We didn’t have a four-seater but quite a few cars that seated only two, so I compromised and acquired a three-seater. Knowing my predilection for being just a bit different, I am now the proud owner of a relatively rare 1952 Daimler Barker Special Sports (less than 500 produced). Frankly, there’s nothing ‘sporty’ about the Daimler. Although a substantially aluminium, coach built car, she’s quite heavy (32cwt, 1920 kg) with just 2½ litres of 85 bhp grunt to haul along its occupants and luggage. I think ‘leisurely’ is the term used by commentators of the time.

The British coachbuilder Barker and Company had a long history starting in the early 18th century. In the twenties and thirties they provided bodies for Rolls-Royce, Bentley Daimler, Napier, Packard, Cadillac, Duisenberg and Mercedes. The famous Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost had a Barker body. Fallen on hard times, in 1938 the company was taken over by Hooper which was swallowed up in 1940 by BSA, hence the Daimler connection.

Like all Daimlers of the era the DSS  has a Wilson preselector gearbox and fluid flywheel. A sort of early attempt at an automatic. There’s no clutch as such, instead a gear change pedal where a clutch pedal would be. The driver selects a gear on the quadrant, column mounted, lever and then lets the change pedal in and out for the selected gear to be engaged. It sounds odd but aficionados love them. I’ll have to get to grips.

A car squarely aimed at the luxury market, the DSS was twice the price of the contemporary XK120. Ironically today, acquiring a ‘120 will set you back double the Daimler’s cost.

Quite what the manufacturer had in mind I’m not sure but instead of normal, forward facing rear seats, there’s just one sideways seat crammed into the limited space behind the front split bench. Because of the right-handed column change, I’m told it’s possible to seat three up front; I’ll report back.

Although a resolutely British car, my DSS spent time in New Zealand where, I believe, she was painstakingly restored. She found her way back to England in 2012 and it appears, has led a quiet life with just under a thousand miles in a dozen years. The sheaf of MoT certificates show no advisories.

Just how I’ll get on, I have no idea; I guess it will be either love or hearty dislike – watch this space. The idea is to allow us to travel en famille, whether we ever will, is a moot point. In any event, the Learmonth Jaguar family now has a questionable relative, a Daimler, conceived  and built before the Jaguar takeover in 1960.

1952 Daimler Barker Special Sports

Above: Imposing frontal view of the Daimler. It seems as though she should be flying a royal pennant.

Below: Nice two-tone paint break.

Above: Odd rear seat arrangement.

Below: Nice clean engine bay.

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