Daimler is Britain’s oldest carmaker and was an independent user of the Daimler name which they bought the right to use from Gottleib Daimler and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft of Cannstatt, Germany. They were the exclusive car makers to the British Royalty through a Royal Warrant from 1902 until 1950 when the Warrant was subsequently granted to Rolls-Royce. Daimler was the upscale version of the Jaguar marque and competed with Rolls Royce at the upper end of the British car market.
Note that this has no relation to the Daimler Benz Company, currently known as Daimler AG, which was forked off when Karl Benz and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft signed an Agreement of Mutual Interest – but that’s a whole story for another day.
The history of the Daimler brand is interesting in that it was sold to Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1910 who are better known for making motorcycles. 1933 saw BSA purchasing the Lanchester Motor Company and bringing it under Daimler’s wing as a subsidiary. 1960 saw Jaguar purchasing Daimler Motor Cars and it came under British Leyland, and subsequently the Daimler name was used on high-end Jaguar models as a trim level. The only standalone Daimler model was the Daimler DS420 limousine which had a long production run from 1968 to 1992. It was a large luxury car powered by Jaguar’s 4.2L straight six. It was popular with royalty; not just British royalty but the Danish and Swedish royalty as well. The British Royalty to date maintain a fleet of three DS420 limousines for state use and visiting dignitaries. It has also gained popularity as a wedding and funeral car. 1990 saw Ford buying Jaguar Cars which included the Daimler brand, and in 2007 the Daimler tag was dropped from use. The brand is still in the custody Jaguar Land Rover, who are owned by the Tata Group (although rumours abound that Tata is looking to sell off JLR).
Back to the model featured here… The DB18 model was introduced immediately before the start of the Second World War, during which the company was compelled to concentrate on the manufacture of military vehicles. Therefore, most DB18s were produced after 1945. The model was generally known as the Daimler 2½-litre until Daimler adopted the North American habit of giving their cars names (although not on any badge work), and a slightly updated version of the car was introduced in October 1948 at the London Motor Show, "principally for export" and branded as the Daimler Consort. The updates included the integration of the firewall into the body rather than it being part of the chassis, a move from rod operated mechanical brakes to a Girling-Bendix hydraulic front and rod operated rear system, incorporating the head lights into the front guards, and providing a badge plate behind the front bumper with a magnificent curved radiator grille replacing the flat one.
The car featured today is a 1952 Daimler DB18. It is owned by Kapila Jayawardena and is a part of his motor museum with nearly a hundred cars and motor bikes. The car has been beautifully restored and maintained down to the last detail. The front grille which looks like a silver mane and the large headlamps and spot lamps makes the Daimler one of the most majestic looking cars in his collection. All the lamps including the factory fitted spot lamps bear the top centre ornament which is a hallmark of Daimler. The engine ticks silently with a dignified sound that you hear from a large engine. Open the butterfly-bonnet and the engine gleams with a very English degree of discretion and reserve. Nothing is too showy, but it’s all calm and efficient.
Access to the seating is easy, the four doors opening wide enough to admit an adult each. The interior is extremely comfortable. Leather and walnut abound, all in glorious condition, with the requisite textures and smells that make you feel regal and majestic. The flat floor allows a feeling of spaciousness that is confirmed by the view from the large windows. The car was driven effortlessly around Colombo roads and aroused a lot of interest with onlookers. The semaphore signals still work and so do all the meters in the dashboard. The back seat with a centre armrest has ample leg room and footrests giving the comfort of a first class seat in an airplane of the 1950s.
EY 2625 arrived in Ceylon in 1952 apparently imported by the Government where it was used for VIP transport. It was then bought by a wealthy businessman in Kollupitiya and the car had been seen regularly parked near the Kollupitiya Galle Road intersection. It later moved to the stables of the late Mr Mana Jayawardena the Founding President of the classic car club of Ceylon. The present owner of EY 2625 is Kapila Jayawardena who completely restored the car with many spares and parts imported from England.
The Daimler DB18 is one of the rarest cars in Sri Lanka and we are happy that it is in good hands and will be preserved for the car loving public of Sri Lanka by Kapila who has gained a reputation for originality and discerning detail when it comes to his cars.