Brian purchased his first Daimler in 1963, more than a year before the formation of The Daimler & Lanchester Owners’ Club which he promptly joined and has since served as President and as Historian. Brian is a regular contributor to the Club’s magazine. He is also an honorary member of the Vanden Plas Owners’ Club and a member of The Society of Automotive Historians in Britain. His published motoring books are mentioned below.
‘The Daimler Tradition’ first edition, published, May 1972, was acclaimed as a work of merit and distinction.
“… all about superlatives in the realm of automobile engineering, coach-building and performance and about distinguished personages in whose lives the Daimler car played an intimate part”
“an excellent outcome of your research” Sir William Lyons
“An excellent job … anyone who is the least interested in the subject will derive great pleasure from this new history.” William (Bill) Boddy, ‘Motor Sport’
The Second, revised and updated edition was published in 1980
By gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen, the Author was granted access to the Royal Archives at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The outcome in 1976 was ‘Royal Daimlers’, with a Foreword by the Crown Equerry. The work was well received:
“With the word ‘Daimler’ in the title and Brian Smith as the author, we expected a really monumental study of this very appropriate subject – and we undoubtedly have it. In fact, looking back at the meagre number of titles written about Daimler, we have to say that a study of the ‘Royal’ cars is decades overdue … it is extremely authoritative, and we know it is accurate” ‘Thoroughbred & Classic Cars’
“… this time we are dealing with true scholarship; even a so called professional historian has only to read a few pages to realise that even oft-repeated ‘facts’ aren’t anything of the sort, and won’t stand up to the research of a dedicated historian … we regard this as an outstanding book … we must add that we can’t think of any living author with the requisite knowledge who’d have done it better.” ‘Veteran & Vintage’
“ … much new material and accurate reporting make ‘Royal Daimlers’ an outstanding contribution to motoring history … the book should appeal especially to the older generation who will discover so much British history therein reflected and find in the very generous quantity of illustrations and well-balanced, earnestly written text a joyous tribute to our Royal Family and its great heritage … and because Brian Smith has been able, from the Royal Archives, to correct false impressions and put right errors that have existed for so long in connection with the obviously-popular subject of how Royalty was introduced to the horseless-carriage, his book must be of vital interest to all motoring historians .. Nothing quite like this book can ever happen again.”
With a self-explanatory title, ‘Vanden Plas Coachbuilders’ was published in 1979 after time spent with E. Roland Fox whose family had been involved with the firm for over 50 years, and many visits to Kingsbury Works, North London.
“… this book, which is beautifully produced, with innumerable photographs … is of very special interest to all our members …. the author, Brian Smith, whose enthusiasm and expertise has made this book an outstanding and authoritative work. ‘Bentley Drivers’ Club’
“ Brian Smith has compiled and meticulously edited one of the best volumes in the Dalton Watson series. … this new volume is a model of what a coachwork reference book should be. We are all in Brian Smith’s debt. Buy this book!” ‘The Flying Lady’
‘Daimler Days’ Volumes 1 and 2, were published in 1996 to coincide with the Company’s centenary.
‘Classic Cars’ gave a five-star rating in their review: “Every great marque deserves its dedicated enthusiast. That is, the type of author who devotes his whole life to trawling photographs from dusty archives and painstakingly compiling the detailed minutiae that separates the truly authoritative marque history from the merely commercial.
With ‘The Daimler Tradition’ and ‘Royal Daimlers’ already under his belt, Brian Smith, with the help of the Jaguar and Daimler Heritage Trust and the Daimler & Lanchester Owners’ Club, has risen to this once-in-a-lifetime challenge and produced a publishing tour de force. This magnificent, limited-edition tome is contained within two handsome hardbound volumes running to almost 1,000 pages, complemented by more than 2000 illustrations, all beautifully produced and presented in a fitted slip-case. The text records every Daimler chassis plus over 1,000 body designs by the Coventry firm itself and various coachbuilders. The photographs magically capture the spirit of an age few of us can remember first-hand. The 1,000 copies printed will surely become collectors’ pieces.”
‘The Automobile’ in their review: “ … In Brian Smith … the Daimler marque has a worthy champion. Already the author of ‘The Daimler Tradition’, ‘Royal Daimlers’ and a useful book on the coachbuilders Vanden Plas, he has with the help of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, compiled a masterwork.
Produced on high quality paper, running to nearly 1,000 pages, lavishly set in two volumes, presented in a hard case, and limited to a run of 1,000 imprints available only through the DLOC, this superbly presented work is bound to become a collector’s piece itself in years to come.
Inevitably you will be drawn to the photographs first – a veritable Daimler archive – and you will return to them continually for more detailed scrutiny, revealing as they do fascinating glimpses of times past. Then you will dip into the authoritative text, much of it drawn from contemporary record, and enhanced by Smith’s well informed observations. Then you will want to read it from cover to very last distant cover.
This book tells you everything you could possibly want to know about Daimler. There are useful lists of chassis number, catalogue models, specifications, coachwork details, etc. Much of the latter is fascinating, given the marque’s rather staid image, for the extraordinary range of colour schemes and lavish fittings and fixtures.
Much of the early coachwork is splendid. Some is surprisingly sporting, some horrid but nonetheless fascinating as only the truly grotesque can be. Mercifully, for example, we were spared a cheapy Daimler based on the ‘50s Vauxhall Cresta before the company fell into the arms of William Lyons.
And we should not forget the enormous technical contributions made by the Coventry firm to improve ease of driving and general refinement through the adoption of sleeve-valve engines, fluid flywheels and pre-selector gearboxes.
This is a book I thoroughly commend to Daimler enthusiasts and lovers of motoring history alike, for it is certainly not overstating things to say that the history of Daimler is the history of British motoring.”
And from ‘The Driving Member’ “ … this is a detailed work on the marque which covers a century of development of the cars. It is an authoritative historical reference, with comprehensive data, thousands of illustrations and detailed appendices on all chassis types. It is the ultimate owner’s companion, with something for everyone who has even a passing interest in the marque. Brian Smith has spent many years assembling and researching this information, most of which is unavailable elsewhere.”
As predicted by the Reviewers, all the above books are now out of print and are much sought after and good second-hand copies command a premium!