Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica (1:43, Ilario)

  • Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica (from 1931)
  • Ilario
  • 1:43
  • Showcase model / No engine
  • black (brilliant finish)
  • IL43056
  • Limited (pieces not known)
  • Perfect mint condition
  • Original package exists
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It is hard to imagine today that the motor car was not very well received in Great Britain. At the time the first races were organized in France across the channel cars were only allowed on the road escorted by a man on foot waving a large red flag to warn pedestrians and animals alike for the dangerous machine approaching. These strict limitations might explain why F. R. Simms did nothing with the exclusive right to build Daimler engines in Great Britain he received in 1891. He sold the rights a few years later to Harry J. Lawson who subsequently formed the Daimler Motor Co. in 1896. The company first met the country's small demand by importing cars from Europe, but within a year production of the first British car commenced. A mix of a German engine and a chassis heavily inspired by Panhard & Lavasseur, the British Daimlers were immediately popular with the British nobles including the Royal Family.
With the motor car now fully accepted and embraced by the upper class, Daimler thrived in the first two decades of the 20th century. Daimler's hugely diverse line-up catered to many budgets, but the company obviously took most pride in their many Royal customers. In this niche market Rolls Royce had gradually eased in as Daimler's main rival and when the Phantom was launched in 1925 the Coventry based company had their work cut out to do one better.

Apart from being exceptionally well put together, Daimlers offered an extremely quiet ride thanks to adoption of the Knight patented sleeve valve engines. These used sliding valves to open and close the intake and exhaust ports in complete silence. This was quite a contrast to the rattle usually produced by the conventional camshaft actuated valve. A drawback of this configuration was that the valves required lubrication to work properly, resulting in a visible oil-smoke trail wherever one ventured out with a sleeve valve Daimler. Just like the Phantom, the then current line up of Daimlers all featured six cylinder engines, so to really take centre stage something a little more exotic was required; a V12. Aptly named the Double Six, the new engine was designed by the company's chief engineer L. H. Pomeroy. Using the basic design of the six cylinder engines, consisting of two sets of three cylinders, he relatively easily created the new engine with the aluminium crankcase being the only completely new part. Each bank of six cylinders had a separate intake, exhaust and ignition system. In the process Pomeroy also refined the sleeve-valve design by replacing the cast-iron valves with more precisely manufactured steel ones, which significantly lowered the oil consumption.

Production of the Daimler Double Six commenced in 1926 and although the model remained available until 1936, a production figure of as low as 26 is frequently quoted, although a figure closer to 75 seems more likely. All of them were built to meet the special demands of the owners and as a result no two were alike. The V12 engine was also available in a very wide variety of displacements ranging from the initial 7136cc for the 'Double Six 50' to 3477cc for the 'Double Six 30'. Being the most complex and exotic machine available at the time, the Double Six appealed to local and foreign Royals. Britain's King George owned two seven person limousines and King Hussain of Jordan was driven around in an open example. Daimler's top model did not only form the basis for lavish luxury vehicles, but also for a number of 'sporty' fixed head and drop top models. All of them shared a conventional pressed steel ladder frame chassis of which the wheelbase varied from very long to even longer. There was one notable exception, which sported a custom chassis constructed by Thompson and Taylor to a design penned by Reid Railton. It differed from the other chassis that it had an underslung rear end, which made the rolling chassis considerably lower. Railton would later use this design for the highly acclaimed Invicta S-Type. Before being bodied and sold to its first customer, the low-chassis Daimler was used as a demonstrator of Daimler's excellence for a considerable time.

Featured is Daimler Double Six chassis 30661; the unique low chassis model. When the chassis returned from Thompson and Taylor, it was by no means straightforward to bolt all the bits and pieces to it. Many modifications were required to install the engine, including fitting a new sump, rerouting the exhaust and as a result changing the ignition. This was all caused by the fact that the ride height was considerably lower, which would have been even worse if Daimler had not fitted gigantic 23 inch wheels. After its display duties, the chassis was fitted with Thrupp and Maberly close-coupled drophead coupe body in the summer of 1929. Fitted with a conventional gearbox, the car was sold or loaned to Captain Wilson of preselector gearbox fame. It's uncertain if the car served as a test vehicle for the Wilson gearbox, but from the following year a Wilson gearbox was available as an option on Daimler models. Now equipped with a preselector gearbox, the unique Double Six was sold or given back to the factory in 1930 or early in 1931. For its next owner, the car was equipped with a fixed head body, most probably by Martin Walter, who was not unfamiliar with the Double Six chassis. It was registered 'GP4831' on July 1st 1931, the number the car carries to this date.

In an unfortunate attempt to avoid an errant Austin entering the highway, the car tipped over and ended on its side. He and his wife were lucky to escape unharmed, but some damage was done the coachwork. Mending the damage was not a problem, but mending the wife's confidence in the car proved more troublesome and as she refused to ride in the car, a new owner was sought and found. Instead of having the Coupe repaired to its former glory he had coachbuilder Corsica modify it to a four seater Drophead Coupe. Third time lucky it seemed as the low-chassis Daimler survived with this coachwork. At the end of the decade, the car disappeared from the radar for some time, but since the 1950s its history has been well documented. The Double Six was restored and went through two more hands before being bought by the Burnett family for an absolute bargain at an auction in 1963. For the next 40+ years they enjoyed the car immensely and it frequently appeared in magazines, most prominently in a 1977 Profiles article by legendary journalist William Boddy. For the last decade of the Burnett ownership, the car was stored and after four years of prying, it was eventually sold to RM Classic Cars in 2004. In no time they found a new owner for the car, who immediately ordered a complete restoration by RM Auto Restoration.

No doubt one of the company's most complex restorations to date, RM managed to complete the work in time to ship the car to the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where the new owner took delivery of the rather striking Daimler. A regular competitor at Pebble for several decades, he had never won the coveted Best of Show despite coming close on several occasions. As soon as people laid eyes on the low-chassis Double Six that Sunday morning, the general consensus was that this was his best chance to date. The judges agreed and the freshly restored car followed in the footsteps of the equally lavish Double Six Walter Coupe that had won 'Best in Show' seven years earlier. Covered by a stunned crowd all day, the shoreline photo-shoot was the first time the unusual proportions of the unique Drophead Coupe could be admired. The seemingly endless hood, for example, stretches 10 feet ahead of the windscreen and the wheels are so big that the front fenders are taller than the radiator. Exotic inside and out, the Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupe remains as one of the finest cars that has ever graced the lawn at Pebble.

Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on September 06, 2006

Author: wolfram

*No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this information

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