Daimler SP250

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Daimler SP250
Daimler SP250 Dart green vl.jpg
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
Engine 2.5 litre iron-block V-8 140 hp (100 kW)[1]
  • 4-speed manual
  • 3-speed automatic
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 Dart 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]


Production versions[edit]


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

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.


The C-spec. version, introduced in April 1963, included a trickle charger socket, a heater/demister unit, and a cigarette lighter as standard equipment.[7]

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.[8]


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.[8][9]


The DP250 was a sports saloon based on the SP250's chassis.[10] A DP250, built on chassis no. 100571,[11][12] was exhibited in 1959 at Hooper's stand during the coachbuilder's last appearance at the Earls Court Motor Show.[10]

Daimler had prepared a sales brochure for the DP250, but it did not enter production.[13] Between two and seven prototypes were made. The show car had a steel body, but some of the prototypes may have been made from fibreglass.[14]

After Jaguar Cars bought the Daimler Company from BSA, William Lyons ordered a fibreglass-bodied DP250 prototype to be completed. Upon seeing the finished car he had it scrapped immediately and ended the project.[14] None of the prototypes survive;[15] the show car is believed to have been destroyed while being tested at MIRA.[12]


  • 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


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.

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]


  1. ^ a b Willson 1995, p. 72.
  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 1996, p. 89.
  5. ^ Willson 1995, p. 74.
  6. ^ "Daimler SP250". Is-it-a-lemon. Retrieved 29 November 2006. 
  7. ^ Smith 1972, p. 276.
  8. ^ a b Douglas-Scott-Montagu & Burgess-Wise 1995, p. 280.
  9. ^ Smith 1972, pp. 283–284.
  10. ^ a b Long 2008, p. 82.
  11. ^ Long 2008, p. 81.
  12. ^ a b Smith 1972, p. 282.
  13. ^ Long 2008, pp. 86–87.
  14. ^ a b Long 2008, p. 85.
  15. ^ Long 2008, p. 86.
  16. ^ Antiques Roadshow


External links[edit]