A POST-WAR DAIMLER
The recent and most illuminating correspondence on Daimlers prompts me to write about my own; a car which does not belong, perhaps, to the more important or exciting marques from their works, but which is, in its way, a very satisfying and reliable car.
The 1949 DB18 with Barker ” four-seater ” d.h. coachwork is a fairly uncommon vehicle nowadays, even in Britain, one would imagine. It is a rarity indeed abroad. I have personally seen only one other like it, in Grasmere in 1963, but I am told that there are still a few about of a variant model which is fundamentally a twoseater but has -a Single rear seat facing sideways. We are the fifth owners and have had her for rather more than four and a half years. The log-hook records her beginning registered life in the ownership of a Mr Evans in Carmarthenshire. He must have placed a special order for her, as, during the work of restoration, his name has frequently come to light behind fascias and door panels. She came to her first London owner in 1960, and since arriving in our hands in 1962 has spent most of her mobile life in Sweden and conveys us now in Australia. Very different climates, and it amuses me to see that her performance is appreciably improved when weather conditions tend to correspond with that obtaining for much of the year in her native Wales. The reason for this is obscure, but the presence of a fair degree of moisture in the air does undoubtedly encourage her to give her best. Perhaps some reader could explain why,
Weighing a cwt. more than a Consort at 321 cwt. the body is rather heavy for the undeveloped single-carburetter motor. A good stretch of smooth road, and of course a hint of mist, is required to set her up to the top seventies. Once there, and given an uninterrupted well cambered road, momentum helped by the slightest depression of the accelerator will hold her there indefinitely. My wife took her up to 83 on a Swedish motorway just as day was breaking, while on a night -journey to Stockholm from the south. This Was achieved with only moderate throttle and clearly there was power in hand for even greater feats.
At speeds approaching this the engine sings magnificently and, considering the age and construction of the car, there is a remarkable absence of vibration or body noise.
Since my father fitted oversize rings and replaced two big ends a couple of years ago, scraping them in by hand,. oil consumption, which had been Spectacular, has been brought down to a pint a Month of daily driving, equivalent to four or five hundred miles.
We find her very comfortable, and for two people, roomy. The rear seat is spendidly sprung and fine to sleep on but, short of moving the seats so far forward that the driver is clamped against the steering wheel, leg room is too limited to allow of any sort of comfort for rear passengers. The telescopically adjustable steering wheel and generous leg room below it allow a comfortably relaxed posture for even my six-foot-three. The gearbox and propeller shaft being stowed away out of sight the floor is flat and free for legs to move. The basket for the motoring cat can stand Squarely too!
As she approaches her 70,000th mile her condition mechanically is very fair, though I must top up the fluid flywheel every month, the seal having gone. Oil is cheap in Australia and as the drops are caught in an emptyable tray slung below the flywheel housing the traffic police have not had to complain. In the heat of the Australia summer the quantities of oil which find their way out of ears on to the road do constitute a problem, and the police, in this instance, have every right to be watchful. The cost and work involved in getting at and replacing the seal makes the operation forbiddingly expensive.
1949 could scarcely have been a vintage year of any note in the coachhuilding business, judging by our example, and I hope later models were better detailed to keep out the weather. A very clumsy hinged lintel over each door was provided, against which the side windows were supposed to provide a rain, snow tind windproof joint. The design is Such that this aim could never have been .ichieved even when the car was new. The hood’s front rail. at its junction wah the windscreen head was similarly not well thought out and this I think is difficult to understand as several d.h. models with which I am familiar are not troubled with this defect, nor are M.G.s or Jaguar Es of recent years.
In a Daimler one would have expected detailing to have been excellent, for, after all, it is not upon any other criterion than excellence that a famous brand-name has been based.
The edge of our enjoyment of motoring with her is in no measure blunted, I hasten to add, by these defects, and here in Australia we have the wonderful dispensation of being able to drive with the hood folded away for months on end. In European snowstorms we could always wrap ourselves up in the grand manner and toast our feet at the comforting Clayton heater.
Perth, W. Australia. Tom INcits.