The venerable Daimler company had gone as an independent entity but the new owner – Jaguar- let the name live on. In 1968 the last ‘real’ Daimler – the stately DR450 limousine – was replaced by the Daimler DS420.
An unmistakable Daimler fluted grille remained, but the front end was given Jaguar four-headlight treatment and the new limo was built on a stretched Jaguar 420G floorpan at the Vanden Plas works. It also had a 4.2 litre straight six Jaguar engine.
However, the DS420’s aspirations were altogether more upmarket. For this was Jaguar’s cheeky attempt to take on the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI – a contest that wasn’t entirely one-sided. The two luxury limousines were the same size with automatic transmission, independent suspension and disc brakes all round ensuring that the Daimler’s ride was smooth and safe. Better still, it was half the Roller’s price.
Various trim levels were available – from luxurious to opulent -and the DS420 had a glass screen allowing back-seat passengers to ride in splendid isolation from the chauffeur – suggesting the target market consisted of up-and-coming company directors who liked to travel in style. It was also popular at senior Government level (home and abroad) and used by top hotels to pamper premium guests. Last but not least it was much used in the matched-and-dispatched trade, sweeping brides to church (in white) or transporting grieving relatives and (suitably modified) the dear departed to funerals (in black).
Over the years around 4,100 DS420s were built, suggesting that Jaguar’s ambitious plan was not without commercial merit. Production transferred to the company’s Coventry plant in 1979, but the only change came in the shape of larger bumpers and a new rear number plate surround. The enduring quality of these hand-built beauties is such that most are still around to delight dedicated drivers of a distinguished modern classic.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1968 (until 1992)
4,235 cc V8
Top speed of 110 mph (177 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 10.5 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Jaguar supremo John Egan obviously had faith in his own products – it is said that in the mid-1980s his DS420 was a mobile boardroom fitted with a TV, computer with printer and the inevitable drinks cabinet.