I was interested in your article on saloon car racing (Motor Sport, April 1989), particularly with reference to the Daimlers, as I was one of a few enthusiastic apprentices watching “our” car perform that day in 1954.
The outstanding feature of that race was Wharton’s electrifying Le Mans start, giving his Daimler a full 100 yards on the rest of the field. The fluid couplings had been deleted on these cars and it was possible to leave the car in gear and just press the throttle and start button and go. Strictly speaking, I think it was against the rules to leave the car in gear, but to the uninitiated it is rather difficult to detect with a preselective transmission!
Not to be outdone by Jaguar, Daimler prepared two 41/2-litre Sportsman models for the following year’s race. These were tuned by Weslake and again had no fluid coupling. Unfortunately they were never used (probably due to the Suez affair) but one of them (registration PRW 641) was used for some years as a test car for the Hobbs transmission. Ken Wharton ran a company Daimler Century (registration WHA 606) for some time. This car was later used by the factory as a mobile test-bed for the 21/2-litre V8, and was particularly useful for chasing Mk7 Jaguars up the Coventry bypass. What privileged people we apprentices were, being allowed to play with all this expensive machinery!
John Box, Carnforth, Lancashire