1973 Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas Saloon
Jaguar's XJ range of luxury sedans, along with their Daimler siblings, set new benchmarks for styling, refinement and a ride quality unmatched by even the top German rivals when introduced in 1968. Without question one of the most significant cars in the Jaguar's history, the new XJ series was a thoroughly modern design that successfully combined the best of British craftsmanship with cutting edge technology. Initially launched with either 2.8 or 4.2 versions of the XK six-cylinder engine, suitably updated, the XJ was offered in both Jaguar and Daimler versions, the traditional fluted grille of the Sovereign promising better quality fittings, upholstery and equipment levels. Inside, the Daimler retained the Old World atmosphere of rich timber veneers and leather hides, with plenty of luxury touches. Right from the outset Jaguar had intended to offer a V12 version, using the same 5.3-litre engine first seen in the Series 3 E-type, but the XJ12's launch was delayed until July 1972, with the Daimler version (badged the Double Six) released the following month. The magnificent V12, allied to GM's Model 12 automatic transmission, developed 285 bhp at 5750 rpm and was capable of reaching a top speed of 146 mph in testing, making it the fastest four-door production car of the day. From October 1972 Jaguar also began offering a long-wheelbase variant, adding four inches to the rear passenger compartment for some much needed legroom. The Daimler version became the most expensive car in the line-up, with the even more exclusive Vanden Plas model trimmed to a higher standard, repainted in one of seven special colours and fitted with a vinyl roof at the Kingsbury premises to justify the additional cost. The long list of standard equipment included air conditioning, leather upholstery, power windows, a four speaker radio/cassette with power antenna, Sundym glass with a laminated windscreen and heated rear screen, fog and spot lamps, quartz halogen headlights and chrome-plated wheels with whitewall tyres. The Daimler Double Six was awarded the title of Best Car in the World and, in Vanden Plas guise at least, was incredibly rare with only 337 or so built (plus a handful of LHD versions) before production switched to the updated Series 2 model in 1973.