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1932 Daimler Double Six news, pictures, specifications, and information
Saloon
Chassis Num: 32382
Engine Num: 55628
 
Sold for $2,970,000 at 2009 Gooding & Company.
Sold for $2,970,000 at 2012 Gooding & Company.
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.

The Beginnings

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.

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.

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
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