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The oldest British manufacturer, founded in 1893, early Daimlers were imported from Germany, and during the Edwardian era the cars became luxury carriages. In 1910 the firm was acquired by BSA, and after WWI the Daimler was adopted as the car for the Royal Family. Taken over by Jaguar Cars in 1960, the last real Daimlers were the SP250 sports car and Majestic series, which remained in production until 1968. Since then all Daimlers have been badge engineered versions of their Jaguar counterparts, with Jaguar marketing the Daimler nameplate as an upmarket version of their luxury cars.
Daimler SP250 1959-1964
1959 saw the arrival of the glass-fibre Daimler SP250 sports car (announced, although never sold as the Dart because Dodge was using the model name). I had a triumph-inspired chassis, glass-fibre coachwork and a superb new 2.5-litre V8 engine. The original A-spec SP 250 tended to self-destruct thanks to high-speed vibration through the sub-frame. Later B-spec (April 1961) and C-spec (April 1963) versions rectified this with extra body stiffening.
Daimler Majestic Major 1960-1968
Produced between 1960 and 1968, the Majestic Major was the saloon Jaguar inherited in the 1960's take-over of Daimler. Its styling followed that of the 1953 Conquest and its successors. But now used a beautifully refined 4.5-litre V8 engine designed by Edward Turner, with disc brakes all-round, and power-steering. Although it did not look it, this was none of the fastest four-door saloons of its day, good for at least 120mph. Total production: 1,180.
Daimler Soverign 420 1966-1968
The Daimler Sovereign was launched in October 1966 and represented the first Daimler-badged, Jaguar-engined car. Based on the 420 Jaguar saloon, it used the new 4.2-litre version of the XK engine with twin carburettors and came with power steering and dual-circuit brakes as standard. With only its fluted radiator grille and other D insignia to differentiate it from the Jaguar, it represented pure badge engineering but the Sovereign attracted an impressive 5700 buyers.
Daimler 2.5-litre/V8 - 250 1963-1969
This was the marriage of Edward Turner's superb V8 engine to a Mk II Jaguar hull and automatic gearbox. Manual gearbox cars were offered from early 1967 but these are quite rare. In 1968-1969 the car was renamed the V8-250. It had new slimline bumpers in the style of the 240/340 Jaguars, but not the other austerities. A total of 17,620 cars were built between 1963 and 1969.
Daimler Sovereign (XJ Series 1) 1969-1973
In 1969, Jaguar brought out a Daimler version of the new XJ6, utilising the Sovereign name to replace the 420 models. The car, available in 2.8 or 4.2-litre XK-engined form was by now the only Daimler model being produced by Jaguar. In 1972, with the introduction of the V12-engined XJ models, came a Double-Six Daimler version of the XJ and in 1973 an even more upmarket long wheelbase model with final paint and trimming carried out by Vanden Plas.
Daimler Double-Six (Series 3) 1979-1992
Although the Daimler Sovereign Series III was phased out following the introduction of the Jaguar XJ40 in 1986, the Series III bodyshell continued to house the 12-cylinder engine for a further five years. These last Daimler Double-six versions, built up to late 1992, offered peerless refinement, effortless performance and terrific quality.