In March 1948 it had been announced that King George VI and the Queen were to visit the South Pacific, including New Zealand and Australia. It was proposed that Daimler cars should play a leading role in the tour transportation plan.
The relationship between Royalty and Daimler had its beginnings in 1897, when the first English-built Daimler was demonstrated to the Royal Family. In 1900, the first Royal Daimler, a 6hp car, was delivered to HRH The Prince of Wales, at Sandringham. At this point, he became an ‘automobilist’ – a great coup for the Daimler company. Following the death of Queen Victoria, the Prince became King, more Daimlers were purchased and the Daimler company could claim “By Appointment to HM The King”. So began a tradition.
Back then it was unusual for the Royal Family to venture abroad, aside from to Europe. As new methods of transportation evolved, touring the Empire became more possible. In 1939, George VI travelled to Canada and the United States. In 1947 the Royal Family toured South Africa. That was to be followed by a visit down under, in March 1949, and New Zealand became ecstatic with the prospect.
Following the success of Hooper-bodied Daimlers on the African tour, orders were placed with Daimler of Coventry for six such cars for New Zealand, and another six for Australia. The chassis (consisting of the frame, engine, transmission, suspension and body work forward of the firewall) was to be the new DE36 type. The motor was a 112kW (150bhp), 5460cc straight-eight, connected to the famous Daimler fluid drive and pre-selector gearbox. The wheelbase was a massive 3734mm – indeed the Daimler DE36 was the largest car the British motor industry had ever built! Fuel economy, at 4.25-5.1 kilometres per litre, was not a consideration.
To read this and other articles on the Classic Driver website please click here to sign up for a membership. Once a member and logged in, you'll be able to read all the articles on the site. If you are already a paid up member, please log in, using the Log In link in the menu at the top of the page.