by Paul Sweeney
The British Car Museum has a new exhibit - a stunning 1969 Daimler 250, making it one of the last of this model. It previously belonged to a local Hawkes Bay couple who are long-time members of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners Club of NZ and have been friends of Ian Hope for many years.
The owner had decided he was getting too old to keep the car, and gave Ian first refusal to buy it, which of course he did - but not before Ian and I went for a test drive, naturally! The car drove very well, having been well looked after by a local Daimler specialist. The engine and other mechanicals all appear to be in excellent order; the interior is original featuring the classic wood and red leather.
Externally, the body is sound although the paintwork could use a refresh. If she were mine, I'd consider a colour change as for me the pale grey doesn't show off the Daimler's beautiful lines to best effect. Amazingly, the complete original and surprisingly generous Daimler tool kit is still present - reckoned to have a current market value of something like $800.
The 2.5 V8/V8-250 is a four-door saloon produced by The Daimler Company Limited from 1962 to 1969. It was the first Daimler car to be based on a Jaguar platform, the first Daimler car with a unit body, and the last Daimler car to feature a Daimler engine after the company was bought from the Birmingham Small Arms Company by Jaguar Cars in 1960. The engine is the hemispherical head V8 designed by Edward Turner and first used in the Daimler SP250 sports car.
It is essentially a re-badged Jaguar Mark 2 fitted with Daimler's 2.5-litre V8 engine and drive-train, a Daimler fluted grille and rear number plate surround, distinctive wheel trims, badges, and interior details including a split-bench front seat from the Jaguar Mark 1 and a black enamel steering wheel. Special interior and exterior colours were specified. Most cars were fitted with power-assisted steering but it was optional. Automatic transmission was standard; manual, with or without overdrive, became an option in 1967.
The 2.5 V8 was the first Jaguar designed car to have the Daimler badge. A casual observer, though not its driver, might mistake it for a Jaguar Mark 2. The Daimler's stance on the road was noticeably different from a Mark 2.
In April 1964 the Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was replaced by a D1/D2 type, also by Borg-Warner.
Three years after its launch, a Daimler 2½-litre saloon with automatic transmission tested by Britain’s Autocar magazine in May 1966 had a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 13.6 seconds. An overall fuel consumption of 19.0 miles per imperial gallon (14.9 L/100 km; 15.8 mpg-US) was achieved.
The test car was priced in the UK at £1,647 including taxes: Rover's 3-litre with automatic transmission was retailing for £1,770. At the end of 1965, the final drive ratio had been changed from 4.55:1 to 4.27:1, addressing complaints that the car as launched in 1963 had needed to exceed its recommended rev limit in order to reach its top speed, with a corresponding penalty in fuel consumption and engine noise and wear.
The testers found the car refined and well equipped with efficient, if rather heavy, brakes. The engine and transmission were felt to be well matched. The car was quiet and smooth but short on low speed torque.
A manual transmission, with or without an overdrive unit usable with the top gear, became available on British 2.5 V8 saloon in February 1967 and on export versions the following month.