|Daimler Special Sports|
This elegant drophead coupe was developed from the successful postwar 2½ litre (DB-18) range. Apart from its striking coachwork, it featured a modified engine (alloy head, twin SU carburettors) and a four-speed gearbox with overdrive.
But it was the bodywork which drew most attention. Handbuilt in alloy by Barkers (owned by Daimler), the Special Sports echoed the lines of a number of stylish sporting dropheads built on Daimler and other chassis before the war. In a departure from traditional Daimler reserve, most Special Sports featured distinctive two-tone paintwork, the division following the styling line which swept in a graceful arc from bonnet to tail; it was usual to put the darker shade on top, as the lighter-coloured wings gave a greater impression of width.
Another interesting feature was the provision of a sideways-facing rear seat; this seat and its footrest could be relocated to face in either direction.
Despite its name, the Special Sports was no great performer. Its engine was uprated from the standard DB-18 from 70 to 85 bhp, but as the body was also considerably heavier this was scant compensation. Like all Daimlers, it could cruise happily and silently at 70 mph, but its acceleration to that rate could at best be described as leisurely. For those bemused, therefore, by the choice of name, it must be admitted that contemporary motoring writers, while enthusiastic about the car, were equally baffled by the nomenclature. Then again, this was an era when 'sports' was not necessarily synonymous with competition, and in this case it merely referred to the car's sporting character: suited not so much to hillclimbs and sprints as to picnic outings, complete with cloth cap, cravat and pipe.
Relatively few of these cars were built. Just 608 Special Sports chassis were produced, but some 108 of these received elegant Hooper four-door saloon bodies, which means that a mere 500 of these Barker-bodied dropheads went to the marketplace. Today they command high prices, particularly in Europe. A high proportion came to Australia (probably thanks in part to the boom years of the 50s), and a remarkably high number survive here, including the # 2 prototype of 1948, which resides in Melbourne having been brought to Australia for the 1949 Melbourne Motor Show.
All material reproduced herein is copyright, held by the writer (Tony Porter © 2002), but limited verbatim extracts may be used with due acknowledgment to the author and the Daimler Lanchester Club of Victoria Inc.