1960 Daimler SP250 - Reader Ride

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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Yep, it's a fibreglass-bodied Dart sportscar alright, but it's not the Goggomobil - this one's the Daimler

It was built in December 1960 and registered in 1961. Daimler launched this model in 1959.

It was released originally as a Daimler Dart, but they got a legal action from Dodge over the name, so they changed it back to the factory designation.

It’s running Daimler’s own 2.5lt V8, which ended up in a lot of other Daimlers, such as the 250 Saloon. The V8 used in them is almost indistinguishable from this one. It’s a beautiful engine, really flexible with lots of low down grunt. I think it was around 140hp, which was a lot for a light car in 1959. (Much of the design was done by Edward Turner – a name familiar to Triumph motorcycle enthusiasts – Ed.)

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It has a steel chassis and fibreglass body and is nicely appointed. This one has just been renovated and I’ve had it for five or six years. It wasn’t too bad when I got it, but if you look at it now and then, it’s an utterly different story.

I had one of these when I was 19 years old. What happened was I was sitting at my house in Bowral with my son bragging about how good the exhaust sound was, and he said, "Why don’t you go out and get another one?"

I said we’d never find one.

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So he’s tapping away on his phone, looking up classifieds and says, "Here you go, there’s one on the Gold Coast." I jumped on a plane and went up and bought the car. So I’m just an old fart reliving my childhood!

It still picks up chicks like it did in 1960. There’s only one problem, it’s the same chicks…

It is light to handle and it goes well. There was a race in 1962, a Bathurst Six-Hour, and this car won. It was driven by Leo and Pete Geoghegan and they led by three laps against every imaginable sports car of the day.

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This was a four-speed manual and some of them had an overdrive. The original transmission met a sad end and it now has a Toyota Celica five-speed gearbox in it, which is beautiful.

Everybody who has worked on it has asked, "Don’t you want to keep it original?" No, I want to be able to drive it when I like and have a reliable car, and have it look like it’s original. So it has a different cooling system and gearbox, but it still looks the part and I get to drive it whenever I want.

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