A name that is rarely heard these days, Daimler can rightly take its place as Britain's oldest car manufacturer. In its heyday it had a reputation for fine, coach-built vehicles and was the favoured transport of royalty.
German Roots... In Coventry
Daimler Motor Company was founded in 1896 by Gottlieb Daimler1, Henry Lawson and Frederick Simms. The British branch of the company bought a large site in Coventry for use as a manufacturing and design facility, and began producing luxury vehicles. Even though Gottlieb Daimler was originally involved with this venture, he soon focussed on the German branch of Daimler instead, leaving the British branch in British hands2. Perhaps interestingly, Lawson and Simms were later convicted of fraud!
Daimlers were often transport for royalty and dignitaries, and produced many luxury limousines and some sporting cars such as the Daimler Dart during the 1950s. However, they were struggling to remain competitive in the post-war years, and were trying to become more mass-market when Sir William Lyons bought them out.
The first joint Daimler-Jaguar was the joining of a Mark II Jaguar body with the Daimler V8 engine; called the Daimler 2.5 V8 and launched in 1962, this soon began outselling the equivalent Mark II Jaguar and it was faster.