DAIMLER MAJESTIC MAJOR
The Daimler Majestic Major of 1961 saw the continuation of a well built and dignified motor car befitting a firm such as Daimler. By 1896 cars was a fairly common sight in Europe, in England, however, which suffered from very backward legislation (nothing much has changed in this respect!) cars were permitted to use public roads under punitive conditions, at least two people had to be in the vehicle and a person walking in front with a red flag to warn others of the danger which was approaching. Whilst cars were being raced in France in this country the car was restricted to around 3 miles per hour.
The Daimler Motor Company Limited can into being in 1896 in the City of Coventry, whilst the engine came from Germany the chassis was a copy of the Panhard & Levassor. The Prince of Wales was to purchase a Daimler shortly later and this led to a long connection by the Royal Family and the Company. The firm also produced commercial engines for busses and marine use. The merger of Daimler with BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) just prior to the First World War saw the name altered to the "Daimler Company Ltd." In 1931 the well known make of Lanchester was incorporated into the concern bringing in a middle range of cars between the cheap BSA and the expensive Daimler.
During the 1920`s a V 12 car was manufactured and in the mid 1930`s a straight 8 sleeve valve engine was introduced. The onset of the second world war in 1939 saw production switched to military use, between the Summer of 1940 and the Spring of 1941 the factory suffered badly from enemy bombing but production continued throughout the hostilities with Germany.
When the Company returned to civilian production on the cessation of hostilities the first cars off the line were really a continuation of the pre-war models. When the Majestic Major was introduced in 1961 the motoring connoisseur was already familiar with the 6 cylinder 3.8 litre Majestic model, a car with a 100 miles per hour maximum which could be purchased for £2,568 (net £1760 plus purchase tax of £808) with Borg Warner Automatic transmission only.
The Majestic Major was in effect an eight cylinder version of the same car, the 4.6 litre V8 was not exceptionally large for a luxury six seater but it was not the usual de-tuned unit usually to be found in this field. It was very efficient and capable of sustaining high revolutions coupled with good fuel consumption, 18 miles per gallon driven carefully and even under hard driving 15 mpg would be achieved. The unit was of the over square type with light alloy cylinder heads, pushrods operated by a single central camshaft and fuel delivered by two SU carburetters. The compression ratio was 8 to 1 producing 22 bhp at 5,500 rpm.
The Daimler Catalogue of 1961 had the following to say "Gracious Motoring in the Modern Manner. Outstanding in any company with its impeccable appearance and perfect manners, the Majestic Major combines dignity with high performance to an extent which offers new delights to the connoisseur. The 4½ - litre V type 8 cylinder engine delivers its tremendous power smoothly and silently and with a degree of flexibility which is truly remarkable. With speeds well in excess of 120 m.p.h. at your command, the Majestic Major is supremely safe, thanks to perfect road holding and disc brakes which are fitted on all four wheels. Power assisted steering is also available. Elegantly appointed as befits its famous marque and providing refined comfort for six people, pride of ownership takes on a new meaning when one owns a Majestic Major."
John Bolster who road tested the model in June 1961 spoke highly of the vehicle, he commended the seats as "gloriously comfortable, support being given right up the back" He went on to state "The Daimler Majestic Major is a very great car, in every sense of the word. I can make no suggestions for its improvement, except perhaps for a little light to illuminate the intermediate hold switch. It combines six-seater luxury with sports car handling and almost racing performance, and it came through a really tough Continental road test with flying colours".
The interior was trimmed to a high standard, seats upholstered in high quality Vaumol leather hide over deep Dunlopillo foam rubber cushions, folding centre arm rests front and rear, the seats incorporated flush fitting tables in the back of the squabs. Polished walnut instrument panel. Deep pile carpets over thick felt overlay. The boot (trunk) had no less than 20 cubic feet of luggage space, ideal for those long holidays touring Europe.
The exterior coachwork was available painted in no less than nine colours (Cream, Tudor Grey, Mushroom, Dark Blue, Moss Green, Black, Silver Grey, Mountain Blue and Maroon. Again a wide choice for the interior trim, Beige, Honey Beige, Red, Maroon, Mist Blue, Dark Blue, Light Grey and Mist Green. In 1961 this car could have been yours for just £2,113. 6s. 6d plus purchase tax of £969. 16s. 10d, making a total of £3,083. 3s. 4d., the addition of power steering would have added £83. 2s. 8d. including purchase tax. It was the customers choice as to whether to have two front seats separately adjustable or one adjustable bench type seat, either style fitted with the two fold up polished walnut tables at no extra cost. An 8 seater limousine was also available for £3,995.0s. 0d. or Chassis Only at £1,825. 0s. 0d., both sums include purchase tax.
© Dugdalevms 2008