Motor City

25 July 2015

Previous Next

Lot 152

1957 Daimler Conquest Century New Drophead Coupe

  • Chassis no. 90550
  • Engine no. 73115
  • Body no. DHC57

Sold for $60,500

Model DJ254. 100 bhp, 2,433 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed preselector transmission with fluid flywheel, torsion-bar independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 104 in.

  • An unusually sporting and rare Daimler
  • One of only 56 examples built
  • Desirable Wilson preselector gearbox
  • Superb restoration

The Daimler Company of Coventry, Warwickshire, a nineteenth-century offshoot of the pioneering German automaker, is best known for luxury saloon cars and limousines. Indeed, until the 1950s, the firm was the primary supplier to the British Crown, a legacy of the first royal motor car, a Daimler purchased by King Edward VII while he was still Prince of Wales.

Thus, it was noteworthy when, in 1953, Daimler introduced a roadster version of the Conquest model, which was itself a medium-priced sedan based on the Lanchester Fourteen, another prestige marque that Daimler had acquired in 1931. With a 75-brake horsepower, 2,433-cubic centimeter inline six derived from a Lanchester four, it used a cruciform chassis, in consonance with Daimler practice, and torsion bar suspension. A roadster version was offered in 1954. Also in 1954, a high-compression aluminum head with twin carburetors and larger valves gave rise to 100 brake horsepower and the sobriquet “Century,” offered as a saloon, roadster, or drophead coupe.

An improved Mk II Century became available in 1955, with improved rear suspension, and a four-seat coupe joined the saloon. The latter lasted but one year before it and the roadster were replaced in 1956 by the New Drophead Coupe, which had a side-facing third seat behind the primary cockpit. Production continued into 1957.

One of the last New Drophead Coupes to be completed, chassis 90550 has long been identified with King Faisal II of Iraq, the young monarch who was assassinated in the coup of 1958. Although published in Daimler Conquest: Roadster and New Drophead Coupé, a recent book by Dennis Mynard and Harold Wilson devoted to the model, the authors emphasize that this provenance has not been confirmed. The factory record shows only that it was completed on February 20, 1957, and dispatched from the Works on May 16, consigned to a corporation in France, believed to be Daimler’s Paris distributor Etablissements Plisson. Clearly intended for export, it has a metric speedometer but, curiously, a Fahrenheit temperature gauge and right-hand drive. The final car in the New Drophead series was completed on April 16 (cars were not built in strict chassis number order).

Royal history aside, the car is known to have been in the United States since the late 1950s. In 2005, it was acquired by Daimler specialist Bob Boston in Atlanta and treated to a full restoration. It is stunning in yellow over black leather upholstery with matching carpet and fully functional convertible top and has excellent brightwork. Equipped with the renowned Daimler fluid flywheel and Wilson preselector gearbox, it also has the aluminum Century high-compression head, giving it 100 brake horsepower; it is reportedly capable of 100 mph. Other equipment includes a heater and dashboard clock. Wide whitewall tires give it an air of lightness uncommon in British sports cars.

Just 9,829 Daimler Conquests were built in all, only 56 of them New Drophead Coupes (including the prototypes). Fewer still made their way to the United States. The new owner of this car is unlikely to meet another on the road.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more