x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Top 5: Classic cars from British marque Daimler

As the oldest name in British motoring, Daimler (still owned by Jaguar Land Rover) has always been a cut above the rest, even when the cars were simply posher Jags.

Daimler Majestic Major
Daimler Majestic Major

DB18

It started life as a 1.8L, 15hp model back in 1932, but soon evolved to the heady heights of 2.5L and 18hp (hence the nomenclature). In one form or another, the DB18 (relaunched as the Daimler Consort after the Second World War) was in production until the 1950s, but what really made its reputation was that a certain Winston Churchill chose a convertible one as his steed when stirring war-weary Brits into patriotic fervour and electioneering in 1944 and 1949. If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for anyone.

Majestic Major

"Gracious motoring in the modern manner", and "outstanding in any company with its impeccable appearance and good manners". That's how Daimler's own literature referred to the Majestic Major. Introduced in 1961, it was undoubtedly a staid, albeit luxurious, car that appealed to those well-at-heel and more mature than potential Dart customers. It was blessed with a 4.5L V8 engine that propelled it to a top speed in excess of 195kph, which was quite remarkable for its time.

V8-250

After the damage done to its reputation by the Dart, new owners Jaguar needed to get people talking about the brand for all the right reasons. In 1962 the V8-250 achieved just that, being essentially a Jag Mk II with the Dart's lazy and gorgeous-sounding engine up front. Produced until 1969, over 17,600 were sold but they never achieved the almost mythical status of the identical-looking Jaguar. This is still the case and means good news for anyone wanting those classic lines for a fraction of the price the Mk II still commands.

Series III Double Six

Badge-engineering was in full-swing at Jaguar by the late 1960s, with Daimlers being nothing more than more luxurious models than their mechanically identical feline counterparts. Jaguar's original XJ6 became the Daimler Sovereign (in six-cyliner guise) and the Double Six for the mighty V12. The Series III was the best of the bunch and, in Daimler form at least, it rivalled Rolls-Royce for refinement while housing the world's only V12 engine. One of history's finest saloons.

DS420 Limousine

It looked old fashioned even when it was launched in 1968 but the Daimler Limo, as it came to be known, soldiered on until 1992 and is still used by royalty worldwide for state occasions. Step inside one and you're enveloped by old world luxury on a scale unseen anywhere else. Imagine a stately English mansion on wheels, with serene, almost silent propulsion. Their drivers referred to them as "the Old Lady" and when the 420 bowed out, the motoring world lost one of its most treasured antiquities.