Daimler Dart SP250 (1959-1964)

Daimler belonged to the BSA Group at the end of the 1950s. The Daimler 2.5 litre V8 engine, designed by Edward Turner, was ready for production as early as 1958 and was originally intended for a Daimler saloon. This DN250 project had to be postponed due to financial problems. Born out of the necessity of having an outstanding V8 engine but no suitable vehicle for it and as Daimler urgently needed money, a feasibility study was carried out for a sports car project. For reasons of time and to save on expensive moulding tools, the decision was made to use a GRP body. As early as 4 April 1959, a prototype was presented at the New York Motor Show under the name Daimler Dart, and series production began in September 1959. In addition to the high-performance V8 engine (140 hp with a displacement of 2500 cc), the car also had brand-new disc brakes, including on the rear axle, making it one of the very first series-produced vehicles. Likewise, the then ultra-modern GRP body and crank windows on the sides. Reactions were mixed to this high-performance sports car with its radically new design, which was actually way ahead of its time.
Daimler/BSA hoped that a favourable price, acceleration of less than 10 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h and an actual top speed of 200 km/h would lead to great success on the US market.
However, the model name Dart was already protected by copyright for a vehicle model from another manufacturer and had to be changed to SP250.
However, Daimler's financial situation was now catastrophic and insolvency was on the cards. Daimler was then taken over by Jaguar in May 1960. Due to the extremely short development time, the SP250 was not really mature enough to go into series production. Under Jaguar's direction, the car was structurally reinforced (B-Spec.) to improve torsional rigidity. But the car didn't really fit into the Jaguar portfolio. The driving performance was equivalent to that of Jaguar's own E-Type and at a more favourable price.
Until the end of production in 1964 (then C-Spec.), only 2600 units of the SP250 were built. The V8 engine continued to be produced and was used in the Daimler V8 250 Saloon saloon, a model variant of the Jaguar MK2, until autumn 1967.
Ollie Storer
your specialist: oliver@scparts.co.uk


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