Lot 167 - 1939 Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupe by Carlton

The only surviving example, and used by Winston Churchill for political campaigns in 1944 and 1949

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Auction Blenheim Palace July 2016
Auction Date
Day of Auction

Lot Details

Lot Number 167
Reg. Number UK Registered
Chassis Number 49531
Year 1939
Make Daimler
Model DB18 Drophead Coupe

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Daimler is one of the few manufacturers that can rightfully claim to have been established from the birth of the motor industry. The company’s traditions of sound engineering, design and good workmanship have been maintained throughout, hardly surprising therefore that Daimler enjoyed a lengthy association with Royalty as suppliers of motor cars.

Development of the pre-war Daimler Fifteen culminated with the DB18 model announced for 1939. Independent suspension appeared for the first time on a Daimler and the DB18 featured an enlarged, 2,522cc version of the overhead-valve six first introduced in 1933. Daimler’s customary fluid flywheel, pre-selector gearbox and worm drive rear axle comprised the transmission.

Twenty-three DB18 Drophead Coupés were planned to be produced for 1939, but production was soon halted when war broke out. Production resumed in 1945 and continued until 1953, however the factory was demolished during the Blitz of 1940, after only eight of the original cars were built. Five of those eight chassis were destroyed during the attack, leaving only three cars. This is one of those three cars, and the only surviving example.

Based in West London, the Carlton Carriage Company was founded in 1924. Their design team was rather sought after in the 1930s for their drophead designs, in addition to coupe-de-ville, continental tourer, sport saloon and 2-seater sports roadster designs. Some of their more admired designs have an art deco flair, whilst others have elements similar to American styles of the period, possibly due to their connections with American manufacturers and clientele.

Chassis number 49531 was bodied by the Carlton Carriage Company as a Drophead Coupe, but retained by the Daimler Motor Company for its own use. Daimler used chassis 49531 over a ten year period from 1940 to 1950 for various special occasions. Notably it was loaned to Winston Churchill to assist with his political campaigns in 1944 and again in 1949. The Daimler would be fitted with a load speaker system, and Churchill would sit on the rear deck to address the crowds as he was driven through various cities. The DB18 was deemed appropriate as the relatively compact size of the car ensured crowds could have a good view of their national hero.

Winston Churchill was without doubt one of the most influential and charismatic people in British history, and during the Second World War the driving force against Nazi Germany. Dogged, determined, fiercely intelligent, and incredibly brave, Churchill led the resistance against their enemies, and from Day One was strictly against any sort of negotiated peace or armistice with Germany. His devoted leadership and compelling radio broadcasts helped to inspire and motivate the Allies to victory.

More recently, this superbly stylish motor car enjoyed a huge amount of restoration work by the highly regarded firm Eberhard Thiesen of Hamburg. Established now for over 40 years, Thiesen are one of Europe’s most prestigious classic car dealers and restorers. The restoration work totalled €140,000, and truly returned this significant Daimler to its former splendour. The DB18 presents magnificently in two-tone black over silver, with a beautiful Art Deco inspired green leather interior.

Let us not underestimate the importance of the car presented here. This is the only surviving pre-war Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupe. This very car enjoyed a role in shaping modern Britain. Presented in stunning condition, what a hugely rewarding prospect for the next custodian.


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