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

Daimler Double Six: Buying guide and review (1972-1997) Classic and Performance Car
Daimler Sovereign Daimler Double Six The 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

• www.jaguarclassicparts.com - parts for classic Daimlers and Jaguars
• daimlerclub.co.uk – Daimler Enthusiasts club, great for parts support
• www.dloc.org.uk - Daimler and Lanchester Owners’ Club

Summary and Prices

With prices ranging from £5000 up to about £25,000 there can be a lot of temptation to grab a bargain. This is more often than not the textbook definition of false economy, as the prices are low for a reason. As an entry into the classic British luxury car arena, the Daimler Double Six is a great starting point. There are a few ultra low-mileage cars out there demanding the higher prices but do not be put off by ones that have a few more miles under their belts, the V12 is unstressed units that can go on forever. Evidence of regular maintenance is far more important.

The Daimler V12’s combination of effortless performance in supreme comfort, wrapped in a timeless design is an extremely compelling package. Ensure that you inspect any potential purchase thoroughly, and your Double Six will reward you with the sort of experience once the reserve of royalty.

Words: John Tallodi
Daimler Sovereign Daimler Double Six
Last updated: 9th Oct 2015
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Daimler Double Six
8495 15995 GBP
  • DAIMLER DOUBLE SIX /Jaguar XJ 6.0i V12 Auto

    £8,495 £8,495

    Type: Used Year: 2015 Make: DAIMLER Model: DOUBLE SIX Trim: /Jaguar XJ 6.0i V12 Auto Body: Sedan Trans: Automatic Mileage: 58000 Engine Size: 6000 Ext Color: RED

    • Mileage: 58000 mi
    • Engine size: 6000
    For sale
    £8,495 £8,495
    Goodmayes Motors (Sales) Ltd
    01708914344 View contact number
  • Daimler Double Six

    £15,995 £15,995

    About this Daimler Double Six First registered August 1977 to Barber Greene Ltd, for their chairman to be chauffeured in. Barber Greene covered 35,000 miles before selling it in late 1979 to the Bank of Boston for their president to be chauffeured in. The Bank of Boston only covered a further 8,000 miles in the eighteen years that they owned it before selling it on to Spearpoint Bland, a London insurance company who kept it for five years. Since 2002 this fabulous Daimler has only had two private owners bringing it to a total of 5. As the supplied Heritage Certificate confirms, this Daimler Double Six is presented in its original colours of almost flawless Amethyst with Black Everflex Roof and dark Olive Hides and Natural Carpets. It really is in as close to mint condition as we have ever seen. As this was the top of the range it is fitted with everything possible including the Daimler accoutrements of individual reading lamps and armrests. There is a comprehensive history file with this car containing numerous detailed invoices, the original service book and Daimler Unipart Passport and 25 old MOTs indicating that the low mileage is correct The last MOT was issued on 1st October 2

    • Mileage: 65900 mi
    For sale
    £15,995 £15,995
  • Daimler Double Six

    £12,995 £12,995

    Variant name:5.3 ,Variant: Series III V12 5.3 Auto Very Good Condition 100% Original Full Leather Climate Control Only 47,000 Miles Just 290 a Year R/Tax J-Reg Metallic Dorchester Grey, contrasting Full Doeskin Leather Interior, Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Cruise Control, Electric Windows/Mirrors, Power Steering, Central Locking, Pioneer Stereo CD and AUX/USB Input, Centre Armrest, Lumbar Support, Headlamp Washers, 15in Jaguar Alloys, Only 47,000 Miles, Just £290 a Year Road Tax. Modern Day Appreciating Classic that can be used every day, recent reports show that Classic Cars are one of the leading investment classes, For total peace of mind and confidence, the vehicle is supplied with a RAC 82 Point Inspection, Fully Serviced, 1 Year’s MOT, 1 Year RAC Parts and Labour Warranty,1 Years RAC Roadside Assistance. Do not miss this chance to buy a rare car at a very reasonable price. McCarthy Cars Are RAC Approved and Highly Recommended By Them, Have Complete Peace Of Mind With The McCarthy Cars and RAC Buysure Programme. All Our Vehicles Are HPI Checked and Every Vehicle is Subject To a Rigorous RAC Approved 82 Point Inspection. Our Vehicles Come With 1 Years MOT, Full Service, RAC Warranty and RAC Roadside Assistance. McCarthy Cars Is a Multi Award Winning Car Dealership and Most Loved Business in Croydon, Find Us On Facebook, You Tube and Twitter @mccarthycarsuk. McCarthy Cars, A Family Run Business Established Over 40 Years Ago, Open 7 Days a Week. CR0 3RG, 02086888086 / 07966248547 www.mccarthycars.co.uk sales@mccarthycars.co.uk

    • Year: 1992
    • Mileage: 47000 mi
    • Engine size: 5.3
    For sale
    £12,995 £12,995