1997-2003 Daimler Super V8 sedan: Future Classic

By: Joe Kenwright

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Australia's last and ultimate exposure to Daimler indulgence

1997-2003 Daimler Super V8 sedan: Future Classic
Future Classic: 1997-2003 Daimler Super V8 sedan


1997-2003 Daimler Super V8 Sedan

Australia's last and ultimate exposure to Daimler indulgence was the outrageous Super V8 saloon. Based on the Jaguar X308 series from late-1997, this 1940kg wood and leather limousine, which cost $215,500 new, was the archetypal fist wrapped in a velvet glove.

Withdrawn from local showrooms in 2003, the end seemed nigh for the Daimler badge globally until the Super 8 (based on the later Jaguar X350 series) surfaced at the end of 2005. It disappeared in 2007 with less than 900 produced, none of which were officially sold here.

Because new Jaguar owners Tata have talked about revisiting the Daimler badge for a Rolls-Royce rival, this overlooked model could face a revival.

The Super V8’s 276kW/525Nm 4.0-litre V8 with an Eaton supercharger was a worthy successor for the bigger V12 found in earlier Double Six versions. The auto transmission was upgraded to the five-speed W5A580 unit from Mercedes-Benz, which has proved more reliable than other X308 transmissions.

Although performance and agility were dulled slightly by the longer wheelbase and extra lashings of wood and chrome, it actually wasn’t much heavier than Jaguar’s sporty XJR (1910kg), which shared its engine.

It also shared the XJR’s CATS (Computer Active Technology Suspension) that combined a more luxurious ride and sportier handling than expected in a car of this size.

Its V8 engine was its strength and weakness as earlier bore issues surfaced, which can be exacerbated by the forced induction causing excessive oil use. Many have been replaced by now. There were also early issues with timing chains, thermostats and water pumps, all generated by the switch to plastics in key areas to cut weight. New parts introduced from 1999 addressed these shortcomings and many early low-mileage examples have been retrofitted as a precautionary measure.

The late-1999 upgrade was an important one as it featured several countermeasures as well as a new engine management system for the supercharged engines for improved efficiency and reduced emissions.

Private imports have since joined local supplies and need to be checked carefully. On some, Jaguar parts, including grilles, have replaced Daimler identification in a misguided effort to make them more mainstream. These original Daimler parts can be difficult to source. Although prices have dropped below $30,000 recently, this is one case of where it is worth paying more for the best of the last.



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