Specialist Vehicle Restoration
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Bryan's Guide to buying a Daimler SP250
Just a few pointers that I thought a prospective buyer might like to consider whilst looking for an SP 250.
The Daimler SP 250 or Dart as it is generally known, was first introduced into the market place in 1959 and continued in production until 1964. It was as a 2 + 2 seater sports car based upon a steel chassis with a glass fibre body including the bonnet, doors and boot lid. It was powered by an extremely well designed and developed Daimler V8 2.5 litre engine. A total of 2648 cars were manufactured during the production period, with an estimated two thirds of production being exported to the United States.
In the first instance the cars were designated as 'A' specification vehicles and produced between 1959 and 1961. The 'A' spec. was then followed by the 1961 to 1963 'B' specification models and finally in 1963 and through into 1964 came the 'C' specification cars. The road tests indicated a 0 to 60 mph time of 8.9 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph.
The 'A' specification cars were basic in comparison to the latter 'C' specification models. The thickness of the glass fibre left little to be desired but this aspect can be easily amended with additional layers being applied to the interior of the bodywork when restoration is being undertaken.. An 'A' specification car is easily identifiable by the lack of bumpers at both the front and the rear. At the rear were fitted two Triumph TR3 over-riders whilst at the front the grill surround was enhanced with the addition of a pair of 'cats whiskers' either side of the grill. Some cars suffered from scuttle movement along with the flexing of the chassis both of which were later to be addressed in the 'B' specification cars.
With the introduction of the 'B' and later the 'C' specification cars, full bumpers and over-riders were fitted as standard. The chassis had additional front and rear outrigger supports which were connected to a steel member directly behind the door sills. Attached to the latter were steel units bolted under the rear wheel arches adding additional strength to the B posts. Beneath the scuttle was fitted a fabricated steel rectangular section support continuing vertically downwards to form strengthened A posts onto which was hung the door hinges
Finally the 'C' specification cars encompassed minor body changes along with engine modifications.
Consider the strength of the car; which really means what is the chassis like. Initially check the chassis for corrosion especially the suspension turrets and look for evidence of grounding which will highlight worn suspension. Look for fractures in the front wishbone mounting brackets and the cross member just rear of the radiator. Another region to spend time checking are the three inverted top hat section rear cross members beneath the boot floor. These sheet steel pressings do tend to fill with mud and then the rot sets-in.
Study the vehicle from both sides to see if there is evidence of any sagging, indicating accident damage or failing suspension.
The second area to consider is the bodywork. The SP 250 was the only Daimler to be made totally from glass fibre and it was during this period when this petroleum product was starting to be fully developed in the car and marine industry. The quality was not to the standard of the year 2000. Check the fit of the door bonnet and boot lid, also the mounting of the radiator which has a steel plate, encapsulated into the glass fibre, and does tend to rust.
'A' specification cars do tend to suffer from cracks around the extreme ends of the top of the doors, and like all cars, under the headlights and above the wheel arches. Also not having a full bumper on the rear look carefully at the rear panel for possible accident damage. All the aforementioned are easily repairable. Like all SP 250's check carefully for spider crazing in the gel coat, again fully repairable. Sagging doors indicate worn hinges but these can be reamed out and re-pinned.
Look carefully at the underside of the bonnet for evidence of repair across the middle section which will indicate if the bonnet has jumped off its' catch and flown open hitting the top rail of the windscreen frame. Attached to the body is all the chromium plated fittings. There are two types of windscreen frame taking the same glass screen but the sand cast brass castings are considerably different and are not interchangeable. The bonnet and boot hinges are cast in Mazak and are worth replacing with cast brass units that are now available. Be careful not to fit Austin Healey 3000 hinges as the stud pitch centre is closer together and will catch the boot and bonnet apperatures.