Meeting the "I" from Withnail to discuss the Dockers

| 16 Feb 2012

Last week I was interviewed about Lady Docker for a Sky series on the British motor industry.

The man asking the questions was Paul McGann, former Dr Who and one of the stars of Withnail and I. He told me that his one and only everyday car is a Rover 3.5 Litre Coupé that he has owned for years, so top marks for that.

With no Docker cars around to film in the UK (unless someone knows differently) the production team got permission from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust to shoot us next to a straight 8 DE36 'Green Goddess' Hooper drophead, a vehicle I was vaguely aware of, but had never seen in the metal.

It was truly a car in the spirit of Lady Docker, a humungous five-seater with power windows and hood (which disappears under a metal cover); just right for Cruella Deville.

It just seemed to be awaiting some chrome and its three-abreast front seat refitting – I’d love to do a story on it when it’s back in one piece. The back seats were two completely individual fold-up armchairs.

I think the Dockers did use these Hooper Dropheads (there were eight I believe) before they began with their own particular brand of gold-spangled show cars.

I can’t help thinking that any other straight-eight car with a body as beautiful and dramatic as this would have people dribbling all over it at Pebble Beach or Lake Como, but because it’s British, a Daimler and it didn’t win a race, it gets a bit forgotten.

Jaguar/JDHT should dust off some of these glamorous Daimlers and get them out there for people to see; pre-war there was that amazing low-chassis Double Six, too.

And why have the Docker cars not been tracked down – the Gold car, Silver Flash, Stardust, Golden Zebra? Do they even still exist?

On a depressing side-note, we met the production crew at what’s left of the old Browns Lane factory and, gazing over it, I wondered if Fiat would have allowed such a tedious estate of semi-detached houses to have been built on the site of Ferrari factory at Maranello.

I was really quite shocked. We did the interview in a the JDHT’s secret warehouse and I had to follow the E-type roadster 77 RW through the Coventry hinterland to find it, which had a slightly surreal feel about it.

It was interesting watching people’s reactions; little boys were still stunned by the thing, pointing and jumping up and down. Nice to see.