Daimler Majestic Major – 1959

The Daimler Majestic 101 was launched in 1958, in the hope that there was still demand for a sturdy saloon in the best traditions of this famous marque.

The Majestic was mechanically advanced but had a traditional coachbuilt body on a heavy chassis that made this large car hard to maneuver — though a lusty 3.8 litre engine meant the Majestic could sail past 100 mph (161 km/h). Barely a year after the Majestic hit the street, the Majestic Major appeared in 1959.

The two models ran concurrently until 1962 and were virtually impossible to tell apart. The difference was beneath the bonnet, where a new hemi-head V8 engine lurked. This was both lighter and more powerful than the old straight six, considerably improving the Majestic Major’s performance. Ironically, more Majesties than Majestic Majors were sold, despite the fact that the former was available for five years and the latter for nearly a decade.

The Majestic Major was certainly a high-performance luxury car that could reasonably hope to attract executives who had not quite reached Rolls-Royce or Bentley status, but still liked the thought of being seen in a prestigious car. But perhaps it was stylistically old before its time, with more modern alternatives having better curb appeal for a new generation of businessmen. And despite an impressive top speed, advanced Borg Warner automatic transmission and servo disc brakes all round, this clumsy machine had a huge turning circle and power steering was not standard until 1964. It was not successful, with fewer than 1,200 built.

A stretched DR450 limousine based on the Majestic Major appeared in 1961, for those with chauffeurs and the carriage trade. It was also adapted into a hearse, many examples of which are still doing stately service today — definitely not the version you want to ride.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

UK

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1959 (until 1968)

ENGINE:

4,561 cc V8

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.7 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Jaguar Cars purchased Daimler in 1960 and experimented by putting the 4.5 litre Daimler V8 engine from the Majestic Major into a Jaguar Mk X – and thus equipped the lighter car proved capable of reaching a top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h).

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