Unearthed: 1963 Daimler SP250

Classic Cars

Despite its German-sounding company name, the Daimler SP250 was so British that the very first models had structural problems by way of the doors opening while driving.

No, this is not a German-made sports car. Judging by its overall exterior styling alone, it's plainly British in origin. Built by an old UK-based automaker called Daimler (not to be mistaken with Daimler-Benz, which we all know is German), the small convertible was first unveiled at the 1959 New York Auto Show. This was done on purpose because the automaker was clearly aware that the American market was its main target. Interestingly, the car originally had the name "Dart", which was already being used at the time by Dodge.

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After Chrysler threatened to pursue legal action over the issue, Daimler quickly changed the name to the SP250. With its fiberglass body, the car featured four-wheel disc brakes and even had a very small rear seat, though this was best used for storing small bags and not people with legs. But unlike some of the other small British sports cars of that era, the SP250 actually had some real power. Under the hood was a 2.5-liter Hemi-head V8 that produced 140 horsepower and was mated to either a four-speed manual or a three-speed slushbox.

When it first came out, the SP250 had a top speed of 120 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 8.9 seconds. But there was a problem, and a major one at that. Due to an issue with the chassis construction, it flexed too much so that the doors actually swung open while driving. It was British, after all. In 1960, Jaguar bought the company and its first order of business was to fix that little door/chassis issue. Until 1963, Jaguar continued to make improvements on the car such as giving it more standard luxury features. Even with this change and the necessary structural repairs, the SP250 never quite caught on with buyers.

All told, 2,645 units were built by the time production ended in 1963. For a brief time, however, Jaguar considered a replacement. A prototype was built, but Jaguar scratched plans for it. There was a coupe variant designed by British design company Ogle Design, but Jaguar didn't end up using it for the SP250. Instead, this design later saw life as the inspiration for the Reliant Scimitar. Although there haven't been any new Daimler models in decades, Jaguar still owns the rights to the Daimler name. The chances, however, of the brand being revived are close to zero. This very rare 1963 SP250 is quite special simply because it's a right-hand drive version.

Since it's a final model year example, most of the technical and structural issues have been worked out which have helped the car last this long. It's also been very well maintained over the years and the seller has all of its build records. It does have 100,000 miles on the odometer but it reportedly still drives and handles quite well. The current bid as of writing is $13,000, but the price reserve hasn't been met. With its classic good looks and fun-to-drive British spirit, this 1963 Daimler SP250 is in solid condition inside and out and it could be a solid bargain for the right collector.

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