The day I met “Lillibet” a.k.a. Daimler Double Six Series 3

As some readers of my web-log may recall, I was lusting during this spring/summer period after the acquisition of a Ford Model ‘A’ ca. 1930. For several reasons beyond my control, this quest did not materialize. Circumstances or fate had it that a much younger siren would whisper songs of lust into my ears and cast her beautiful lines and soft leathery souled interior cum primordial smells upon me. Her uplifted condition and metallic blue color with sliding roof to gaze upon the stars while parked along a Greek coastal twisty road, was also cool. Cooler even was the output of her primitive but efficient climate control, a parameter important to me as I sweat easily.

A good car collector friend had similarly fallen for this 1991 Daimler Double Six Series 3, an up-market Jaguar XJ12 model, just few months earlier. “I simply had to buy her, cars like that in such a good condition are rarely to be found in Greece”, he once told me. When the time came for him to update and focus his unique car collection an offer to buy was placed upon me. We took the car out for a spin on a mid-July evening which ended with a pleasant dinner on a coastal, chic Vouliagmeni Italian restaurant. The ride was excellent, while the amount of smoothness ensured by the V12 legendary Jaguar engine, simply had not been experienced by me before. I said to my friend that “I will sleep on the idea” and headed for home in my sweet GLK.

The car as I first saw her. Her beautiful lines and shape, penned by none other than Pininfarina during the Series 3 upgrade, did not go unnoticed...

Next morning there was a lot of Googling and researching on the Double Six story and checking of International market values and offers. Negotiating softly on the asking price, soon a deal was struck on a Friday morning. During that week-end many deeper Internet searches revealed several aspects of the car, familiarized with the XJ6 and XJ12 stories and so on. Photographs taken during the test drive session kept the new infatuation alive and well. Hence arrangements were made to drive by my friends garage on Monday evening on our way back from an extended w-e in Kea island, to take delivery of the car.

Queen Elizabeth II driving her Daimler Double Six

Breaking the news to spouse of a new big saloon, large engined, powerful young classic was an issue. Did that ala Walt Disney with fast moving photos sliding along the iPad screen while on the ferry. The myth added (a fact) was that Queen Elizabeth II had owned exactly the same model and blue colored luxury car. See here this story: Queen Elizabeth II’s 1984 Daimler Double Six LWB up for auction — Autoblog. Took delivery of the car in Glyfada and drove off north to lock her up in the garage without much fuss so as to avoid any unnecessary feminine nagging. Besides, my entire next day would be devoted to “Lillibet“. First driving impressions: big car, torquey, excellent brakes, lovely feeling on the palms of that polished wooden rimmed steering wheel. Studied the “Owners Manual” on the couch before falling asleep. It had been a full and eventful day.

The OEM FM radio-cassette unit bearing the Jaguar logo.

Given that we had to drive my mother-in-law and her “au pair” lady to central Greece on Thursday for her summer vacation stint, we set for a round trip same day 700 km dash; I thought that this presented a lovely opportunity for an extended test drive of the new acquisition. Although the car was recently serviced by my previous owner friend and reported as being “in excellent condition”, few items required attention. One head light bulb was off, so while at it, Panayotis (my auto electrician at Gerakas) replaced both by fitting HID lamps all around. My friend had also sourced an original Jaguar stereo cassette sound system from the USA. Alas such radio sets do not tune in to odd numbered FM frequencies which are common in Europe. The idea of traveling for eight plus hours without a proper sound system was impossible to bear.

Cockpit view with the new Sony radio installed. Note the USB white wire and the convenient remote-control.

Hence I bought a modern Sony MEX-BT3900U with Bluetooth, player of MP3/CD’s, including USB, front AUX input and remote-control. Not a period unit (the OEM unit was packaged away with cherish), but impressively high-tech; Panos had to carefully remove the central console veneers and arm rest storage bin in order to extract the old unit and wire in the modern device. Ipso facto, upon completion, I easily connected my iPhone, received and made hands free calls, played selections from iTunes either via BT or via USB while also recharging. The car’s electric rear antenna functioned well with the unit and although has a 4 X 52 Watt rating, pumps out enough power to deliver undistorted all around sounds via the built in six speakers of the Double Six. “Now you are cooking with gas!” I muttered to myself upon driving away from my faithful electrician who had professionally done all the electrics during last year’s restoration project of the M-B 250 SE Coupe. Almost ready to depart? Not just quite. The passenger front door lock cylinder had lost its internal retaining forked clip, thus loosened and popping out suspiciously. Fiddling with it, the door locked permanently 😦  Ouch! How could spouse get in and out of the car with her door being shut tight? To the rescue came my expert body-shop guys of A+B For Cars. They managed to get the lock loose, open-up the entire RH indoor facing, fish out the dropped clip, grease the undone linkages and reassemble properly the whole lot within two hours. Now we were ready for tomorrows hot weather, 700 km test drive.

The Beginnings of Daimler

The British based automobile producer, Daimler Motor Car Company, was based in Coventry and has origins dating back to 1896. In 1893, Frederick Simms purchased the patent rights to the Gottlieb Daimler’s engine, and formed a company named the ‘Daimler Motor Syndicate.’ Daimler, a German engineer, had patented an engine design and worked closely with Wilhelm Maybach to create the first motorcycle in 1885. Their first four-wheeled car was created a few years later, in 1889. They later formed the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, also known as DMG or Daimler Motor Company.

1932 Radiator Mascot of Daimler Double Six. Source: http://www.conceptcarz.com

The Daimler Motor Company, based in Cannstatt, would continue in business until 1926. The company relocated to Stuttgart-Untertürkheim in 1903; Daimler had passed away in 1900 and a fire had destroyed the original factory a short time later. During the early years of the company, they produced petrol engines and sold the rights and patents for use of these engines. They dabbled in the creation of racing cars and enjoyed much success. This lead to the production of the Mercedes model in 1902. From this point, automobile production became their main business and they offered a variety of models over the years. In 1926, DMG merged with Benz & Cie, and formed Daimler-Benz and used Mercedes-Benz as its trademark automobile. In 1998, a merger with Chrysler created the DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

The early years of automobile production was very uncertain. Public opinion about motorized vehicles were mixed, with many fearing the contraptions. They were loud, noise, dirty, smoky, and at times, unpredictable. They often spooked the live-stock and sent horse-drawn carriages into chaos. In Britain, they solved this problem by requiring each motorized vehicle to be escorted by a person on foot, who would wave a bright red flag and warn all those in its path of its arrival. This would give ample time to prepare for the noisy contraptions and to secure their livestock. This did little to promote the use of motorized car.

Mr. Simms held onto his patent rights for only a short while, before selling in 1896 to Harry Lawson, who formed the ‘Daimler Motor Company’ in the city of Coventry. This, of course, causes confusion as there were two companies with the name, Daimler. The license to use the name ‘Daimler’ was sold to a number of countries, which adds another degree of confusion. To help alleviate this confusion, the name ‘Mercedes’ was used by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft for the cars that they produced after 1902. 1908 was the final year that the name ‘Daimler’ was used on a German built car.

British based Daimler
The British based Daimler Company is Britain’s oldest marque. The cars they built were powered by German engines with chassis designs very similar to those of Panhard & Lavasseur. The Daimler cars immediately appealed to the wealthy, Royalty, and the socially elite. Their chassis platforms were appropriate for the finest of coachwork and capable of satisfying the demands of their elite group of clientele. They would continue this stately business for many years, with little competition from other British marques, until Rolls-Royce came onto the scene.

In 1908, Daimler acquired a license for the Knight engine which featured sleeve valves and allowed the engine to operate in a much quieter fashion. This technology was in use by several United States automobile makers, though the high-cost of production limited it to mainly high-end automobile production. The quiet operation was made possible by using a sliding valve to operate the intake and exhaust ports. The valves required lots of lubrication which often resulted in smoke. The popular alternative to the sleeve valve was a camshaft actuated valve which rattled and created noise.

Daimler’s line-up of vehicles consisted of six-cylinder engines until the mid-1920s, when the Double Six came onto the scene. It was designed by their chief engineer, Laurence H. Pomeroy. It used a similar design to the six-cylinder engine, which consisted of two-sets of three cylinders. The Double Six engine was basically two six-cylinder engines in vee-configuration with each bank having their own intake, exhaust and ignition system. Pomeroy used a new aluminum crankcase and modified the sleeve-valve design. The oil consumption of the sleeve-valve was reduced by replacing the cast-iron valves with steel, and forming them to have a better fit. The result was a twelve-cylinder engine capable of producing an impressive 150 horsepower.

1932 Daimler Double Six. Source: http://www.conceptcarz.com

In 1926, Daimler introduced their Double Six which remained in production until the mid-1930s. During that time, only a limited number of examples were created. At most, there were seventy-five created, with as few as a one-third of that estimate. All were unique and tailed to the customer’s requests, including the displacement size of the engine. Some were two-doors, others had four. They were very popular with royalty, including King George of Britain who ordered two limousine examples, both had seating for seven.

The elegant bodies rode atop of a steel ladder frame chassis which varied in length depending on the customers requests. The body configurations favored luxury, but some were sporty including a number of drop-top models. One unique example, designed by Reid Railton and built by Thompson and Taylor, had a low, underslung rear end.

The early models were known as the 50 and 30, which was in reference to their displacement size. The 50 had a 7136cc displacement size while the 30 feature a 3477cc size. These were replaced in the early 1930s by the 30/40 and the 40/50. The 30/40 had a 5.3-liter engine and the 40/50 displaced 6.5 liters. Improvements continued throughout the years, including to the lubrication system and a new gearbox, a preselector unit.

Production continued until 1935, though a final example was created in 1937 to use up surplus supplies.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2007. Source: conceptcarz.com

More on the Daimler marque history can be found here: http://www.thoroughbred-cars.com/cars/UK/Daimler/history.htm

Fast forward to more recent times:

The company was purchased by Jaguar Cars in 1960. After the introduction of the Daimler DR450 new models used Jaguar bodies with Daimler grilles and badging. Daimler remains in the ownership of Jaguar Cars which now belongs to Tata Group of India.

In 1979 Jaguar unveiled the Series 3 which remained in production until 1992. The famous design studio, Pininfarina, had been tasked with incorporating design enhancements for the long-wheelbase version. The results were stunning. The Series III were powered by six- and 12-cylinder engines. In six-cylinder form, the owner could select either the 3.4-liter or 4.2-liter unit. The V12 unit had 5.3-liters in displacement size. The larger six-cylinder engine and the 12-cylinder unit both utilized Bosch fuel injection. The smaller six used carburetors and now offered for sale in the US.

Daimler Double Six

1986–1988 Daimler Double Six (XJ Series III)

From 1972 Jaguar’s 5.3 litre V12 engine was available in the XJ range, and for the Daimler version a name used by the company from 1926 to 1938 was revived. Sir William Lyons had retired from Jaguar in 1972 and the new chairman was FRW (Lofty) England. Lofty England had been a Daimler apprentice from 1927 to 1932 and taken second place in the first ever RAC rally driving a 30/40 hp Daimler double-six. Lofty England decreed that the new V12 Daimler would be known as Double Six.

Unlike the Jaguar, the twelve-cylinder Daimler had the same radiator grille as its six-cylinder sibling, and externally only the badges distinguished them. Although the Sovereign name was transferred to Jaguar, the Double Six name remained with Daimler throughout Series III production, which continued until 1992.

In total, there were 132,952 examples of the Series III produced. A small percentage of those, 10,500, were equipped with the 12-cylinder engine. In 1987 Jaguar ceased production of the Series III XJ with the six-cylinder engines. The Series III with the 12-cylinder power-plant continued until 1992.

The Series III brought with it cruise control and a sunroof as optional equipment. The Vanden Plas option was introduced in 1982 and intended for the US market. This designation indicated the top-of-the-line offering for the Jaguar XJ which included the twelve-cylinder engine and many luxury items as standard equipment.

Byron’s 1991 Daimler Double Six

Here are some pictures of my Double Six, affectionately named “Lillibet” after Queen Elizabeth II’s nickname, who owned exactly the same car. 😉

Daimler Double Six side view

Daimler Double Six rear view at Lake Plastira area

Daimler Double Six radiator grille detail

Automobile Club de Monaco emblem

Automobile Club de Monaco emblem. The S.P.M. initials at the base of the crown stands for "Sovereign Prince of Monaco" (click on the picture to enlarge).

The Daimler monogram on the radiator fluted ornamentation.

Daimler Double Six rear end with insignia and dual exhaust pipes.

An additional photo album of the car can be viewed by clicking here!

5 comments on “The day I met “Lillibet” a.k.a. Daimler Double Six Series 3

    • Hi Gunnar, thanks for the comment! Actually no, just the badge is from the Automobile Club of Monaco.
      Anyhow, my ‘Lillibet’ since few months ago, has been sold to a good friend who takes very good care of her (including the badge) 😉

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