Originally christened the 'Dart' the Daimler V8 two-seater open-top sports car was to be the last all new car designed and built by the Daimler Company, Coventry and made its debut at the April 1959 International Automobile Exhibition in New York, just a year before the company was bought by William Lyon’s, Jaguar Cars. The name 'Dart' however was met by objection from the Chrsyler Corporation, who had previously registered the name for one of its own 'in-house' models and as a result Daimler reverted to naming the car the 'SP250', its own internal type number .... although to ask any enthusiast you'll always hear the car referred to as the Daimler 'Dart'.
Constructed with a rigid 'back-bone' chassis and clothed in a body made of glassfibre the SP250 offered dramatic styling, with its sloping nose section and finned rear wings and offered a luxurious leather interior with ‘2+2’ accommodation – two conventional bucket seats with a full width rear ‘child’ seat, full wet-weather protection in the form of either a folding soft top or factory 'optioned' hardtop and large boot capacity, ideal for touring. The 'Jewel' in the Darts crown for many was that the car was fitted with Edward Turner designed, 2.5 litre V8 hemi-head engine, which offered 140bhp and when matted with the 4 speed manual gearbox (auto an option) could propel the Dart to a near 130mph top speed!
During its short 5 year production, just 2,654 examples were produced (with revisions for 'B' / 'C' spec cars in late '60 and early '63 respectively) with 40% of all cars heading to USA / Canada, the UK market retaining the lions share and just a small % landing on other overseas shores.
One of just 90 examples originally exported to New Zealand, RHD chassis 102604, was originally sold by Coutts of Newmarket, Auckland and was ordered in Oct 1960 and arrived for delivery / registration on the 19th December 1960. Supplied with a Jaguar Heritage Trust certificate, this matching numbers car, finished in Ivory White, is confirmed by Laurence Jones (SP250 Historian / Archivist) to be an early factory stock, modified 'B' spec car with the improved "out-rigger" and other modifications and was sold in desirable manual gearbox format and came with options including front / rear bumpers, full tonneau and body coloured hard-top.
Purchased by cousins, one living in NZ, the other in the UK, the car has formed part of their collection (which at one time included the only remaining Daimler SP252 which now resides in the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust Collection) since 2015 and has been restored, by Kevin Lindsell (NZ relative) over a 4 year period with a fastidious, obsessive and all-consuming attention to detail that has resulted in what we would regard as simply the best Daimler SP250 'Dart' we have ever seen, the detail fully documented in its own booklet and is accompanied by invoices galour, a scale model showing the car with her UK registration, workshop manual etc etc and USB memory stick containing 100's of images of the full strip down and rebuild, with highlights including:
- Body off chassis restoration with body taken back to bare and any remedial repairs attended to. In an interesting twist Kevin happened to be neighbours with a gent called Mr Steve Marten, a renowned race-boat builder of distinction, whom had in his time been responsible for building Dame Ellen Macaurthur's "Kingfisher". With his in depth knowledge Steve improved all areas where steel was originally bonded to the shell and 'tightened' all the aperture gaps and with the car now painted in 2K Ivory, the fit and finish of the shell are exceptional.
- Chassis stripped back to bare metal and repairs / modifications made in conjunction with advice offered by marque specialist, with original jig drawings used to cross reference all measurements. Once prepared the chassis was then painted by Metaspray NZ, an industrial lead specialist and all box sections also treated to liberal coat of Waxoyl.
- Mechanical components fully stripped and checked for any wear. The gearbox has been rebuilt with a new 3rd gear ratio, new countershaft, bushes and bearings. The engine was stripped down and inspected for any wear (it had been subject to recent rebuild prior to purchase). Both heads were skimmed, new guides, seals etc and with hardened valve seats allowing for the use of unleaded. The block was found to be in great overall condition, new bearings, seals, various components, new timing chain and cogs. Rear axle stripped, checked and resealed. Carburettors stripped and rebuilt and fully built, Distributor stripped and rebuilt.....the list goes on and naturally includes a full stainless steel exhaust system.
- Suspension / Steering - fully stripped and rebuilt. Polyurethane bushes where possibly, all components powder coated, conversion to Gaz shock absorbers and front anti-roll bar conversion and conversion / upgrade to rack and pinion with steering / suspension geometry set to correct specification.
- Electrical systems - all fully rebuilt and new wiring loom fitted.
- Chrome / bright work - all either new or fully rechromed
- Soft top / Hardtop - the hood mechanism has been stripped and painted and new vinyl soft top fitted. The hardtop, like the bodywork has been stripped back to bare, painted in 2K Ivory and relined
- Interior - WOW! Fully retrim in finest red Nappa leather with contrast black piping to seats, with black carpet set and boot lined in matching black carpet.
- What's left? - as expected and documented in the accompanying book 'A labour of love' no nut, bolt, washer has been left unturned......if this SP has needed it, it's been done.
Finished in 2019 and imported into the UK in 2020 joining the UK side of the collection we're now helping the relatives to find a new home for their amazing Daimler SP250 'Dart' as they now consolidate their collection to 'just Jaguars'!
Needless to say, seeing is believing and with just 500 miles driven since her completion, we sincerely hope the images and video help to convey the quality this Daimler SP250 'Dart' offers; quite simply, we really don't think you'll find a finer example and she's now ready to be the pride of any collection, big or small.