x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

The grand Daimler

It's rare, it's British and when it came through customs six years ago it couldn't be classified.

Peter Troth bought his 1954 Daimler in the mid-1980s in the United Kingdom and shipped the car to the UAE six years ago. The car is not registered to be driven on the roads here.
Peter Troth bought his 1954 Daimler in the mid-1980s in the United Kingdom and shipped the car to the UAE six years ago. The car is not registered to be driven on the roads here.

When Peter Troth flipped through the classified section of his local newspaper in 1984, he had no idea his curiosity would lead him to owning a legacy for his children. In fact, the British father of four, a mechanical engineer and owner of WSM Machinery in Dubai, almost missed the small insert that said a 1954 Daimler Conquest was for sale.

He recalls, "I'd just returned home to the UK from a stint in Saudi Arabia when I came across the advert in the 'other cars' section. I'd always been interested in Daimlers, and it wasn't expensive, so I thought I'd go and have a look." Troth, who has kept every scrap of paperwork relating to the car, and still has the original classified newspaper pages where he found it, was in for a surprise. A snip at £550 (Dh 3,000), the 30-year-old vehicle was already a classic. But he discovered the Daimler's original owner was more concerned about his car's preservation than profit.

Troth explains; "The car belonged to a very elderly gentleman by the name of Algernon Holdsworth who'd brought it new in 1954. It had been used as a family car for holidays to the seaside and general motoring - and he was very fond of it. Unfortunately, he'd recently been told by the doctor that he was no longer fit enough to drive it, and his licence had been taken away." The owner, upset at no longer being able to use his beloved Daimler, decided to sell the car, but with one condition attached. The new owner would have to appreciate it as much as he himself had done. "He [Holdsworth] was so concerned his car went to the right owner that he interviewed all the potential buyers," says Troth, who promised to keep the car well-maintained, with a view to restoring it to its original beauty. "He wanted it to go to a good home before he died, so he agreed to sell it to me."

However, Troth did not drive the Daimler away immediately. "I could see how attached the gentleman was to his car, and that he was very upset at losing his licence. I thought it might be too much for him if I took it straight away, so I left it a couple of months before I actually collected it. "I promised him then that I'd bring it back once I'd worked on it so that he could see it in mint condition again. I'll never forget watching the gentleman and his wife as I drove away. They stood on the doorstep waving goodbye to the car, both of them in tears."

Good as his word, Troth restored the Daimler, even refitting the original semaphore indicators which had been removed decades previously. Unfortunately though, Holdsworth never lived to see his Daimler fully restored. "Fixing the car up took a little while, and though I called back some time later, sadly, he had died," Troth says. But despite 24 years having passed since the day he purchased the car, Troth has remained true to his word - and has no intention of selling the Daimler, which is now much loved by his own family.

"I don't collect things for money," says Troth, who also has an original Volkswagen Beetle, two Bentleys and a Rolls Royce Corniche. "I look after them and enjoy them - and I shall certainly pass the Daimler on to my children when the time comes. It's not worth very much financially speaking, but it's full of wonderful feelings and memories. For many years, we used it in the UK as a family car and for holiday. The car is a story in itself, and I made an agreement with Mr Holdsworth that I wouldn't just sell it on."

Despite being roadworthy, the right-hand-drive, six-cylinder- engine Daimler, which still has its original preselect gearbox, has not been driven on the UAE's roads. "When it came through customs six years ago, they couldn't classify it because there wasn't a category for a Daimler. So in the end, its papers were written up saying it was a Mercedes," he laughs. "I think it really must be the only Daimler in the Middle East, let alone the UAE."

And registering it here would also entail complications. Troth says; "In order to get it through the test, I'd probably have to make a number of mechanical alterations to it which are not part of the original design, so I'm not prepared to carry them out." Instead, Troth explains that he's prepared to wait until he can ship the car back to Europe before it's driven again. "These types of cars hark back to a past era - and they help show people where we've come from. One of these days when it's back on British soil, I will drive it again," he said.

"It's a pleasure to use and it cruises along sedately, though it has a top speed of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometres per hour). People even used to race Daimlers back in the 1950s." And the saying "Old is gold" has never been truer for Troth, who adds, "There's nothing like the smell of the interior, which is now over half a century old and is still as comfortable as ever. It's like sitting in an armchair. In those days, cars really were built to last."