A Royal commission

A hand-drawn original plan for a 1948 Daimler DE 36hp landaulette.

A little while ago, the Museum was lucky to acquire some archival material which sheds some more light on our Daimler’s early years.  Thanks to a vigilant enthusiast who alerted me when it came on the market last year, we were able to get hold of the original file created by London coachbuilders Hooper and Company when they were building our Daimler in 1948. Even at first glance when the files landed on my desk, my suspicions were confirmed – creating such a masterpiece was no mean feat.

In the first half of the twentieth century most vehicles were custom-made in two distinct parts – whilst Daimler provided the car’s powerful engine and chassis, they also co-ordinated the creation of the body by prestigious coachbuilders Hooper and Co. Coachbuilders were, as their name suggests, crafty companies who were able to  turn their trade to fabricating motor cars as the demand for horse-drawn vehicles diminished. It seems the Australian government’s order required a host of modifications to Hooper’s standard plans to better suit their ceremonial use. Seats were higher to raise the royal occupant above the level of the crowd, and the King especially requested that the landau (hood) fold down almost flat to allow a better view of his profile. You couldn’t fail to be impressed by this long, elegant car – as the file records, no expense was spared on either the workmanship or materials. It also contains unique technical drawings and vehicle specifications which provide invaluable information for our conservators when undertaking treatment on the Daimler. 

The original technical drawing for our Daimler, created by Hooper and Co. in 1948. You can see the King's modifications to the landau and rear side window in red ink (Photo: Laura Breen)

Have any other vintage car owners found the original technical drawings useful in deciding how to approach conservation treatment?

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4 Responses to A Royal commission

  1. RH says:

    Even the drawings are beautiful! Love the fact that the King wanted his profile seen.

  2. Fem says:

    What an amazing find! I’m interested to know if these files will be used as a working reference, or if they will become part of the collection? Thanks for the insights.

    • Laura Breen says:

      Hi Fem

      Thanks for your interest in the Daimler. Yes, all the relevant file pages and drawings have been copied for our Conservation team to refer to when undertaking work on the car. The original files are now part of our NMA Archive Collection, where they’ll be safely preserved for future research.

  3. KG says:

    Wow, how awesome to be able to say that the King had a hand in its design!! The archival material seems like it will be a great asset to the collection.

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