Daimler DS420 1973/1974 Landaulettes


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"this motor car is bespoke"
Landaulette side view Governor_general Jamaica

In 1973/1974, Vanden Plas produced two DS420 cars converted to landaulette. They were presented as the most individual and expensive car ever to be offered by British Leyland, and would cost at least £15.000,- This was equivalent to the price of a Rolls Royce Corniche, and twice the price of a standard DS420 at that time. This amount of money would also buy you a fleet of 16 Ford Escorts. Needless to say, customers did not line up for such an expensive vehicle, and no more were produced after the initial two. The press photo here-above is 239837.

Press photo 239840 landaulette    The first landaulette, vehicle 1M2488, was ordered in 1973 by the Governor General of Jamaica for a visit of Queen Elizabeth in April 1975. This car was of grey body colour, with blue leather interior. The order probably triggered the idea to make it a "standard" product.

A Press Release was issued. The text below on the left (two pages) specifically describes the landaulette as a product. The middle one is the start of a four-page technical specification, which is not different from the standard limo specification, but it explicitly mentions: "this motor car is bespoke". Strange enough, the engine is described as a 4.3 litre one, instead of 4.2. The third page is the most interesting one, since it gives more details of the folding roof over the rear section and on the reinforcements in the chassis. Therefore we have displayed this page separately on the right. Click on any page to get the text enlarged.

The text on the first page talks about a 4.3 litre engine, whereas the Technical Specifications summary, on a later page, has the correct number: 4.2 litre. Several magazine articles were derived from this press release, and most copied the 4.3 figure.

Press photo 239839 landaulette
Press release pg.1    Press release pg.3    Press release pg.5
   Landaulette during Royal visit
     Landaulette during Royal visit

The press release mentions a second landaulette "for use in Africa". This was a right hand drive car, vehicle no 1M20099, built in June 1974, exterior colour black, with black leather in the front, and "West of England" fawn cloth in the rear, and it is was delivered to the government of Sudan. Brian Smith's book Vanden Plas Coach Builders (page 288) dates the first landaulette in July 1973, and the second one in July 1974.

The Jamaica car was taken to an extensive photographic session, and the resulting photographs (below) were published at many places. A few of these are still missing in my collection, and I would be very interested in buying them. Click for more details.

Press photo 239836 landaulette    Press photo 239835 landaulette    Press photo 239834 landaulette
Press photo 239833 landaulette    Press photo landaulette    Press photo 239832 landaulette

The following pictures are quite unique. They show details of the hood during its construction. The pictures can be shown here by courtesy of the archive of the Vanden Plas Owners' Club. The VPOC received these pictures directly from the VandenPlas management when the Kingsbury factory was closed. Another construction photo is shown on the "Colours and trim" page.

Daimler Landaulette hood construction    Daimler Landaulette hood construction
A final picture of the car on Jamaica:

Landaulette in Jamaica

Both original landaulettes have disappeared. I have never heard anything about the whereabouts of the Jamaica car. But to my great surprise I was contacted, in 2014, with a handful of photographs of the car of the Government of Sudan. Unfortunately, it was not good news. The photos were taken in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in a scrapyard in Al Farazdaq Road (near the power plant and a gas bottle shop), where the car was left to rot.

Sudan government car in Riyadh    Sudan government car in Riyadh    Sudan government car in Riyadh
Sudan government car in Riyadh    Sudan government car in Riyadh    Sudan government car in Riyadh

Many wedding hire companies nowadays use an aftermarket landaulette conversion, as shown on the limo hire page of this web site. A few examples, collected from various web sites, are shown here. Note the differences in construction above the rear side window, and the different ways the hood folds down. Especially beautiful is the conversion by Maurdon Motors of Weedon, Northants. (first below), which closely resembles the factory style conversion. Maurdon Motors stopped doing this type of work many years ago.

Landaulette conversions were e.g. carried out by Steve Robey of A&L Composites in Maidstone, Kent. An example is shown here.

Roof construction

The conversion at the bottom right of the photos below has a much larger section of the roof taken away. This has the advantage that the passengers can now stand upright, which is impossible with the original conversion. But it also means that a crossbar in the original construction of the roof has to be taken out, which requires an extra reinforcement to be added elsewhere. Click on the small picture to the left to get an impression of the internal construction of the roof of the car.

Maurdon Motors landaulette
landaulette-2    landaulette-1
landaulette-3    landaulette-4

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