1961 Daimler SP 250 (Dart) Sports Car 4777 JW
This car is the later ‘B spec’ and dates from April 1961 and was originally sold in Wolverhampton. From 1974 to 1989 it was owned by the well-known Daimler specialist David Manners. It was then bought by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, and came to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust in 1991. It was later refurbished in the original colour of Mountain Blue, although with red trim rather than grey, with the assistance of Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations Department.
By the late 1950s, the Daimler Company was in trouble. A confused model policy had led to dwindling sales. There was not much money available to invest in much-needed new models. However, a brace of new all-aluminium V8 engines, of 2½ litres and 4½ litres, designed by Edward Turner, were under development. The question was – in what cars should these engines be fitted?
After trying to adapt a Vauxhall body for a new saloon, Daimler decided to launch the smaller of the new engines in a sports car, conceived with the American market in mind. The new car was in every respect a departure from traditional Daimler practice. The chassis was based on the Triumph TR3A, a manual gearbox was an option (Daimler had previously favoured pre-select gearboxes), Girling disc brakes on all four wheels and the strikingly styled body was made from fibreglass. The new model was launched at the New York Motor Show in April 1959 (where it was unofficially voted as the ugliest car at the show) and was at first called the Daimler Dart. Chrysler Corporation protested that they had this name registered for a Dodge and threatened legal action. With little time to come up with a new name Daimler used the project number SP 250 as the model number.
Sadly, no sooner had Daimler introduced the car than the US market went into recession, and the hoped-for large scale sales in the USA never materialised. This was perhaps just as well, since there were numerous build quality problems, mainly with the body but caused by chassis flex. These were partly addressed when Jaguar bought Daimler in 1960 and brought out the ‘B spec’ version.
The final production figure of 2,654 cars made between 1959 and 1964 was far short of Daimler’s original forecast of 1,500 in the 1st year and 3,000 in each of the 2nd and 3rd years of production.
Registration Mark: 4777 JW
Chassis Number: 102741
Owner: The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust
Inventory Number: 058/D.28