The British Daimler Motor Company of the 1950s (no relation to Daimler-Benz) was a dead brand walking, primarily making limousines and hearses for the UK upper class and royalty. A fiberglass-bodied sports car with outrageous American-inspired styling seemed nearly impossible. But that’s exactly what appeared on the Daimler stand in 1959 at the New York Auto Show.
The Daimler SP250 – originally referred to as the Daimler Dart before Dodge objected – possessed controversial styling. The car’s gaping grille and whisk-like bumper overriders in particular have caused some to refer to the SP250 as an angry catfish. But performance was vivid (120 mph+) due to lightweight construction and a sparkling little 2.5-liter hemi V8. Disc brakes on all four wheels gave excellent stopping power.
On the minus side, early cars – known as A-spec cars – lacked rigidity, and doors were known to fly open when being flogged over rough pavement. This was later corrected in 1960 with the stiffened B-spec cars, but heavy and vague steering plagued all of the model’s guises. With production of just over 2,500, surviving cars are prized and surprisingly, several specialists cater well to the car’s needs.