19th Oct, 2022 13:00

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Lot 114

1956 Daimler Empress III DF 308 by Hooper
No Reserve

Sold for £19,125

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: SUL 742
Chassis No: 91490
MOT: Exempt

  • One of only 14 Empress IIIs believed manufactured with aluminium coachwork by Hooper & Co.
  • Provided a comprehensive restoration between 1995 and 1996 to original specification with the restoration a feature of ‘Classic Cars' magazine in the January 1998 edition
  • Daimler & Lanchester Owners Club dual award winner
  • Extensive history file including a vast quantity of photographs documenting the restoration
  • Surely the best example extant and worthy of close inspection
  • Offered at ‘No Reserve’ from the late Robert Riding’s Estate, the vast majority of which has been left to charity with the RNLI as the predominant beneficiary

Daimler maintained its long-established position as royalty’s favourite in the immediate post-war years while grabbing headlines in the popular press thanks to a succession of often-outrageous ‘Docker specials’ on the DE36 straight-eight chassis. For the owner-driver though, the six-cylinder Daimler represented a more sensible choice. From 1954 onwards this range comprised the Regency II, Sportsman or Empress saloons, the latter featuring a body by in-house coachbuilder Hooper & Co. The power unit was a 3.5-litre overhead-valve six (there was also an optional 4.6-litre unit) and the transmission was Daimler’s traditional fluid flywheel/pre-selector type. A mere 14 Empress III models are believed to have been constructed making it one of the rarest post-war Daimlers.

Chassis 91490 was manufactured in 1955 at Daimler works before being provided for completion to Hooper & Co. in 1956 and registered new ‘SUL 742’ in August 1956. Interestingly used as a Hooper demonstrator vehicle when new, the Empress is one of only 14 of the MkIIIs believed to have been manufactured with the aluminium coachwork. Retained by Hooper initially, it is next known that the Daimler was acquired by a department store, Hills London Shops Ltd in April 1963. Three further owners ensued through the 1960s and an additional trio of custodians during the 1970s before the Hooper was acquired by an A. D. Jackson Esq. He retained ‘SUL 742’ for around eighteen years before it was passed to a family member.

Purchased by the previous owner and restorer in December 1995 at a Sotheby’s auction, the Daimler is said to have been in a sorry state (having covered less than 40 miles in the last ten years) with the chassis corroded, paintwork in poor condition, the interior requiring restoration and mechanicals also requiring attention. A comprehensive restoration ensued with the bodywork being stripped back to bare metal, and the chassis fully renovated. The bodywork was then restored and repainted in the original colour by Kempston Panelcraft and the engine (which overall was very good) was sent to Jaguar specialists VSE for an overhaul. The pre-selector gearbox was sent to Len Stoller of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners Club, before the re-wiring, said to have been especially challenging, notably due to the intricacies within the door for the electric windows. The interior leather upholstery was fed and recoloured, with the vast majority of the original leather trim saved. The dashboard was revarnished and a carpet set produced finishing the interior, with almost all the exterior brightwork rechromed. Elected for a full five-page restoration feature in ‘Classic Cars’ magazine (January 1998 edition), the restoration was completed to a very high standard.

The Empress’ first outing was to the Daimler centenary celebrations at Combe Abbey, with ‘SUL 742’ being given the award for Best Large Post-War Saloon. Purchased by Robert Furniss Riding in 1998 from the restorer, it has resided in his private collection ever since and continued award-winning form when at the Daimler & Lanchester Owners Club International Rally of 2006, the Hooper Empress was awarded The Berglind Trophy (for the vehicle most attendees wished to take home) and The Jaguar Tankard (best post-war saloon). Now offered at No Reserve from the late Robert Riding’s Estate, the vast majority of which has been left to charity with the RNLI as the predominant beneficiary.

Under Robert’s ownership, the Empress has benefitted from a carburettor overhaul in 2019 and in 2021 fitment of a replacement cylinder head gasket, thermostat and housing, and servicing. ‘SUL 742’ is accompanied by a large history file that includes a vast selection of photographs of the restoration work; a very large quantity of invoices for work both during the restoration and current ownership; numerous MOTs from between 1982 and 2013; Green ‘Buff’ logbook and copies of previous logbooks; a copy of the ‘Classic Cars’ magazine in which the Hooper features; sundry paperwork and correspondence; and the V5C registration document. This decidedly attractive and rare Hooper bodied Empress is surely the best example extant and is worthy of close inspection.

About Robert Furniss Riding:

Born in 1940, the only child of only children parents, Bob was educated at Stockport Grammar School then read natural sciences at Christ Church, Oxford. He joined William Deacon’s Bank, and had a stellar ascent through it and its subsequent iterations ending up as Group Treasurer of the Royal Bank of Scotland. He grasped the opportunity of early retirement in 1990 and moved to the Isle of Man where he had been left a house by an aunt. But Bob was far from being inactive, throwing himself into the local community and taking on the turnaround of a local private bank as its Executive Chairman.

Sailing had been a preoccupation during his time in the City, but on coming to the Isle of Man, Bob switched his energies and focus to collecting “quality cars” – principally the products of Cricklewood, Derby and Crewe, but with some maverick exceptions such as Maserati and Caterham. Daimlers and Lanchesters also featured, and he had to move to a large country house to find garaging for the ever-growing collection. His cars were regularly campaigned at rallies for the appropriate marque and were often deserved winners of various trophies. He also got involved in the relevant enthusiast clubs, usually ending up as Chairman – and his list of appointments included the Chairmanship of the Manx Classic Car Club and the Manx Motor Racing Club.

Bob was always a keen supporter of local charities, particularly maritime and those involving young people, and many will have cause to remember with gratitude his generosity and his apparently bottomless well of technical knowledge on “quality cars”, so freely shared. Bob left his Estate predominantly to Charity with the RNLI being the Residuary Beneficiary. Thus, in effect, the entire proceeds of the car collection sale will be received by the RNLI.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Cheetham
07538 667452


Auction: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 19th Oct, 2022

An auction of classic & collector motorcars


Tuesday 18th October 2022 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 19th October 2022 from 9am
Additional viewing for lots 200-254 on Thursday 20th October 2022 from 9am

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