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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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!
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.
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.