Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
Think of a V8 Daimler from the early 1960s and you will think of the SP250
- and why not, it was a brilliant car. But there was another V8 Daimler that came in saloon form, and was very nearly the equal. The 2.6 litre V8 was Daimler's sole representative in the medium price, luxury car field, but it offered performance equalled by only a few vehicles of comparable quality and price.
Superficially similar to the Jaguar Mk 2
series, the Daimler differed substantially from it mechanically. Instead of using yet another variation of the Jaguar twin overhead camshaft six cylinder engine, the car's designers chose to give the Daimler the same engine as the SP250
. Not only was the little V8 an excellent power unit, but it also lifted more than one hundredweight off the front wheels when compared with the heavy Jaguar engines.
Daimler bravely left the engine in its full sports car tune. It was exactly the same but, instead of being coupled to a four speed transmission, it was hooked up to a Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic. Daimler did not offer a manual box for the sedan - after all, the Daimler was targeting a more affluent clientele.
In the SP250
the 90 degree, alloy headed engine gave the car blistering performance combined with docility. However, the sedan weighed half a ton more than the SP and, in spite of the BW 35 being one of the best automatics from the time, there was still a power loss through the torque converter. As a result, the performance, while very lively, was as exhillarating as the SP.
Road testers were surprised by how efficiently the engine operated. It offered unmatched smoothness all through the range. The automatic transmission
had three speeds but, once the car was doing more than five mph, it was not possible to get back to low again. But when L (for lockup) was selected from rest, first would remain engaged regardless. When L was selected at speeds above five mph, intermediate was held until the lever was again moved to Drive.
The Borg-Warner Type 35 was not always smooth when changing ratios, but it did do the job efficiently, apart from the rare occasions when maximum acceleration was needed from about 10 mph - then the engine would pull away in second. Overall gearing was low, so that, along with the sedans extra weight, probably accounted for the low fuel consumption figures compared with the remarkably light thirst of the SP250.
The V8 engines radiator fan had a fluid drive which uncoupled itself when the engine speed exceeded 2500 rpm, thus saving horsepower at high revs. Access to most of the under-bonnet components was good, although the dip-stick was hidden away in the depths. The twin SU Carburettors
had a large pan-cake type air cleaner which looked highly efficient and did effectively smother the engine's breathing noises. Although twin exhaust
pipes were fitted, there was hardly a sound in the cabin, but from directly behind it there was a pleasantly forceful throb which announced some of the car's intent.
Inside the Daimler V8
The instrumentation was excellent. The speedometer and tachometer were mounted directly in front of the driver with the minor dials spaced in line across the centre of the dash. A formidable array of switches, all labelled, were under these dials. The transmission selector dial illuminated automatically when the ignition was switched on, and dimmed when the driving lights were on. The electrics were impressive for the time. There were courtesy lights which worked with all doors, there was a map light in the front and another light came on automatically when the glove box was opened.
The indicator stalk doubles as the headlamp flasher, the wipers had two speeds and the washers were electric. Dashboard warning lights came on when the rich mixture slide was open, or when the handbrake was engaged or the hydraulic fluid level was low. Interior appointments were outstandingly good. The trim was in leather with high grade vinyl material on the doors. There were armrests on all doors, with a folding one in the centre of the rear bench. The front seats were individual, each with a folding centre armrest, and the squabs reclined.
Good quality carpets covered the floors and the door cappings and dash were in polished wood. The finish, even in places hidden from view, was good. The driving position was very comfortable. The combination of long fore-and-aft adjustment, reclining squab and adjustable steering column meant that drivers of almost any size could be made to fit. In the back there was space for three people to sit abreast for long journeys with quite reasonable leg room.
Visibility was good despite the windscreen having thick pillars, but fortunately these did not create serious blind spots. The back window was not all that big, but was sufficient to provide the driver with a satisfactory view when reversing. On the road the Daimler V8 felt smaller than it actually was. It had a tight feel , but at 30cwt it was neither small nor light. The illusion of compactness was further heightened by the lightness of the controls. Although not power-assisted, the worm and roller steering was light, albiet low geared. It required 4.7 turns of the 17 in wheel to move from lock to lock. The turning circle, at 33.5 ft, was good.
Road shock did not transmit itself up the column to the driver's hands. A horn ring occupied the lower half of the wheel centre and the horn could also be actuated by the bar which ran across the spoke at the 9.15 position. It was a delight to drive. There was a simplicity and generosity of the instrumentation, a sweet action of the toggle switches, obvious good finish, quality trim plus arguably the sweetest V8 then going around. That V8 may not have been a huge capacity, so the Daimler V8 was not super fast, and when considering the performance figures derived from the many road tests conducted on the car, it is important to remember that the Daimler did it effortlessly.
The Daimler would cruise efortlessly and all day at 75 mph - and there were plenty of cars at this time that would have struggled at 55 mph. To reel the Daimler in, there were servo discs on all wheels and Dunlop Road Speed tyres. The handling characteristics were typical Jaguar understeer but not strongly so. The tail would let go when the car was pressed beyond endurance but the transition from understeer to the final oversteer was gradual and easily detectable by the driver.
Daimler V8 Quick Specifications:
8 Vee pushrod overhead 2550cc; Bore and stroke 76.2 mm by 69.8 mm; Compression ratio 8.2 to 1; Carburettors - two SU; Power at rpm 140 bhp at 5800 rpm; Maximum torque - 115 ft/lb at 3600 rpm.
Borg-Warner 35 automatic; Ratios: First - 10.2 to 20.41; Second - 6.19 to 12.38; Top - 4.27 to 8.54; Rear axle - 4.27
Front - independent torsion bars; Rear - semi-elliptic; Shockers - telescopic.
Type - recirculating ball; Turns, 1 to 1 - 4.7; Circle - 33.6 ft
disc, power assisted
Dimensions and Weight:
Wheelbase - 8 ft 11 in; Track, front - 4 ft 7 in; Track, rear - 4 ft 5 in; Length - 15 ft 0.75 in; Width - 5 ft 6.75 in; Height - 4 ft 8.5 in; Weight - 30 cwt.
6.40 by 15.
Top Speed: 106 mph; Maximum Speed in Gears: First - 42 mph, Second - 74 mph, Top - 106 mph; Standing Quarter Mile: 20.1 sec; 0 to 30 mph - 4.6 sec; 0 to 40 mph - 7.1 sec; 0 to 50 mph - 10.2 sec; 0 to 60 mph - 13.4 sec; 0 to 70 mph - 18.2 sec; 0 to 80 mph - 23.4 sec; 0 to 90 mph - 32.4 sec; 20 to 40 mph - 5.6 sec; 30 to 50 mph - 5.9 sec; 40 to 60 mph - 6.9 sec; 0-60-0 mph - 16.5 sec; Fuel consumption 18 - 20 mpg.