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Lot 109: Daimler Dart SP250

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (26 September 2012)

One of the oldest and most aristocratic names in motoring history, Daimler was long famed for producing a string of worthy but unremarkable cars aimed at satisfying the conservative tastes of the upper-middle-class motorist. How extraordinary, then, that they should suddenly spring one of the most outlandish sportscars ever to grace the highway onto an unsuspecting public. Aimed squarely at the American market, the Daimler Dart was launched at the 1959 New York Motor Show but was soon renamed the SP250 after Chrysler asserted that they had already trademarked the Dart name for a forthcoming Dodge. It featured a truly wacky glassfibre body that combined a bewildering assortment of curves, bulges and fins with a face that came straight from a grouper fish. Love it or hate it, you certainly can't ignore it. Built on a traditional cruciform-braced ladder-frame chassis equipped with independent coil-and-wishbone front suspension and a leaf-sprung 'live' rear axle, it had modern disc brakes all round and a four-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top three speeds. But what really grabbed the attention of anyone who drove it was the magnificent V8 engine. Designed by Edward Turner, this 2.5-litre 'hemi' is one of the most charismatic engines ever made, a lightweight marvel of unparalleled refinement and flexibility that also emits a fabulously fruity exhaust note. Producing 140bhp and 155lb/ft of torque, it could throw the Dart to 60 in 8.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 125mph, but was flexible enough to burble around town in top. No wonder it proved an immediate hit with the police who ordered a small fleet as high-speed pursuit vehicles, all painted black. Drag racers also loved the engine and it became a favourite on the strip where the top fuel boys ultimately managed to extract well over 1,000bhp from this heroic V8. In initial 'A' series form the car was criticized for an over-flexible chassis and when Jaguar took over Daimler in 1960, they promptly brought out a 'B' spec version with a much-stiffened frame, thicker bodywork and other detail improvements. In 1963 the car was improved still further as the 'C' series, featuring more sumptuous trim and luxuries such as a heater. Production finally came to an end in 1964 by which time just 2,645 examples had been sold, the vast majority in America. Survivors are now surprisingly rare and good ones have shot up in value recently  a 1961 example made 50,400 at auction earlier this year. This particular Dart is a desirable 'B' spec model that was first registered in March 1961. It has had just four owners to date, the second of whom kept it from 1970 until 1997 and fully restored it during the latter years of his ownership. This included an engine and gearbox rebuild in 1997, since when the car has only covered some 9,000 miles. A Kenlowe fan has been added to promote cooling and the brakes have gained servo assistance for improved performance. The red paintwork remains in very good condition with none of the crazing often associated with this model and the chassis is also said to be in excellent condition. The interior was retrimmed in brown leather in 1990 and still looks most presentable today. The hood and tonneau cover are also in very good shape. The car is said to drive beautifully with an impressive turn of speed and is taxed until April and MOTd until May next year. It comes with a large history file from the 1970s onwards including most old MOTs back to 1972, many bills, photos of the restoration, an owner's handbook and a Gold Portfolio guide to the model. The icing on the cake is a most appropriate DD number plate!

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Easters Court, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0DE
TypeCar
Lot Number109
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1961
Condition rating
Registration numberDD 6206
Mileage-
Chassis number201408
Engine number7A1288
Engine capacity (cc)2548
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors