1955 Daimler Regency Sportsman SOE 283

This car has had a very busy life.  It started life with a 3½ litre engine and after 30 years use went back to the factory for an engine overhaul.  Jaguar had in stock the last Daimler Majestic 3.8 litre engine, so fitted that instead.  The car was used for filming by the BBC in 1987 for the ‘Miss Marple’ episode “4.50 from Paddington” starring Joan Hickson.  In 1989 it completed a John O’Groats to Lands End run with over 400,000 miles on the clock and has now completed over 600,000 miles in total and still counting.

Daimler introduced a new six-cylinder 3 litre car, the Regency, at the 1951 Motor Show, but in its original form the car was unsatisfactory and hardly any were produced.  After a somewhat protracted development period, by 1954 the 3 litre had become the Regency Mark II saloon with a choice of 3½ litre and 4½ litre engines, basically of the same design but with different bore sizes.  As there was also a long wheelbase 4½ litre limousine, this range finally replaced the ageing DE27 and DE36 models.

The Sportsman (type DF308) was built on the standard wheelbase of 9 feet 6 inches (2,896 mm), but had what was described as the ‘high-performance’ chassis, which featured fully hydraulic brakes with a vacuum servo, and an overdrive top gear.  It could be fitted either with the 4½ litre engine, or with a ‘high-efficiency’ version of the 3½ litre engine.  This had power increased from 107 bhp to 130 bhp, thanks to an aluminium cylinder head and a higher compression ratio of 7.6:1.

The body was a four-light saloon, featuring a wrap-around rear window and small tailfins.  It was designed and made by Mulliner in Birmingham, an old Daimler supplier which was about to be taken over by Standard.  The car sold for £2,650, about £1,000 more than a Jaguar Mark VII saloon, which illustrates Daimler’s problems in the 1950s.  Production of the Sportsman seems to have been a mere 33 3½ litre cars, and even fewer of the 4½ litre model.

After only a year, the Sportsman was renamed as the four-light saloon and was offered only on the 4½-litre chassis of the One-O-Four – which was a modified Regency – and the price had risen further to £3,250.  Small-scale production of these cars continued into 1958, when the 3½ litre and 4½ litre models were replaced by the new Majestic 3.8-litre model.

Registration Mark: SOE 283

Chassis Number: 91483

Owner: Mr Tony Bagley of the DLOC

Inventory Number: 50/D.25