suppose that by now, I really should have given more mention to my 1964 Daimler 2½ litre V8, as so far I have only reported on my Dart restoration project.
I bought my V8 Automatic saloon some seven years ago when I sold my first Daimler Dart, and needed a replacement classic for fun and days out, but more to the point, I needed something that was large enough for a family of five.
I had set my sights firmly on a Jaguar Mk2 as I just loved the shape, all those wonderful curves and next to the E-type, probably the nicest car ever crafted in steel. Well, that’s my opinion but then I like curvy cars.
I looked at a great number of Jaguars. A few were the coveted 3.8 litre manual with overdrive models of the Mk2, but in truth the ones I saw had been well doctored up for sale and the prices were grossly inflated. That’s so often the case with something that is very desirable, many people regard it as a get rich quick scheme. The result is that some right old nails end up looking really special but of course it’s only a matter of time before the shine wears off and the filler cracks and drops out.
I had already dismissed the 2.4 litre versions as a bit under powered for my taste and had decided that the one to best suit my requirements and my budget would be the 3.4 which some say is a smoother and less temperamental engine than the 3.8. The good ones were either too much money, or had already been snapped up before I even enquired. The bad ones were plentiful.
I was soon becoming despondent. I had seriously regretted selling my Dart, and the prospect of finding a decent Mk2 was not looking too promising for me.
I did enquire about a rather lovely Daimler 2 ½ litre saloon that was advertised in a car magazine. It was that lovely pale blue metallic and sat on chrome wire wheels. The car had been in the same family from new. The answer phone message explained that the car had already been sold, but wished all prospective buyers success in their quest to find one of these superb motor cars. I thought then that this car was obviously a real beauty and I had missed it. Judging by the message, the response to the advert must have been immense.
I mentioned to a friend that I was on the look out, and after a few days I received a call asking if I would be prepared to consider a Daimler V8. Strangely enough, initially I hadn’t really given the Daimler version much thought. This car was described as a condition 2 car, as defined by the monthly classic car magazines in their price guides. Frankly, I had enough money to find a decent car and wasn’t after something that needed much work.
Another call a week later informed me that my friend had actually seen the Daimler and it was in fact better than he first thought. It bordered on a condition 1 to 2. My appetite was sufficiently whetted and I arrange to collect my friend before heading out into Northamptonshire to see the car.
We arrived at very smart house in a small private cul-de-sac on the edge of a small market town in Northamptonshire. I waited whilst the garage keys were obtained from the vendors elderly mother. The large double garage door was raised and there on the far side of the garage sat an old English white Daimler. My first reaction was that this guy must be very fortunate to own two such beasts, and that he was obviously out in the car I had come to view.
It soon dawned that this was the very same car. I couldn’t believe my luck, as this one was far better than a condition 2. I would go so far as to say that from first impression it looked to be certainly a condition 1 car.
I opened the driver’s door and sat inside. That wonderful smell of old leather and furniture polish, this car simply oozed character. The seats were generally good, although there were a few cracks in the front seat bases. The carpets were a bit worn, and the wood was very good. Just the top of the dashboard wasn’t quite right. It had been French polished and the grain had been lost. Even so, it still looked good.
Not wishing to appear too keen, I got out and walked around the car. The bodywork was absolutely lovely. Not a sign of any rust or corrosion. The chrome was obviously original, and there were a couple of scuffs on the bumpers, but again nothing major. Certainly nothing to warrant having the bumpers re-plated.
I crawled on the floor and with the aid of a torch had a good look underneath. Again, it looked really good. The underseal was intact, and after a few prods in the places were these old motors can so often show signs of their age, this one showed all the sign of being a genuine and unmolested example.
In short, I was quite impressed. I turned the key and the fuel pump in the boot ticked into life. A push on the starter button and the engine fired first time. I slid the choke lever down from the cold start position and soon the V8 lump settled down to that characteristic V8 burble. Sheer music!
I had driven a friends well sorted V8 a few years before, in fact I nearly bought it but it was only the colour that put me off. Anyway, this beauty pulled gracefully off the driveway and as we turned onto the main road, it accelerated smoothly away. The automatic gearbox changed smoothly enough. As I relaxed into the comfortable armchair like driver’s seat, I was fast becoming hooked.
We left the small market town and headed towards the open countryside. I liked this car an awful lot. It drove as well as it looked albeit on cross ply tyres which the owner had kept as original. I did notice that every little flaw in the tarmac was greatly accentuated. Still, I suppose that was the true character of the car.
I was very impressed, but as the owner was not at home any sales talk had to wait. I later rang my friend, and suggested to him that in view of the fact that I would prefer to change the tyres for safety reasons. Also as the car had a short MOT certificate and I had to take into account that some work may be required, then an offer not far short of the asking price would be in order.
I waited a week and then the phone rang. My offer had been turned down, as it was less than the chap wanted. However, if I were prepared to split the difference, then he would have the car MOT tested and fit new battery, as the existing one was a bit tired.
It was mentioned that there was another person interested in the car, but I took this with a pinch of salt.
Anyway, I agreed and the deal was done and a cheque delivered on the understanding that I would collect the car when the funds had cleared.
I arrived early on a Sunday morning and the car was parked on the driveway waiting for me. The chap selling the car introduced himself and told me a few of the things he had done by way of servicing and maintenance. He handed me a huge file containing the most complete service history I have ever seen for a car. His wife dealt with the paper work, and he made himself scarce.
I later found out that he had sold the Daimler because of health reasons. It seems that he didn’t want to part-company with the car, but was no longer able to lavish the attention he enjoyed on it. I can relate to how he must have felt when I drove it away as I will never forget how I felt when my first Dart was driven away by the new owner.
I drove that car home feeling very pleased. The number of people that would stare, point or smile when they saw it made me realise that this was something rather special. It was a combination of that gorgeous classic shape coupled with the