V.I.S.I.T: 1963 Daimler V8 250

Two Daimler-badged cars were ever offered that offered the exquisite, turbine-like power of Edward Turner’s jewel-like small V8 engine. The first was a befinned,  plastic-bodied atrocity with a guppy mouth and propensity for cracking in early models. It was the Daimler SP250 (nee Dart) – and I rather like it, of course.
The second was eminently more sensible and a good deal classier, too. It was the Daimler V8 250 saloon, and one Saturday morning, as I sat by the river’s edge enjoying coffee, croissants and Arthur C Clarke, I was joined by this pristine red example.

Alas the Daimler had already arrived before me, and it remained static when I left. Assuming it works, though, the 2.5-litre V8 is one of the more memorably sonorous engines you could cock an ear at. It wasn’t awesomely powerful, though – although it lent the plastic fantastic SP250 a healthy turn of speed, the heavier 250 V8 was more graceful than grunty.
The body was, of course, shared with the Jaguar Mk2. Engine, badges, fluted grille and leather upholstery aside, the two cars were one and the same. The 2.5-litre engine added a new character, but that wasn’t something that was in short supply in the regular 2.4, or better still the 3.4 and 3.8-litre XK engines. Opting for the latter, incidentally, gave the Jag a claim to the ‘world’s fastest saloon car’ title for a while.

The most memorable thing about the Mk2 Jag, though, is the way it looks. It appears to have been styled by the wind before that even became a thing, and almost sixty years on it’s hard to imagine whether it looked futuristic, dated or simply timeless when it was first launched. Of course, the Mk2 was an evolution of the similar Mk1, but its part-spats over the rear wheels and extra glass area made a big difference. But was it up-to-date at launch?
Well, it’s certainly a far cry from the style of its North American contemporaries which – by 1959 – had reached peak fin. Meanwhile, the Italian Lancia Flaminia was about to be joined by the French Peugeot 404, both enjoying a crisp Farina style. However, Farina had also sculpted the latest range of British Austins, which you’d have to say looked a little vulgar if parked adjacent to the Jag. There wasn’t much to celebrate elsewhere on the UK market, either – the Ford Consul of the era wasn’t exactly forward-thinking, and its arch-rival the Vauxhall Victor was decidedly starchy, too.

The most accurate thing would be to say that the Mk2 represented a culmination of Jaguar design, and technology, up to that point. The next step would be the move to twin headlamps on the Mark X and the 420, which paved the way for the svelte new XJ6 in 1968. It’s interesting to note that the XJ6 would pretty much abandon the style of the Mk2, a similar story to how the latest XJ6 completely re-imagined the ‘big Jag’ formula 41 years later.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)

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12 responses to “V.I.S.I.T: 1963 Daimler V8 250”

  1. Alff Avatar

    The Mark X and 420 were a step back in the same way the e39 and Bangle butts were

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Compared to the Mark 7-9’s, they were, even in the arguably more successful Daimler DS420 limousine form.
      The Mark 2 is hard to “place” because it does its own thing, it takes 1950-era full-width body design with arguably more separate-mudguard emphasis via the narrow bonnet. It might look aerodynamic, but I don’t think the actual drag or lift characteristics are very good which is typical of Jaguars.
      A shame that Chris didn’t get to hear the V8 engine note, because it sounds like an engine twice the size.

    2. crank_case Avatar

      But..but…I *like* the Mk X.

      1. Alff Avatar

        As do I. I also like the e39… but believe the e34 represents the pinnacle of the design language that led to it.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          Did Bangle do the E39? Always thought the bangling started with the E60.

          1. Alff Avatar

            I don’t think he was involved in the e39.

    3. tonyola Avatar

      I have to disagree. I think both those cars look better than the Mark II/V8 250. As for the S-type/420, the longer tail gives a more balanced look. The Mark X is simply grand and imposing. Plus I never liked those partial rear fender skirts. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f843524af322765f0dad2333f6ec593ef72513a41239d9b241f1fed1cf053498.jpg

      1. Alff Avatar

        Some guys like a bit more junk in the trunk. I don’t judge.

  2. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Since they fitted the little 2.5 litre Daimler V8 in, one wonders why they didn’t put in the other Turner designed V8, the 4.5 litre that was fitted to the Majestic Major. The two engines have the same bore centres and are pretty much interchangeable. Of course given that it produced more power than the XK 4.2 six and weighed less perhaps it might have been too much of a good thing?
    ’63 – ’68 Daimler Majestic Major fitted with the 4.5 V8

    1. tonyola Avatar

      The story is that Sir William Lyons had a severe Not Invented Here (NIH) attitude when it came to protecting his beloved Jaguar. He had a penchant for using his influence to kill off anything he perceived to be a threat. Not only did he starve the independence of Daimler, he also assassinated the premium Rover P8 and the mid-engined Rover/Alvis sports car.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Yes the Rover P8, it’s fate nicely summarised in ARonline…
        “The axe finally fell on the P8 in the spring of 1971
        and, sadly for the company, three years of precious development
        resources at Solihull had gone down the tubes. There were other issues
        to be taken into account, such as the group’s entire capital spending
        and the fact that there was a question over capacity and where to build
        the new car without affecting the production of the P6 and Range Rover.
        The cancellation of the Rover P8 was probably unique in that it was announced in The Times newspaper of 10 March 1971. Three days later the same paper was reporting widespread anger at Solihull over the cancellation, although no names
        were published. The anonymous Rover executives pointed out that, with
        Jaguar XJ6 demand outstripping supply – at one stage the waiting time
        was reported to be two years – and with some would-be Jaguar customers
        buying foreign cars instead, there could have been room for the Rover P8
        in British Leyland’s range and that competition between the Solihull
        and Coventry cars would have been minimal.”
        Although the website also quotes a Jaguar associated source that pins the blame on a failed P8 crash test, when I spoke to David Bache, the designer,(now sadly deceased), he denied this story and said that it was Lyons actions to protect his then new XJ6. David pointed out that the Range Rover being developed at the same time by the same team had no crash test problems and also no Jaguar opposition. The picture of the P8 crash test was actually from a test at a higher speed and that the P8 performed better than an XJ6 due to it’s shorter, lighter motor. The story in AR online is an ‘after the fact’ ‘justification’ from Jaguar biased sources. Sources that have a similar attitude to the custodians at the former Jaguar site of Gaydon where the remaining P8 prototype lapses in atrocious condition after being damaged(in 1998!, falling off a truck), and not repaired, at the British Motor Heritage Museum
        P8 base unit
        And the P9, based on the P6BS prototype as tested by Autocar. This would have under-priced and out-performed the E-Type and XJS

    2. outback_ute Avatar

      I didn’t know the bore spacing was the same, but it makes sense. A 4.5-L “Daimler” E-Type would have been a nice replacement for the Dart!