The Daimler SP250 Had An Impressive V8 Engine

The Daimler SP250 was introduced at the New York Auto Show in the spring of 1959.  That selection of the location for its introduction, plus some of the styling themes indicated that Daimler had built a sports car that it thought could be sold in America.  Unfortunately for Daimler, the SP250 never really was a success.

Daimler SP250 1962 (1)

1962 Daimler SP250

The wide, low, protruding grille reminds me of the “catfish mouth” front end of the last Packards.  The “V” on the grille is indicative of the V8 engine that is under the hood.

The car shown in this post is a 1962 model.  The front bumper appears to have been removed from this particular car.  I have seen versions with only small “bumperettes” on each side of the grille and some with full bumpers as shown on the Daimler brochure image in this post.

Daimler SP250 1962 (2)

The Highly Contoured Body Was Build Of Fibreglass

The SP250 was initially to be called the “Dart”, but at that time Chrysler was preparing to use the “Dart” name in its line-up and threatened legal action against Daimler.  As a result, Daimler dropped the “Dart” name and called the car the SP250.

Daimler SP250 1962 (4)

The Rear End Features A 1950s Fins Look

Fins, a staple of American car design in the 1950s, dominate the rear end design of the Daimler SP250.  In general, it appears that the designers of the Daimler SP250 tried to come up with a design that would be a success in America.  Perhaps this is also why Daimler developed the V8 engine for the SP250, thinking that Americans were comfortable with a V8 engine and tended to link a V8 engine with spirited performance.  Four and six-cylinder engines were treated with disdain by many Americans.

Daimler SP250 1962 (5)

“Gangster Whites” Tires Are Not Often Seen On Sports Cars

I think that the most impressive aspect to the Daimler SP250 is its V8 engine.  This engine was designed by Daimler manager, Edward Turner, who is well-known for his design of British motorcycle engines for companies like BSA.

The engine was a compact lightweight 2.5 litre V8 engine with a high, side-mounted camshaft.  The engine was an oversquare (the cylinder bore diameter was bigger than the piston stroke length) design which made the engine very responsive or revvy.  The engine had a hemispherical cylinder heads and produced 140 horsepower at 5,800 rpm.

Daimler SP250 1962 (1)

The Impressive 2.5 Litre V8 Hemi Engine

The 2.5 litre engine pushed the Daimler SP250 to a top speed of about 120 miles per hour.  The 0 to 60 mph time for this car was about 9 seconds.


Image From A Daimler Brochure

The above image of the Daimler brochure came from John Gunnell’s very informative book “Standard Guide To British Sports Cars”.  That book has a good description of the Daimler SP250.

The frame for the Daimler SP250 was very similar to the Triumph TR3A.  The transmission was a four-speed manual , but it was only synchronized in the top three gears.  Overdrive and an automatic transmission were available as options.  The SP250 had four-wheel disc brakes.

One of the disturbing things that I read about the Daimler SP250 cars is that some of the early car bodies were a little flexible.  Apparently some times the doors would suddenly fly open!  That must have been interesting!

Daimler SP250 1962 (3)

This Is One Of The 1,200 Left-Hand Drive Models

Daimler made 2,645 SP250 cars.  Of this total, 1,200 were left-hand drive cars while the remaining 1,445 had right-hand drive.

Daimler SP250 1962 (6)

Overdrive and Automatic Transmissions Were Options With The SP250

The Daimler SP250 sold for about $3,900 in the USA.  For comparison purposes, in 1962 a Triumph TR4 was selling for about $2,850, Jaguar XKE roadster sold for about $5,600, and the Porsche 356B roadster had a price tag of $3,950.

Production of the Daimler SP250 ended in January 1964.  The decision to end production was heavily influenced by Sir William Lyons, the head of Jaguar who had taken control of Daimler in 1960.  After the end of production of the SP250 Daimler continued to make cars, but increasingly Daimlers turned into re-badged Jaguars, eventually fading away in the 1980s.

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7 Responses to The Daimler SP250 Had An Impressive V8 Engine

  1. Steven Busch says:

    Hello Steve,
    My name is Steve Busch the owner, These are great pictures of my SP250. Glad you took time to tell the story of the car. Love your sight.
    Best Wishes & Happy Motoring

  2. G.Hansen says:

    I recall Steve Busch’s Daimler SP250 at annual “British Invasion Auto Show” in Stowe, VT which my wife and I attended for Many years. A high school fiend of mine bought a 1962 Daimler SP250 at the encouragement of a mutual MGA owner friend in 1965. What a car. Sad the Daimler did not catch on state side.

    My wife and I are now retired in Florida and I have seen two Daimler SP250’s here.


    Gary N. Hansen
    Florida, USA

    • Hi Gary,
      I agree that it is a little sad that the Daimler did not catch on in the USA. The engine had substantial potential to power a good line of sports cars.
      I believe that there are few Daimler SP250s in New England. Besides Steve Busch’s SP250, I believe that I saw a grey SP250 at a show in Newport, Rhode Island a few years ago. Perhaps there are others in some other New England garages, but likely only a very small number.
      Steve McKelvie

  3. Mike Gaudet says:

    I just bought a 1962 SP250 serial # 73701206. It’s an automatic and according to the 81 year old 2nd owner the car has never slept outside and has never been out in the rain. It shows 13838 miles and runs on it’s original tires. I have all the import documentation documents and bill of sales.
    I bought the car because I kind of liked the look of it and that it had a hemi engine. The car is a 7 or 8 out of 10. Any idea on the possible value and market condition for a car like this?

    • Hi Mike,
      The Daimler SP250 cars are interesting and not very common. It very unusual that a 1962 car only has 13,838 miles on in. I hope that you have some other confirming information or evidence that the mileage is correct.
      With respect to possible value and market condition my comments should only be considered as a WAG. One estimate of the value is what a willing buyer will pay and what a willing seller will take. Obviously you have just been through that process with this car, so your information will be better than mine. It seems to me that I would thinking that the car’s value would be in the $32,000 to $40,000 range. Without knowing anything more about the car I don’t know which end of that range your car would be at.
      As far as the market condition for these cars, my impression is that there is not a big demand for these cars. You said that you bought the car because you “kind of liked the look of it and it had a hemi engine”. That is why I think that the field of potential buyers is not high as that does not sound like even you brought an enthusiastic approach to buying this car. You have a low mileage car (to be confirmed) that is apparently not in bad condition and I would suggest that you take the car to a SOGR (State Of Good Repair) condition. This car should be kept as a survivor. Spending large money on a restoration might not be a good investment for this car. I think that if your are interested in selling this car, then you need to come up with a good strategy to get a good price for your car. If you want to contact me personally about this matter contact me at: shanna12 at comcast dot net
      Steve McKelvie

  4. Pingback: Daimler Sports Car | Sport Car World

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