector gearbox used from 1930 to the mid-1950s.

In the 1950s, Daimler tried to widen its appeal with a line of smaller cars at one end and opulent show cars at the other, stopped making Lanchesters, had a highly publicised removal of their chairman from the board, and developed and sold a sports car and a high-performance luxury saloon and limousine.

In 1960, BSA sold Daimler to Jaguar Cars, which continued Daimler's line and added a Daimler variant of its Mark II sports saloon. Jaguar was then merged into the British Motor Corporation in 1966 and British Leyland in 1968. Under these companies, Daimler became an upscale trim level for Jaguar cars except for the 1968-1992 Daimler DS420 limousine, which had no Jaguar equivalent despite being fully Jaguar-based. Jaguar was split off from British Leyland in 1984 and bought by the Ford Motor Company in 1989. Ford stopped using the Daimler name on Jaguars (or any other cars) in 2007 and sold Jaguar to Tata Motors in 2008. Tata bought the Daimler and Lanchester brands with Jaguar, but has not used them thus far; as of 2014, the brand appears to be dormant.


Simms and the Daimler engine[edit]

Gottlieb Daimler's railcars "tirelessly ferrying passengers around the Bremen showground as if by magic".
Simms in his Motor Scout, in June 1899.

Engineer Frederick Richard Simms was supervising construction of an aerial cableway of Simms own design for the Bremen Exhibition in 1889 when he saw tiny railcars powered by Gottlieb Daimler's motors. Simms, who had been born to English parents in Hamburg and raised by them there, became friends with Daimler, an ardent Anglophile who had spent from autumn 1861 to summer 1863 in England, working at Beyer-Peacock in Gorton, Manchester.[1][2]

Simms first introduced Daimler’s motors to England in 1890 to power launches. In an agreement dated 18 February 1891, he obtained British and Empire rights for the Daimler patents. That month, DMG lent Simms a motorboat with a 2 hp engine and an extra engine.[3] In June 1891 Simms had set up a London office at 49 Leadenhall Street and founded Simms & Co consulting engineers.[4] In May 1892, the motorboat, which Simms had named Cannstatt, began running on the Thames from Putney.[4] After demonstrating a motor launch to The Honourable Evelyn Ellis, Simms's motor launch business grew rapidly, but became endangered when solicitor Alfred Hendriks was found to have been illegally taking money from the company.[4] Hendriks severed his connections with Simms & Co. in February 1893. Simms' Daimler-related work was later moved into a new company, The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited, which was formed on 26 May 1893.[5]

Simms plans to make cars[edit]

Following the success of Daimler-powered Peugeots and Panhards at the 1894 Paris–Rouen competition, Simms decided to open a motor car factory,[6] possibly the UK's first motor company.[citation needed]

On 7 June 1895 Simms told the board of the Daimler Motor Syndicate that he intended to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited to acquire the British rights to the Daimler patents and to manufacture Daimler engines and cars in England.[7] That month, he arranged for the syndicate to receive a ten percent (10%) commission on all British sales of Daimler-powered Panhard & Levassor cars.[8]

At the same meeting, Simms produced the first licence to operate a car under the Daimler patents. It was for a 3½ hp Panhard & Levassor that had been bought in France by The Honourable Evelyn Ellis, who had three Daimler motor launches moored by his home at Datchet. On 3 July, after Ellis bought the licence, the car was landed at Southampton and driven by Ellis to Micheldever near Winchester where Ellis met Simms and they drove together to Datchet. Ellis later drove it on to Malvern. This was the first long journey by motorcar in Britain.[7] Simms later referred to the car as a "Daimler Motor Carriage".[8]

Later in 1895, Simms announced plans to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited and to build a brand-new factory, with delivery of raw materials by light rail, for 400 workmen making Daimler engines and motor carriages. Simms asked his friend Daimler to be consulting engineer to the new enterprise.[9] Works premises at Eel Pie Island on the Thames[9] where the Thames Electric and Steam Launch Company, owned by Andrew Pears of Pears Soap fame, had been making electrically-powered motor launches,[10] were purchased to be used to service Daimler-powered motor launches.[7][9]

Simms sells out to Lawson[edit]

Investor Harry John Lawson had set out to use The British Motor Syndicate Limited to monopolise motor car production in Britain by taking over every patent he could. As part of this goal, Lawson approached Simms on 15 October 1895, seeking the right to arrange the public flotation of the proposed new company and to acquire a large shareholding for his British Motor Syndicate.[6] Welcomed by Simms, the negotiations proceeded on the basis that this new company should acquire The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited as a going concern, including the name and patent rights.[11]

In order that the Daimler licences could be transferred from Simms to the new company, all the former partners would have to agree to the transfer. By this time, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach had withdrawn from Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft's business to concentrate on cars and engines for them.[12] Simms offered to pay DMG £17,500 for the transfer and for a licence for Daimler and Maybach's Phénix engine, which DMG did not own. Simms therefore insisted that the transfer be on the condition that Daimler and Maybach rejoined DMG.[12][13] This was agreed in November 1895 and the Daimler-Maybach car business re-merged with DMG's. Daimler was appointed DMG's General Inspector and Maybach chief Technical Director.[13][14] At the same time Simms became a director of DMG but did not become a director of the London company. According to Gustav Vischer, DMG's business manager at the time, Simms getting Daimler to return to DMG was "no mean feat".[15]

The sale of Daimler Motor Syndicate to Lawson's interests was completed by the end of November 1895. The shareholders of the Syndicate had made a profit of two hundred percent (200%) on their original investment.[16]

Independent (1896-1910)[edit]

Daimler 6 hp[note 1] twin-cylinder shooting brake 1897 example


On 14 January 1896 Lawson incorporated The Daimler Motor Company Limited. A prospectus was issued on 15 February.[17] The subscription lists opened on 17 February[17] and closed, oversubscribed, the next day.[18] The Daimler Motor Company Limited bought The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited from Lawson's British Motor Syndicate as a going concern. Simms was appointed consulting engineer to the new business but was not to be on the board of directors,[18] possibly because he had become a director of the Cannstatt firm.

One of the duties assigned to Simms was to find a suitable location for the factory. Simms found the Trusty Oil Engine Works, a company in receivership whose six-acre site at Cheltenham included a foundry, a machine shop, and testing facilities.[19][20] Simms recommended buying the works immediately since, with ready facilities and the availability of skilled workers, they could start up in a very short time.[19] Instead, at the first statutory meeting of the company, held while Simms was overseas, Lawson persuaded the board to buy a disused four-storey cotton mill in Coventry which was owned by Lawson's associate Ernest Terah Hooley.[19] Despite Simms' later protest and pleas to sell the mill and buy the Trusty Oil Engine Works, Daimler stayed with the mill as the site of Britain's first automobile factory.[21]

Delayed delivery of machines kept the factory unfinished throughout 1896 and into 1897.[22] During 1896 Daimler sold imported cars from companies for which Lawson held the licences.[23] Cannstatt supplied engine parts but the delivery of working drawings were delayed for months.[24] Four experimental cars were built in Coventry and a Panhard van was dismantled and reverse engineered.[25] Some Daimler engines, with details redesigned by works manager J. S. Critchley, were also made in 1896.[26]

The first car left the works in January 1897, fitted with a Panhard engine, followed in March by Daimler-engined cars.[26] The first Coventry Daimler-engined product made its maiden run in March 1897.[27] By mid-year they were producing three of their own cars a week and producing Léon Bollée cars under licence. Lawson claimed to have made 20 cars by July 1897 making the Daimler Britain's first motor car to go into serial production, an honour that is also credited to Humber Motors who had also displayed, but in their case their production models, at the Stanley Cycle Show in London in 1896. The Daimlers had a twin-cylinder, 1526 cc engine, mounted at the front of the car, four-speed gearbox and chain drive to the rear wheels.

Independence and stability through turmoil[edit]

1899 12 hp[note 1] Daimler

In July 1897, as a result of financial difficulty, Daimler began asking Lawson's Great Horseless Carriage Company to settle its accounts with them. In the same month, they refused to send working drawings of their 4 hp motor frame to DMG in Canstatt. Lack of co-operation with the Canstatt firm caused Simms to resign as Daimler's consulting engineer that month.[28]

Ongoing difficulties with the Great Horseless Carriage Company and the British Motor Syndicate caused Lawson to resign from Daimler's board on 7 October 1897.[29] He was replaced as chairman by Henry Sturmey,[30] who at the time was five days into a motor tour in his personal Daimler from John O'Groats to Land's End. On arriving at Land's End on 19 October, Sturmey became the first person to make that journey in a motor car.[31]

In July 1898, Gottlieb Daimler resigned from the board of the Daimler Motor Company after never attending a board meeting. Sturmey opposed the appointment of a proposed successor who, according to Sturmey, held no shares and knew nothing about the automobile business. A committee was brought in to investigate the activities of the board and the company.[32] The committee summed up the management of the company as being inefficient and not energetic and suggested that the company be reorganized and run by a paid managing director.[33] When Evelyn Ellis and another board member did not run for re-election, they were replaced by E. H. Bayley and Edward Jenkinson, with Bayley replacing Sturmey as chairman. Sturmey resigned in May 1899 after Bayley and Jenkinson had reorganized the company.[34]

In mid-1900, Simms, as a director of DMG, proposed a union between the Daimler Motor Company in Coventry and DMG in Cannstatt, but the reorganized company was not interested in the merger and turned the offer down.[35]

Royal patronage[edit]

The first Royal car 6 hp 2-cylinders 1527 cc fitted with a "mail phaeton" body purchased by the Prince of Wales, 1900. Currently on display at Sandringham

Known as Britain's oldest car manufacturers, Daimler became the official transportation of royalty in 1898, after the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, was given a ride on a Daimler by John Douglas-Scott-Montagu later known as Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Scott-Montagu, as a member of parliament, also drove a Daimler into the yard of the British Parliament, the first motorised vehicle to be driven there.[citation needed]

In early 1900, Daimler had sold the Prince of Wales a mail phaeton.[36][37] In 1902, upon buying his second Daimler, King Edward VII awarded Daimler a royal warrant as suppliers of motor cars.[37]

In 1903, Undecimus Stratton met E. G. Jenkinson, the chairman of Daimler, when Jenkinson's Daimler was stranded by the roadside. Upon seeing the stranded motorist, Stratton stopped his Daimler and offered assistance.[38] Jenkinson was impressed by Stratton and by his motoring knowledge. At the time, Jenkinson was looking to replace the head of Daimler's London depot, a particularly sensitive position because of the royal cars. Taking the position, Stratton soon found himself having to select better royal chauffeurs and mechanics.[36] He quickly became an occasional motoring companion to the King.[39] In 1908, through Stratton's Royal connections, Daimler was awarded a "Royal Appointment as suppliers of motor cars to the Court of Spain" by King Alfonso XIII[40] and a Royal Warrant as "Motor Car Manufacturer to the Court of Prussia" by Kaiser Wilhelm II.[41] Stratton also sold Daimlers to the Sultan of Johor.[40] In 1911 he spent some weekends at Sandringham tutoring the new Prince of Wales on the workings and driving of an automobile.[42][43]

In 1921 Stratton went into partnership with Daimler's commercial mangager Ernest Instone. Stratton and Instone took charge of the Daimler showrooms at 27 Pall Mall, naming the business Stratton-Instone.[44] Stratton died in July 1929 after a brief illness.[44] His successors and Instone bought out Daimler's interest in 1930 and renamed the business Stratstone Limited.[citation needed] The following summer the future King Edward VIII rented Stratton's house at Sunningdale from his widow.[44]

Every British monarch from Edward VII to Elizabeth II has been driven in Daimler limousines. In 1950, after a persistent transmission failure on the King's car, Rolls-Royce was commissioned to provide official state cars and as Daimlers retired they were not replaced by Daimlers. The current official state car is either one of a pair which were specially made for the purpose by Bentley, unofficial chauffeured transport is by Daimler. Her Majesty's own car for personal use is a 2008 Daimler Super Eight but she is also seen to drive herself in other smaller cars.

Fluted radiator[edit]

Daimler 22 hp[note 1] 4 cyl. 4,503cc 45 mph as driven by Sir Thomas Lipton (1903 example)

Since 1904, the fluted top surface to the radiator grille has been Daimler's distinguishing feature. This motif developed from the heavily finned water-cooling tubes slung externally at the front of early cars and clearly visible in the photograph of the 1903 car to the right. Later, a more conventional, vertical radiator had a heavily finned header tank. Eventually these fins were echoed on a protective grille shell and, even later, on the rear licence plate holder.

Sleeve-valve engines[edit]

Knight-Daimler engine, transverse section

Attracted by the possibilities of the "Silent Knight" engine Daimler's chairman contacted Charles Yale Knight in Chicago and Knight settled in England near Coventry in 1907. Daimler contracted Dr Frederick Lanchester as their consultant for the purpose and a major re-design and refinement of Knight's design took place in great secrecy. Knight's design was made a practical proposition.[27] When unveiled in September 1908 the new engine caused a sensation. "Suffice it to say that mushroom valves, springs and cams, and many small parts, are swept away bodily, that we have an almost perfectly spherical explosion chamber, and a cast-iron sleeve or tube as that portion of the combustion chamber in which the piston travels."[45]

Daimler 22 hp[note 1] open 2-seater
among the first of the sleeve-valve Daimlers (1909 example)

The Royal Automobile Club held a special meeting to discuss the new engine, still silent but no longer "Wholly Knight". The Autocar reported on "its extraordinary combination of silence, flexibility and power." In recognition of the design's success the RAC awarded Daimler their coveted Dewar Trophy. Daimler bought rights from Knight "for England and the colonies" and shared ownership of the European rights, in which it took 60%, with Minerva of Belgium. Daimler dropped poppet-valve engines altogether. Sales outran the works' ability to supply.

Daimler's sleeve valve engines idle silently but when they left royal engagements Daimlers often departed in a just-visible haze of oil smoke. These engines had quite high oil consumption, oil being needed to lubricate the sleeves particularly when cold, but by the standards of their day they required almost no maintenance.[27]

Daimler kept their silent sleeve-valve engines until the mid-1930s. The change to poppet valves began with the Fifteen of 1933.[27]

Impact on British life and culture, 1896-1910[edit]

In 1899 a Daimler 6 hp was involved in the first motor accident in the UK to be recorded as having involved the death of the driver. A young engineer was killed when the rim of a rear wheel collapsed and the car he was driving collided with a wall on a sloping road in Harrow on the Hill. The engineer's passenger was thrown from the car and died in hospital three days later.[46][47]

Review of independent management[edit]

It has been suggested[by whom?] that Simms and Daimler soon withdrew from their initial association with Lawson because Lawson showed little potential ability for managing a manufacturing business. It was felt[by whom?] Lawson's was an unsatisfactory group of people to be associated with. They were described by Frederick Lanchester as "the Coventry Company Promoting Gang".[48] Once relieved of Lawson, the next period, Sturmey's chairmanship, suffered from the division between his supporters and his opponents. Sturmey departed in 1899.

Yet in the early 1900s, the achievement of a Royal Warrant and acquisition of some capable talent led to improved fortunes. Under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Jenkinson, an American, Percy Martin, a substantial shareholder and electrical engineer, was promoted to works manager and Ernest Instone to general manager. Jenkinson was succeeded in 1906 by Edward Manville, a distinguished consulting electrical engineer who was to become chairman of BSA.

Owned by BSA (1910-1960)[edit]

Acquisition by BSA[edit]

1910 Daimler 57 hp[note 1] limousine, an official state car for King George V

Under an agreement dated 22 September 1910[49] the shareholders of The Daimler Motor Company Limited "merged their holdings with those of the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) group of companies,"[citation needed] receiving five BSA shares in exchange for four ordinary Daimler shares and ₤1 5s plus accrued dividend for each ₤1 preference share.[50] This business deal was engineered by Dudley Docker, deputy-chairman of BSA, who was famous for previous successful business mergers.[51]

Daimler, a manufacturer of motor vehicles, had a payroll of 4,116 workmen and 418 staff immediately before the merger.[51] BSA produced rifles, ammunition, military vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and some BSA-branded cars.[52] The chairman of the combined group was Edward Manville, who had been chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – founded by Simms – since 1907.[51]

However the merger was not a great success. By 1913 Daimler had a workforce of 5,000 workers which made only 1,000 vehicles a year.[53]

Transport of emperors, kings and princes...[edit]

Daimler 20 hp[note 1] open drive limousine for the Empress of Korea

By 1914 Daimlers were used by royal families including those of Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Japan, Spain, and Greece; "its list of owners among the British nobility read like a digest of Debrett;"[54] the Bombay agent supplied Indian princes; the Japanese agent, Okura, handled sales in Manchuria and Korea.[54]

...and of those not so comfortable[edit]

Daimler also made engines and chassis for commercial vehicles, with the Metropolitan Electric Tramways ordering 350 double-decker buses in 1912 and engines being sold to the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC).[55]

The 40 hp[note 1] engine and chassis used with the double-decker bus was also used with lorries and drays, while a half-ton delivery van was based on a 12 hp[note 1] chassis similar to a car chassis.[55]

Daimler made a 105 hp[note 1] 15.9 L sleeve-valve straight-six engine for use in large tractors co-developed with William Foster & Co. for the South American market.[56]

World War I work[edit]

Daimler CB-type 40hp[note 1] 3-ton lorry, 1915

During World War I, the military took the normal production cars, lorries, buses and ambulances together with a scout army vehicle and engines used in ambulances, trucks, and double-decker buses. Special products included aero-engines and complete aircraft, tank and tractor engines and munitions.

The first aircraft engine manufactured by Daimler was the 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary. With no drawings available to them, Daimler's Gnome engines were reverse-engineered from an engine delivered to them on 7 August 1914.[57] Daimler later built the RAF 1 and 1a air-cooled V8s, the RAF 4 and 4a V12s, the Le Rhone rotary, and the Bentley BR2 rotary.[58] Production of RAF 4 engines gave Daimler experience in building V12 engines which would be appreciated when they later designed and built "Double-Six" V12 engines for their large cars.[59]

Daimler trained air force mechanics at its works and its training methods became the standard for all manufacturers instructing RAF mechanics.[59]

Having its own body shop, Daimler had the woodworking ability to build complete aircraft. By the end of 1914, they had built 100 units of the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c.[60] These were followed by the BE12 and RE8.[61] Daimler purchased an open field beside their Radford factory, cleared the site, and made it available to the Government, who turned it into the main RAF testing ground for aircraft built in the Coventry district.[62] Although Daimler tooled up for production of the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.4 bomber the aircraft was cancelled due to poor performance.[63] The last wartime aircraft produced was the Airco DH.10 bomber when they were building 80 aeroplanes a month.[59]

British Mark IV tank with an extended tail designed to improve its trench-crossing ability. Powered by a version of the Daimler 105 hp engine

Before the war, Daimler had been making 105 hp engines for tractors made by Fosters of Lincoln for the South American market. These tractors were developed into artillery tractors to haul 15-inch (380 mm) howitzers. Production of the artillery tractors began on 3 December 1914. These engines were later used for the first British tanks ever built, the prototypes "Little Willie" and "Mother" and later in the production Mark I tank.[64] One major difficulty for the tanks was the fine oil haze above their Daimler engines which the enemy quickly learned meant tanks were operating nearby if out of sight.[65] The early tanks weighed up to 28 tons.[65] They were all Daimler powered. The Mark IV versions used at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 had uprated engines delivering 125 hp; these engines had aluminium pistons and are believed[note 2] to have been designed by W. O. Bentley while he was working on the Bentley Rotary engine in Coventry.[65] Derivatives included a gun-carrier and a salvage machine to rescue broken-down tanks and heavy guns.[65]

Daimler made more twelve inch (305 mm) shell casings than any other private business in the country, with a peak production of more than 2000 casings a day.[66] Each was machined from a 990 lb forging down to a finished weight of 684 lb.[67]

Wartime production
Bentley BR2
aero engine 
artillery shells 
Daimler transport
on the Western Front 
105 hp[note 1]
artillery tractor 
at Masterton, New Zealand 2009 

Civil aviation[edit]

De Havilland DH.34
Daimler Airway livery red and white

After the Armistice it was decided that Daimler Hire should extend its luxury travel services to include charter aircraft through a new enterprise, Daimler Air Hire. Following the take-over of Airco and its subsidiaries in February 1920 services included scheduled services London-Paris as well as "Taxi Planes" to "anywhere in Europe". In 1922 under the name of Daimler Airway services extended to scheduled flights London to Berlin and places between. Frank Searle, managing director of Daimler Hire and its subsidiaries moved with his deputy Humphery Wood into the new national carrier Imperial Airways at its formation on 1 April 1924. Searle and Wood and their Daimler Airway machines formed the core of Imperial Airways operations.

Commercial vehicles[edit]

In late 1920s, it, together with Associated Equipment Company (AEC), formed the Associated Daimler Company to build commercial vehicles. The association was dissolved in 1928 with each company retaining manufacture of its original products.[68]

Lanchester acquisition and badging[edit]

Lanchester Ten[note 1]

In 1930 the bulk of Daimler's shareholding in its subsidiary Daimler Hire Limited was sold to the Thomas Tilling Group[69] and, in January 1931, Daimler completed the purchase of The Lanchester Motor Company Limited.[69] The new Lanchester 15/18 model introduced in 1931 was fitted with Daimler's fluid flywheel transmission.[69]

Although at first they produced separate ranges of cars with the Daimler badge appearing mainly on the larger models, by the mid-1930s the two were increasingly sharing components leading to the 1936 Lanchester 18/Daimler Light 20 differing in little except trim and grille.[70]

This marketing concept already employed with their BSA range of cars continued to the end of Lanchester and BSA car production. Some very important customers were supplied with big Daimler limousines with Lanchester grilles.[27] The Daimler range was exceptionally complex in the 1930s with cars using a variety of six- and eight-cylinder engines with capacities from 1805 cc in the short lived 15 of 1934 to the 4624 cc 4.5-litre of 1936.

Review of BSA management before World War II[edit]

Low-chassis Daimler double-six 50 hp[note 1]
four-seater drophead coupé (1931)
by Corsica of Cricklewood
chassis modified by Reid Railton at Thomson & Taylor Ltd

By 1930, the BSA Group's primary activities were BSA motorcycles and Daimler vehicles.[71]

The involvement of the Docker family, father and son, beginning in 1910 failed to solve boardroom difficulties which transferred to BSA and in the end may have brought about disaster but in any case until the late 1920s the collective Daimler leadership did well and the business prospered. Its repute and its profits grew. "Side by side with an apprenticeship scheme which was as good as any in the trade, they had begun to attract pupils from public schools with such success that shortly before (World War I) there was a hostel full of them in a pleasant house in St Nicholas Street near the Coventry works."[72] During that war, the labour force grew from 4,000 to 6,000 men. The acquisition of Airco in February 1920 was a financial disaster for the BSA group, the blame since laid at Percy Martin's door, and all dividends were passed from 1920 to 1924. Martin had been strongly in favour of its purchase with its extensive aircraft or motor vehicle production facilities near London and no one thought to exercise "due diligence", which would have revealed Airco's true circumstances.

All the quality car businesses experienced financial difficulties in the late 1920s. Daimler's situation seemed[by whom?] particularly serious. Sales fell sharply in 1927–1928, a period of losses ensued and no dividends were paid between 1929 and 1936. The sleeve valve engine was now well out of date, Daimler's production methods had become old-fashioned, they had an extravagantly large range of products. Their bankers noted the dwindling sales volume, the poor performance for price and the need for installation of up-to-date machine tool equipment. Stratton-Instone's new dominance of distribution was removed and new outlets arranged. The interests in Singer and the Daimler Hire business were sold and Lanchester bought. The in-house bodywork department was closed and by the spring of 1931 car production ceased, only commercial vehicle production and aero engine work kept Daimler in business.[73]

Laurence Pomeroy joined Damler in late 1926, at first working on commercial vehicles but from 1928 he worked at the products of the main Daimler operation. Pomeroy introduced redesigned poppet valve engines with the Daimler Fifteen in September 1932, developed new models of Daimlers, recommended what became the September 1932 introduction of the small BSA and Lanchester Tens with poppet valve engines to help Daimler survive the depression and according to Percy Martin these things rescued the business from total collapse in 1932.[73] 1934's new Straight-Eights were a personal triumph for Pomeroy.[74]

With the 1930s, another gradual slide began. Manville died in harness in 1933, Percy Martin was forced out two years later, and Frederick Lanchester resigned as consultant in 1936. That same year, Laurence Pomeroy was not re-elected to the board and left for de Havilland. Ernest Instone had left the works in the early 1920s to concentrate his efforts on distribution (Stratton-Instone) but he too died, in 1932.[74] Daimler was not paying dividends and the 1936 BSA shareholders' meetings were stormy. Attempted solutions had included the Lanchester acquisition and the introduction of smaller cars, the lower-priced 10 hp Lanchester and its matching but six-cylinder stable-mate the Daimler Fifteen (later DB17 and DB18) introduced in the early thirties. This particular product line as the Lanchester Fourteen and Daimler Conquest was to run through to almost the very end.

Edward H. W. Cooke attempted a revival and from 1937 introduced saloons with a freshness of design new to Daimler. The new products had successes in competitions and rallies. His policy was proved sound but another war, post-war austerity and yet more boardroom battles, this time in public, seemed to put an end to Daimler's once-proud business.[72]

Daimler's semi-automatic transmissions[edit]

Shift lever Daimler Fifteen 1934 example

Daimler became a proponent of the Wilson self changing gearbox matched with Fottinger's fluid flywheel further developed from Vulcan's and their own patents. They were introduced by Daimler in October 1930 on their new Light Double-Six for an extra £50[75][76] and soon they were used in all Daimler vehicles. The chairman reported to the shareholders at their Annual General Meeting in November 1933 "The Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission now has three years of success behind it and more than 11,000 vehicles, ranging from 10 h.p. passenger cars to double-deck omnibuses, aggregating over 160,000 h.p., incorporate this transmission. . . . . it has yet to be proved that any other system offers all the advantages of the Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission. Our Daimler, Lanchester and BSA cars remain what we set out to make them—the aristocrats of their class and type. . . . We have also received numerous inquiries from overseas markets. (Applause)".[77] These transmissions remained in production until replaced by Borg-Warner fully automatic units beginning in the mid-1950s. Late in that period a new Lanchester model with a Hobbs fully automatic gearbox did not, in the end, enter full production.

Royal Daimlers[edit]

A wide variety of engines were made in the earlier years. In an attempt to give some kind of indication of the complexities involved what follows is a list, by year of first supply, of the different engines in cars supplied to the King. In many cases a number of cars were supplied with the same engine and over a period of some years.

All-weather tourer, Sydney NSW 1954
State landaulette, 1947 on display to
celebrate the royal diamond jubilee
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012
Daimler, the choice of British royalty...

The production programme for 1930 encompassed six engine types and seventeen variants on seven chassis types. A substantial part of the programme had been completed and sold by November 1929. Orders held for 1930 were:

25 hp[note 1]
1911 example 
45hp[note 1]
all-weather tourer
1920 example 
57 hp[note 1] 6-cyl 9½-litres
limousine by Hooper
1923 example
private purchaser but as supplied to
King George V 
all-weather tourer
1928 example 
32 hp[note 1] Straight-Eight
1936 example 
24 hp[note 1] (EL24)
drophead coupé
1937 example
IFS has allowed the engine to be put between the front wheels and the radiator grille to the front 
24 hp[note 1] (EL24)
six-light limousine coachwork by Windovers Limited
1939 example 
30 hp[note 1] Light-Straight-Eight owner driver
four-light saloon coachwork by Vanden Plas 1939 example 
mid-size Daimlers
open tourer
1872 cc
1925 example 
drophead coupé
1805 cc
1934 example 
sports saloon
2166 cc
1936 example 
New Fifteen
2192 cc
1937 example 
4-dr all-weather tourer
2522 cc
1940 example 
2522 cc
1947 example 
2522 cc
1951 example 
2433 cc
1955 example 
Conquest Century
drophead coupé
2433 cc
1955 example 

World War II work[edit]

Daimler Mk1 Armoured Car

During World War II, Daimler turned to military production. A four-wheel-drive scout car, known to the Army as the Dingo had a 2.5-litre engine and the larger Daimler Armoured Car powered by a 4.1-litre engine and armed with a 2-pounder gun were produced, both with six-cylinder power units, fluid flywheels and epicyclic gearboxes.[78] These military vehicles incorporated various innovative features including all-round disc brakes.[78] The Dingo was a BSA design, Daimler's own design had proved inferior but the "Dingo" name was retained.[citation needed]

During the war Daimler built more than 6,600 Scout Cars and some 2,700 Mk I and Mk II Armoured Cars. Daimler also provided tank components, including epicyclic gearboxes for 2,500 Crusader, Covenanter and Cavalier tanks.[79] They built 74,000 Bren gun, initially at a workshop in their Coventry factory and, after the workshop was destroyed in the April 1941 raid, at a boot and shoe factory in Burton-on-Trent.[80]

Instead of building complete aircraft as they had in World War I, Daimler built aircraft components, including 50,800 Bristol radial aero-engines—Mercury, Hercules and Pegasus—with full sets of parts for 9,500 more of these engines,[80] propeller shafts for Rolls-Royce aero-engines, and 14,356 gun-turrets for bombers including their Browning machine guns. In all, Daimler produced more than 10 million aircraft parts during the war.[80] All this production is Daimler's alone excluding BSA's other involvements.

Daimler's peak workforce, 16,000 people, was reached in this period.[81]

The original Sandy Lane plant, used as a government store, was destroyed by fire during intensive enemy bombing of Coventry, but there were by now 'shadow factories' elsewhere in the city including one located at Brown's Lane, Allesey. After the Jaguar takeover, the factory at Brown's Lane became the principal Jaguar car plant for several decades.[78] The factory has since been torn down.

After that war, Daimler produced the Ferret armoured car, a military reconnaissance vehicle based on the innovative 4.1-litre-engined armoured car they had developed and built during the war, which has been used by over 36 countries.

Postwar large cars
touring limousine
1946 example 
all-weather tourer
1948 example 
Twenty-Seven[note 1] limousine 1950
in May 2011 the oldest car in Sweden's Royal Mews in regular use 
Hooper Empress
Hooper Empress
drophead coupé
1951 example 
Special Sports
drophead coupé
1952 example 
1955 example 
sports saloon
1957 example 
1960 example 
Majestic Major V8
1961 example 
DK400 4½-litre 6
DR450 4½-litre V8

Postwar decline[edit]

Lanchester Ten, body by Briggs Motor Bodies
Daimler Ambulance, based on DE27 chassis

Churchill, for many years a regular customer, did his electioneering for his first postwar election sitting on the top of the back seat of a discreetly fast and luxurious low-slung Dolphin two-door drophead coupé first registered in 1944. The government ordered new limousines for the top brass of the occupying forces. New straight-eights were supplied to the former colonies for the planned royal tours.[note 3]

The first Daimler limousines to be delivered after the war went to embassies and consulates in Europe and to the Lieutenant-Governors of Jersey and Guernsey. These were Straight-Eights built largely from pre-war stock. The first post-war model was the Eighteen, a development of the pre-war Fifteen using the Scout Car's 2.5 L engine with a new high-compression cylinder head.[80] The model used curved glass in its side windows[80] which were framed by chromed metal channels instead of the thick pillars that were usual at the time.[82] Because of ongoing restrictions on steel, many of the Eighteen's body panels were made from aluminium. The first post-war Lanchester, the Ten, looked like an enlarged Ford Prefect and its body was made in the same factory, Briggs Motor Bodies on the Ford site at Dagenham.[82]

Despite the austerity of the times, Daimler celebrated the 1946 golden jubilee of the founding of the business was with a luncheon at the Savoy, at which they announced the pricing of the Daimler Eighteen and the Lanchester Ten. Production of large eight-seat limousines, the six-cylinder DE27 and the eight-cylinder DE36, began in March 1946. These were among the first series-built cars with electrically operated windows.[82] They were also the first Daimler cars since 1909 to use bevel gear final drive instead of Daimler's usual worm final drive, and the DE36 was the last straight-eight automobile to be manufactured in Britain.[82] The DE27 chassis was also used in the Daimler Ambulance with bodies by Barker and Hooper.[82]

Foreign monarchs, including the Queen of the Netherlands, the King of Thailand, The Aga Khan (and Prince Aly Khan), the Emperor of Ethiopia, the Prince of Monaco, and the King of Afghanistan, re-ordered to replenish their fleets.[83]

Then in June 1947 purchase tax was doubled—home market sales had already been restricted to cars for "essential purposes". Petrol remained rationed, ten gallons a month. Princess Elizabeth took her 2½-litre drophead coupé, an 18th-birthday gift from her father, to Malta, where her new husband was stationed. The King took delivery of a new open tourer straight-eight in March 1949. In the commodities boom caused by the 1950 Korean War Australasian woolgrowers reported the new electrically operated limousine-division to be 'just the thing' if over-heated sheepdogs licked the back of a driver's ears. The newest royal Daimler's transmission failed again and again.
This schedule shows where what should have been Daimler repeat-orders went to. Daimler subsidiary Hoopers at least got to make some of the bodies.

Consorts discounted[edit]

Daimlercade President Eisenhower
Kabul Afghanistan 9 December 1959

Sir Bernard Docker took the extra responsibility of Daimler's managing director in January 1953 when James Leek was unable to continue through illness. Car buyers were still waiting for the new (Churchill) government's easing of the 'temporary' swingeing purchase tax promised in the lead up to the snap-election held during the 1951 Earl's Court motor show. Lady Docker told her husband to rethink his marketing policies. 3-litre Regency production was stopped. In the hope of keeping 4,000+ employed the Consort price was dropped from 4 February 1953 to the expected new tax-inclusive level.

Stagnation of all the British motor industry was relieved by the reduction of purchase tax in the April 1953 budget. Daimler announced the introduction of the moderately sized Conquest in May (apparently developed in just four months from the four-cylinder Lanchester 14 or Leda with a Daimler grille).

Daimler and Lanchester (there were no more BSA cars) struggled after the War, producing too many models with short runs and limited production, and frequently selling too few of each model, while Jaguar seemed to know what the public wanted and expanded rapidly. Daimler produced heavy, staid, large and small luxury cars with a stuffy, if sometimes opulent image. Jaguar produced lower quality cars at a remarkably low price, designed for enthusiasts.

The BSA group's leadership of the world's motorcycle market was eventually lost to Japanese manufacturers.

Lady Docker's Daimlers[edit]

Blue Clover, her second show car
Golden Zebra 2-dr coupé by Hooper

Sir Bernard Docker was the managing director of BSA from early in WWII, and married Norah Lady Collins in 1949. Nora was twice-widowed and wealthy in her own right. This was her third marriage. She had originally been a successful dance hall hostess. Lady Docker took an interest in her husband's companies and became a director of Hooper, the coachbuilders.

Daughter of an unsuccessful Birmingham car salesman[84] Lady Docker could see that the Daimler cars, no longer popular with the royal family, were in danger of becoming an anachronism in the modern world. She took it upon herself to raise Daimler's profile, but in an extravagant fashion, by encouraging Sir Bernard to produce show cars.

The first was the 1951 "Golden Daimler", an opulent touring limousine, in 1952, "Blue Clover", a two-door sportsmans coupe, in 1953 the "Silver Flash" based on the 3-litre Regency chassis, and in 1954 "Stardust", redolent of the "Gold Car", but based on the DK400 chassis as was what proved to be her Paris 1955 grande finale, a 2-door coupé she named "Golden Zebra", the "last straw" for the Tax Office and now on permanent display at The Hague.

At the same time Lady Docker earned a reputation for having rather poor social graces when under the influence, and she and Sir Bernard were investigated for failing to correctly declare the amount of money taken out of the country on a visit to a Monte Carlo casino. Sir Bernard was instantly dumped "for absenteeism" by the Midland Bank board without waiting for the court case.[85][86] Norah drew further attention. She ran up large bills and presented them to Daimler as business expenses but some items were disallowed by the Tax Office. The publicity attached to this and other social episodes told on Sir Bernard's standing as some already thought the cars far too opulent and perhaps a little vulgar for austere post-war Britain.[87] To compound Sir Bernard's difficulty, the royal family shifted allegiance to Rolls-Royce. By the end of 1960 all the State Daimlers had been sold and replaced by Rolls-Royces.

Turner's engines[edit]

Main article: Daimler V8 engines
Daimler SP250 (1961 example)

In 1951 Jack Sangster sold his motorcycle companies Ariel and Triumph to BSA, and joined their board. In 1956 Sangster was elected chairman, defeating Sir Bernard 6 votes to 3.[88] After a certain amount of electioneering by the Dockers an extraordinary shareholders' meeting backed the board decision and Bernard and Norah left buying a brace of Rolls-Royces as they went registering them as ND5 and BD9.[89] Many important European customers turned out to have been Docker friends and did not re-order Daimler cars.[90]

Sangster promptly made Edward Turner head of the automotive division which as well as Daimler and Carbodies (London Taxicab manufacturers) included Ariel, Triumph, and BSA motorcycles. Turner designed the lightweight hemi head Daimler 2.5 & 4.5 Litre V8 Engines. The small engine was used to power a production version of an apprentice's exercise, the very flexible Dart and the larger engine installed in the Majestic Major, a relabelled Majestic. Under Sangster Daimler's vehicles became a little less sober and more performance oriented. The Majestic Major proved an agile high-speed cruiser on the new motorways. Bill Boddy described the SP250 as unlikely to stir the memories of such ghosts as haunt the tree-lined avenues near Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor Castle.[91]

Daimler limousine DR450 1967 example

The two excellent Turner V8 engines disappeared with British Leyland's first rationalisation, the larger in 1968 and the smaller a year later.

Buses 1911–1973[edit]

Daimler CVD6 coach 1948 example

A significant element of Daimler production was bus chassis, mostly for double deckers. Daimler had been interested in the commercial vehicle market from 1904. In 1906 it produced, using the Auto-Mixte patents of Belgian Henri Pieper, a petrol-electric vehicle and on 23 May 1906 registered Gearless Motor Omnibus Co. Limited.[92] It was too heavy. Following the introduction of Daimler-Knight sleeve-valve engines re-designed for Daimler by Dr Frederick Lanchester Lanchester also refined the Gearless design and it re-emerged in 1910 as the KPL (Knight-Pieper-Lanchester) omnibus, a very advanced integral petrol electric hybrid. The KPL bus had four-wheel brakes and steel unitary body/chassis construction.[27] Failure to produce the KPL set bus design back twenty years.

Introduction of the KPL was stopped by a patent infringement action brought by London General Omnibus's associate Tilling-Stevens in early May 1911 when just twelve KPL buses had been built. This was just after Daimler had poached LGOC's Frank Searle and announced him to be general manager of its new London bus service which would be using its new KPL type to compete directly with LGOC.[93]

Some of LGOC's vehicles used Daimler engines. With the collapse of Daimler's plans Searle, an engineer and designer of the LGOC X-type and AEC B-type bus, instead joined Daimler's commercial vehicle department. Reverting to (before LGOC) omnibus salesman Searle rapidly achieved some notable sales. 100 to Metropolitan Electric Tramways and 250 to LGOC's new owner, Underground.

First Searle designed for Daimler a 34-seater with gearbox transmission (the KPL used electric motors each side) very like the B-Type and it was introduced by Daimler in early 1912.[92] The main difference from what became the AEC B-Type was the use of Daimler's sleeve-valve engine. In June 1912 what had been LGOC's manufacturing plant was hived off as AEC. Between 1913 and 1916 AEC built some Daimler models under contract and Daimler sold all AEC vehicles which were surplus to LGOC needs. After war service now Colonel Searle moved to Daimler Hire Limited and its involvement in aviation. The Searle models were developed after World War I, but from 1926–8 Daimler entered into a joint venture with AEC vehicles being badged as Associated Daimler.

In the 1930s the Daimler CO chassis became the main model, followed by a similar, but heavier, CW 'austerity' model produced during World War II (100 with the Gardner 5LW engine (CWG5), the rest with the AEC 7.7-litre engine – CWA6) and in postwar years production worked through the Daimler CV to the long-running Daimler CR Fleetline, built from 1960 to 1980 (CVG5 and CVG6 had been a common type of bus in Hong Kong between 1950 to 1988 and Fleetline had also become a major type of bus in Hong Kong until 1995). Small numbers of single deck vehicles were also built. Many British bus operators bought substantial numbers of the vehicles and there were also a number built for export. The standard London double-decker bus bought from 1970 to 1978 was the Daimler Fleetline.

Daimler Fleetline 1968 example

Daimler buses were fitted with proprietary diesel engines, the majority by the Gardner company, of Eccles, Manchester, although there were a few hundred Daimler diesels built in the 1940s & 1950s, and the Leyland O.680 was offered as an option on the Fleetline (designated CRL6) after the merger with Leyland. The bus chassis were also fitted with bodywork built by various outside contractors, as is standard in the British bus industry, so, at a casual glance, there is no real identifying feature of a Daimler bus, apart from the badges (Front engined Daimler buses retained the distinctive fluted radiator grille top). The last Daimler Fleetline was built at the traditional Daimler factory in Radford, Coventry, in 1973. After that date, the remaining buses were built at the Leyland factory in Farington, Preston, Lancashire, the final eight years of Fleetline production being badged as Leylands. The last Fleetline built was bodied by Eastern Coach Works in 1981.

During that Jaguar-owned period 1960–1968, Daimler became the second-largest (after Leyland) double-decker bus manufacturer in Britain, with the "Fleetline" model. At the same time, Daimler made trucks and motorhomes. BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation to give the British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. Production of Daimler buses in Coventry ceased in 1973 when production of its last bus product (the Daimler Fleetline) was transferred to Leyland plant in Farington. Daimler stayed within BLMC and its subsequent forms until 1982, at which point Jaguar (with Daimler) was demerged from BL as an independent manufacturer.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1960-1966)[edit]

In May 1960, the Daimler business was purchased from BSA by Jaguar Cars[94] for 3.4 million pounds.[95] William Lyons was looking to expand manufacture, wanted the manufacturing facilities and had to decide what to do with the existing Daimler vehicles.

Jaguar had been refused planning permission for a new factory in the area in which it wanted it to be. Daimler had shrunk to representing just 15% of BSA group turnover in 1959–1960 and BSA wished to dispose of its motoring interests.[94] "Jaguars reiterate their previous statement that the production of the current range of Daimler models is to be continued. Furthermore, research and development work in connexion with future Daimler models will proceed normally. Jaguars deny rumors to the effect that sweeping changes, including even the extinction of the Daimler marque, are to be expected. The company's long term view envisages not merely the retention of the Daimler marque, but the expansion of its markets at home and overseas, it is stated."[95]

Paul Skilleter, in his book "Jaguar saloon cars" states that Jaguar put a Daimler 4.5L V8 in a Mark X, and it went better than the Jaguar version, achieving 135 mph at the MIRA banked track, even with an inefficient prototype exhaust.

The Daimler Majestic Major and the sporty Dart, already in production, were continued for a number of years, using the Daimler V8 engine. In 1961 Daimler introduced the DR450, a limousine version of its Majestic Major with a longer chassis and bodyshell and higher roofline. It continued in production until the DS420 arrived in 1968, by which time it had sold almost as many as the "Major" saloon.

They were the last Daimlers not designed by Jaguar.

Daimler 2.5 V8 and V8-250[edit]

Daimler V8-250, hybrid
Small Daimler V8 in a re-badged Jaguar car
the most popular Daimler (1968 example)

The last car to have a Daimler engine was the 2.5 V8 later V8-250 which was essentially, apart from a fluted top to its grille, different badges and drivetrain, a more luxurious Jaguar Mk 2. Its distinctive personality may have attracted buyers who would have avoided the matching Jaguar.

While this car became the most popular Daimler ever produced it had two remarkable characteristics:

Daimler Sovereign[edit]

Daimler Sovereign (1969 example)

The decision was straightforward, now there would be no more than a Daimler label for a luxury version of a Jaguar car. After discussion it was decided it would not be a Royale but a Sovereign.

Daimler Company, owned by BMH (1966-1968)[edit]

Jaguar was taken over by British Motor Corporation (BMC), the new masters of badge-engineering, in 1966 and a few months later BMC was renamed British Motor Holdings (BMH).[96][97][98]

Sir William Lyons[edit]

Though Jaguar had diversified by adding, after Daimler, Guy trucks and Coventry-Climax to their group they remained dependent on Pressed Steel for bodies. Once BMC had taken control of Pressed Steel Lyons felt compelled to submit to the BMC takeover. Lyons remained anxious to see that Jaguar maintained its own identity and came to resent the association with British Leyland. He was delighted by Sir John Egan's accomplishments and by the new independence arranged in 1984.[99]

In 1967, British Leyland's New York advertising agency advised and it was accepted that there was insufficient in the group advertising budget to cope with maintaining the marketing of the Daimler brand in USA.[27]

Owned by British Leyland (1968-1984)[edit]

Daimler DS420 Limousine[edit]

Main articles: Daimler DS420 and Jaguar Mark X
Daimler DS420 Limousine
based on the Jaguar Mark X

The Daimler DS420 Limousine was introduced in 1968 to replace their Daimler DR450 and BMC's Vanden Plas Princess. The DS420 used a Jaguar Mk X unitary carcass with a restyled roof and a floor pan extended by 21 inches behind the front seat and strengthened. The extension of the Mark X unit bodies was done by Motor Panels, a subsidiary of Rubery Owen. The floor pan with mechanicals was available to coachbuilders as a rolling chassis for use with specialised bodywork, usually as hearses; Startin of Birmingham built more than 300 DS420-based hearses. Finishing from the bare metal, including final assembly and trimming the interior, was done by Vanden Plas, who had earlier made the Princess for BMC.[100]

The DS420 was withdrawn from production in 1992.[citation needed] From 1986 it had been the last production automobile to use the Jaguar XK6 engine.[101] The last DS420-based Startin hearse was delivered on 9 February 1994 to Mr. Slack, a funeral director in Cheshire.[102]

Though based entirely on Jaguar components, the DS420 was unique to Daimler. These limousines, wedding and funeral cars and the hearses made by independent coachbuilders are now the way most remember Daimler cars.[103]

Daimler Sovereign, Daimler Double-Six[edit]

Daimler Sovereign 4.2 SI (1972 example)
Daimler Double-Six SIII (1988 example)

These were the first series of vehicles that were badge-engineered Jaguars (XJ Series), but given a more luxurious and upmarket finish. For example the Daimler Double-Six was a Jaguar XJ-12, the Daimler badge and fluted top to its grille and boot handle being the only outward differences from the Jaguar, with more luxurious interior fittings and extra standard equipment marking it out on the inside.

Discontinuation in Continental Europe and USA[edit]

Jaguar to Daimler 'conversion'

The Daimler name was dropped in Europe for two or three years in the early 1980s. Jaguar adopted the Sovereign designation. The Daimler name returned in Europe at the end of 1985. Jaguar decided it would have its part of the fortune European dealers were making from importing conversion kits of Daimler body parts to convert Jaguars to Daimlers. However, in the United States, Daimlers with fluted grilles and licence plate housings were labelled 'Jaguar Vanden Plas'.[104]


One strategy to sell Daimlers was through fleet sales of Jaguars to boards of directors; Jaguar would offer to include a more prestigious Daimler for the chairman.[105]

From 1972 to 1974 the chairman of Jaguar Cars was Lofty England, who began his career in the automotive industry as a Daimler apprentice from 1927 to 1932.[106]

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1984-1989)[edit]

Daimler Six Europe specification
XJ40 produced 1986–1994
Daimler Double Six Europe specification
XJ81 produced 1992–1994

If Jaguar was not to follow Daimler into becoming just another once iconic brand it needed immense amounts of capital to develop new models and build and equip new factories. This was beyond the ability of the BMH—now British Leyland—Group.[107] It was decided to market the Jaguar business by first obtaining a separate London Stock Exchange listing to fix a price then ensuring any successful bid for all the listed shares in the whole business would be from a bidder with, or with access to, the necessary capital.[108] That bidder proved to be Ford.

1984 produced a record group output of 36,856 cars but less than 5% were badged Daimler. Two years later Daimler's share had reached 11.5%—in fact almost 23% if the Vanden Plas for USA is included.

When the new XJ40 came into production in 1986 the series III was kept in production a further six years to 1992 to carry the big Double Six engines.[101]

Owned by Ford (1989-2007)[edit]

Further information: Premier Automotive Group
Daimler XJS prototype, Coventry Motor Museum, England

In 1989 the Ford Motor Company paid £1.6 billion to buy Jaguar and with it the right to use the Daimler name. In 1992, Daimler (Ford) stopped production of the DS420 Limousine, the only model that was a little more than just a re-badged Jaguar.[103]

When Ford bought Jaguar in 1990, the British press showed a coloured computer-generated image of a proposed 'new' Daimler car – not merely a rebadged Jaguar XJ. At least one related project has been documented.[103]

Daimler remained the flagship Jaguar product in every country except the USA where the top Jaguar is known as the "XJ Vanden Plas" — Jaguar may have feared that the American market would confuse Jaguar Daimler with Daimler AG. Marketing of the Daimler name in USA had ceased in 1967.[109]


Double Six
Double Six

Daimler's centenary was celebrated in 1996 by the production of a special edition: 100 Double Six and 100 straight-six cars, each with special paint and other special finishes including electrically adjustable rear seats.

X300 1994–1997[110]SWBLWB
Daimler Six1,3621,330
Daimler Double Six1,0071,230
Daimler Century Six100
Daimler Century Double Six100

The single 2-door 4-seater convertible built in 1996 to commemorate Daimler's centenary and called Daimler Corsica was based on the Daimler Double-Six saloon. The prototype, which lacked an engine, had all the luxury features of the standard saloon but a shorter wheelbase. Painted "Seafrost" it was named after a 1931 Daimler Double-Six with a body by Corsica. Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust have decommissioned it to operate as a fully functional road-legal car[111] and it is on display at their museum at Browns Lane in Coventry, England.

Daimler Super V8[edit]

Daimler Super V8
Daimler Super V8

1997 saw the end of production of the Double Six. It was superseded by the introduction of a (Jaguar) V8 engine and the new car was given the model name Mark II XJ. The engine was the only significant change from the previous XJ40. The replacement for the Double Six was the supercharged Super V8, the supercharger to compensate for the loss of one-third of the previous engine's capacity.

X308 1997–2003[110]SWBLWB
Daimler Eight1642,119
Daimler Super V8762,387

Daimler Super Eight[edit]

After a three-year break a new Daimler, the Super Eight, was presented in July 2005. It had a new stressed aluminium monocoque/chassis-body with a 4.2 L V8 supercharged engine which produced 291 kW (396 PS; 390 bhp) and a torque rating of 533 N·m (393 lb·ft) at 3500 rpm. This car was derived from the Jaguar XJ (X350).

Owned by Tata (2007-)[edit]

At the end of 2007 (the formal announcement was delayed until 25 March 2008), it became generally known that India's Tata Group had completed arrangements to purchase Jaguar and Daimler.

Tata had spoken to the press of plans to properly relaunch England's oldest car marque.[112] In July 2008 Tata Group, the current owners of Jaguar and Daimler, announced they were considering transforming Daimler into "a super-luxury marque to compete directly with Bentley and Rolls-Royce".[113] Until the early 1950s it was often said "the aristocracy buy Daimlers, the nouveau riche buy Rolls-Royce".[27]

Current status[edit]

The Daimler Company Limited, now The Daimler Motor Company Limited, is still registered as active and accounts are filed each year though it is currently marked "non-trading".[114] Until 20 December 1988 its name was The Daimler Company Limited.

Before 5 October 2007 Jaguar, while still controlled by Ford, reached agreement to permit then de-merging DaimlerChrysler to extend its use of the name Daimler. The announcement of this agreement was delayed until the end of July 2008 and made by Jaguar's new owner, Tata.[note 4]

By 2007, Jaguar's use of the Daimler brand was limited to one model, the Super Eight, which was to be last Daimler model to be produced.

In 2009, Jaguar lost the right to trademark the Daimler name in the United States.[109]

Other concerns of similar name[edit]

In 1895, the Daimler Motor Syndicate obtained from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) the right to use the Daimler name and the British rights to Daimler's patents. This is the sole link between the British and German entities. The Daimler Motor Syndicate sold these rights to the Daimler Motor Company in 1896, which was bought by BSA in 1910 and renamed The Daimler Company. Jaguar Cars bought the Daimler Company in 1960 and renamed it Daimler Motor Company in 1988.

Austro-Daimler bought similar rights from DMG to use the Daimler name and patents in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austro-Daimler was later absorbed into Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The automotive division of this corporation was eventually absorbed by Magna International and renamed Magna Steyr. The military vehicle division was renamed Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH (SSF) and was bought by General Dynamics.

DMG used the Daimler name on all its cars until 1901, when it began using the Mercedes name on some of its cars. After 1908, all DMG cars used the name Mercedes. In 1926, DMG merged with Benz und Cie to form Daimler-Benz. This name continued until 1998 when they merged with the Chrysler Corporation to form DaimlerChrysler in 1998. Upon selling Chrysler in 2007, the company was renamed Daimler AG.

List of Daimler cars[edit]

Some of the more well-known vehicles produced by Daimler and their factory catalogued variants by Barker and Hooper prior to Daimler's acquisition by Jaguar in 1960 were:

1908 switch to sleeve-valve engines
1932 switch to poppet valves for new engines

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u RAC Rating
  2. ^ "Apparently developed by W. O. Bentley while he was based in Coventry working on the Bentley Rotary programme, this revised engine owed much of its improved power output to the introduction of aluminium pistons." - Montagu & Wise, Daimler Century, p. 176
  3. ^ Among these was a fleet of six 1948 Daimler DE 36 hp Landaulette models originally commissioned by Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley in 1948 for the proposed 1949 Royal Tour of Australia by King George VI. When the tour was cancelled due to the King's poor health, the fleet, already crated and ready for transport to Australia, had to be dispersed. Two were sold by Australia's High Commissioner, Jack Beasley, to the Maharajah of Mysore, but the remaining four were shipped to Australia in 1949, where they became part of the government car pool. Occasionally used by the Governor-General, Sir William McKell, the four cars were recalled for duty for the Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth two years later. Only two of these cars survive, one of which is being restored at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.
  4. ^ Jaguar now shares the rights to the Daimler name with Daimler AG, the German car manufacturer created when DaimlerChrysler was split up. Jaguar agreed terms in 2007 which allow the German company to use the Daimler brand as the title of a trading company, a trade name, or a corporate name – rights it did not hold previously. The renegotiated terms did not affect Jaguar's rights to build Daimler cars. A spokesman for Jaguar said, “The extended usage agreement does not affect either company's existing right to use the Daimler name for a product.” The Times, 28 July 2008.



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  3. ^ Douglas-Scott-Montagu, Edward John Barrington & Burgess-Wise, David: Daimler Century pp. 13-14
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    • "Business Announcement". The Electrical Review (Electrical review) 36: 714. 1895. Retrieved 2013-06-19. "A circular signed "Andrew Pears " states that from June 1st the works of the Thames Electric and Steam Launch Company, of Twickenham, are under new management, and all communications should be addressed to the company and not to employis (sic)." 
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External links[edit]

Media related to Daimler Company vehicles at Wikimedia Commons