When Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation in 1966 to become British Leyland, both companies had existing limousine models - the ageing Daimler Majestic Major and the Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre. Leyland needed only one limo in their catalogue, and it was decided to replace both of these older models with a single new limousine under the Daimler flag. To keep development costs in check, it would be based on Jaguar components, but would be assembled in the Vanden Plas factory at Kingsbury in London.
The result was the DS420 which launched in 1968 and co-incidentally became the first new model of the newly-merged British Leyland company. It was based on an extended floor-pan from the Jaguar 420G, which made the DS420 the biggest ever British car with unitary body construction. The engine was the well-known Jaguar XK in 4.2-litre form, with an automatic transmission as standard. The semi-razor-edged style of the body was likely inspired by some of the classic Hooper bodies on Daimler chassis.
The basic bodyshell was supplied by Motor Panels in Coventry and mechanical components were fitted by Jaguar at Browns Lane, before the limousines were sent to Vanden Plas for final assembly and trim. When the Vanden Plas factory closed in 1979, final assembly and trim moved back to a special Limousine Shop in the Jaguar factory at Browns Lane.
The design of the DS420 also showed its origins as a Jaguar modified to serve as a Daimler limousine. With a chassis based on the platform of the flagship Jaguar 420G sedan and the XK twin-cam six-cylinder engine, it utilized the four-headlight front end styling of 1960s Jaguar sedans with Daimler’s trademark fluted radiator grill shell. The only British competitor to the substantially more expensive Rolls Royce Phantom VI limousine, the DS420 was a well-accepted and successful model, lasting all the way until 1992. This was the last car to use the classic Jaguar XK six-cylinder engine, five years after its last use in the Jaguar XJ6.
Numerous royal families around the world have used the DS420, the most famous user being the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. She used the DS420 as her official car from 1970 until her passing in 2002 - owning a total of five, including one of the last produced in 1992. Other royal users include the ruling houses of Denmark and Luxembourg.
Non-regal but noteworthy DS420 owners included Howard Hughes, who ordered one with an unusual centrally mounted rear bucket seat that he believed reduced pitching motions for him as the passenger; the Inter-Continental Hotel in Hong Kong, which purchased numerous DS420s to use as limousines for high end guests; and the funeral trade in the United Kingdom, which used the DS420 as both a hearse and as a limousine for relatives of the deceased. DS420s served in both roles in the funeral of Princess Diana.
In 24 years of production, Jaguar/Daimler produced only 4,141 limousines and 903 chassis for hearses. A small number of royal family cars remain in service, receiving the care normally given to royal family cars.
This very special DS240 Limousine is one of the very finest examples of the opulent Daimler we have encountered. Finished stunningly in elegant Metallic Gray with gold and green coachlines, the cabin is trimmed in buttery biscuit hides with rich green and tan brocade fabric inserts in the rear. Delivered new to France, it left the factory in rare and desirable original left-hand-drive specification. In recent years, it was in the care of a devoted marque enthusiast who spared no expense to perfect his extensive collection of beloved Daimlers. This fabulous DS420 features a long list of impressively engineered updates, foremost of which is found under the bonnet – in the form of a supercharged 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ16S engine rated for 322 horsepower as used in the XJR. It is also uses the XJR’s automatic gearbox, and features a custom exhaust system with catalytic converters to ensure proper running.
Other luxury amenities include dual AC systems (recently serviced in 2022) with rear HVAC controls, power divider window, privacy glass with curtains, powered rear sunshade, jump seats, a rear bar with crystal glassware and a rear audio system with TV/DVD player.
Rarely seen in such fine condition and with so many welcome upgrades, this outstanding Daimler is ready for touring enjoyment with enhanced power and in the lap of luxury.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7540
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