top of page

Daimler DE36, Chassis number 52825

UK Registration number VOG 299 NL Registration AL-60-51

This page is dedicated to my own family's Daimler DE36, chassis number 52825, which had the UK registration number
VOG 299 and now bears the registration AL-60-51 from the Netherlands.  

It describes our fortunes with this great classic car, which we purchased in non-running order early June 2002.  

You can reach us via e-mail at

Peter Ruifrok, Diepenveen, Netherlands

Daimler DE36, Chassis number 52825.JPG


Getting the bug

After we moved to Chester in the UK early 1999 we started visiting historical places in our region. One day in the summer of that year we went to Tatton Hall, where also a big classic car show took place. That's where we got the bug. We saw what we at the time thought was a RR Cloud II, but must have been a Wraith. You see how inexperienced we were! Anyway I got a subscription to C&SC for my birthday and slowly started to focus down on style, era, type and most importantly budget.

Selecting a type

Era was relatively easy: we really liked the early post war types, say 1946 to the early fifties, after that the styling got too modern. Being foreign, we are Dutch, it should be a famous English mark. Furthermore in view of the English climate it had to be a saloon or a limousine. I know a lot of English people would disagree, but an open car or a DHC didn't somehow seem appropriate. And the family should fit in, which ruled out the sportier types and FHC's. So my first target became a Bentley R-type or the slightly earlier MK VI.

Finding a decent example

Now we were really in to it. More classic shows followed. We went to the big Rolls-Royce and Bentley happening in Towcester and I started attending auctions. I visited some dealers and became a member of the RREC. Looked for and found good advice on how to buy a classic car, the pitfalls, the costs. The Internet, the club and magazines appeared good help and over the months I became a reasonable amateur on judging cars and finding their problems.

Kicking the tyres

I don't have a mechanical back ground, but with some common sense, a good torch and astute questioning one gets a fair way. Don't be afraid to kick the tyres, rock the doors, and look at the body fluids and underneath the car. Inspect wings, sills and all the other rust traps. Because the usual problem on early post war cars is rust. For obvious reasons it was difficult to find good quality steel in those years. Go pre-war and it is a different story: much better materials were used.

Depression enters

Early 2002 I got depressed and tired after having seen too many over-priced sad examples. We extended the search to contemporary cars and cars from the late thirties. An Alvis grey lady, a Sunbeam and even a Delage crossed my path, but nothing materialised. And then I saw a Daimler DB18 advertised. Until then I had discarded Daimlers, because I thought they were just upmarket Jaguars. My daily driver is a Jaguar XJ8 and although I love it, I wanted something different as a classic. Stupid me! Daimler became only part of Jaguar in 1960, before that they made for eighty years exactly what I had been looking for: well engineered, old fashioned styled saloons and limousines.

But the solution was near

The web-site of the DLOC and a few others told me all I needed, including cars for sale and the possibility to leave a "wanted" advert even by non-members. As we speak I have canceled my membership of the RREC and am a member of the DLOC now, but at that time, May 2002, it was a great help. We looked first at an advertised DB18 Empress and then inspected a DE27 from the former registrar of the club, who had at the time 14 Daimlers all in different condition. I had also left an "interested in a straight eight Daimler" advert on the web-site, but didn't get any reaction for some weeks.

An incredible find

And then suddenly by e-mail a one-liner: "I might be of help. Ring Peter at so-and-so". I thought, this must be a trader, but what the heck, let's phone. And then something happened, which can only happen in England. Peter was the executor to a will and had only checked the DLOC web-site by chance. The garage and its contents once belonged to two brothers and a sister following the death of their parents many years ago. The sister was already deceased some time ago, one of the brothers lived above the garage and died recently, the other was still alive. The brothers carried on the garage business as "Grand Parade Garage", 16 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, which hadn't been used for over a decade. But all garage items were still there from the time that an undertaker 11 years ago for the last time had maintained and stored his cars (and coffins) in it. So imagine a 25-year-old Wolseley, a pre-war Buick ready for scrap, coffins, two petrol pumps and other automobilia, rusted parts and machinery. And in the middle of all this what would become our Daimler DE36. Structurally sound after over 10 years of untouched dry storage and with good bodywork and relatively low mileage (74383 miles). But it was immediately evident that engine and brakes would need an overhaul, some of the leather was crap, new tyres were needed, the chrome was heavily pitted, the exhaust had to be replaced, and I wasn't too sure about the front and rear springs. And then a number of smaller items such as non-original front lights (reflectors missing), rear lights which didn't look right, a filler cap inside the car, etcetera. We could turn the engine around by hand, but that was about it.

The buying process

We saw the car for the first time on a Friday and a week later it was ours. I organised transport back to Chester and to my delight a bit of force and some air in the tyres was enough to tow it. I got a basic insurance and found a nearby good mechanic in Chester prepared to give it a try. And that was the beginning of the first expenditures and of a real adventure. I don't need a car to be concourse, but it has to be reliable and in good running order. We did not only want to potter to the occasional club venues, but also to do longer trips in it to the continent.

Back to top

After the purchase


The first thing we did was cleaning the inside and the outside, which confirmed that all woodwork, rubbers and even floor mats were in good to very good condition. This includes the roof, which has a kind of inlay made from some synthetic rubber or leather with wood. Some of the chrome is still very good and returned to its original shiny state with a bit of polish, but the door handles need re-chroming or renewing all together and we are not sure about the bumpers either. Also most of the leather only needed cleaning, and/or a bit of reconditioning. The original blue has faded a bit over time and we will have to do some colouring later on the bare spots. The front bench will need new upholstery.


All windows move freely and the mechanics of opening and closing only needed a bit of oiling. Body rust is minimal (aluminum over a wooden frame), but the car will need a re-spray later, since the black paint is flaking of. That will also be the right moment to decide on the final colour (royal blue?). The first priority is getting it through an MOT (engine, battery, electrics, tyres, brakes, jacks, exhaust) and the local garage has started doing just that. I've made some photocopies of the handbook to help them. Decisions to take are amongst others, should we re-instate the trafficators, should we install an extra fan, and generally how original should the car become?

To the garage (July, August, September, October and November 2002)

July 2002 was dedicated to taking the engine, the brakes (including master cylinder and servo's), the gearbox, the exhaust, wheel bearings and you name it, literally all moving and non-moving chassis and motor parts apart and checking what replacements were needed. Luckily the springs and the chassis itself appeared to be fine, but oil from the rear half shaft leaked into one of the brakes. Also other components of the braking system appeared not right, and we ended up with a complete overhaul, which delayed things considerably.


The car has received basic maintenance over the years, but obviously not from an official Daimler dealer. Mind you, that might have been difficult anyway in view of the few DE36's made and in view of the fact that Daimler was taken over by Jaguar in 1960, only three years after the car was registered. Grand Parade Garage, the previous owner for some 35 years, did the servicing in-house. The first owner (from the mid fifties to the mid sixties), now known as the Birmingham Co-op, did the same. Unprofessional repairs from the past were amongst others the master brake cylinder. It must have been serviced before, but was then put together in such a way that it could hardly function. Other items, which had not been serviced correctly, were the securing of one of the back axle bearings, even the oil filter and the hydraulic brake cylinders at the front.

Then came the time consuming task of either locating the replacements or having them made. This list wasn't very long, but in view of the limited availability of parts difficult (and pricey!) enough. In addition, not all suppliers of parts appeared equally reliable, which didn't help and which was another source for major delays. In a number of cases the wrong items were supplied, despite us ordering the correct part numbers. In other instances our interpretation of "re-conditioned" was quite different from the supplier's. Anyway, we found two new reflectors for the Lucas P100 headlights (£ 150) and decided to fit an oil pressure gauge (£ 35). An oil pressure gauge is not standard on these cars, but I like to have a bit more than only a warning light.


Another important replacement was the steering box (£ 375 plus £ 75 for getting it to us), which was the main source of the play in the steering wheel. In the end we had to look at three different steering boxes, before we found a decent one. The speedometer and the other dials were serviced by a local watch maker (£35).

The front bench was handed over to Martrim in Middlewich for new padding and new leather (£ 329 incl. VAT). A new exhaust is for the time being not needed and the petrol filler cap can also stay inside the car, an outside ventilation appeared not to be necessary.. Everything has been cleaned and where necessary greased before putting it together again and all body fluids have been replaced. These lubricants are: motoroil 20W50, fluid flywheel and gear box SAE30, steering box & back axle EP90.

Two new tyres (Dunlop cross ply) have been bought as spares at £ 214 each (excluding VAT and transport), although the current front ones will do for the MOT. For the rear we will use one tyre which was still in reasonable condition and one new tyre which came with the car. Of course a new heavy-duty battery (£ 75) was installed.

Tyres are on hindsight the main problem with this car. The original 8.00 - 17 cannot be purchased anywhere anymore. Originally we ordered Firestone 7.50 - 17, since on paper these should come closest. The price seemed reasonable as well (about £ 140 each excluding VAT). However, when they arrived it was a major disappointment. They were far too small by any measure. Even to the extent, that I feared for insufficient clearance between car and road. They were returned and Vintage Tyres (0044 845 1200711) delivered two Dunlop Fort 7.00 - 17, which are specially made in batches of about 30 at a time.

The total height of the original cross plies (rim plus tyre) is about 85 cm (17 inch plus twice 8.00 inch as the width/height ratio for cross plies is 100%), and is reduced to 80 cm with the new Dunlop cross plies. The tread (width) is reduced from about 20.5 to 18 cm. Just a week after having them installed Sod's Law struck: I saw 2 new unused 8.00 - 17 advertised in the Driving Member for just £ 150. Too bad.


To keep it simple radials (below) are expressed with the width in millimeters and the height as a percentage of the width, while the rim diameter is still in inches: 8.00 x 17 thus translates into 205/100 x 17. And equally 7.00 x 17 becomes 180/100 x 17.

Other alternatives are:

  1. General 225/90 x 17.5 radials. These should be readily available as they are small truck tyres. Although they are slightly larger (17.5 instead of 17) they have been tried successfully on a DE36 and were a very good fit

  2. Michelin XCA 750R x 17 which is a radial, these tyres were still made in 2000 and would probably be a special order from a Michelin importer/dealer

  3. Hanksugi HS06-1 750 x 17 which is a Japanese company that have their tyres made in Mexico, email:, web:

A trip to Newby Hall in Yorkshire, the Golden Jubilee Rally (classic car show) on 21 July, brought us for the first time in face-to-face contact with other DLOC members and their cars. The result? A friendly and helpful reception, a very useful contact for investigating the missing history of VOG299 and a decision on the future colour, which is now all black.


She will become Oxford blue over black which means that the wings, the side mounted spare wheel covers and the footboards will stay black, the rest (doors, bonnet and engine bay sides, the rear and the roof) will become Oxford blue. A fine gold line from front to rear just below the door handles will give an extra touch to the blue. We also found out that the lighting at the rear of every car is different, which means that we can choose almost anything as long as it is contemporary and looks the part.

During August, September, October and November 2002 we collected most of the necessary items and everything was put together again, after which the underneath got a nice coat of underseal. Also some cosmetic work was done to the chrome and the leather and we bought two trafficators. The successful MOT on 5 December was merely the spin off from much more elaborate work done.


The car was re-insured and we got the (free) road tax disk on 6 December. The garage has done a perfect and thorough job, which includes most of the sourcing for parts. I can really recommend them, and not many in the UK will know as much about a DE36 as they do now. One might argue at our cost, but that would be unfair. I am not aware of anyone else who could have done the same job better, though of course I'm not an expert. And I'd like to think that Sir Henry Royce's saying in this case would be appropriate: the quality remains long after the price is forgotten. The forgetting might take us a while, but at last we will soon be enjoying the car!

Back to top

The first driving experiences

Steering at normal speeds is unexpectedly light. Crossplies give a different road feel than radials, but roundabouts and corners are a doddle. Only maneuvering in confined spaces is a bit difficult for two reasons. The car is big and consequently has a large turning circle. And secondly at low speeds steering is heavy. The car also keeps up nicely with modern traffic. Cruising at 60 mph on Cheshire's rather winding A-roads is no problem whatsoever and engine noise is limited. Maximum speed is above 80 mph, and the car holds well at that speed. There is no rattling, shaking or anything else worrying, but maintaining that speed for too long will cost petrol dearly, hence 70-plus seems appropriate on the motor way. There is no sign of the wheel-wobble mentioned in "Daimler Days", when Hooper tried to build a DHC on this chassis (see below under

History of VOG299).

Driving in the city is fine as well, but watch the space, this is a BIG car after all and I still need to learn its dimensions. Driving in reverse requires some practising, as the side mirrors don't give you any clues about where you are going, they are just too tiny. Overtaking must be done with care for the same reason. The fluid flywheel is miraculous. On level areas one can drive away in 3 (2 is recommended in the driver's handbook) and this is also my favourite setting for roundabouts and corners. A steep hill needs 2, and cruising is best in Top. The brakes work like a charm. Engine temperature settles at a nice 170 degrees Fahrenheit and oil pressure is about 70 psi when warm. An extra fan for cooling will not be needed. However, passengers in the rear compartment do complain about the absence of any heating, so we might consider an extension of the heating system. A better windscreen heater would do no harm either.

I filled the petrol tank, which had been cleaned by the garage but which wasn't entirely empty when I collected the car, to the brim with 70 liters of unleaded, it should contain about 20 gallons. I have read at length about the choice between LRP, unleaded or unleaded plus "lead from the bottle". But I fell for the argument that a) petrol was pretty awful in the early days after the war anyway, and b) these engines are not required to make a lot of revs. I can set the ignition control, and as long as the engine doesn't pink, it's fine to me. Also the petrol tank contains something called "Carbonflo" (£ 100). Carbonflo was apparently developed during the Second World War to enable the Russians, who had only low-octane fuel available to them, to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes supplied to them by the British. Carbonflo are domed-shaped cones of 22mm diameter. They are an amalgam of metals, the majority constituent being tin. They come in a ferrous metal "sock", which must be put on the bottom of the fuel tank, and they last for ever. Don't ask me how they work, that's hidden in history. But a number of people were quite positive about it and it doesn't hurt to try.

The engine starts easily from cold, without hardly any choking, and it helps setting the hand throttle part way. After a few hundred yards the engine is warm enough to close the choke again and after a mile or so the hand throttle is closed as well. When the engine is warm, no choke or hand throttle is needed. Then the engine starts immediately and ticks over slowly, steadily and very quiet. The word that comes to mind is reliability. When we've done a thousand miles, I'll tell you the fuel consumption, but the miles per gallon probably will be written in a single digit, hopefully close to 10. The only small problems during the first few hundred miles appeared a few water leaks (some screws and bolts needed fastening) and a small oil leak from the rocker cover, which was cured with some sealant.

Import in the Netherlands

This was relatively simple, although governmental admin fees amounted to a hefty Euro 190 (£ 135). She obviously had to be tested by a dedicated testing station about an hour drive away, but classic cars get a special treatment, as a number of modern requirements (front lights!) don't apply. The main thing missing, and for that I had to return on a different date and pay an extra fee, was a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), since a chassis number “the old way” on a copper plate was deemed insufficient. So now someone has etched for ever 52825 in one of her main chassis rails! I did get a couple of good advises on repairs to be done before the next MOT one year from now, and that was it. From now onwards VOG299 has been re-named as AL-60-51, which is a contemporary number. Old fashioned number plates, white letters on a blue background, have been ordered. Like in the UK for cars of this age you don't pay road tax and there are no import duties, just the costs of the test.

Insurance is however much more expensive: compare £ 80 for a limited mileage comprehensive cover in the UK with € 325 in the Netherlands! Not taking into account that the valuation in the UK was free, while in the Netherlands I was charged € 110, to be repeated every 3 years!

Back to top

UK adventures

Classic car show at Gawsworth Hall near Macclesfield on 5 May 2003

On May 5 we went for the first time with VOG 299 to a classic car show. Gawsworth Hall is only an hour drive through country roads and we wanted to support this initiative of the North-West branch of the DLOC. While preparing the car on the Friday evening before, I noticed a small drop of water coming from the radiator hose connection. A proper inspection revealed a split hose. Where to find a new one at such short notice? Luckily the solution was only a few phone calls away and by Sunday morning a new hose had been fitted. With wife, two children and dog we set off in heavy rain and half way the wiper motor gave up. Not a good omen, really. But by the time we arrived, the weather had improved and it turned out to be a lovely day in lovely surroundings.

More than a dozen DLOC-members turned up for one of those nice, relaxing happenings to which England appears to have exclusive rights. We met some nice people and we saw some beautiful cars (not only Daimlers). I was also able to help David Beales, who is restoring the engine of the JDHT "Green Goddess" (see below), with some useful contacts, and I had a really nice chat with the owner of the one and only Daimler Continental. This car was meant as a competitor to the Bentley Continental, but never was a success. I don't understand why, and if it ever is for sale, I'll buy it (if I have enough money and my wife lets me, that is). The colour, mistletoe green, really suits her. Our monster attracted quite some spectators, you obviously don't see many of them around, but she was rather dirty from the rainy journey and that shows on black! Another good reason for a re-spray, when the budget allows. And the mileage? Nine miles to the gallon. Hopefully we can pick up a new wiper motor on the next auto jumble.

Back to top


Visit to the Jaguar and Daimler Heritage Trust in May 2003

On May 25 we visited for the second time the JDHT at the Jaguar plant near Coventry, also known as Browns Lane. They have a small, but rather nice museum there, a must for all Jaguar and Daimler lovers. It's open to public every last Sunday of the month and during weekdays on appointment. The first time visit was end June 2002, when we just had bought VOG 299. We were unlucky then, since most cars had been garaged elsewhere to create space for the official announcement of the new Jaguar XJ8 to the dealer network.


This time a special display of royal Daimlers had been promised and because there are quite a few DE36's amongst them, a visit now was a must. Much to our regret however this display of old cars had been postponed due to the temporary non-availability of a few key cars. We must have looked very unhappy, because as a consolation we were shown a separate building in which most of the JDHT cars when not on display, are garaged. Packed with amazing cars, each with their own special history, amongst others the last car of the late Queen Mother. Especially interesting for me were DE36 chassis 51740 and 51753.

Chassis 51740 is a DE36 landaulette from 1949 and originally belonged to King George VI, but was afterwards exported to Australia and used by the government of Queens land. Thereafter a Mr. Anderson, Mazda dealer in Brisbane, bought the car and she collected dust in his warehouse until he died. Charles Lloyd Jones then became the owner, until he exchanged the car for the latest Jaguar XJS (!) and Jaguar moved the car to the JDHT. I wouldn't say, that the car is in running condition, but she does run and interior and exterior of the car are quite good.

Chassis 51753 is a DHC and one of the green goddesses. This car has been displayed on several occasions last year, but currently the engine is being restored by David Beales and hence she is going nowhere. Ford America had restored the coach work immaculately, but never touched the engine, which the happy few that have driven the car since (but on hindsight shouldn't have done that!) can witness. It must have been awful, but I can tell you, a car without her engine is also a sad view.

A wedding, two trips in Wales and a breakdown

In June we attended with the old lady the Chester Festival of Transport on the Rowdee (the race course), parked next to an immaculate MG TD, which was dwarfed by our car. When returning from some sightseeing I noticed a youngish lad, who seemed in love with the black monster. Much to our surprise I received a week later an e-mail from him, in which he hesitantly explained that he was going to marry real soon and whether he could borrow the car? We obliged and the car performed flawlessly.


Encouraged, we decided that she was now ready for a longer run and we planned a 200-mile trip in nearby Wales on 9 July 2003. We drove to Conwy (castle and harbor), Bodnant (gardens), Betws-y-Coed (walkers paradise) and headed via Capel Curig for Llanberis Pass to collect our son, who had been walking in Snowdonia. And that is where she broke down, just before the pass at the junction of the A4086 and the A498. A part of the pulley came of and with a lot of kloink-kloink noises and frightening vibrations I parked her at the side of the road, creating in my nervousness also a flat tyre. Mobile phones don't work out there, but luckily there is a pub at the junction with a pay-phone and 30 minutes later the RAC arrived with a lorry. And so the old lady was brought back home, having done about 100 miles on her own and another 100 in a taxi.

A proper inspection revealed, that a heavy metal disk, rubber mounted onto the pulley (which in turn is bolted onto the front crank shaft), had come of. This disk is "glued" with rubber onto the pulley, its only way of connection, by the factory. After some 50 years the rubber had perished and the disk came loose. The disk is a damper, to dampen out any unwanted vibrations of the crankshaft. These vibrations stem from the different forces exerted on the crank shaft by the engine. It must be rubber mounted, since otherwise the dampening effect is insufficient. This rules out any repair, by which the disk is bolted onto the pulley. DIY-glues are not effective, and moreover, the disk must be mounted perfectly centered, otherwise it will create its own forces on the crank shaft. A second hand pulley might have perished rubber as well, so the only good solution is to buy a re-conditioned pulley including the disk, which must be properly balanced as a whole.


Now, for me the key question was, how important is this damper? Is it essential or is it a refinement? I asked a lot of people and I didn't get a clear answer. What did emerge was, that the risk for vibrations is biggest at high revs with a stationary car. People that run high revving cars or tune engines, told me that one shouldn't drive one yard without the damper with the risk of breaking the crank shaft. However, people running low revving pre-war classics were a lot less negative. So I decided to run the engine stationary at low revs, listened for any new noises and felt for any new vibrations. To my relief none were there. The next step was a few miles including a hill, to test the car under different circumstances. Still everything okay.

The final test was a rally in Wales of 75 miles on 20 July 2003 with a couple of friends having a Triumph Stag, a Morris Minor 1000 Convertible and a Riley 14/6 Alpine (open) Tourer. We drove all kind of roads, from a dual carriage way to unclassified, steep and very narrow ones. Needless to say, that the car performed flawlessly again. I drove the car in a normal way, which basically means low revs, and had taken the opportunity to replace the two fan belts, which were a bit worn. The rally itself was great. We went from Burton Green, which is near Rossett in North Wales, to the B5373 and then to Hope mountain. Then via the B5101 we took the A5104 until just before Bryneglwys. From there over unclassified roads to the river Dee and we had an old fashioned Sunday lunch in the Sun Inn in Rhewl. The next stop was at the Llangollen motor museum (worth a visit) and the amazing aquaduct near Trevor. Then again via unclassified roads to Eglwyseg Mountain and Worlds End. From there to Minera and Coedpoeth direction Wrexham onto the A483 and back to Burton Green. A wonderful journey which took us through some of the best parts of North Wales. The only burning question left: should I worry about the damper or not?