CC Capsule: Monday Morning Rarities – The Controversial Daimler SP250 Dart

Daimler SP250 Dart 2

One summer evening on the way home from work, amongst the peak hour traffic exiting a freeway off-ramp I saw an old white sports car that was easy to identify as a Daimler.

Daimler Darts

Here is what it looks like from the front; one of the more controversially-styled cars there is.  I quite like it though, it is distinctive and the flowing wheel arches have a purposeful flared aspect.  I think the style could be adapted to a modern sports car, with some updating such as more integrated headlights.


In one sense, it reminds me of the first generation BMW Z4, with sculpted sides and an awkward headlight-grille relationship.

Just 2,648 SP250’s were built over 5 years and 3 distinct series.

Daimler V8s

The Dart or SP250 as it was known in the US (Chrysler already had the Dart name there) had a step-brother model when the V8 was dropped into the Jaguar Mark II body to replace the smaller Daimler models after the firm was taken over by Jaguar.

Daimler SP250 engine

Edward Turner, who designed the classic Triumph motorcycle engines, designed the two new Daimler hemi-head pushrod V8 engines. The smaller one, a 2.5 liter as used in the SP250, was rated at 140 hp @5800 rpm.  To hear it, you would not pick that it is half the size of a ‘normal’ V8.

Daimler 4.5 V8

This is a photo of the larger 4.5-litre version, which was effectively a scaled-up version of the 2.5.  This was trialled in the Mark X Jaguar, and I think would have been a great option for a Daimler version of the E-Type – as if Jaguar would have let that happen!  Note the typical British twin-SU carburation, but the air cleaner is likely not standard.  The engine was rated at 220 bhp @ 5,500 rpm.  This was regarded as conservative and for good reason; Daimler’s old engine dynamometer would only read up to 220 bhp!

Daimler Majestic Major

This is the Daimler Majestic Major that featured the 4.5 L V8, note the “V” insignias on the horn grilles inboard of the headlights.  The car also shares separate side/parking lights above the headlights with the Dart.  Just 1180 Majestic Majors were built, plus another 864 of the 24″ longer DR450 limousine.

Daimler SP250 Dart 1

I was only able to get one more photo before it was swallowed up by the vehicles around me, but I was definitely left with a feeling that I’d rather be driving the Dart and listening to its fantastic burbling V8!