The Daimler Motor Company were early motorcar manufacturers based in Coventry. Harry J. Lawson
(1852-1925) established the British Motor Syndicate
in 1895 after securing foreign patent rights from the renowned motor consultant, Frederick Simms.
After looking in both Birmingham and Cheltenham for a suitable factory to manufacture motors, Lawson finally chose Coventry. He knew Coventry well, having first moved there from Brighton in 1878 to work for the cycle makers Haynes and Jefferis
, and later, Rudge
. His search for a factory ended when he opted to buy a disused cotton mill in the Draper’s Field area of the Coventry, and had it transformed it into the famous ‘Motor Mills
’. In 1896 he established both the Daimler Motor Company and the Great Horseless Carriage
Company on the site. The Daimler Company was offered for public subscription in February 1896 with a capital of £100,000 in £10 shares.
As well as Lawson, another company Director of Daimler was Henry Sturmey
, the editor of the Coventry based The Autocar
magazine through which all Lawson controlled motor companies received very favourable press. Initially, prototype cars were developed, but by 1897 the production of Daimler models was well under way – the first company in Britain to mass produce motorcars. To prove the motive power, strength and reliability of new Daimler cars, in 1897 Sturmey had one shipped to John o’ Groat’s, and then personally drove it to Lands End, covering over 1,000 miles.
Daimler steadily became famous for making, commercial vehicles, luxurious cars and limousines, often the first choice of royalty, the rich and famous. The business became a part of BSA in 1910, continuing production along similar lines until the conclusion of WWI when most 4-cylinder cars were dropped.
The 1920s saw the introduction of high-end models such as the Royal favourite, the 12-cylinder 7.1 litre ‘Double Six’, and by 1927 Daimler were offering no less than 23 separate models. Four years later Daimler acquired the Lanchester name which saw the manufacture of slightly less luxurious models than their own. After WW2 more limousine cars were developed including the 'Conquest’, and the automatic ‘Majestic’ by 1958.
In 1960, the Daimler name was purchased by Jaguar
Cars Ltd who introduced the ‘Sovereign’ in 1967, but by this time, it was stylistically clear that Daimler’s were simply high class versions of Jaguar models.
Jaguar continued to build the luxury Daimler’s in Coventry until July 2005.