WEEK-END WITH A DAIMLER EIGHTEEN
Em n this rationed age regular Editorially-conducted road-tests are not possible, so we have to seek the assistance of our readers. Your enthusiast must motor, and Peter Robertson-Rodger hired a modern Daimler from Daimler Hire. Here are his impressions of this British quality car.—Ed.1
IN these Hun-enlightened days of rationing, cadging and petty scrounging of the ever-elusive petrol coupon, the golden prospect of motoring 280 miles in a single week-end was a glittering vision indeed. It so happened that much motoring was suddenly necessary all at once, including attending the enthusiasts’ lunch party at the Rembrandt, and since, even in wartime, right-minded persons Still consider the future of the Island Race, a country wedding was slated for the following day.
The answer was soon found : a ‘phone call to Daimler Hire, a few courteously conducted formalities, in which cheques and forms of indenmity were largely concerned, and the motor-car was ours for three days. It seemed a strange -sensation for a moment that we were actually going to drive a Daimler. Analysing this feeling later, one put it down to not being ” Daimler conscious,as it were. I mean, when one thought ala nit Daimlers at all one automatically associated them with a rather dusty smell, funerals, unhappy dela:. being stared at in the Mall and Royalty. Somehow, I do not feel I am alone in this matter. . . .
1%•ell, the next thing that happened was an explanation of what all the knobs and handles were for. This survey was reiltarkable only for a pronouncement 1)y our mentor which surely should go down in ballad and song : ” That ? Oh, that’s just the ignition lever—no need to bother about that.” Next, a trip round the houses, to satisfy the insurance people of our skill. This skill was rather sadly Jacking, since aequaintanee with the peculiarities of the Wilson gearbox was slight, and we Were also quite unaware that the machine was blessed with butterchurn transmission. Twice we forgot how many times we had stamped on the ” clutch pedal,” and so found Ourselves unexpech.qlly travelling in the direction of recession, and . uttered some pretty terse comments anent clutch slip until ren i inded of the presence of said butterchurn. However, these _trifling pothers were soon overcome, a chit was signed saying we had taken delivery of the car in good condition, and we were free to sit in the seat of aovernment and meditate. First impressions, which count for a lot, Were ell I i rely favourable. To begin with, you can see out. The bonnet is low, the seat just right, the adjustable steering column brings the wheel just where you want it, and the general placing of controls is
altogether admirable. In these days of high bonnets (usually concealing an engine which scareely rises above chassis level), peering through ill-raked steering wheels and performing creditable acrobatic feats when endeavouring to reach the brake pedal, the. rare sensation of actually being in control of the car vas a change as welcome as it NV:LS novel. Threading our way westwards towards the Kingston Bypass, the ease of handling and ccatainty or control were pleasurably apparent.. We had now made it up with gearbox and butter-churn and indeed were quite intrigued with their latent possibilities, although still entirely unconvinced of their superiority over good orthodox transmission, except for the indolent or flurry-minded. Doubtless the simpleton who is unable to appreciate that it is necessary to declutch on coming to a standstill will for ever be with us ; but should he (or she) be perinitted to conduct a couple of tons of extremely lethal weapon at great. speeds -indeed, be
encouraged to do so by the provision of such mechanical ingemtities as arc under review ? Once on the open road, the Daimler went up to 60 m.p.h. with absolute ease, and cruised happily at this speed on most economical throttle openings. Moreover, real oomph from this speed was forthcoming, reaching and holding 70 m.p.h. without any fuss at. all. A slight “period” in the front suspension was noticed at about 68, resulting in rather Violent steering judder, but this passed off at once when a higher or lower speed was
reached. The speedometer gave the impression of being on the slow side, and a timed maximum of 73 m.p.h. would seem a fair estimate of’ all-out speed. At this velocity, as on ultimate speeds on the gears, there was distinct evidence of strenuous toil beneath the bonnet, the engine making sontewhat agricultural noises and roaring a little. This occurred at about M.p.h. on second and 50 m.p.h. on third, which gear seemed unnecessarily low and a rather higher ratio would have been preferred. Ihrwever, the road-la dding, with the independent coil front susia.nsion, is really most excellent and quite rapid cornering can safely be indid?red in, the good vision and steering aiding not a little. In this connection it is worth recording that. a large American limousine, containing two unlovely specimens of the Chosen ltace, piloted by a corpulent chauffeur of repellent aspect, with but a rudimentary knowledge of his car, cornering and road manners, was soundly beaten on the Kingston Bypass, only the agitation of his unprepossessing cargo eventually restraining him from determined attempts it hara-kiri at each roundalxmt. After a call in Weybridge, a run to Bray for lunch and back rollowed, the supple ease of the car’s going being much appreciated, especially after lunch. Indeed, heartened and uplifted by a Vosn6e Roman& 191n and it beaker of Delamain 1900, the 1):Ii nler seemed all that one could require in sybaritic transport, responding to one’s Mood, lounging along
in a charmingly easy, comfortable and silent manner. Thus, one felt, would Roman emperors have travelled if they had had the knack.
Actual timed performance figures were a lit tle disappointing, U 30 taking 18 secs., 0-no 23 secs. and 50-70 in top 21 sees. ; under favourable conditions a speedometer reading 1)-i. illtit over 80 VMS obtained. The brakes were sti tooth and certain, though not Very 110 werful, a good deal of pedal movement being necessary before they really began to bite. But mechanical faillts were few and far between and readily forgiven when the respectable mileage of 61,000 was tal“.11 into eonsideration. The general coralition of the car as a whole reflected the highest credit. upon the Daimler Co, for building a very (hirable motor-enr and upon the splendid upkeep afforded the car by Daimler I lire. Only three criticisms really come to mind. first, the layout of the induction and exhaust systems ; the former, with its single S. V. and multitude of sharp corners, being the shape usually drawn to show the enthusiastic amateur tuner exactly what not. to do, Next, starting front cold was not good, a fair amount of jiwrery-pokery with throttle and choke being, neeessary and the engine requiring some time to warm up, both faults being Perhaps due to the bad indttetion pipe shape mentioned above. And. finally, why, oh why, in these days of advanced metallurgy must we still have cars built, as regards weight, on the lines of it ” Waltzing Matilda ” ? B.NI.W., Delahave, Delage, Lancia and many others
have shown that light construct ion and dural?ilit V can go band in hand, I promise I will [my th( first good British car built on these lines after the war.
Anyway, a very pleasant niotAlr-car and a very pleasant interlude.