Daimler MkIIs in Canberra


by Brian Johnston


Thanks to some early research on Daimler V8s in Canberra by Roger Payne, I am pleased to pass on these to you.


The Daimler V8 saloon was released to the public in the autumn of 1962 only in Mk II form. The very first car had the chassis number 1A1001BW, the BW standing for Borg Warner, the automatic gear box model 35 used in most Daimler V8 saloons. This car was the Earl’s Court Motor Show car with engine number 97331 (with no explanation of why this number was used). It was painted in opalescent maroon with beige leather interior.


From the research undertaken by Roger and updated by me most recently the lowest chassis number Daimler V8 in Canberra is owned by Tony Danaro, with chassis number 1A2383, a white car with red interior (see accompanying table). It is also interesting to note that Tony has the latest recorded Daimler V8 which is a 250 model, chassis number 1K5698 also white with red interior.


There are twelve cars in between of various colour and interior schemes. If any one can update or extend the table I would be happy to hear from them.


At the bottom of the table I have started to record the SP 250 sports cars in Canberra and will add chassis etc details as they come to hand.


Impressions of the Daimler V8 by Road Testers


There is an interesting set of road tests in the Brooklands Books compiled by RM Clarke covering both the Daimler saloons and the SP 250 sports. I am thankful to Jim MacArthur for lending this to me and should you want more details I would refer you to this book.


The first road test reported was by Autocar on October 12th 1962 and I will attempt to convey to you some of their key impressions. The first observations related to the engine - they were most impressed by its very smooth nature and the excellent torque characteristics throughout its range right up to its maximum operating speed of 6000 rpm. By producing 140 bhp at 5800 rpm the testers observed the need to keep the revs up to achieve maximum performance through the gears. The Borg Warner type 35 automatic gearbox with three forward speeds was found to perform well and provide good flexibility for changes in gears according to the required acceleration.


A more extensive test appeared in The Motor in April 1963. This test reaffirmed the earlier observations regarding engine and performance but made some interesting comparisons with the Mk II 3.4 litre Jaguar which it had tested in August 1961. The Motor found that the Daimler which is 1.25 cwt lighter at the front, with the front springs being lighter gave a softer ride and better weight distribution (50:50 front and back). This improved handling in corners and lighter steering, features of which The Motor was strongly supportive. It liked the exhaust note from the little V8! The gear changes were smooth and responsive to the "kick-down" in all gears up to 60 mph. The ability to select first and second gears from the selector provided a useful feature in circumstances where more rapid acceleration was required.


Personal Observations


Janet and I have now completed close to 2000 miles since finishing the restoration, including the return drive to South Australia for the National Rally. We like the high quality of the interior in the MK II Daimler, with reclining seats and armrests in the front for longer journeys. Compared to an earlier MK 3.8 which I owned the Daimler is much lighter and smoother than the Jaguar, but lacks the outright torque and performance of the 3.8. Compensating for this the V8 engine is very free revving and has a very pleasant V8 sound. By encouraging the engine to rev freely through the gear range very good performance can be obtained, certainly enough to keep up with modern traffic. The brakes are excellent and the lighter steering a distinct bonus for around town.