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Daimler Conquest

The Daimler Conquest is an automobile which was produced by the Daimler Motor Company in the United Kingdom from 1953 to 1958.

The conquest was offered in the following models:

  • Daimler Conquest Saloon (1953–1956),
  • Daimler Conquest Roadster (1953–1955),
  • Daimler Conquest Century Saloon (1954–1958),
  • Daimler Conquest Century Drophead Coupe (1954–1955),
  • Daimler Drophead Coupe (1955–1957)

Engine

The standard 1953 cast iron, single Zenith carb, 6.6:1 compression, 2,433 cc (2.433 L; 148.5 cu in) 75 bhp (56 kW) Conquest motor was essentially a six-cylinder version of the Leda four. Bore was 76.2 mm (3.00 in) and stroke was 88.9 mm (3.50 in). The 1954 Conquest Century model had a new alloy head with big valves, higher compression, high lift cam, and twin SU carburettors.

Body, chassis, and running gear

Origins

The body was a very little modified version of that used on the earlier Lanchester 14. The whole car appeared to have been developed within four months after Bernard Docker, then MD of BSA, took on the additional responsibility of MD of Daimler in January 1953.

Presented as a new car, the 75 hp (1953 - 1956) Daimler Conquest saloon chassis and running gear had originated in the 1950 Lanchester Fourteen/Leda. Lanchester was a subsidiary of Daimler. The Conquest's appearance was identical to the Lanchester Leda, apart from the grille. The Leda, at first, had been made of steel on a timber frame.

The usual Daimler large cruciform chassis had a double wishbone front suspension, with laminated torsion bars, telescopic dampers and a sway bar, while the rear suspension used leaf springs with telescopic dampers.

Automatic chassis lubrication to 21 points, using a pump controlled by exhaust heat, was a Conquest model feature.

Cam and peg steering was used, and Girling hydro-mechanical brakes. (Hydro - mechanical = hydraulic front, mechanical rear brakes.) The cars had an 2,642 mm (104 in) wheelbase.

In January 1955 it was announced that all new Conquests had four inches more leg-space for rear-seat passengers. In addition doors now opened wider and there were "further interior embellishments".

Performance

The Conquest motor produced 75 hp (56 kW) at 4000 rpm, and 124 lb·ft (168 N·m) of torque at 2000 rpm. In Century form the dry liner, pushrod engine with its balanced crank and large water jacket, delivered 100 hp (75 kW) at 4000 rpm, and 130 lb·ft (176 N·m) of torque at 2400 rpm. A Daimler four-speed preselector gearbox with "fluid flywheel" was used.

The Saloon had steel bodies weighing 1,397 kg (3,080 lb) (Conquest: 81 mph (130 km/h), 0-60 mph: 20.4 seconds. Conquest Century: 90 mph (140 km/h)).

The open two-seater Roadster (3) had an aluminium body, except for the bonnet, and aluminium castings were used instead of a traditional timber frame. The Roadster used (pioneered) the Century form of the Conquest engine though when it was first announced in the Roadster it was said to produce just 90 bhp. (100 mph, 0-60 mph: 14.5 seconds, 25.5 cwt (1300 kg))

The 4-seater drophead coupé (2) had a powered roof folding mechanism and shared few body parts with the Roadster. (87 mph (140 km/h)), 0-60 mph: 16.3 seconds)

The New Drophead (3) had steel to the B-pillars, and alloy from there back, apart from steel inner rear guards. (89 mph (143 km/h)), 0-60 mph: 19.7 seconds)

The lighter Roadster (3) was slightly taller geared; while the heavier New Drophead also (3) was slightly lower geared. Other differences to the Conquest saloon (1) include 12-inch-wider (13 mm) brakes, and steering that was 2½ turns lock-to-lock instead of 3¼.

A saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1953 had a top speed of 81.6 mph (131.3 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 24.3 seconds. A fuel consumption of 20.3 miles per imperial gallon (13.9 L/100 km; 16.9 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1511 including taxes.

Production history

The Conquest saloon was released to the public in 1953 as a replacement for the Daimler Consort, but was shorter and lighter, with better performance. The Daimler Conquest was meant to be an affordable Daimler, priced at 1066 pounds. (That price may well be linked to the name "Conquest".) It was pedigree with pace, at a reasonable price. They still had luxurious, well-appointed traditional wood-grain and leather interiors. Actual construction was by another BSA subsidiary, 'Carbodies'.

The open 2-seater Conquest Roadster first appeared at the Motor Show in 1953 with the tuned engine later known as the Century engine. The Roadster was not available to the public till 1954.

The Daimler Conquest Century, released in 1954 was the best seller of the range with 4818 of them produced. A hundred horsepower and, presumably downhill, a hundred miles an hour, hence the Century.

The Conquest Roadster was dropped from production in 1955. The dropheads had outsold them by over 3:1. Then a new drophead 4-seater and a drophead coupé version of the 2-seater Roadster were introduced at the 1955 Motor Show. This Mark II Conquest Roadster drophead coupé had a sideways-facing single rear seat, making the car a 2- or 3-seater and with wind-up side windows in place of the clip-on side-curtains of the continuing Mark II open 2-seater Conquest Roadster.

Two of the roadsters, at least, were coach-built as fixed head coupes. [ However at this time many very small businesses indeed offered low-cost glass-fibre-reinforced removable tops for all brands of open sports-cars. ] There is one fibreglass new drophead, and one fibreglass fixed head coupe (with a Hillman Minx Californian three piece rear window!!) One-offs seem to have been mostly done on Roadster allocated chassis, so there may have been even fewer roadsters built than officially indicated.

In October 1956 Daimler Conquest Century buyers were offered the choice of an automatic transmission or the traditional preselector system. Time was changing gear. Preselector gearboxes faded away as modern automatic transmissions took their place. Currency restrictions had meant that until Borg-Warner built a British plant automatic transmissions were only available on export cars.

Pricing

Nasser announces the nationalization of the canal (Universal Newsreel, 30 July 1956)There were major price reductions in April 1956 (12%) and in September 1956 (a further 12% and much more on some models). The Suez crisis in the summer of 1956 had brought petrol rationing.
The Roadster had started out priced close to the Jaguar XK120 at 1673 pounds, but by the time the New Drophead was released the price was 280 pounds more than an XK140. While Jaguars became less expensive, the hand built Daimlers escalated in price. Jaguars sold in large numbers, and Daimlers sold in small numbers with frequent model changes. Jaguars were built very fiercely down to a price with inevitable consequences for used examples. Some Jaguar fleet owners did not even bother with regular servicing (downtime) but simply sold the car when the inevitable trouble arrived yet replaced it with another Mark 2 Jaguar. The price to grace space and pace ratio was so astounding all was forgiven.
The writing on the wall for Daimler grew ever larger. In 1960 Daimler was bought by Jaguar, who wanted the additional factory space . Four years after the Conquest ceased production dealers were given the Daimler 250 V8, and this car, using Daimler's own Edward Turner designed 2548cc V8, (although the body shell was based on the Mark 2 Jaguar ), proved to be the best selling Daimler ever, with more than 17,000 sold between 1962 and 1969

Production figures

  • 4568 Daimler Conquest Saloons (1)
  • 4818 Conquest Century Saloons (1)
  • 65 Conquest Roadsters, (3)
  • 234 Conquest Century Drophead Coupes, (2)
  • 54 Conquest Century New Drophead Coupes (3) (A.K.A. the Mark II)

In August 1956 a press release endeavoured to relieve the workforce's belief that all production was to stop. In the chairman's speech to the November 1958 shareholders' AGM he advised the only cars made in the year ended 31 July 1958 were the 3½ and 4½ litre models.

Gallery

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