London

8 September 2014

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Lot 142

1939 Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupé by Carlton

  • Chassis no. 49531
  • Engine no. 92704

£225,000 - £325,000


70 bhp, 2,522 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine with a single SU carburettor, Daimler Fluid Flywheel, four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs, beam rear axle with leaf springs, and Girling hydro-mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,900 mm

  • Formerly loaned to legendary Prime Minister Winston Churchill
  • The only known pre-war DB18 Drophead Coupé in existence
  • Comprehensively restored and very well documented
  • Unique and attractive coachwork by the Carlton Carriage Company


The Daimler DB18 was first released in 1939, but production was soon halted so Daimler could assist with the war efforts. Production resumed in 1945 and continued until 1953. The model was powered by a 2,522-cubic centimetre inline six-cylinder engine, and it featured an advanced four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox, independent front suspension, and an underslung rear chassis.

It is believed that twenty-three DB18 Drophead Coupés were supposed to be produced for 1939, but only eight were actually built before the factory was demolished during the Blitz of 1940. Five of those eight chassis were destroyed during the attack, and the example offered here is the only known remaining of the three that survived.

Chassis number 49531 was bodied by the Carlton Carriage Company and has been the subject of a comprehensive €140,000 restoration by E. Theiesen. A no-expense-spared restoration returned this gorgeous Daimler to its initial glory, and it continues to present extremely well today. The appealing two-tone colour combination of black and silver, as well as a green leather interior, was chosen for the restoration, as it complements the lines of the car with remarkable grace.

Legendary British political leader Winston Churchill is remembered today as being one of the most influential people in British history and one of the driving forces against Nazi Germany. Even when the United Kingdom was alone in their opposition against Adolf Hitler, Churchill led the resistance against their enemies and was strictly against any sort of negotiated peace or armistice with Germany from day one. His devoted leadership, compelling radio broadcasts, and strong opposition against the Axis forces helped to inspire and motivate the Allies to victory.

Daimler Motor Company retained chassis number 49531 from 1940 to 1950 to be used for special occasions. It was loaned to Winston Churchill twice, once in 1944 and once in 1949, to assist with his political campaign. On both occasions, Churchill sat on the rear deck to address the crowds as he was driven through various cities. This DB18 was used so the crowds could have a good view of their national hero. Large speakers were temporarily attached to the front bonnet so he could address the throngs of people lined up to watch him pass.

This DB18 is not only significant for being the last surviving example of a pre-war DB18 Drophead Coupé, but it also played a small yet important role in shaping the history of the United Kingdom into what it is today. It is a true piece of history that is ready for countless more years of display and enjoyment. This is a car that would be welcome at any concours or driving event, and it would be a prized possession for any car collector and history aficionado.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more