Daimler DS420 Books


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This web page shows books about Daimler and Jaguar, and pays special attention to the coverage of the DS420 in each of them. Most books are currently out of print. It is my hope that the information on this page can guide DS420 lovers in their decisions to buy such books from web auctions or similar places of sale such as abebooks.com

When searching for books on the Internet be aware of sellers "publishing" books composed of Wikipedia articles and other copyright-free online texts, bundled and bound, with a fancy cover illustration. Look for "Wikipedia" in the description, and draw your own conclusions.

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Daimler Days    
A Celebration of 100 years of Daimler Motor Cars    
Brian E. Smith    

This 2-volume Daimler Days publication is the "magnum opus" on the Daimler marque. In close to 1000 large size pages (and 5 Kg of paper) Brian Smith describes every year of the Daimler history from 1896 until 1996 in chronological order. Since this includes the entire production lifespan of the DS420 (1968-1992) and since Daimler always had a very limited range of models anyway, the 60 pages that cover this period pay a lot of tribute to the DS420.

The texts are a compilation from sales brochures, press photographs, magazine articles etcetera, connected via editorial pieces by Brian Smith. Most pages have multiple (b&w) photographs or reproductions, making these books an extremely rich source of information, and a delight to browse through.
A must-have!

ISBN 1-873361-21-1.
The Daimler Days set of books was published in 1996 by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. The last new ones from the stock sold in summer 2006.

The Daimler and Lanchester Owners' Club have now "reprinted" this set on DVD.

Vanden Plas - the Austin Years
Bryan Peebles

Bryan Peebles, archivist of the VandenPlas Owners' Club, published this book on the post-war history of Vanden Plas in Kingsbury/London. The majority of the DS420 production (2838 out of 5044 cars) was built at VandenPlas, and this book devotes a 16-page chapter to the model.

Several years ago the author provided copies of most of the DS420 documentation in the VPOC archive to this website. Where applicable, this site shows those illustrations with appropriate credit. It is no surprise that most of the DS420 illustrations in the book are shown on this site as well. Nevertheless, Bryan's in-depth commentary makes this book a valuable resource and provides many interesting details.

ISBN 978-0-9564047-0-1, Ferns Books, 2009
Ferns Books is a personal enterprise of the author.
The website of the VandenPlas Owners' Club offers instructions on how to order.

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cover (15.4kB)    Daimler & Lanchester
A Century of Motoring History
Brian Long

This book has an entire chapter (18 pp.) devoted to the DS420 limousine. Apart from the ubiquitous pictures of the Governor of Jamaica landaulette, and the interior of the Office Car, it has rare pictures of design (e.g. the mock-up of a short saloon version), of production at Park Sheet Metal and at VandenPlas, and of a few hearse models.
The text gives good coverage of the various changes that were made to the DS420 during its production years. Recommended!

ISBN 1-899154-01-9, Longford International Publications, 1995.

Royal Daimlers
Brian E. Smith

Since this book was published long before the end of the DS420, it has several pages devoted to it. Interesting are the details given about the Daimler Hire company, and how it supplied the dozen or so cars required by the British government on several state occasions. A few nice photographs show such a row of limousines in action.

The book lists every DS420 owned by the British royal family in detail, and supplies a list of other royalty, heads of state and famous owners that purchased a DS420.

ISBN 0-85184-019-1, Transport Bookman Publications, 1976

Please note that my web links page has references to the "transport" pages of the websites of the Danish and the British Royalty.

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The Daimler Tradition
Brian E. Smith

This book devotes an entire chapter (12 pp.) to the DS420 model. Since the DS420 was only 4 years young at the time of writing, the text focusses mainly on the early design decisions and early manufacturing details. It is interesting that the list of distinguished DS420 owners in this book is more elaborate than the similar list in the "Royal Daimlers" book by the same author.

It is also interesting to read that fitting a television set and a cocktail cabinet for a specific customer is mentioned explicitly (at this point in time) as a proof of the ability to execute special orders.

ISBN 0-85184-004-4, Transport Bookman Publications, 1972

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A 2nd edition was published in 1980 (ISBN 0-85184-014-0). Its cover has the same illustration, but in blue+white colours. Many picture captions have been added, and chapters 14-16 (the DS420 chapter is one of these) have been revised & updated.


Brian E. Smith

This book covers the history of the VandenPlas coachbuilders company from 1870. It has three text pages about the period 1968-1979, and the DS420 is covered on those with interesting details. In 1979 (the year of publication, but also of the closure of the company), VandenPlas still assembled the DS420 from bodies made by Park Sheet Metal in Coventry. By the end of 1979, the DS420 assembly was transferred to Jaguar at Browns Lane.

Apart from the text, this book has 6 pages with illustrations (12 photographs). Many of these are also shown on this web site, e.g. on the page with "press photographs" or "hearses" or "colour&trim". Also, there is a half-page table with production figures and many chassis-numbers.

ISBN 901564-427, Dalton Watson, 1979

The "Carriagecraft" magazine for VandenPlas employees published an article in its December 1977 issue to announce the fact that author Brian Smith had started this project. This magazine copy was contributed by Bryan Peebles, archivist to the VandenPlas Owners' Club. Click on the article's image to enlarge it.

   Brian Smith in Carriagecraft    VandenPlas Coachbuilders cover
cover (28.6kB)    Jaguar
A Living Legend
Anders Ditlev Clausager

This book contains a large number of beautiful colour photographs of various Jaguar models, but none of the DS420. The text coverage of the DS420 is limited to less than half a page.
However, the very interesting production figures which we list on this web site are taken from an appendix of this book (which has similar figures for all other Jaguar and Daimler models).

ISBN 1-85361-119-0, Brian Trodd Publishing House, 1990

Mark VII to 420G
Nigel Thorley

In this book the DS420 gets a full 7 page chapter. Most photographs are standard Daimler press photographs, but one picture gives a nice view of limos under construction at Browns Lane. The text is a short chronological story about technical details, optional accessories, and changes made at various stages of the life time of the model.
A few paragraphs with addresses of fleet owners and service points outside the normal Jaguar/Daimler circles give this chapter a fine personal touch.

ISBN 1-870979-41-9, Bay View Books, 1994

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cover (31.4kB)    The Big Jaguars
3½ litre to 420G
Graham Robson

This book has an 8 page appendix on the DS420, but the text contains almost no information outside the ubiquitous standard technical data, production history and sales figures. Two pictures about the manufacturing process at Browns Lane made this book worth listing here.

ISBN 1-85223-922-0, Crowood Auto Classic, 1995

Daimler Century
The full history of Britain's oldest car maker
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu & David Burgess Wise

Although this book devotes not more than half a page of text to the DS420, it contains three interesting photographs. The first one shows "the Chief Scout with his limousine"; this caption is obviously wrong because the car bears the private license plate of the parent company of Reeve&Stedeford, the Daimler distributor in Birmingham. The second photo shows a limo hanging off a crane to be hoisted aboard a ship. The JHT archive has an entire series from this loading event, which was in preparation of a royal visit to Melbourne in 1969. The last photo, in colour on the back cover, shows a limo with the Royal coat of arms, and a flag above it with the same decoration, but without blue roof light and with a masked-off license plate.

ISBN 1-85260-494-8, Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1995

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cover (21.1kB)    Daimler and Lanchester
An Illustrated History
Tony Freeman

The DS420 gets half a page of text, and five photographs, among which three press photographs also shown on this web site. The most interesting photo is a very early DS420 (the MDU808F, mentioned at several places on this web site), bending over in a curve during a speed test at Silverstone. The same photo is shown in a 2017 magazine article (middle photo on that page).

ISBN 1-873361-01-7, Academy Books, 1990

Jaguar / Daimler
An Appreciation of Production Models, 1960-1970
Robert Hughes

This book is all about beautiful colour photographs, interspersed with short pieces of text. The DS420 gets a 5-page chapter, with 6 illustrations: side and front view of a black limo, another large photo of a black and ivory one, two pictures of the interior (rear) and a large picture of a hearse. The books is about the 1960-1970 period, and indeed all limo pictures are of very early models.

ISBN 0-7137-2713-6, Blandford Press, 1997

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cover (25kB)    Daimler Digest
The Large Daimlers (1945-1968)
compiled by Daniel Young

This book is, as the cover says, a compilation of magazine articles, road tests and adverts. The cover text even lists the DS420 explicitly. Because of the large variety of Daimler models involved, this book is interesting material to read. But the DS420 only gets one single article: a reprint of the 4-page Autocar article of June 13, 1968, which is also shown on the "Magazine Articles (English)" section of this web site.

Note that there is another Daimler Digest book in this series, covering the DB18 and Conquest range. The covers of these two books look confusingly similar.

ISBN 0-9511760-9-0, P4 Spares, 1990

Jaguar, les berlines
Dominique Pagneux

This book, in French language, covers the Jaguar sedan cars ("berlines"). It has a surprising 5 pages on the DS420 cars as imported into France by the distributor Axel Vilaseca. The most interesting photos from these pages also appeared in this magazine article.

These French cars were mostly ordered in very typical colour combinations black over light grey, and a beautiful champagne-rose over light goldish brown.

This book is not just another "English book in a foreign language". Pagneux has actually used a lot of original material from French distributors and publicity.

ISBN 2-7268-8566-7, E.T.A.I., 2001

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cover (35.8kB)    SU Carburetters
Tuning tips & techniques
G.R. Wade

This pocket book has served me very well in understanding my limo's two SU-HD8 carburettors (HS carburettors are covered as well). The book has many exploded views, and a very clear and detailed explanation of the working of carburettors and fuel pumps. It shows the function and working of the many little adjusting screws and it gives an appropriate warning not to fiddle around with them in countries where strict emission control laws forbid this.

I do have the Haynes Workshop Manual for SU Carburettors (ISBN 1-85010-506-5) as well. It is of no comparison to this Brooklands pocket book.

ISBN 1-85520-255-7 (2nd Impr.), Brooklands Books, 1976/1987

Jaguar XK Engine
History, buying, rebuilding, uprating
Dave Pollard

The XK-engine has powered Daimler and Jaguar vehicles from the XK120 in 1949 until the last DS420 in 1992. Over 350,000 units have been built for use in the C- and D-type racing cars, sports cars (e.g. two of the three E-type series), army vehicles (Alvis Scorpion), sedans (MK-VII and up, XJ6) and of course the DS420. This book shows many pictures of those vehicles, but it has Jaguar models only. The DS420 is never mentioned!

Then the book goes into meticulous details showing how to remove and disassemble an engine. Every page has multiple photos and/or exploded views (all in b&w) to show every edge and corner, give warnings, suggests points for special attention etc. The whole operation takes place at the specialised refurbishing shop of VSE - Vintage Sports Engines; a link to this company is on the web-links page. No hints are given on how a much less equipped amateur could handle (parts of) this job.

ISBN 1-85960-007-7, Haynes, 1998

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