Comfort, luxury and performance combined in the 3.8-Litre 100 m.p.h. “Majestic” Saloon
Daimler cars have long been renowned for dignity and luxury. Cecil Clutton, in his book “The Vintage Motor Car,” reminds us that this company, the oldest car manufacturer in the world, used to “concentrate purely on dignified formal motors.” But in recent times Daimlers have been fast as well and this is certainly true of the present “Majestic” saloon which, if its driver so desires, will exceed 100 m.p.h.
This imposing modern Daimler has a six-cylinder 3.8-litre pushrod o.h.v. engine developing 147 b.h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m. and maximum torque (209 lb./ft.) at 2,800 r.p.m. The crankshaft runs in four bearings and is statically and dynamically balanced. The die-cast aluminium-alloy pistons have their gudgeon-pins secured by pinch bolts and the camshaft runs in four steel backed light metal liners and is driven by a roller chain from the front of the crankshaft. The specification of the Daimler engine is quite straightforward. The wet sump holds 12 pints of oil, and there is a full-flow filter. Cooling is by a combined water pump and fan running in two ball races, the pressurised radiator holding 23-1/2 pints of coolant, which is directed to the outside of the exhaust ports and sparking-plug bosses by internal jets. Carburation is looked after by twin horizontal S.U. HD6 carburetters fed by an A.C. pump and ignition is by Lucas 12-volt coil and distributor firing Lodge CLNH plugs.
This power unit is coupled to a Borg Warner automatic transmission giving ratios of 9.047 and 5.625 to 1, direct drive being 3.92 to 1, equal to a speed of 21.1 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m.
A divided propeller-shaft conveys the drive to a hypoid back axle containing three pints of lubricant. Steering is Burman recirculating ball-type of 19-to-1 ratio and there is independent coil-spring front suspension with stabilising bar. The back axle is sprung on 1/2-elliptic leaf springs with Newton shock-absorbers. The chassis is of boxed, cruciform-braced type, its wheel base measuring 9 ft. 6 in.
The “Majestic” saloon has sober lines and the car is a full six-seater, bench seats with wide folding centre arm-rests being fitted, although separate front seats can be supplied. The interior appointments are naturally luxurious, the wide facia and door fillets being in walnut veneer. Instrumentation is confined to a big central A.C. 120-m.p.h. speedometer with trip and total mileage recorders and small matching dials for fuel contents, ammeter, clock and water temperature. Before the passenger is a lockable cubby hole of generous dimensions and the driver has a smaller open cubby hole on his side of the facia, while each door possesses a useful rigid stowage well. The speedometer is calibrated every 10 m.p.h., very clearly, and its arc is indented at the 30 position to remind the owner of the extra strain speeding fines might impose on the expense account. Curiously, no oil gauge is provided, only a green warning light. This is matched by a red ignition light.
Rather scattered knobs of various sizes control the heater fan, demist/defrost, heat control, two-speed wipers, petrol reserve, rheostat panel lighting, fog lamps, head and side lamps, mixture, hand throttle, transmission intermediate gear lock and cigar lighter. Most are identified by lettering but they offer a confusing selection, especially at night. The. ignition key tums to operate the starter and a flick switch on the boss of the adjustable 18-in, spring-spoke steering wheel operates the direction flashers, which have an indicator light in the speedometer dial, matched by a bright full-lamps-beam indicator. A button in the wheel-centre sounds a blatant “Col. Trurnpington” horn note.
The seats are deep and upholstered in high-class leather but the front bench is rather shapeless, the back seat being the more comfortable. It was a trifle disappointing to find in this £2,300 car that the carpets were casually secured, that the cubby lid fell down without support when opened, and that the edges of the facia were rather vulnerable to the knees, as one entered the car. The screen washers were inoperative and the trip recorder was difficult to read due to a defect. Some body rattles were evident.
Upholstered foot-rests are provided, there are outside arm-rests for all seats, the rear compartment has openable 1/4-lights (with very stiff toggles), the front doors 1/4-windows (devoid of rain gutters and not thief-proof as to catches). The doors trail, the roof is P.V.C. lined, and stainless steel is used round the back window and windscreen. The bonnet props open automatically, as does the lockable luggage boot-lid, the luggage boot being very capacious, the spare wheel carried below it in a wind-down tray. The boot is lit as the lid is opened. A very fine tool kit is fitted in a wing recess.
Reverting to the Daimler’s interior comforts, interior lamps in the rear quarters have courtesy and reading filaments, the former operated when any door is opened, while the reading filaments can be switched on with press switches on each door pillar. Spring-loaded “pulls” are provided for the rear passengers and pleated pockets are found in the back of the front-seat squab, as well as the usual parcels shelf behind the back seat. Twin vizors, rather cumbersome, are fitted, the passenger’s with a recessed vanity mirror, but they are not transparent. Both front doors have exterior key locks and the rear doors are locked with the interior handles. The handles go forward to open the doors, which are very substantial and shut nicely. The front door window handles need just over two turns, fully up to fully down, the rear window handles 1-1/3 turns.
The doors have external push-buttons and an unusual feature for a dignified saloon is a quick-action fuel filler cap at the near-side rear of the body. The handbrake is set under the scuttle on the extreme right, easy to reach and with a very neat release button for operation with the right index finger. On the right of the steering column is the usual control lever for the Borg Warner transmission, providing PARK, NEUTRAL, DRIVE, LOW and REVERSE settings. The accelerator is a pendant pedal and the brake pedal of normal width and well placed. The headlamps’ dipper is a floor button; there is a good beam in the dipped position.
On the Road
From the driving seat there is excellent forward visibility, both wing-mirrors visible, and the central strip along the bonnet terminates in the Daimler flutes-motif. The seat, as has been said, could be a better shape; it lacks lateral support and the legs could do with a deeper cushion.
Provision of fully automatic transmission gives the present-day Daimler a character it shares with other cars, but the Borg Warner unit works very well and removes all effort from this aspect of driving. The big car can be inched forward with the same precision as the fluid-flywheel once made possible and even the mild effort of pre-selecting the gears is no longer called for. Against this acceleration is somewhat impaired by automatic upward ratio changes which occur at 10 and 22 m.p.h., respectively. A throttle kick-down improves this to 35 and 58 m.p.h., respectively, while normal full throttle postpones changes to 30 and 50 m.p.h., respectively. If the gear lock is used change into direct drive is postponed until approx. 60 m.p.h. is reached, and if speed falls to 55 m.p.h. an automatic change to intermediate gear takes place, but unless LOW is selected, retarding effect on the over-run is only equal to that of top gear. However, the Daimler “Majestic” has acceleration of sports-car potency. It will reach 30 m.p.h, from rest in 4.1 sec., 50 m.p.h. in 10 sec. and devour the s.s. 1/4-mile.in under 20 sec.
As to speed, 80 and 90 m.p.h. come up very easily and given a clear run this six-seater luxury car will exceed 100 m.p.h. The engine is extremely quiet at cruising speed and in the low gears hustles the car forward with a rush of subdued sound. It is virtually inaudible when idling and the car is so silent that conversation between the inmates is encouraged. A slight mechanical tinkle, possibly from a brake or the transmission, occasionally made itself heard.
The suspension is supple, resulting in considerable up and down motion and a bad ride over really rough surfaces. Yet roll is subdued, so that fast cornering is a pleasure, punctuated by very occasional yelp from one of the Dunlops. Indeed, in spite of its length of over 16 ft. and width of over 6 ft., this Daimler “Majestic” handles like a much smaller car, except that the big steering wheel, allied to four turns being required front lock-to-lock, keeps the driver pretty busy. However this is good steering, not spongy, light at speed if very heavy for parking, the wheel transmitting slight shake rather than kick-back and cornering being aided by extremely fast and vigorous castor return action.
Stopping a car of this weight and performance used to be a problem but it is admirably accomplished in the “Majestic” by Dunlop disc brakes all round, which provide silent, fool-proof, fairly light and extremely powerful, yet by no means fierce, retardation. The brakes are assisted by a Lockheed vacuum servo which we dislike only because of a sense of insecurity if the car is coasted with the engine off.
The engine ran normally at 140 deg. F. temperature, rising slightly in traffic on a warm day. No water was added in 860 miles and oil consumption averaged approximately 3,400 m.p.g. As to petrol consumption, this was fractionally below 16 m.p.g. on a fast drive to Oulton Park but improved to 18 m.p.g. on quieter journeys and some 20 m.p.g. idling in traffic. So an average of 18 m.p.g. is to be expected, which is excellent for a heavy high-performance 3.8-litre car. The range is thus some 324 miles, with gallons held in reserve to accomplish this mileage. There is effective heating and demisting, the heater ran only mildly noisy because the Daimler engine is so quiet. The reducing (but not anti-dazzle) rear-view mirror is adequate.
Altogether, this modern Daimler is a car of considerable interest and no little merit. It comes with a handbook in keeping with its dignified demeanour, the lettering picked out in gold and the statement “By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen” proudly displayed on the cover.
There is nothing ostentatious about a Daimler, which makes the speed and acceleration of the “Majestic” all the more impressive. This is a car which blends well the old and new aims of this great British make. It is excellent value at £2,356, which includes purchase tax. — W.B.
Type DF 316 Daimler “Majestic” Saloon
Engine: Six-cylinders, 86 by 107 mm. (3,794 c.c.). Push rod-operated overhead valves. 7.5 to 1 compression ratio. 147 (gross) b.h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m.
Gear ratios: Borg Warner fully-automatic three-stage transmission. LOW, 9.047 to 1; INTERMEDIATE, 5.625 to 1; DIRECT, 3.92 to 1.
Tyres: 6.50 by 16 Dunlop Gold Seal tubeless on bolt-on steel disc wheels.
Weight: 1 ton 15 cwt. 3 qr. ready for the road, without occupants, but with approx 1-1/2 gallons of petrol.
Steering ratio: 4 turns, lock-to-lock.
Fuel capacity: 18 gallons (including 1 gallons in reserve). Range: Approx. 324 miles.
Wheelbase: 9 ft. 6 in.
Track: Front. 4 ft. 8 in.; Rear, 4 ft. 9 in.
Dimensions: 16 ft. 4 in. by 6 ft. 1-1/4 in. by 5 ft. 2-3/4 in (high),
Price: £1,662 (£2,356 3s. 4d., inclusive of purchase tax).
Makers: The Daimler Company Ltd., Coventry, England