No true classic car lover's garage is complete without a pure-bred British thoroughbred in there. But getting hold of an immaculate Bentley, Roller or Aston will set you back quite a bit. That's where Daimler comes into the picture. Not Daimler AG obviously, but the other one that's based in Coventry, England, which is the only other company to have had the licence to use Gottlieb Daimler's name.
The Daimler Motor Company has had a roller coaster ride throughout its history, in terms of fortunes as well as ownership. From its humble beginnings in 1898, the British brand went on to be the limousine of choice for royal families across Europe and Asia before hitting a rough patch from which it failed to gather itself together. Despite the best efforts of its many owners over the decades including BSA, British Leyland, Jaguar and Ford, the brand slowly went out of production towards the end of the last century.
The last attempt at reviving its fortunes happened in 1972, after Lofty England took over the reins of Jaguar from Sir William Lyons. Having been an apprentice at Daimler in the late Twenties and early Thirties, Lofty was eager to bring back the glory days of that period. With a 5.3-litre V12 engine debuting in the XJ Range, Lofty wanted the Daimler version to be called Double Six, after the famous sleeve-valve-engined forebear that was built in the Twenties. And the Double Six was more than just a rebadged XJ. The Series I Double Six that came out in 1972 was available in standard or long wheelbase versions, but the Series II introduced the very next year was available only with a long wheelbase. With renowned coachbuilders Vanden Plas working their magic, it was a much more opulent car than the XJ, with acres of plush leather and polished, gold-inlayed walnut filling up the interior. Dubbed the fastest full four-seater in the world at the time, its performance was more than a match for its looks with a 0-100kph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 225kph.
Once again there was a Daimler that could be a worthy rival for a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley, but for far less money. In fact some of the reviewers even declared it a better car overall than the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. In 1979, together with the XJ, the Daimler also got a facelift, with a revised body styled by Pininfarina. Known as the Series III, this variant was in production until 1992. But sadly, Jaguar's reputation for reliability, or the lack of it, stuck to the Daimler Six too, with many buyers finding the running costs and maintenance of the car to be a major headache.
But if like most vintage car buyers, you are willing to overlook such costs, then a Daimler Double Six in fairly decent condition can be your cheapest ticket to the world of British classics.