Daimler SP250

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Daimler SP250
Daimler SP250 Dart green vl.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer The Daimler Company Limited
Also called Daimler Dart
Production 1959–1964
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-seat open car
Layout FR layout
Powertrain
Engine 2.5 litre iron-block V-8 140 hp (100 kW)[1]
Transmission 4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 92 in (2,337 mm)[2]
Length 165 in (4,191 mm)[2]
Width 60 in (1,524 mm)[2]
Height 50.25 in (1,276 mm)[2]
Kerb weight 2,070 lb (940 kg)
Rear view

The Daimler SP250 is a sports car which was built by British manufacturer Daimler in Coventry from 1959 to 1964.

The SP250 was originally known as the Daimler Dart, but Daimler soon dropped the Dart name when threatened with legal action by Chrysler’s Dodge division, and the car was then renamed.[3][4]

It was launched at the 1959 New York Motor Show, and its greatest success was in the North American market. It had a fibreglass body, four-wheel Girling disc brakes, and a 2.5-litre Hemi-head V8 engine designed by Edward Turner. The car was described as a 2+2, but the bench-like rear seat offered very limited leg-room unless the front seats were pushed fully forward. Thirty black Daimler Darts with the Borg-Warner Model 8 3-speed automatic were used by the British Metropolitan Police in London.[5]

Versions[edit]

  • A-spec.

The original A-spec version could do 120 mph (193 km/h), but the chassis, a “14-gauge ladder frame with cruciform bracing” based on the Triumph TR3, flexed so much that doors occasionally came open, marring its reputation.[6] Bumpers were originally an optional extra. The A-spec. cars have two short, chromium-plated 'whiskers' on the body, one on each side of the front grille, for additional protection, as the basic spec. doesn't have a full bumper [so some cars have the whiskers and the optional bumper], and they also have two short, vertical bumpers at the rear, unless they have the optional horizontal rear bumper. A-spec. cars have a recess behind the door handles.

Daimler Dart A-spec. 1959 rear view
  • B-spec.

Jaguar bought Daimler in 1960, and were immediately concerned about the chassis flex. They brought out the B-spec. version with extra outriggers on the chassis and a strengthening hoop between the A-posts. There were also other detail improvements, including an adjustable steering column.[3] B-spec. and C-spec. cars do not have the 'whiskers' that A-spec. have and some do not have the optional front bumper, so there is very little front protection for these cars: see photos of various front body arrangements on Wikimedia images[7]

  • C-spec.

The C-spec. version, introduced in 1963, had some additional luxuries as standard equipment.

2,650 were produced in total (all specs).[4]

Jaguar built a prototype replacement (known as the SP252) with a neater body style but decided not to proceed with production.

Ogle Design produced a coupé version called the SX250, but this was not taken up by Daimler and the body design was later used for the Reliant Scimitar.

Specification[edit]

  • Engine: V 8 iron block, water cooled, OHV, bore 76 mm x stroke 70 mm, capacity 2547 cc. Single central camshaft operated valves through short pushrods with double heavy-duty valve springs. Aluminium alloy hemispherical cylinder heads. Stiff 5 main bearing crankshaft, dynamically balanced. Compression ratio 8.2:1. Twin SU carburettors. bhp 140 @ 5800 rpm. Max Torque 155 lb·ft (210 N·m) at 3600 rpm. SU electric fuel pump.
  • Ignition: Coil and distributor with conventional automatic advance & retard.
  • Lubrication: Submerged gear oil pump with full flow filter. Sump capacity 1.75 US gallons.
  • Cooling: Pressurised radiator with fan, pump and thermostat control.
  • Transmission: 4 speeds with synchromesh on top three ratios. Provision for overdrive. Automatic optional.
  • Rear Axle: Hypoid bevel 3.58:1
  • Steering: Cam & follower.
  • Suspension: Front independent with coil springs. Rear live axle with half-elliptic leaf springs. Oversize dampers.
  • Brakes: Girling Discs on all four wheels,[1] hydraulic operation.

Optional extras[edit]

The following items could be ordered for the standard car:

  • Wire wheels
  • Adjustable steering column
  • Hard top
  • Front and rear bumpers
  • Windscreen washers
  • Heater
  • Fog lights
  • Seat belts
  • Overdrive or automatic gearbox

Performance[edit]

A car with hard top tested by The Motor magazine in 1960 had a top speed of 123.7 mph (199.1 km/h) and accelerated from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 25 miles per imperial gallon (11 L/100 km; 21 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1,489 including taxes.[2] After the opening of the first section of the M1 in 1959, the Bedfordshire police used the SP250 for motorway patrol.

Common and uncommon modifications[edit]

  • Stainless steel exhausts
  • Rack and pinion steering
  • Electric fan in lieu of mechanical fan
  • Positive earth changed to negative earth
  • Alternator in lieu of dynamo
  • Larger tyres (165 x 15, 175 x 15 or 185 x 15, original spec. 5.90" [150mm] - 15")
  • Electronic ignition
  • Brake servo
  • Very uncommon modifications for racing by Larry Ligas [8] who seems to have modified everything except the chassis, engine block, body and part of the steering.
  • Steve Sanett's modified SP250.[9]
  • Drag racing: "5th November 2013: The legendary Grenade returns. 2014 is set to be quite a special year not just for UK drag racing but also for Russ Carpenter Racing as Russ' legendary Daimler V8-powered dragster will be back out on track. Russ' son, and now driver of the dragster, Andrew Carpenter writes: It is the fortieth anniversary of my father's first win in drag racing,..." [10]

Die-cast models[edit]

  • Spot-on produced a model of the SP250 in the 1960s, available in a number of colours including red and light blue.
  • Crossway models introduced a model in 2007, available in various colours and with or without the hood up.

Media appearances[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b Willson, Quentin (1995). The Ultimate Classic Car Book. DK Publishing, Inc. p. 72. ISBN 0-7894-0159-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Daimler SP250 sports". The Motor. June 15, 1960. 
  3. ^ a b "SP250 Dart". UltimateCarPage. Retrieved 29 November 2006. 
  4. ^ a b Lawrence, Mike (1996) [1991]. "Daimler (GB)". A to Z of Sports Cars 1945-1990 (Paperback ed.). MBI Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 1-870979-81-8. Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  5. ^ Willson 1995, p. 74.
  6. ^ "Daimler SP250". Is-it-a-lemon. Retrieved 29 November 2006. 
  7. ^ Wikimedia images
  8. ^ Larry Ligas racing SP250
  9. ^ Steve Sanett's modified SP250
  10. ^ European Drag Racing News
  11. ^ Antiques Roadshow

External links[edit]