Daimler DS420 Queen Mother's cars

 

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Undoubtedly the most prominent DS420 owner was H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother of the British royal family (1900-2002). If you wanted to explain -to British people- which car we're talking about, then the Queen Mum's car was much wider recognised than a Daimler DS420.

After several preceding Daimler models, the first of her DS420s was purchased in May 1970: car no 1M1559 (VandenPlas job No. 12493). On May 19th, when her car was approaching the end of the production line, she visited the VandenPlas factory in Kingsbury, North London. Lots of photos were made (magazine unknown):

Article on QM visit to VdP

The colours of her car were black over royal claret, and the interior was fitted with dark blue cloth in the front compartment, and fawn cloth in the rear. Another special wish, described in Brian Smith's book Royal Daimlers, was a "rear cushion softer than standard". The legend goes that she did not like the double chrome waistline which was standard outfit at that time, and had the lower one replaced by a paint stripe. This then pleased so many other people that it was decided to make it a standard feature of the model. More visible details, transferred from her previous Daimler DK400 limousine, were her personal lion mascot on the grille, the badge bar on the front bumper, and her (then) private number plate NLT1.

QM visit to VandenPlas QM visit to VandenPlas
QM visit to VandenPlas QM visit to VandenPlas
 

Another specific detail, that returned on all her later DS420 cars, was that she wanted the rooftrim side line not chromed, but painted in black. It is not very well visible on the first pictures, but it clearly shows on some later ones below. The side wings got special Lucas flasher lights, just under the (round!) wing mirrors, as can be seen on the picture.

   Queen Mother 1970 car    Queen Mother 1970 car

Queen Mother 1970 car This car 1M1559 was up for sale in 2003 via Duncan Hamilton Ltd. in London, with an asking price of around £ 30,000.-. It was purchased by a limousine rental company in London, and was re-registered as BLN416H. It was for sale again on eBay in December 2006, but with a highest bid of £ 36,100.- (after more than 90 bids) it failed to fetch the reserve price of the auction. It was relisted in January 2007, and failed again at £ 20,000.- after 17 bids.

 

carriagecraft article  
According to Brian Smith's book Daimler Days the Queen Mother bought her second DS420 in 1978, car No. 10031. The "Carriagecraft" magazine, for employees of the VandenPlas Kingsbury factory, published this article in its December 1977 issue.

Strange enough, it states that the Queen Mother "currently owns" a 1972, not 1970, limousine?

I have no picture of this new car. Being a 1978 model, it still has the round air inlets under the headlamps, although they probably carry the rectangular BL insignia (or no insignia at all) instead of the round D. But the car will have the swivel-type rear side window, the long bootlid with rectangular number plate, and the rubber block bumpers.

fluorescent lights The photo (left; from her actual 1970 car) shows the rare "fluorescent lighting" option as mentioned in the article (click to enlarge).

In 1979, a few members of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society visited the Vanden Plas works, and many years later they published about this visit. In their article (pg 16) the following quote appeared: "Seats could be made to individual customers' requirements. The Queen Mother went to Kingsbury in 1978 to be measured for the seat of her new Daimler Limousine."

 

Pulling Power screenshot In 2002 ITV/Carlton produced a number of "Pulling Power" videos featuring classic British car marques. Producer was John Ford, and Michele Newman presented. The videos are now available on YouTube. One issue is devoted to the Daimler marque, and it was made with cooperation from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and the Daimler and Lanchester Owners' Club. Very interesting for DS420 fans is a short interview (duration 1m:15s) with Keith Cambage, who headed the DS420 department at Browns Lane, after Vanden Plas in London closed in 1979. He is accompanied by the "Last of Line" DS420 "L420YAC" owned by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. In this interview Mr. Cambage mentions H.M.The Queen Mother's limousines. Click on the screen shot image to see and hear the interview.

Mr. Cambage's text starts at 20m:11s from the beginning of the video, and we have prepared the URL such that, after hitting the Start button, the preceding part of the video is skipped rightaway. The full video (23m:27s) can be seen by clicking here.

A transcript of Mr. Cambage's text is: Every senior (?) as it were was being worked hard on to get the production and quality right on the Jaguars. So we became a little bit of the poor relation. <short intermezzo with presenter's voice> The future looked very bleak. The thing to do, then, was to reassure the potential customers and indeed the dealer network that we were going to do something about it. We had to really make the car attractive, and this had to be a reduced price. Manufacturing engineering resources were not available to us to the level of course that was being put to on the Jaguar production. So, in actual fact, we did quite well to keep it going.
Without the backing of the late Queen Mother I think that we would have had very little influence in the Royal circles. The Queen Mother took her first Daimler limousine that was produced at Browns Lane in 1983, and indeed there were seven units passed to (?), three to the Queen Mother and another four into the Royal Mews during the period in which I was in charge.<end of transcript>

 

QM car 1983 QM car 1983  
 
Again according to the Daimler Days book, the third DS420 was bought in 1983, car No. 200453, built by Jaguar in Coventry, where this picture was taken. Since this is a 1983 model, it has the new rectangular air inlets, but the wheels still have the chrome rimbellishers. Note that the license number of the car now is NLT2.

The article on the right (click to enlarge) is from an unknown Jaguar publication.


 

QM car 1986  
 
The next DS420 for the Queen Mother was from late 1986, serial No. 200905, shown on the Jaguar publicity picture at the left. This car has the pressed steel wheels without chrome rimbellishers, as introduced around 1984.

At first sight, this might look to be the same car as the one on the 1983 picture (previous items on this page). But although both pictures are taken at the same spot there are many small differences both on the car and on the building. Apart from the different wheels, this grille has a mascot (again), there is no tax sticker on the front windscreen, and the badges on the badge bar are in a different sequence. The building (which was Jaguar's office building, next to the JDHT museum at Browns Lane, demolished in 2008) had a face lift in 1985: different wall surface to the left and right, the round edge below the word JAGUAR, and no royal coat of arms on the door anymore. The body colour is hard to determine from the photo, but according to the factory sales records this car was black with burgundy. The electric step under the rear door is not very well visible, but some intensity manipulation on this photo will clearly shows its presence.

lion mascot This car was involved in a traffic accident with two other cars, on the evening of July 30, 1987 (Brian Smith, Daimler Days, pg. 918).


 
Royal car D500GUW Royal car D500GUW Royal car D500GUW Royal car D500GUW

Not for the Queen Mother, but for general use in the Royal household, H.M. the Queen received a new DS420 in April 1987. It was car 200970 and it was registered as D500GUW. It had the traditional colours: black over royal claret, with a Baroda Blue interior. Jaguar provided a series of photographs, taken in front of the management building at the Browns Lane site, and one of the magazines where these were published was "The Driving Member", magazine of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners' Club (October 1987 issue). They were also published in the Daimler Days books by Brian Smith (pg.917).

In January 2020 Christian Vanik published an article "Her Majesty's DS420 Limousines", also in "The Driving Member" magazine. In that article, car D500GUW shows up very visibly. Christian, who lives in Vienna, currently owns this car.

Several places on this website show the car with its previous owner Ivan Ford, and previous registration no. D111JHV, in Edinburgh: here and here and here and here.

 
 
Mr.A.Barty with uniform cap
Mr.A.Barty signing a scrapbook   

After that came an early 1990 car: number 201379, and it again was registered as NLT2. While the car was kept at the Royal Mews in London, it was officially owned by Jaguar Cars Ltd. This car, including the chauffeur's uniform, is currently (2019) with Scott Harrington of Harrington Limousines, who traced a lot of its history.
Mr. Arthur Barty, who was Her Majesty The Queen Mother's chauffeur for a significant part of the 27 years that he was at the Royal Mews, visited Scott's private museum, which resulted in the photos shown here. The Coat of Arms shown is the original one that was used on this particular car.
Photos contributed in 2018.

Suitcase for Coat of Arms Suitcase for Coat of Arms Suitcase for Coat of Arms
A.Barty with uniform and car A.Barty with Scott and Karen Harrington A.Barty with uniform cap and car


 
 
QM car 1992   QM car 1992   QM car 1992
QM car 1992 QM car 1992

 
It was an explicit wish of the Queen Mother that her last DS420, car No. 201629, purchased by her in 1992, would return to the JDHT collection. This last Queen Mother's car is not very often presented to the public. Therefore I was very delighted that the JDHT brought the car to the annual International Rally of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners' Club, held near Macclesfield on June 11th, 2006. I took many pictures, from which I have made a selection for this page. When they brought the car again to the DLOC International Rally in Ross on Wye, June 15th, 2009, I could take a few extra ones.


QM car 1992 QM car 1992 QM car 1992

 
The photo on the left shows her "Elizabeth Regina" monogram on the boot lid of the car, surrounded by a stylised "garter" with the Honi soit qui mal y pense motto. The same monogram is on both rear doors.

 
While the car was with the Queen Mother, it usually carried her license plate number NLT2. The previous car, described here-above, was kept alongside this one for a while, and both carried various registrations. After its return to the JDHT, it was re-registered as K123EYL.


QM car 1992 QM car 1992

 
The grille is a very special one. Since this is a rubber bumper car, it has the corresponding low grille model. But the hood ornament is mounted on an old style shaped top, as was used on the high grille models with the flying-D mascots. This in turn requires the old style bonnet front edge, with the recession, and the wide centre chrome stripe.

Daimler technicians added a small stepping platform on both sides under the car, with an electric mechanism to move it in and out. Together with the already high roofline of the DS420, and her rather small stature, this allowed for a very upright, and thus dignified, exit from the car. Another detail to note is that the car has no interior rear view mirror! And, again, the roof trim line is in black instead of chrome.


QM car 1992 QM car 1992

 
The Jaguar publicity photo below shows three of the four "last-of-line" cars of 1992. The leftmost car is the No. 201629, her fifth and last DS420. Not only the badge bar is significant, and the tinted windows, but also the black rooftrim/side is easily distinguished from the chrome roofline on the other two cars. This is the same car as shown on the colour pictures of the DLOC event here above. The other two cars, nos. 201628 and 201630, were for The Queen. Both these cars are still in the Royal household.

Car 201628 used to carry license number NGN1, and car 201630 carried license number NGN2. Both numbers have been relocated to newer cars. Current (2017) plates are KLL1, K326EHV and F728OUL. Not shown on this photo is the (officially) very last car built: car 201631. The latter, kept by the JDHT and with license number L420YAC, was not equipped with flagpole bonnet and blue light. Another photo from this session appeared in this magazine article.


the three last-of-line cars
the last-of-line Queen Mother's car

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