Matters of moment, August 1976

Eighty years on…

This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the Daimler Company, that manufacturer of the cats favoured for so many decades by the British Royal Family—luxury ears of the very highest order. Before the snide remark is made that Daimlers are only suitable for weddings and funerals we would remind you of the early competition car’s, with lusty poppet-valve engines and chain-drive, of the Daimler saloons that actually raced, and without disgrace, at Silverstone after the war, and, of course, of the SP250 sports model.

It is fitting that this great British car should be remembered in its 80th year and to this end we are publishing next month a special colour feature, looking at a few of the earliest examples of the make to have survived. We also understand that the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry, which is so good at this kind of thing—remember its Rover Gas Turbine Exhibition?—is suitably remembering this important British Anniversary. In preparing the Motor Sport contribution to Daimler history we were assisted ably by Leyland Cars and i is very satisfactory to know that British Leyland has not turned its back on history, is indeed letting Tom Wheatcroft assemble some of its historic vehicles at his Donington Museum, vehicles that had been far too scattered and neglected for far too long. It is alsO highly satisfactory that the modern Daimler Double-Six is in every. way a worthy successor to the older Daimlers, those dignified vintage sleeve-valve Double-Sixes in particular. The Daimler we used to round-up the ancient Daimlers we wished to describe and photograph for the September feature, with its splendid 5.3-litre V12 engine, its air-conditioning, and its smooth and effortless performance, represents value-for-Money and motoring satisfaction of an order we defy any foreign makers to beat.

Nor is it only Daimler. British Leyland seem to have a winner in the new Rover 3500, as we explained to you last month. Capt. Mark Phillips, Lord Montagu, Raymond Mays and other discerning drivers are already using this well-thought-out British V8. Then there is the Triumph TR7 and now, in a different size and price class, we await the arrival for road-test of the new Ford Fiesta, which sounds a promising baby on first acquaintance (see Page 911). This isn’t the first front-wheel-drive car made by Ford, as some publicity reports insist, but it is the first car from Ford-of-Britain to be hauled along by its little front wheels and to be propelled by a transverse power-pack. How very proud Sir Alec Issigonis must feel, to find yet another Motor Manufacturing Giant copying the system that he perfected for the Morris Mini Minor, all those long years ago!

So here, in rapid succession, have arrived new British offerings, for those of you able to shop for new motor cars—the Rover 3500, the Triumph TR7, the Ford Fiesta. And Daimler, who started it all with those primitive, but practical and effective, solid-tyred, tiller-controlled, hot-tube-ignited, lofty horseless-carriages, originally powered by two-cylinder engines, all of 79 years ago (it took the newly-founded Coventry concern about a year to get into production) has today the splendid vee-12-cylinder Double-Six with .overhead camshaft, Bosch/Lucas fuel-injection engine, a fine and fast motor-carriage, remarkably competitively priced, at from £8,072,

These new cars have come at a time when Britain’s problems seem to he somewhat receding. We have been having fewer big strikes in the Motor Industry. We have begun to fight back against the might of Ferrari in Formula One racing, with the six-wheeled (4-2-0 ?) Tyrrells, which are proving that British innovations Of a very technical nature can work. There is greater interest than ever in motor racing and in International rallying and if TV continues to ignore the racing, BBC Radio 2 gave us excellent coverage of the British GP. The old-car, indeed, the old-vehicle, movement is as alive as never before, with undiminished entries for most of the traditional Competitions. If only we could rid ourselves of those unfair 50-m.p.h. and 60-m.p.h. speed limits that were foolishly imposed as fuel-saving restraints, an excuse tong out-dated; we might well hold our heads high, as citizens of a motoring Nation.