Monday, 6 July 2009

Is Daimler dead and gone?

I write this, uncertain as to the fate of one of my favourite names in the history of motoring. Since 1969, Daimler has been effectively a trim level denoting the very best XJ-series Jaguar one could buy. Yet I don't see how this can continue. The next XJ is, by all accounts, a swoopy and low saloon - an XF taken to further extremes. To me, a Daimler is an upright, upmarket, wood-and-leather fest. I can't really see this working on the new XJ.

So, as I see it, there are 3 options open to Daimler. Firstly, a Daimlerised version of the new XJ - I will provide a digital mock-up when the XJ has been launched on Thursday. Secondly, Daimler produce a completely seperate car in a new class, utilising the XJ's platform. Thirdly, the Daimler marque; part of Britain's motoring heritage since 1896 and the manufacturer of our own monarch's personal car, is laid to rest.

Of the three, by far the most tempting is option number two. I can see it now almost - a retro-styled upper crust limousine in the same vein as the old DS420. Priced to compete with the next Bentley Arnage and the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, it could share the XJ's platform and 5.0 supercharged V8. A new, DS420 evoking bodyshell with ample room for 5 + 2 occasional passengers, and a considerable boot, the car could even be built by hand if it could remain cost-effective to do so. I believe the car would sell - it's not flash like a product of Goodwood or of Crewe, yet it would be suitably upmarket for Mayoral transport and even for lesser royals. Certainly, it would be a good car to have if you were a chauffeur. And the name? I foresee a return to Daimler of that historic nameplate; Sovereign.

But I fear that the most likely outcome is option three. After 113 years, Daimler would become defunct. One of the few historic British (OK, Indian) nameplates we have left will cease to be - and our nation of once great marques the world over will take one step closer to becoming a production base for exclusively foreign metal.

Tragic, isn't it?

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