As the name implies, this was a relatively small (for Daimler) 15hp car, and was a direct response to growing demand for smaller, owner-driver cars.
Introduced in 1932, the Fifteen was a radical departure for Daimler from its traditional product range, which featured powerful engines in enormous chassis, clothed in elegant limousine bodies. The Fifteen was powered by an all-new 1805cc six-cylinder engine, with overhead poppet valves. Whereas most other manufacturers had used poppet-valves all along (as do our cars today) Daimler had, for some years, adopted the American Knight sleeve-valve system: terrifyingly complex, but virtually silent compared to the unsophisticated overhead valves of the day. The all-new Fifteen heralded the company's return to the old (but by now much-improved) overhead valve.
The car's success was immediate, and it was to continue in various forms for many years, with gradually enlarged engines up to 2½ litres. In fact, the Fifteen chassis, as modified in 1937, was the direct ancestor of the famous DB-18s, Regencys, One-O-Fours, Majestics and Majestic Majors right into the 1960s.
The Fifteen was available in standard saloon form and several variations direct from the Daimler works in Coventry but, like the larger Daimlers and Lanchesters, it could also be fitted with specialist bodywork by one of the many coachbuilding firms operating before the war.
Incidentally, the Daimler Fifteen has often been referred to as the Light Fifteen. This is erroneous; there never was any such name. Other models in the range were offered in two basic types: standard (large) chassis &/or engine for limousine coachwork, and lighter versions for owner-driver use. Inevitably the smaller versions were named 'Light Twenty', 'Light Thirty', 'Light Straight Eight', and so on. As there was only one version of the Fifteen chassis, there was no need for a separate 'light' category.
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.