1954 Daimler Conquest
Let me introduce you to Doris the Daimler. More precisely, a 1954 Daimler Conquest. Gloss black, with gold, hand-painted coachlines added to relieve the boredom. We met via a nearby dealer's website in the spring of 2019, dated, and have been going out together ever since.
Legend has it that the Conquest, fitted as standard with a six-cylinder engine and pre-selector gearbox, was so-named because of its £1066 ex-factory price tag. The directors then extended their unique brand of humour by promoting the Conquest as a regular-sized family saloon. Hmm. OK, so it’s no ocean liner, as were its regal predecessors, but take it from me, any car that can comfortably seat five grown-ups wearing hats and overcoats can never truthfully be thought of as modestly proportioned.
Clockwise, from below — 2020 Monte debut for the Daimler, with (left to right) Robert Grounds, owner Peter Baker and Guy Loveridge; en route to finishing eighth in a hillclimb championship — a Conquest indeed...
I know what you’re thinking: a posh motor well spec’d with plenty of class, built with care in Coventry, for the use of bank managers, well-to-do vets, and minor film stars who couldn’t change gear. Definitely more Savile Row than Silverstone. And you are right. Back in 2019, my suggestion of using Doris in competition had everybody rolling about the floor laughing. Everybody, that is, except my wife. She had heard it all before.
First up was Castle Combe, a track day, used as a sort of ‘running in’ process only a few hours after purchase (it was on my way home) and where nothing big fell off. Then, in early summer 2019, a Guild of Motoring Writers tour to Ireland where it rained every day. There followed more tours and another track day. But, truth be told, I was getting bored. Doris and I desperately needed an adventure.
Then I bumped into Robert Grounds. Robert’s mother had finished 17th overall on the 1955 Rallye Monte Carlo in — guess what? — a Daimler Conquest, shared with Nancy Mitchell.
The challenge was irresistible. Come January 2020, as part of Rallye Monte-Carlo Classique, we set off from Glasgow, three-up, and headed for the sunny Mediterranean 1000 miles away, via the Alps. Oh, what fun. Robert and our third crew member Guy Loveridge enjoyed every duffle-coated minute. More mileage than most cars do in a year, and yet again nothing fell off. But then came lockdown.
At the back end of 2021 I decided on a season of hillclimbing. Specifically, the Bugatti Owners Club Inter Club Handicap Championship, aimed at roadgoing cars, and sponsored by New Barn Land Rover. We finished eighth overall, and I’ve just sent in my entry for the 2023 Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. Doris is still most amusing, but she’s no longer a laughing stock.
‘Truth be told, I was getting bored. Doris and I desperately needed an adventure’