This Daimler Double Six was originally commissioned by the husband of British film star Anna Neagle as a gift for her. This car has a one-of-a-kind custom body designed by H.R. Owens of Gurney Nutting and built by Martin Walter.
Over a 10-year-period, Daimler built only 26 Double Sixes, most of which were built for the English royal class as well as heads of state of other countries. Of the 26 cars built, this is the largest - the hood is 8 feet long the wheelbase is 159.5 inches, just a few inches shorter than a Bugatti Royale.
The Double Six engine is literally that - a sleeve-valve V12 composed of two six-cylinder blocks mounted at 60 degrees from each other. Each block has its own water pump, dual ignition, carburetor and fuel arrangement. The 7,136cc (7.1 liter) engine develops 150 horsepower and has top speed of over 80 miles per hour.Also photographed at :
The Daimler Company is Britain's oldest and most enigmatic marque, and from its inception its products have primarily appealed to royalty, the wealthy and the social elite. Daimler continued this stately business for many years with little competition from other British marques, until Rolls-Royce appeared on the scene.
In 1908, Daimler acquired a license for Charles Knight's patented engine design that featured a unique sleeve-valve configuration, allowing it to operate in a much quieter manner than conventional engines of the time. While this technology was employed by a number of American automobile makers, the high cost of production and mechanical complexity limited its use to high-end automobiles.
Daimler's lineup of vehicles consisted predominantly of six-cylinder engines until the mid-1920s when the Double Six first appeared. It was an impressive engineering achievement for Daimler's distinguished chief engineer Laurence H. Pomeroy. In basic terms, the Double Six is two six-cylinder sleeve-valve engines in a 'V' configuration, with each bank equipped with its own intake, exhaust and ignition system.
The Double Six is an engine of immense complexity and sophistication – one of the most notable examples of over-engineering ever to appear in a production automobile. For example, each carburetor features no less than seven jets and is plumbed for all three engine fluids – oil, coolant and fuel mixture.
Like all previous Daimlers, the Double Six soon became the preferred method of transport for the royal family and foreign dignitaries such as King Hussain of Jordan. Perhaps the best known patrons of the marque were King George V and Queen Mary, who collectively owned more than 20 Daimlers, several of which were Double Sixes.
This 1932 Daimler Double Six 40/50 Sport Saloon is, without question, one of the most imposing automobiles ever constructed by the legendary British marque or any maker of exclusive luxury vehicles. While only 26 Double Sixes were built over a decade, the vast majority had a smaller displacement and short chassis. Among this rarified group, this 1932 Daimler Double Six stands out. It is a second-generation, long-wheelbase example of the Double Six fitted with the revised 40/50 engine that allows for a top speed in excess of 80 mph.
This particular car was constructed on a chassis that featured a wheelbase of over four meters (just over 13 feet) making it the largest Double Six ever built, and just a few inches shorter than the celebrated Bugatti Royale. For a better understanding of its grandeur and scale, one might imagine sitting in the driver's seat and visualizing the car's front wheels placed nearly 10 feet ahead of the driver.
The extravagant Sport Saloon was designed by Captain H.R. Owen. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Captain Owen penned some of the most stunning designs of the era, with many designs being executed by Gurney Nutting. He is most famous for his creation of the three-position Sedanca, and was one of the premier Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealers. His exclusive Rolls-Royce and Bentley showrooms are still on Berkeley Square in London. Upon completion of the chassis, Owen's design was realized by Martin Walter Ltd., who, throughout this era, had gained a reputation for building high-quality, prestige bodies for Britain's luxury marques.
The resulting car was so long, low and daringly proportioned, it made other radical designs of the period seem timid and halfhearted by comparison. The styling is the epitome of the long-hood, low-profile paradigm taken to the extreme, yet despite the car's excesses it carries a definite air of style and grace. This eye-catching elegance can be attributed to the skillful attention to detail, visible in every aspect of the car. The rear hinged doors, built-in exterior sun visors, thoughtfully integrated interior storage compartments, dual rear-mounted spares, beautifully sculpted fenders and a prominent elephant mascot by François Bazin serve to accentuate the car's agnificence. It is not a car that is large because it needs to be, but more a stretch of the imagination and a symbolic gesture designed to both captivate and intimidate – a car that is both seductive and sinister.
Upon completion, this Double Six was shown by its original owner, Mr. A. Webber, at the third 1932 Eastbourne Concours d'Elegance held at Devonshire Place, England. At the time, the Eastbourne Concours was one of the most prestigious events of its kind in all of Europe and a successful showing there was a considerable honor. At Eastbourne, it received the Premiere award, the equivalent of Best of Show, and the Most Distinctive Car award, two of the most important honors that could have been bestowed upon a car on this occasion. This was the only event of the era where the majestic car was on public display and many years passed before the car was shown again.
After being well used by its original owner, the car was sold to a gentleman on the Isle of Man where it remained for the next several decades. The distinctive car was a frequent sight on the Isle throughout the 1950s and 1960s, where its flamboyant proportions and immense presence caused quite a stir amongst the locals. At some point, the owner removed the complex Double Six engine and replaced it with a much more serviceable Buick straight eight; however, the integrity of the chassis had not been compromised and the original engine remained with the car throughout the following years. The car remained on the Isle for some time before being seen again in the 1990s, this time in London at Crailville where it was undergoing repairs to the bodywork. The car was still remarkably sound and had retained all of its original bodywork and preselector gearbox, although by this time it was beginning to show its age.
The car and the original Double Six engine were then purchased by a US collector and brought to the United States to complete the restoration. Beginning in 1994, the car underwent an extensive five-year restoration that returned it to its former grandeur. Mark Goyette in California completed the bodywork and cosmetics and The Alan Taylor Company took charge of rebuilding the Double Six engine.
After being returned to its original configuration, the car made its debut at the 1999 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the 50th anniversary of the concours. This was the first time in over 65 years that the car had been shown and it was undeniably a worthwhile effort. At the conclusion of the concours, the car was awarded the prestigious Best of Show award, the most important concours award that a car can receive. This impressive achievement made it only the second Daimler at the time to have been awarded Best of Show, 29 years after J.B. Nethercutt received the award for his 1931 Double Six Limousine. In recent years the car has been shown at a number of impressive concours, including the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza in 2008 and both the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance and the Quail Motorsports Gathering in 2006 where it was enthusiastically received.
Today, the car remains show worthy in every respect. The prodigious and intricately detailed Double Six has been carefully maintained by Classic & Exotic, Inc. since restoration; the stunning black paint is in outstanding condition throughout and the interior shows not even a hint of use. All of the details are stunning and deserve careful examination as the car abounds with fascinating features. From the chrome-plated wire wheels wearing exceptionally large Michelin tires to the complete array of original tools, both in the trunk and under the rear seat, even the most basic elements of a car appear marvelous on this Double Six.
Very few of these grand sleeve-valve Daimlers remain in existence, with the vast majority having fallen victim to neglect, scrap piles and the ravages of time. Most were large, formal, rather unexciting luxury cars and consequently few are restored to the level of this exceptional Sport Saloon. This example is one of the fortunate survivors, perhaps because it has always been one of the finest, most exhilarating examples of this rare breed. The indelible presence, unquestioned authenticity and underlying engineering excellence of this Daimler make it the crowning achievement of a firm known for royal automobiles. It is one of the ultimate automotive statements and is one of only a handful of cars to ever receive the esteemed Best of Show award at Pebble Beach, placing it in truly exclusive company.