February 26, 2015 @ 06:06 PM

Legends and Legacies: Daimler Dart

When Daimler wanted to jump into the pool of sports cars they decided to build this strange looking Dart. By Jerrica Leong

(image souce: classiccarsdriven.com)
When Daimler wanted to jump into the pool of sports cars they decided to build this strange looking Dart. By Jerrica Leong

What you’re looking at is a Daimler SP250, yes it’s better known as the Dart when it was first launched but after some complains from Dodge, Daimler had renamed it the SP250. Years had not changed the people knowing it as the beloved Dart though and believe it or not, the Dart had been labelled ugly when it was first introduced?

Daimler first introduced the Dart in 1959 New York Motor Show, it was rumoured that the Dart was unanimously voted the ugliest car of the motor show that year but how views have changed throughout the years. The Dart is now known as one of the most unique styles in sports car history and many classic car enthusiasts would love to own one.

The Dart is built based on a Triump TR3 layout only longer than the original. Even the gearbox was a straight copy of the TR3. But thanks to the longer wheelbase the Dart is faster than its donor. Fibre glass was the choice of material to build the Dart’s body thanks to Daimler’s previous experience from their bus operation.

(image source: carandclassic.co.uk)
A 2.5-litre Hemi-head V8 engine lives under the bonnet, it delivers a total of 140bhp that gives the car a lively performance that enthusiasts love. The Dart manages a top speed of 200kph and makes the 0-92kph sprint in just 8.8seconds. That is a number that even some modern cars can’t beat.

You get very little leg room in the rear seats even though the Dart was described as a 2+2. So unless the person is of a short stature and required the front seats to pulled all the way to the front the bench-like rear seats are fit for only children.

Unfortunately for the Dart, it was popular for all the wrong reasons. With the rear seats being notoriously cramped the body work and built did not help in improving its reputation. The first generation of Darts were reputed to be so flexible that some bodies cracked and the fibreglass body was rumoured to be conceived in haste.

(image source: classic-auctions.com)
Daimler’s problem was solved when Jaguar bought over the company in 1960 and a ‘B’ model was introduced under their tutelage. This version of the Dart had been more reliable and the body work was less likely to crack.

This did not save the Dart from being unpopular though, as the damage to its reputation was already done. A further C-spec was introduced in April 1963. The C-spec came with a few upgrades but none were to improve the Dart’s drive only added features such as a trickle charger socket, a demister and a cigarette lighter.

The Daimler Dart was not popular in Europe although the automatic gearbox variant had gained favour in the United States. Only 2650 Darts were produced throughout the years it was on sale before it ended in 1964.

(image source: motortrend.com)

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