Lot 39 - The Ex-Sir Winston Churchill 1939 Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupé
|Estimate||£200,000 - £250,000|
The Daimler DB18 started out in 1939 as a six cylinder chassis on which Daimler and various British coach builders offered a range of bodies including Drophead Coupés. However, the most common version was a four door saloon which Daimler themselves produced and which by the early 1950s was beginning to look unfashionably upright and ""severe yet dignified"".
The model was introduced immediately before the start, for Britain, of the Second World War when the company concentrated on the manufacture of military vehicles. Most DB18s were produced after 1945, but more to follow on this later. To contemporaries the model was generally known as the
Daimler 2½-litre until 1949 when Daimler adopted the North American habit of giving their cars names and a slightly updated version of the car became the Daimler Consort.
The car used a 2,522 cc in-line six cylinder engine fed by a single SU carburetor. Throughout its life,
70bhp was claimed, though later, a change in the gearing which coincided with the introduction of the Consort in 1950 marked an increase in maximum speed from 76 mph to 82 mph. By the standards of the time the car was brisker than it looked.
The car, despite the detail panel showing manual transmission, was mainly supplied (if not exclusively) with the Daimler Fluid Flywheel coupled to a 4 speed Wilson Pre-selector gearbox. Whilst it is indeed manual, it shares many features of an Automatic box. There is a common misconception that because the car has 3 floor pedals, the left one must be a clutch - it is not - it is actually a gear change mechanism correctly called the ""change pedal.""
These gearboxes can be destroyed by unknowing owners ""slipping"" the clutch, which was not the intended method of use. From standstill, one selects first gear on the column lever, dips the clutch and immediately releases it again, with first gear selected - the fluid flywheel acts like a torque converter in an automatic, so allows the engine to idle at standstill, and when one is ready to set off one simply presses the accelerator pedal. As soon as one is on the move, second gear can be pre-selected, then one simply depresses the left hand, change pedal, releasing immediately and quite rapidly and the gear will shift to second.
In 1939, the Daimler Motor Company had chassis allocation to build just 23 drophead coupés. These were bodied by various external coach builders including Abbot, Charlesworth and Carlton Carriage Company as in the case of chassis '49531'. Of the allocated 23, it is understood from research in association with the Daimler and Lanchester Owners' Club (DLOC) that only eight 1939 DB18's were built before the Daimler plant in Coventry was tragically bombed in the Blitz of 1940 with severe consequence to the production of these cars.
Of the eight built by this time, four were confirmed destroyed in the bombing (Chassis' 49529, 49535, 49538, 49539), and a fifth was sold for scrap following the damage it incurred (Chassis 49533).
Today, only this car, chassis 49531 is 'known'. The remaining DB18 has lived a cherished life having been retained by the Daimler Motor Company from its completion in 1940 to 1950 to be used for Special Domestic Occasions such as the pre and post-war electioneering undertaken by Sir Winston Churchill in Britain in 1944 and 1949 as depicted in the accompanying period photographs. Churchill was captured on film several times atop the hood of EKV 881 with speaker systems adorning the bonnet area allowing him to address the crowds who lined the streets to see him.
Sir Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying ""I am easily satisfied with the very best"". Following a recent c€140,000 nut and bolt restoration by recognised classic motor vehicle experts, E. Thiesen of Hamburg, we suggest that had Churchill himself been here to offer his opinion on his former carriage, the sympathetic work undertaken at no expense spared would have satisfied his lofty expectation. Indeed, following the sale of EKV 881 at auction, the sellers' expect to mouth another Churchill quote; ""History will be kind to me for I intend to write it""….
After the sale of chassis 49531 by Daimler in 1951, 'EKV 881' is thought to have spent time in the U.S.A, Germany, London and even reportedly in the hands of an Iranian Prince at one time. In January 1960, Mr. Stanley Bristow-Stone of Woodside Park, North London is shown in the Log Book as the 3rd owner of this special DB18. Documentation in the history file shows correspondence circa 1985 between the DLOC and Mr. Bristow-Stone tracing the history of the car still in his care at this time.
Today, EKV 881 is resplendent in striking silver over black coachwork with contrasting three-position cabriolet hood in a rich chocolate colour. The long sweeping weighted bumpers from the front wings extend the shape to the rear quarter and the stylish sweeping tail fitted with twin filler caps similar to the Dolphin competition Daimlers of the period. The leather work in the comfortable cabin is wonderfully finished in complimenting green leather. The front bench provides occasional seating for three, whilst rear-passengers enjoy sideways travel in comfort. The substantial wooden dashboard houses period and original black Jaeger instruments, while the semi-automatic gear lever is housed on the driver's righthand side attached to the steering column.
This very special and extremely rare Daimler is steeped in Churchillian history and is almost certainly the final example we will see in our lifetimes.
EKV 881 is on display at the Brooklands Motor Museum now so please come and see for yourself what the very best looks like.
Next lotLot 4 - 1966 Austin Mini Moke
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.