The last Daimler car to feature a Daimler engine, the Daimler 250 was produced in Coventry, England in 1963. The original Dart was introduced in 1959 at the New York Motor show. At first, it was remarkably popular with a fiberglass body, 2.5 litre Hemi-head V8 and four wheel Girling disc brakes. After being threatened with legal repercussions by Chrysler's Dodge division, the Dart name was dropped and renamed the Daimler SP250.
The Daimler SP250 was considered to be a surprisingly satisfying vehicle despite it's bad reputation early on and the stigma it carried of being 'homely' and 'poorly executed'. On the market for six years, the four-door saloon was considered to be indistinguishable from a Jaguar Mark 2.
It was only minor interior differences, the fluted grille, drive-train, and badged that set the two vehicles apart.
Acquiring the marque in 1960 from Jaguar, the hemispherical head V8 engine was found in the Daimler SP250. In 1960, Jaguar purchased Daimler. The main concern was regarding the chassis flex, which they improved with the addition of the B-spec version that had extra outriggers on the chassis and between the A posts was a strengthening hoop.
The original A-spec could do 120mph, but the doors would come open as the chassis flexed too much. An adjustable steering column was also added to improve the specifications. Three years later in 1963, the C-speed version was introduced and featured more additional luxuries as standard equipment.
Weighing barely 2000 pounds, despite the good handling and powerful engine on this highly sophisticated sports car, only 2,648 vehicles were produced during its six-year production run. The vehicle had the finest braking system ever made, with discs on all four wheels and a completely fade-free hydraulic operation.
The 8 cylinder engine had a single high camshaft that operates valves through short alloy pushrods and had double heavy-duty valve springs. A major flaw of the vehicle was its propensity for the doors to fly open by themselves on rough roads. Called 'flexi-flyers', this problem persisted until Jaguar purchased Daimler and reinforced the chassis and cowl for the B-spec vehicles, therefore, eliminating the problem.
The main attraction of the Daimler SP 250 was its motor. Possibly if it hadn't received such negative attention, it may have gone down in history for it's small Hemi-head V8 as one of the truly great sports cars.
It reached its peak at 140 hp at 5,800 rpm and hit a top speed of 125 mph. Faster than any contemporary Healy, MG, or Triumph, it was considered an equal to the Jaguar XK 150 DHC. With a snazzy interior, the SP 250 had a polished aluminum surround, polished stainless door top finishers, chrome trim that followed around the roll-up side glass, and toggle switches. The cockpit was entirely leather, and the sop top had the added features of being both weatherproof and attractive.By Jessica Donaldson