Daimler was formed in 1896 by Fredrick Simms, he acquiring the patent rights to sell Gottlieb Daimler’s 1 horsepower motorboat engines; more importantly Simms was also able to retain the Daimler name. The same year the Daimler Motor Syndicate would enter into car production at their newly established facility in Coventry, soon after garnering Royal patronage when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was given a ride in a Daimler by John Scott-Montagu, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. In 1907 Daimler introduced the now trademark fluted grille, then in 1908 it acquired the license to build the “Knight” sleeve valve engines for its automobiles. During World War 1 Daimler manufactured engines for the Little and Big Willie, the worlds first ever tanks, in addition to engines for scout vehicles, planes, ambulances, trucks and double-decker buses!
1920 the company merged with AEC to form the Associated Daimler Company to build commercial vehicles. During World War 2 the company is best known for its manufacture of the “Ferret”, a stoic armored car that would do service in over 136 countries around the world. After the war Daimler lost its way, creating too many models and selling too few, in many respects becoming the play thing of one Lady Norah Docker. Jaguar, on the other hand, could barely keep up with demand and, with Daimler ripe for the picking, realized it would provide both an up-market division and much needed extra production facilities.
In 1960 Jaguar would acquire Daimler, shortly after arguably the prettiest and most highly prized iteration coming to market, the wonderful SP250 Dart. The halcyon days would be short lived, with the rationalization of British automotive manufacturers ensuring some would live on as mere name plates. Since that time, Daimlers have simply been "badge engineered" versions of current production Jaguar sedans, although they were always fitted with the distinctive fluted grill, upgraded upholstery, and woodwork – making them the flagship of the marque. The only truly unique Daimler model to emerge between 1967 and 1992 was the DS420 Limousine. It is worth noting that coachbuilders Vanden Plas were merged into BMC, and then assigned to the Daimler group in 1966, a name used for the US market instead of Daimler to ensure no confusion with the German competition.
Daimler had flirted with the sports car image with the 1949 drophead coupe and, in 1956
with the Roadster version of the Conquest. But the first (and only) attempt to produce a full-blooded two-seater was the 1960 SP250
(also known as Dart). The fibreglass-clothed machine appeared in Australia in August 1960
, powered by a smooth-as-silk 2.5-litre V8 of 104 kW. It undercut the Jaguar XK140
in price, offering an unusual combination of quietness and creature comfort, plus genuine 200 km/h top speed. Four-wheel disc brakes provided enormous stopping power for the day. Alas, the SP250 never quite hit the mark and production ceased in 1964
. Good examples have been collectors' pieces for the last few decades. Barn finds unheard of.
Also see: The History of Daimler