Motoring Monday: Daimler DS420 Limousine

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The Daimler DS420 is actually a Jaguar design, introduced by the Browns Lane folks in 1968 and produced all the way until 1992, albeit in very small numbers. Approximately 5,000 were produced, with about 1/5 of those being in chassis only form to be rebodied (for example, many were made into hearses). The underpinnings are largely from the 420G, itself a later version of the Mark X sedan, so the independent rear suspension and softly set front suspension yield a typical Jaguar smooth ride. This one is listed for sale here in Hemmings and is priced seemingly low at $3,500. It’s located in Fairfield, Iowa in case you want to go see it in person. The ad doesn’t tell us much apart from the fact that it hasn’t been started in 18 months and doesn’t want to start now. With the 4.2 liter version of the XK 6-cylinder under the hood, it won’t be that difficult to get it running as long as nothing catastrophic has happened, but that’s not where the expense will be with this car anyway.

There is a huge interior in these cars, complete with divider glass in most cases to separate the privileged from the mere drivers. In the driver’s area of the interior, there’s a lot of work to be done. Looking at the Heritage Certificate, this area was originally black leather, so this upholstery may well be original.

In the rear, while the jump seats are in pretty good shape, the rearmost seating (where the rich folks get to sit) is pretty bad. I also admit that if I refurbished this car, I’d want to go back to the same upholstery in the front and rear; I’m hoping the message it sends now was unintentional at the time it was built. The paint also needs to be redone as there are issues throughout the coachwork. By the time you’ve replaced or repaired the problems the seller has listed, including engine, brakes, suspension, paint and upholstery, you may well be into this car for more than it’s worth. However, think of the impression this would make dropping the kids off at school with instead of a minivan (at least that’s what my 10-year old daughter said looking over my shoulder at the picture)!

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Comments

  1. VetteDude

    Did I miss it – I would like to see a side view, you know, what the “other people” see!
    And, if this were Left-hand drive, would it be worth a lot more?
    It would be interesting to know the history: who rode in it? Where?

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Unfortunately, so would I…but they didn’t include any side view pictures! :-) And yes, there were less than 100 LHD models produced, it would be worth more if it were. The pictures along with the auction DID show a Heritage certificate saying that the original purchaser was the London Borough of Bromley (home of the Bromley Pagent classic car show, http://www.bromleypageant.co.uk), so it was some sort of official vehicle at that point.

  3. Hector

    Chauffeur driven closed cars typically had leather for the driver’s seat and wool in the passenger compartment. Wool was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And the black leather for the drivers’ seat was thought to be more durable and hide dirt. I am truly puzzled by what you mean by, “I’m hoping the message it sends now was unintentional at the time it was built.”

    From “The Motor Car at Home and Abroad – Aids to the Comfort and Convenience of the Motorist” By Thomas L. Hibbard (1921):

    “If the car is an enclosed drive or sedan, one of the fine-striped worsteds is the preferable material. This sort of goods may be obtained in a wide variety of weights, finishes and colors. In bodies of the sedan or imperial type, subjected to all-purpose use, it is preferable to trim the car in a durable fabric and in a very comfortable manner. If the car is to be chauffeur-driven, or if the owner drives and prefers it, the driver’s seat should be upholstered in leather. The rest of the car may be trimmed in the woolen fabric.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Hector, I was referring to the upholstery colors chosen. It struck me when I looked at the car, that’s all.

    • That Guy

      This was also the norm in American limousines at the time. My ’59 Cadillac limo had a leather front seat and wool upholstery in the rear compartment. Everything was gray though; no subtle racial commentary in the color selection! :-)

      These cars seem to sell very cheaply in the UK. I suspect they have an image problem, as being fuddy-duddy funeral cars rather than interesting classics. This is rather like the ultra-expensive Japanese luxury sedans that have virtually no resale value in their homeland because they scream “Yakuza.” Here in NA, this Daimler has the advantage of being a novelty and doesn’t have much cultural baggage, so maybe it’s actually more desirable over here.

      Like 1
  4. francisco

    These are the cars we usually see the royal family riding around in. Seems they prefer these to the Rolls and Bently.

  5. Jim Norman

    Or, you could just throw some blankets on the seats and have one hell of a daily driver. Keep it running mechanically until you get tired of the impression you’re making, then sell the restoration problems to the next sucker.

  6. Tundra/BMW Guy

    Jamie, you opened a can of worms!!! Hope it stays put right here! You know how people are today!? Mountain/Mole Hill……=……..stupidity!
    As for the car, I cannot get my head around the looks in general. I have never cared for the Bently/Rolls/Jag faces. Well, except of course the E Type Coupe or Convertibles, would love one of those!!!! Unfortunately I am not in the %ers that could/can/will ever be able to afford one!

  7. George

    A few Mexican blankets for reupholstering the back seat and you’re good to go! (Or were you talking about a different impression?)

  8. Bill McCoskey

    I’ve had 3 of these, my 1976 version was the British Ambassador’s limo in Washington DC. it was left hand drive with dual A/C, and when I pulled the interior out to repaint the car I discovered it had a 1/2″ layer of Kevlar armoring in the sides and floor, but the windows were standard glass. I took a smaller section of the Kevlar, about 4″ x 6″, and fired both a .45 cal & .22 cal round at it. The 22 went in about 1/16″ before spreading out in a horizontal pattern. The 45 round went about 1/8″ before mushrooming a little bit. I had always wondered why that car was slower than my other one at that time!

    As for the Bromley connection, most of the local “Mayoral” vehicles were Daimler 420 limos from 1968 to the early 1990s. If it was a “hire car” [USA translation limo service] or a funeral limo, it would likely have had an all leather interior, most common was a reddish brown leather, both front & rear, for durability. The fabric for the rear would have been “West of England” wool broadcloth, and almost as expensive today as leather.

    And yes, I know this car, and the owner. It should be an easy vehicle to get running again.

    And NO, I don’t need another one!

    Before the Daimler limos the royal family used the older Vanden Plas Princess limousines, both cars were made by Vanden Plas in their factory works in Kingsbury, a northern London suburb. Back in 1985 I had the pleasure of lunch with the former managing director of Vanden Plas, Mr. Roland Fox, and he blessed me with hundreds of factory 8×10 B&W glossy photos, including one of him delivering the 3 Princess Limousines to the Royals, 2 for England, one for the USA [I own the USA limo, left drive, dual A/C, power windows, etc.] The Queen Mother always preferred her Claret-colored Daimler to the Rolls-Royces. Note that the Princesses and Daimlers were generally used for non-official duties, and the Rolls-Royce Phantoms were used for the more important functions.

    • Hendrik-Jan Thomassen

      Mr. McCoskey,
      I run the http://www.myDS420.info website, entirely devoted to this model. You mention Vanden Plas factory photos. Would you have some that could be displayed on the site?
      Regards,
      Hendrik-Jan Thomassen

      Like 1

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