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Daimler Double Six
Daimler Double Six 50


Daimler Double Six


Between 1908 and the mid 1930s, Daimler of Coventry built a string of famous sleeve-valve-engined cars, with smooth and unobtrusive power units, which produced a slight but characteristic blue haze of engine oil smoke. The most famous of all, and a genuinely successful rival to Rolls-Royce, was the Double Six family, first launched in 1926.

Daimler’s chief engineer, Laurence Pomeroy (Senior) persuaded his directors to authorise a series of magnificent and complicated V12 engines, which used many existing parts from current Daimler six-cylinder power units. It was called ‘Double Six’ because in many ways, such as the duplication of carburation, water pump and ignition systems, it was a double six-cylinder unit. The original, massive and imperial ‘Fifty’ was effectively two sets of 25/85 six-cylinder blocks set at an angle of 60 degrees.

With a capacity of 7.1 litres, and a declared output of 150 bhp (Rolls-Royce never dared to reveal their own peak figures, which were not impressive), this provided a huge, silent, power unit with more torque, which was ideal for the powering of massive limousines and (occasional) fast sporting models. Lever-type hydraulic dampers were standardised, and a vacuum servo was definitely needed to help power up the four-wheel drum brakes.

Naturally, there was no power-assistance for the steering (such systems had not yet been invented), so the chauffeur had a hard job. Later models, at least, were available with Daimler’s new pre-selector/fluid-flywheel transmission, which made them even smoother than before.

The typical Double Six ‘50’ had a lofty limousine body, which could seat up to seven people, might weigh 6,200 lb/2,812 kg, and would cost around £2,500 – definitely Rolls-Royce levels. Not surprisingly, this model was popular with the British royal family, who purchased several, over the years. Fuel consumption could be worse than 10 mpg, but no-one seemed to worry about that.

To expand the range in 1928, the ‘50’ was joined by the Double Six ‘30’, which had an altogether different and smaller 3.8-litre V12; this model itself was replaced by the 5.3-litre ‘30/40’ in 1930.

Even without the effects of the Depression, Double Six sales would always have been low, but economic problems hurt their prospects further, so the programme was gradually run down during the early 1930s, and the cars were eventually replaced with conventional straight-eight cylinder/poppet-valve cars. Less than 500 Double Six cars were built in the 1920s, even fewer after that.

Chassis, though conventional in design, were always colossal, typically with a wheel-base of 155.5 in/3950 mm or even 163 in/4140 mm.

Years in production: 1927–30 (1931–35 as developed 40/50 model)

Structure: Front engine/rear-drive. Separate chassis

Engine type: V12-cylinder, double sleeve-valve

Bore and stroke: 81.5 x 114 mm

Capacity: 7,136 cc

Power: 150 bhp @ 2,480 rpm

Fuel supply: Two updraught Daimler carburettors (one per bank)

Suspension: Beam-axle front, beam-axle rear

Weight: Up to 6,200 lb (dependent on body fitted)

Top speed: 80 mph (dependent on body fitted)