© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
Last week we tucked the 1922 Wills Sainte Claire into storage while it awaits a part, and moved our 1921 Daniels Model D six-passenger touring car into the shop. It's easy to overlook our unrestored Daniels because of its understated paint color, but it really is a fabulous car.
The Daniels was a low production, high-quality luxury car built from 1916-1924 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Company president George Daniels took great pride in his cars and personally examined each one, sparing no expense if any detail needed to be redone. No two were alike, as each was built to suit a buyer’s individual tastes.
The Daniels was a big and formidable automobile, with some models weighing three tons. Its “cathedral type” radiator shell and core were made from a single pewter casting. The Daniels was also powerful, carrying one of the first production V-8 engines when it debuted in 1916. Supplied by Herschel-Spillman, its cylinders were cast in blocks of four, bolted to an eight-quart crankcase. This engine was said to burn an average of one quart of oil every 200 miles.
Daniels production peaked in 1921 with the Model D, the company’s last and finest model. Now powered by Daniels’ own 404-cubic-inch L-head V-8, producing 90 hp at 2,000 rpm, it proved to be fast and very roadworthy. Company brochures promoted the Model D as “The Distinguished Car, with just a little more power than you’ll ever need.”
The Model D six-passenger touring car cost $5,350 at a time when one could buy a Ford Model T for $440. By then the Daniels Motor Car Company built most of the Model D bodies in their Reading, Pennsylvania factory, but the museum's unrestored car features custom coachwork by Fleetwood. Of the 1,960 Daniels produced, less than two dozen are known to survive.
You can see a video of the engine and car running here.