My Car Quest

June 29, 2022

Classics: 1950 Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”

by Wallace Wyss –

A car this swoopy–this lie-down-on-the-couch and have a martini look–shouldn’t have existed in the postwar age. But it did. The Daimler was a rival to Bentley, Rolls and Mercedes. Only seven of this body style were built, and only three were left hand drive. It’s fitting that a man in a grandiose show biz trade, i.e., opera singing–was the first American who ordered one. The original owner was James Melton, dubbed “America’s Favorite Tenor.” Not only was he an opera singer but a renowned antique car collector. He had over 100 cars, which he originally displayed at the Melton Auto Museum in Norwalk, Connecticut. In 1953 he moved the collection to his new Autorama Museum in Hypoluxo, Florida.

Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”

If ever there was a good argument for buying a top-of-the-heap-ma car it’s this because supposedly Milton by chance met another car enthusiast, Henry Ford II, while toddling about New York City in it. Melton invited HFII for a ride on his yacht, they became friends and HFII backed a TV show where Melton sang his hits.

After James Melton’s death in 1961 his collection was sold off and the Green Goddess was next part of the private Kughn collection in Detroit. Then Ford came back into the picture. In the year 2000 it was bought by Ford for display in their World Headquarters (at that time Ford owned the Jaguar Car company-owners of the Daimler brand), presumably to add a little class to the Ford image.

The DE36 was large, the largest in Daimler’s post-war range and the bonnet was long for a reason–it had a straight-eight engine, displacing 5,460 cc mated to a four speed automatic.

Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”

Daimler designed the car for limousine use and several coachbuilders, including Hooper, built bodywork but I think this is the grandest. Britain’s Royal family were big on the DE36, especially HM King George VI, as state cars. Several were sent to foreign countries for Royal tours abroad. By the time production ended in 1953, 215 chassis had been built.

THE GODDESS IS BORN

Though most ended up as limos, a few were owner/drivers. In the first post-war Earls Court Motor Show in London in 1948, Hooper showed a design for five-seater drophead coupe with streamlined bodywork. The coachwork was jade green with green-piped, beige leather interior – and the car became known as the ‘Green Goddess.’ It was in the news often when used by Sir Bernard Docker, the chairman of the BSA Group, owners of Daimler. His wife Lady Norah, went ga-ga over the design and ordered two more ‘Docker Daimlers’ which became known as the The Gold Car and Blue Clover.

She so over-glitzed those cars that she gave her husband a bad name and he left the firm under a cloud. The Green Goddess owned by Ford was last heard of in a museum displayed by the Jaguar/Daimler Heritage trust. Ironically all seven are known as Green Goddesses despite their color, such was the fame of the original Green Goddess.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has guest lectured on car design history at the Art Center College of Design.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”

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Classics: 1950 Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”
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Classics: 1950 Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”
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A car as swoopy as the Daimler DE36 “Green Goddess”--this lie-down-on-the-couch and have a martini look--shouldn't have existed in the postwar age. But it did.
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