Eddy Rafter test drives and reviews the Daimler DB18 Consort…
Daimler introduced a new model just before the Second World War: the DB18 or 2½-litre. This new six-cylinder engine was used in military vehicles during the war; few civilian cars were being made in those years. After the war, the 2½-litre resumed production until the 1948 Motor Show at which the new Consort model was announced. This was to be the height of luxury, fitted out in wood and leather.
The new model was technically accomplished, featuring Girling-Bendix brakes – hydraulic at the front – and a Wilson pre-selector gearbox, which was very much a Daimler favourite. Also fitted was an automatic chassis-lubrication system and DWS integrated jacking.
Modern style was given a small nod, with the headlamps now faired into the wings and the radiator swept back from the upright position. Semaphore indicators were now fitted to the upper B posts.
INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR
The Consort at Kult Kars is a 1950 model, acquired from a Cumbrian collector. Here is a car on which care and attention has been lavished, especially during the three-year restoration that was completed in 2009. The paintwork, in black over burgundy, is deep and shiny, set off by brightwork that can only be described as living up to the name. Doors open easily, all four hinged off the B post, and close with a satisfying clunk.
The re-Connolised brown leather seats display a little wear, but not a lot; the file of MoT certificates show a span of only a couple of thousand miles over the last 30 years. Likewise the wool headlining and deep-pile burgundy carpet show little signs of use. A modern Clarion stereo has been fitted, discreetly. The boot is not huge, but the lid is bottom-hinged and clearly strong enough to carry the weight of a case or two. Even in here it’s easy to see the quality of the restoration work.
Open the butterfly-bonnet and the engine gleams with a very English degree of discretion and reserve. Nothing is too showy, but it’s all calm and efficient. Underneath there is a stainless steel exhaust system. Little wonder that the restoration costs are understood to have run beyond £20,000!
Access to the seating is easy, the four doors opening wide enough to admit an adult each. The interior is extremely comfortable, effortlessly evoking PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie. Leather and walnut abound, all in glorious condition. The flat floor allows a feeling of spaciousness that is confirmed by the view from the large windows.
ON THE ROAD
The OHV straight-six turns over and fires without a hint of drama, and from the back seat, one feels that any distance would be a pleasurable journey. Quiet and smooth are the key words here. There’s plenty of room to stretch your legs out and each front seat has a footrest built in for the rear passenger. Sitting in the back, of course, also affords one a view of the semaphore indicators in action, something you don’t see while driving!
Ah, driving. This is where we meet the pre-selector gearbox. In fact, we meet it by manipulating the little lever attached to the quadrant behind the steering wheel, perfectly placed for the right hand. There are four forward gears and such is the combination of torque and gearing that it would be possible, though not really recommended, to set off from a standstill in fourth.
Accelerator and brake pedals are as you would expect to find them, but the third pedal, logically the clutch, is there to activate the change into whichever gear you have selected. To those of us used to a more modern manual gearbox, the change of rhythm involved in using the pre-selector does demand a mental adjustment. It’s pleasingly smooth in operation once that adjustment is made.
The long narrow bonnet makes this car quite easy to aim and keeping it on course is no chore as the steering is sharp and positive.
While not light, the big steering wheel makes short work of parking manoeuvres. This is a car that glides with dignity, whether setting off, proceeding, or stopping. The brakes give no hint of effort, but pull the car up from town speeds confidently, requiring no excess of muscle-power from the driver.
Here, then, is a car nearing seventy years old, upon which money – and importantly, time – have been heaped. Restoration costs over the last decade or so have long exceeded the present asking price. Paperwork is there to support this claim but the experience of handling this car tells the story clearly. Hunting down the odd small imperfection is all part of the fun.
One might be understandably reluctant to buy a car like this for daily use, but as a weekend toy, perhaps gracing an occasional wedding; it could very easily put a serene smile on the new owner’s face.
Engine: 2522cc OHV inline six
Power: 70 bhp
Top speed: 82 mph
0-50 mph: 16.9 sec
Gearbox: 4-spd Wilson pre-selector