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As you’d expect of any car wearing Daimler badges, the SP250’s interior is luxuriously trimmed, although it’s not as expensively finished as the saloons. That still doesn’t mean it’s cheap to retrim though, and if everything is needed you’ll be looking at a bill of about £3000 to put it all right, including a new set of carpets. A replacement soft top costs £350, so check the one fitted is in decent condition. The good news is that fitting an SP250’s hood is easier than most, so you won’t necessarily have to fork out for labour on top.
The SP250’s electrical system is straightforward, but the wiring may have gone brittle and some of the connections will probably not be that great. While emery will fix the latter, a brittle loom needs to be replaced; new ones cost about £200. When it comes to replacing instrumentation, switchgear and components such as light units, everything is available – but it’s unlikely to be needed as it’s all so reliable.
The SP250 has a huge amount going for it. Relative affordability and exclusivity are two of its key attributes, but it’s also pokey, frugal and very well put together. It’s great to drive too, thanks to its willing engine, supple ride and agility through its light weight. You want more? How about great parts back-up? It’s easy to upgrade, too. It’s more practical than you might have thought, and it’s one of the most usable classic sports cars going.
Yes – parts are available, the car is durable and running costs are lower than those of many rivals.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
That V8 sounds gorgeous and gives the car a fabulous turn of speed, helped by the light weight. The SP250 handles well, but switching to rack-and-pinion steering is money well spent.
WILL I FIT BEHIND THE STEERING WHEEL?
Even if you’re lanky you’ll fit in the front – but banish any thoughts of adults getting in the back. Those seats are for very short children.
WHAT BODGES SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Filler – it shrinks and falls out.
Microblistering in the paintwork.
Vinyl trim instead of leather.
WHAT SHOULD I PAY?
Boxes of parts start at £6000; expect to pay at least double this for a usable car that’s a bit tatty. Really nice SP250s cost at least £16,000 while a superb example is around the £25,000 mark. The very best cars are now changing hands for around £30,000.
CAN IT COPE WITH UNLEADED?
With its alloy heads, the SP250’s engine has hardened valve-seat inserts as standard. Retard the ignition a few degrees.
A chassis plate is welded on to the front cross-member (although it frequently rusts away), while there’s also another plate screwed to the bulkhead; this features the chassis number.
Daimler and Lanchester Owners’ Club: www.dloc.org.uk,
BEST SP250 BOOKS?
Daimler SP250 by Brian Long. Veloce, ISBN 1-874105-24-3.
Daimler Dart SP250 Parts Manual, Mercian, ISBN X-1676-0221-6.
Words: Practical Classics
Pictures: Practical Classics