Sunday, January 31, 2016

Daimler Double Six

Daimler Double Six


If you have ever sat in the back of a Jaguar, you may have wondered why these cars are such a hit with government ministers. Jaguars are seriously short of rear seat space for cars of their calibre, a sacrifice forced by their low, sleek roof-line.

How do John Major and pals put up with it? It's simple: their Jags are not as other Jaguars. They're longer between the wheels, giving more room for ministerial feet.

Now, following on from last year's launch of a heavily revised range of XJ saloons, you too can have a long-legged Jaguar. The wheelbase is five inches longer than the standard car's; all this extra length is accommodated in the rear doors, which now look a little out of proportion but don't unbalance the flowing lines too drastically. The rear part of the roof is slightly more upright, too, for better headroom. Some Jags can be had in both short and long forms, but the sporty ones are short and the grandest XJ saloon of all, the Daimler Double Six, is solely a stretch job.

At pounds 65,950, the Double Six is far cheaper than the cheapest Rolls-Royce or Bentley, but oozes much the same opulence and is virtually as well made (which used not to be true of a Jaguar XJ). Polished walnut and soft leather abound, of course, and rear passengers have plenty of toys to play with. Each rear seat reclines electrically, and a further set of controls on the back of the front passenger seat even allows the left rear passenger to move the front seat.

The Double Six has lost none of the XJ's cosy ambience, nor its outstanding driving dynamics. You can feel the magic at work as soon as you hasten this big, heavy car along some bumpy, bendy roads. No other luxury car smothers bumps like this one, while remaining so agile, unflustered and easy to drive.

The Double Six is a fast car, as it should be with a six-litre, 313bhp V12 engine, and the power delivery is matched to an equally smooth automatic transmission. There's just one snag: spirited driving will see a gallon of fuel consumed in as little as 14 miles. That apart, it's hard to think of a luxury car that does what it was built to do better, overall, than the Daimler Double Six.

John Simister


Daimler Double Six, pounds 65,950

Engine 5,993cc. V12 cylinders, 313bhp at 5,350rpm. Four-speed automatic gearbox, rear-wheel drive. Top speed 152mph, 0-60 in 7.5 seconds. Fuel consumption 14-19mpg


BMW 750iL, pounds 69,450

Electronics galore. More economical than the Daimler, but lacks its serenity, style and homeliness.

Bentley Brooklands, pounds 99,980

Huge presence, but surprising lack of refinement from both engine and suspension

Mercedes-Benz SD600, pounds 97,900

Great girth doesn't spoil its agility and pace, but offers little more than the Daimler or BMW


Daimler Double Six: Buying guide and review (1972-1997)

Daimler SovereignDaimler Double SixThe Daimler Motor Company is possibly the oldest British motoring name around, dating from 1896 it has been through more ups and downs than most, at its peak it provided elegant transport for Royals in the ‘20s and ‘30s to a low period post war where a number of owners including BSA, Ford and British Leyland failed to reverse its ailing fortunes. However in the latter part of the 20th century, under Jaguar ownership, the Daimler badge returned as a luxurious version of the new XJ saloon. 

The famous Double Six name was revived for the V12 versions of the new car to evoke memories of the 1920s originals. On the outside the Daimler Double Six looked very similar to the Jaguar XJ, sharing most of its body panels and trim, however calling it a badge engineered XJ does it an injustice as it was a much more sumptuously equipped and had bespoke suspension settings and trim options. The smaller capacity Daimlers were badged as Sovereign models. 

Reviewers of the time felt the Daimler was a worthy alternative to a Rolls Royce or Bentley at a fraction of the cost. Such was its cachet that a bespoke long wheelbase version was used as Queen Elizabeth’s official vehicle for a number of years. 

Which one to buy? 

Daimler production began soon after the Jaguar XJ was launched and shadowed its updates and facelifts along the way too. External changes were minimal and other than some very minor styling and the Daimler badges there was not much to distinguish between them. Internally there were differing trim options and generally more upmarket materials on the Daimlers. These Series I based models were launched with claims of being the fastest four door mass produced car, claiming a top speed in the region 140mph. 

Series II versions were introduced at a time when labour union issues plagued England, this in conjunction with some problems with Lucas sourced components meant that both reliability and build quality suffered. Exterior changes were made to the grille which became a shallower item and the bumpers were raised to follow US regulations of the time. Initially a few of the Series II’s were available on the shorter wheelbase however the long wheelbase was soon standardised helping add 4 inches to the rear legroom. The two door coupe Double Sixes were introduced during this period and with 385 produced, they are a rare sight on the roads today. The handsome proportions of these models make them a nice alternative to the four door cars and not much dearer. 

The Series III facelift saw another round of minor cosmetic changes taking place. Flush fitting door handles, rubberised bumper inserts and a raised roofline completed the overhaul. In 1981 the high efficiency 5.3L engine was introduced providing a little respite for owners at the pumps. In some markets where there were licensing issues with the Daimler name the cars were rebadged as a Jaguar Van Den Plas. 

In 1986 the XJ replacement dubbed XJ40 was introduced, featuring a more angular design with rectangular headlights it was a move towards modernising the brand. The Double Six was reintroduced in this shape close to the end of Jaguar production and these models featured an uprated 6 litre V12 with 313bhp as well as a host of internal design upgrades. 

While any of the variants are a good bet if your sole criteria are a smooth V12 engine and an even smoother ride, Series II models should be approached with caution due to their indifferent build quality. The last of the line models are desirable for their more modern underpinnings however the originals Series I’s shape is the clincher for those that prefer a more traditional look. 

Perfromance and specs 

Daimler Double Six Series I
Engine 5343cc, 24-valve SOHC V12 
Power 264bhp @ 5300rpm 
Torque 300lb ft 
Top Speed 152mph 
0-60mph 8.5 seconds 
Fuel consumption 14-19mpg 
Gearbox Three-speed automatic

Dimensions and weight

Series I variants
Wheelbase 2762mm
Length 4813mm
Width 1772mm
Height 1340mm
Weight 1885kg

Common problems

• As with the Jaguar models of the same era, reliability is not a strong point. As long as they are regularly loked after by a specialist, they are generally wee behaved today. 

• If you ignore all the other advice here at least heed this one point. Check for rust. When you have checked for rust then check again. Problem areas are many and even the most hardened Daimler enthusiast will soon be weeping into a significantly lightened wallet if they do not give a potential purchase a thorough inspection. 

• In the front, check inner and outer sills, wings, bottom edge of the bonnet on Series I 

• At the rear, wings, arches, screen surrounds, spare wheel well, bootlid lower edge and battery tray. 

• Lower side members and door bottoms, footwells and bumpers need to be carefully checked, as well as structural front cross members, radiator supports and rear suspension radius arms. 

• Engines benefit from a well maintained cooling system and are generally complex pieces of kit in V12 guise, so regular maintenance is a must. Bearing noises, knocking on start-up or excessive smoke could indicate an expensive repair bill. Oil pressure is important and should be checked to ensure the engine is operating within normal parameters. 

• Gearboxes are rugged and whether you have the earlier Borg Warner unit or the later GM400 one, they should work smoothly and quietly. Fast gear changes and quick responses were not their forte, however they suit the nature of the cars very well. 

• The suspension layouts are complex, especially at the rear with brake disks being mounted inboard. Binding pads can damage the diff seals. Clunking or jarring on pull off may indicate a worn propshaft or universal joint and this is worth getting checked out by a technician if you hear any suspicious noises. Worn suspension bushings can show themselves by wearing out the outside edge of tyres, so inspection of all four and the spare is a good idea. 

• Electronics can be troublesome and wiring looms can get damaged causing a number of faults. Various fixes and upgraded parts are available nowadays so while frustrating, a lot of the issues can be resolved. 

• Interior trim, seats and dashboards are generally hard wearing, and second hand items are usually available. 

• The good news is that most parts are still generally widely available, there is also a thriving Daimler/Jaguar fan base and finding that elusive bit of trim can be made a lot easier by joining one of the clubs. 

Model History 

1972: Series I Daimler Double Six goes into production joining the smaller capacity Jaguar XJ and Daimler Sovereign 
1973: Series II facelift version released, longer wheelbase standardised 
1975: Daimler Double Six two door coupe introduced 
1977: Automatic gearboxes changed to 3 speed GM units. Production of Coupe version ends 
1979: Series III launched, flush door handles and updated lights introduced 
1981: High Efficiency 5.3 HE engine introduced 
1986: Series III production ends 
1993: Daimler Double Six reintroduced in XJ40 body style 
1997: Last Daimler Double Six rolls off the production line 

Clubs and websites

• - parts for classic Daimlers and Jaguars 
• – Daimler Enthusiasts club, great for parts support 
• - Daimler and Lanchester Owners’ Club 

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