VotW – Daimler SP250 Dart

For our Video of the Week this go round we are going to turn to the folks at Hagerty Insurance. They recently produced a guide to the fairly rare, and often maligned, Daimler SP250 “Dart”. Now this car is not maligned due to its build quality, power, handling or other mechanical aspects. No, its main problem seems to be its catfish, only-a-mother-could-love-it looks.

The Daimler SP250 Dart was built by the Daimler Company from 1959 to 1964. It was the last car to be launched by Daimler before its parent company, the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), sold it to Jaguar in 1960.

The SP250 launched at the 1959 New York Motor Show as the “Daimler Dart”, but Dodge owned the trademark for the “Dart” model name, and Daimler was ordered to change the name under threat of legal action. With little time to come up with a new name, the company used the project number, SP250, as the model number. The SP250 won “The Ugliest Car” via vote at the 1959 show.

With its V8 engine, sub-nine-second zero to sixty time, and a top speed of over 120 miles per hour, the SP250 never lacked for performance or power. In the end, its performance didn’t save it.

Jaguar built a prototype replacement under project number SP252 with a neater body style but decided not to proceed with production. According to former Jaguar chairman Lofty England, the cost to build the SP252 would have been greater than that of Jaguar’s popular and more expensive E-Type, thereby creating internal competition from a product with no practical profit margin and with uncertain market acceptance.

The 2½ litre V8 engine used in the SP250 was used by Jaguar to power the smaller saloon Daimler had wanted from the start. This was basically a Jaguar Mark 2 with the V8 engine from the SP250 modified to fit in the Mark 2 engine bay and revised interior, trim, and suspension settings.