Solid and Stylish: 1963 Daimler SP250 Dart

Easily one of the most uncommonly seen sports cars, the Daimler SP250 Dart was a unique and even “high tech” sports car with its fiberglass body and small Hemi V8. Pampered by the current owner since 1996, this Dart is extremely solid, and mostly complete making it an awesome restoration candidate. Offered with an opening price of $12,500, or a buy it now price of $16,500. Check it out here on ebay out of Paradise, California.

When you start to throw around the word “Hemi” usually something much bigger than a 2.5L V8 comes to mind. Despite its low displacement these engines are really a gem. With great driving characteristics, this V8 offers an interesting exhaust note. Not currently running, the engine does turn over and has compression to boot! Also the transmission is described as being in functional condition. After many years of storage and having the body pulled off once before, the seller is calling this Daimler a restoration candidate, but it is certainly a solid one at that.

The cockpit of the Dart is simple, and well weathered. The dash and seat frames are in good enough shape to be used for restoration, although the next owner will need to come up with padding, carpet, and perhaps door panels.

Offering some interesting style cues, the body of this SP250 is in nice shape, but suffers from some stress cracking like any old fiberglass car. The frame is in miraculous condition with no heavy rust or rot whatsoever. A restoration would be ideal, but overall this Daimler isn’t too shabby in its current shape. There are a few minor downfalls to this car being a cracked windshield, and a set of hood pins. Mostly complete and absolutely solid, would you venture to restore this uncommon British Sports car?

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Comments

  1. Brad C

    It’s like an MGA wanted to dress up as the Batmobile for Halloween.

    • Hoos Member

      My MGA resembles that remark.

      • Jerry

        Tyrolite Green?

  2. Paul

    The Police versions of these were cool …worth a Google if your type of thing.

  3. Joe Nose

    If this thing was “Pampered by the current owner since 1996…”, then what the H3LL was the previous owner doing to it for the previous 36 years, USING those pampers on this load?
    Not sure if I agree with the “high tech” comment; if it weren’t for the diminutive size of the hemi, this thing would have been more at home in the ’50’s.

  4. ulm210

    A face only a mother could love

  5. Bob

    I had a close look at one back in 1962, and was impressed enough to always remember the mark. The owner told me that he was a sports car nut and just wanted something different. The styling wasn’t considered to be that unusual for a sports car, and it was a better performer than any of the sports cars in the market except for the Jaguar and the Corvette. I was fascinated by the little V8, and it sounded like a little jewel.
    I am betting that it is going to be a spendy restoration, but it is going to be worth the effort to save an unusual car.
    I found a link that will be interesting reading for anyone that is interested in these cars.
    https://www.hagerty.ca/apps/valuationtools/1961-Daimler-SP250-Dart?NewsSubStatus=Success

  6. LAB3

    Very cool looking little car! I’m betting an engine that size revs up pretty high giving it a unique sound.

  7. Peter Atherton

    Fun car,quick enough,but also too quick to “swap ends”if one were to overdo it in a corner…..notorious handling!

  8. Abarthbill

    Had a friend in the 70’s who had a body/restoration shop who did a lot of Corvettes. Owner of an SP250 wanted it restored, cost no object. After 100’s of hours spent on the body because of terrible quality of the glassfibre, he said he would never do another one.

  9. Ian Roberts

    ..prices climbing fast here in Europe-real grand tourer cars once sorted….

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      I’m a big fan of the British Marques.

      I always thought that when they were developing the design they asked everyone to come up with a styling cue that they would use the best one from all submitted.

      Some how, when it came down to selecting one, the powers that be thought if one was good, more would be better……………..unfortunately, this us what we ended up with for the final product.

      The engines in these are jewels, Daimler also used this power plant in a MKII variant. Even though it was only 2.5 liter the V8 seemed to carry a lot more cachet with British buyers.

      If you really want to be impressed Google Daimler SP-250 powered dragsters in the U.K. There’s a guy over there getting an insane amount of horses out of this engine, with the wins to prove it.

  10. Dan h

    Technically, it’s not supposed to be called a “Dart” as Daimler was sued by Dodge over the Dart name.

  11. Dolphin Member

    A few points that come to mind on the SP250 ….

    – The hemi V8 is basically like a small Chrysler Hemi because both have a single camshaft down low that operated pushrods that operated rocker arms that opened the valves. A lot cheaper to manufacture than a DOHC V8.

    – I remember seeing one race at the Thompson, CT track in the ’60s. It looked and sounded impressive, especially compared to most of the other cars that used straight-4s. I can’t remember where it placed in the race, but it did look good.

    – After googling the SP250 I was reminded that one Mark Donohue raced a SP250 early in his career, and that they were more popular than I remember them being in SCCA racing, especially on the East coast. Google Daimler SP250 racing and you will come up with some interesting sites with great period photos of the cars & drivers.

  12. Bob

    Dolphin,
    I had a hot Sprite back in 63, and solved the handling problem by going to Pirelli tires. On the track, like yourself, I found the Michelin tires gave no warning when they were going to let go, the Pirelli was much more like a biased ply and still had the advantage of the radial tires.

    • Dolphin Member

      Bob, I edited out the last part of my comment RE: Michelin X tires that were often fitted to these cars, but you saw it before I did that.

      Your comment makes the point I was trying to make—-that the very stiff steel belts of the X tires held the road well until you really pushed them in cornering, and then they would let go all of a sudden without warning. The likely result: a spin. That happened to me in a tri-carb Healey, with near disastrous results.

      Thanks for your comment. In an odd way, I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only person on BF who ever experienced that kind of result with Michelin X tires.

  13. Peter

    Definitely diggin’ the Batmobile vibe…. ;-)

    Is anyone else thinking this would make a decent driver, with the addition of an interior, top, tires and windshield (and other, normal “consumables”)?

    I mean, IMO values can only go up. Why not enjoy it like it was meant to be enjoyed, not worry about bird poop, let alone stone chips, and wait for the guy to respond to the discreet “For Sale” sign, in the rear (and/or online).

    Survivor-cars are still the fastest-growing segment of the collector car market and, personally, I’d like to drive it without my OCD taking the enjoyment out of it, and let the NEXT guy shell out for the restoration S/HE wants.

    Because even if she or he gave it back to me, all restored, I’d be afraid to drive it, and possibly messing up the restoration–and let’s not even mention parking lots…..

    Or am I either:
    a) missing something, or;
    b) just odd man out, on this “Survivor” usage?

    Like 1
  14. Ian

    …as an additional comment. Friend of mine has one and jyst back from a 2000+ faultless journey around Europe from the UK in his SP including doing ” full justice” to Alpine passes I gather . Once the mechanics are sorted these cars beg to be driven hard – either restored or as is!

  15. Bob

    Peter, I am with you. I would rather have a car with a few marks on it that I can drive and enjoy. I have a close friend that has a couple of expensive garage queens. We are too soon dead, so we might as well forget the money and enjoy what we like.

  16. Bob

    Dolphin,
    My first experience with this phenomenon left me requiring a diaper change. It was shortly after I had switched to the Xs, and I was used to drifting with the biased ply tires I was running. The Xs got me through the corner considerably faster, but this was followed by a spin and a departure from the track. Fortunately, the only thing hurt, was my pride.

  17. Rodney

    “An Unpampered Catfish Nosed Car”, so abused and so cool. Now hopefully into the hands of someone to care and feed it properly.

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