Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
After World War II, Daimlers gradually became more personal, and more sporting, their mid-1950s products being known as Conquest, Conquest Century and Sportsman.
After a management upheaval, there was yet another change of marketing emphasis. Even so, the launch of a completely new, fast, two-seater sports car, in the spring of 1959, was a complete break from Daimler traditions.
The engine was designed by Edward Turner, a noted motorcycle designer from the BSA Group; he had taken charge at Daimler two years previously, and his first task was to produce a range of new power units.
His motorcycle work was not only respected, but successful, so it was no surprise to see that he incorporated much the same valve gear in a smooth, light, and compact V8 of 2548cc, which developed 140hp at 5800 rpm.
Compared with any previous Daimler engine, it produced exceptional torque, and was as smooth as any sleeve-unit ever had been.
At first, the new sports car, shown for the first time at the New York exhibition, was called the "Dart", but there were immediate objections from US manufacturer Dodge who were already using the name for their own cars.
With the threat of legal action looming, Daimler decided to simply call their new sports car the SP250. The SP250 had a conventional separate chassis frame, modeled on the Triumph TR3A frame of that period, and it used the same front suspension
The rigid rear axle was sprung on half-elliptic leaf springs. Behind the engine was a TR-like four-speed manual transmission
, with optional overdrive, but purchasers could option an automatic transmission
Girling disk brakes
were fitted all round, and because the kerb weight was less than a tonne, the car could sprint to 60mph in 10.2 seconds and top 120mph flat out. The SP250's body shell was made from fibreglass, the first time this had been attempted by Daimler. The use of fibreglass did, however, cause Daimler some teething problems as the inherent flexibility caused quality and refinement problems.
The SP250 was designed to appeal to export markets - most particularly the USA - but never sold in the hoped-for quantities, nor was it ever profitable to its makers. Daimler, in fact, were taken over by Jaguar in 1960, who persevered with the SP250, eventually developing two improved versions of it, all with the same styling.
The 'B-Specification' was phased in during 1961, in which previous extras such as the bumpers, the heater, and the adjustable steering
column, along with a stiffer body shell, were all included. The 'C-Spec' cars which followed had similar detail changes, but a proposed restyle was canceled, and the last of 2648 SP250s was built in 1964.