The Daimler Story – Our Video of the Week

Our video this week features a marque you just don’t see much in the States, Daimler. As rare as they are, you are much more likely to find a Daimler SP250 sports car at your local British car meet than almost any other vehicle in the company’s history.

There is often confusion about the Daimler brand and how it relates to the current German Daimler Ag / Daimler-Benz brand. The marque we are talking about here is purely British and began life as The Daimler Motor Company Limited. Daimler was an independent British motor vehicle manufacturer founded in London by H. J. Lawson in 1896, which set up its manufacturing base in Coventry. The company bought the right to the use of the Daimler name simultaneously from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft of Cannstatt, Germany. So, there is some relationship in the naming, but that is all.

1961 Daimler SP250 Roadster
1961 Daimler SP250 Roadster

For further history of the marque, let’s turn to a bit of Wikipedia research.

“After early financial difficulty and a reorganization of the company in 1904, the Daimler Motor Company was purchased by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1910, which also made cars under its own name before the Second World War. In 1933, BSA bought the Lanchester Motor Company and made it a subsidiary of Daimler Company.

“Daimler was awarded a Royal Warrant to provide cars to the British monarch in 1902; it lost this privilege in the 1950s after being supplanted by Rolls-Royce. Daimler occasionally used alternative technology: the Knight engine which it further developed in the early twentieth century and used from 1909 to 1935, the worm gear final drive fitted from 1909 until after the Second World War, and their patented fluid flywheel used in conjunction with a Wilson preselector gearbox from 1930 to the mid-1950s.

“Daimler tried to widen its appeal in the 1950s with a line of smaller cars at one end and opulent show cars at the other, stopped making Lanchesters, had a highly publicized removal of their chairman from the board, and developed and sold a sports car and a high-performance luxury saloon and limousine.

“BSA sold Daimler to Jaguar Cars in 1960 and Jaguar briefly continued Daimler’s line adding a Daimler variant of its Mark II sports saloon. Jaguar was then merged into the British Motor Corporation in 1966 and British Leyland in 1968. Under these companies, Daimler became an upscale trim level for Jaguar cars except for the 1968–1992 Daimler DS420 limousine, which had no Jaguar equivalent despite being fully Jaguar-based. When Jaguar Cars was split off from British Leyland in 1984 it retained the Daimler company and brand.

Daimler DS420 limousine
Daimler DS420 limousine

“Ford bought Jaguar Cars in 1990 and under Ford it stopped using the Daimler marque in 2009 when the last X358 Daimler models were discontinued. The X351 Jaguar XJ took its place and there was no Daimler variant. Jaguar Cars remained in its ownership, and from 2000 accompanied by Land Rover, until they sold both Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors in 2008, who formed Jaguar Land Rover as a subsidiary holding company for them. In 2013, Jaguar Cars was merged with Land Rover to form Jaguar Land Rover Limited, and the rights to the Daimler car brand were transferred to the newly formed British multinational car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.”

Staff

2 Comments

  1. Jaguar Cars North America tested the market circa 1985 with the DS420 limo as shown above, with two cars specially constructed to meet all US emissions and safety requirements. One (maroon) was based at company headquarters in Leonia NJ and one (dark blue) in the Western Regional offices in Brisbane California. These cars had 4.2 engines taken from the contemporary XJ6 Series 3 but with the more robust GM Turbo 400 gearbox. Both had a dual control AC system one for the driving compartment and one for the rear compartment. One had a small TV in the rear. Ultimately the test project was cancelled and the cars sold off. One has since been “lumped” and the blue one is in the hands of a collector IIRC. The story of these two cars and the aborted marketing attempt was recently written up in the Daimler Lanchester club magazine.

    • That is quite fascinating. Would love to see that remaining car someday. And I didn’t know that there even was such a thing as “Daimler Lanchester club magazine”! Now I need to go research that. Thanks!

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