When we were invited by the Chairman and Directors of The Daimler Company Ltd. to a reception at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on the occasion of the presentation of a new Daimler limousine with coachwork by Vanden Plas we accepted with alacrity, partly because it is nice to meet again old friends of this oldest of British motor manufacturers, like Bob Berry and “Lofty” England, and partly because this, we thought, is where we get our first glimpse of the long-rumoured vee-twelve Daimler/Jaguar engine.
For, remembering the great vee-twelve sleeve-valve Daimlers, vee-twelve Hispano-Suizas and vee-twelve Rolls-Royce Phantom III limousines of before the war, surely no 1968 car of such bulk, opulence and luxury could possibly have fewer than a dozen cylinders?
Having attained the Royal Lancaster, parked the Alfa Romeo on the roof, and descended by slow lift (no stairs) to the lower ground floor, we were able to meet our friends and inspect this great new Daimler limousine, all 18 ft. 10 in. of it (in which it gives away 1 ft. 7.6 in. to the biggest Mercedes-Benz 600), very regal, very modern as these cars go, styled round an imitation of Daimler’s fluted radiator of ancient times, standing on Dunlop radial-ply tyres, and exhibited on a suitably illuminated dais. Then we looked under the bonnet and, instead of the expected brand-new multi-cylinder power unit, saw a familiar in-line six-cylinder twin-cam twin-S.U. 245-b.h.p. engine, sired at Le Mans. It was a bit of a shock!
We have no doubt that this great new Daimler limousine will provide business tycoons, politicians, show-business stars, and true dignitaries with the most restful road travel imaginable. Added to which it surely has the additional distinction in the only twin-cam limousine ever, unless you stretch a point and include the longer Alfa Romeos of a decade back—although it was Joe Lowrey who pointed out that the Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine has twin-camshafts, if you count one above each bank of six cylinders. You may call this Jaguar-powered Daimler limousine yet another bit of ”badge-engineering”, and, like me, you may be disappointed that it replaces the 4½-litre V8 Daimler Majestic Major in both saloon and limousine form, because these were very likeable cars, which didn’t allow dignity to detract from excellent road-holding and a high top speed. Mark you, they claim 110 m.p.h., a s.s. ¼-mile in 19½ seconds, and over 14 m.p.g. from this latest 4.2-litre tycoon-carriage, in which nine big bodies can be spaciously accommodated.
I did not wait to hear the price of this fine new twin-cam Daimler. Indeed, if this country is as financially exhausted as the City speculators and politicians of all shades would have us believe, it is difficult to see who will be able to afford such a splendid limousine, nice as it is to see the Daimler Company following former traditions, even if it has halved the quantity of cylinders that propel its newest motor-carriages. It would be nice if the Royal Family ordered one, because this, too, was once a tradition, although H.M. the Queen seems quite happy in her Rolls-Royce. Perhaps, however, this Daimler is really intended for Sir Donald Stokes, who certainly deserves a car of this calibre and who can hardly make do with one built at Crewe, in a factory not yet within the Leyland empire—W. B.