The Daimler SP250 was born when Edward Turner, head of the Automotive Division of BSA – at that time Daimler’s parent company – was given the brief to develop an all-new volume production car. Eschewing the use of Daimler’s more traditional six-cylinder engine, Turner developed a new 2.5-litre V8. Already known for his hemi-head Triumph Speed Twin engine, Turner used the then current Cadillac V8 as a base for his new engine, also applying his knowledge of motorcycle power plants.

Fitted with aluminium alloy pistons, and steel connecting rods in a cast chrome-iron block with aluminium alloy heads, Turner’s new 90 degree V8 featured a bore/stroke ratio similar to the Speed Twin while further parallels between the two engines included the con-rods, pistons and valve gear. With the combination of a single, high-mounted camshaft and hemispherical combustion chambers, the final Daimler V8 could effectively be regarded as four Speed Twin engines joined together.

The first V8 was up and running in 1957, and, breathing through a twin-choke Solex carburettor (production examples would use twin SUs), the new engine pumped out a very respectable 140bhp (104kW). An early version of the V8 was subsequently trialled in a Daimler Conquest Century, with the engine fitted with eight Amal motorcycle carburettors.

However, the Turner’s V8 was now an engine in search of a vehicle as the planned DN250 saloon project had stalled – in fact, the DN250 would never appear.

It was time to rethink the whole project.

A New Direction

Having already stripped and examined a Triumph TR2 with the idea of producing their own sports car, Daimler began to look at that proposition more seriously. As a result, one of Turner’s V8s was installed in a freshly developed Daimler chassis, one based on that of the TR2.

Tests proved favourable enough for Daimler to task Percy McNally, General Manager of Carbodies (a BSA subsidiary), with a brief to come up with a new body for the proposed sports car. McNally is probably best known for styling the Austin FX4 taxi.

In order to keep costs down, BSA insisted that rather than having an expensive-to-produce steel body, the new sports car should be fitted with a fibreglass body.


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