Speedy to catch speed­sters

A spe­cial Daim­ler SP250 two-seater changed hands at auc­tion in Bri­tain last month, af­ter a ca­reer that had once in­cluded feel­ing the col­lars of ne’er do wells on the high­way. DAVE MOORE ex­plains.

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

The Daim­ler SP250’S tour de force was its jewel of a 2.5- litre pushrod V8 en­gine, de­signed by Ed­ward Turner, of Tri­umph par­al­lel twin fame.

When fit­ted to the light, nim­ble fi­bre­glass-bod­ied sportscar, the V8 ac­quit­ted it­self very well in terms of out­right per­for­mance.

It was at first known as the Daim­ler Dart, but the moniker ‘‘Dart’’ had been used for some time by a huge di­nosaur of a Dodge sedan, so af­ter a com­plaint from Chrysler Cor­po­ra­tion, it was SP250 from then on, even though the Daim­ler was the more ap­pro­pri­ate user of the name.

It was the first sports car to be al­lo­cated specif­i­cally for po­lice pur­suit du­ties in Bri­tain, fol­low­ing the open­ing of the M1 mo­tor­way, as it was felt that with the then open speed limit, the run of the mill Ford Ze­phyrs and Austin West­min­sters would not be able to keep up with, never mind ar­rest, quicker crim­i­nals in the lat­est ma­chin­ery.

Re­cently, Win Percy – fa­mous in New Zealand for his for­ays on race­tracks be­hind the wheel of var­i­ous Jaguars, Hold­ens and Rovers dur­ing the 90s and a former Bathurst win­ner and Bri­tish and Euro­pean tour­ing car cham­pion – paid more than $NZ90,000 for a Daim­ler SP250 at auc­tion.

The sale, at His­torics at Brook­lands in Sur­rey, Eng­land, in­volved the Daim­ler SP250 reg­is­tered as: 670 ELL, which means it’s one of just 26 ex­am­ples ac­quired by the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice that year for chase duty.

The po­lice prove­nance was prob­a­bly re­spon­si­ble for the £43,450 world record price.

The car worked with the po­lice for a good five years, though dur­ing its ca­reer the main ben­e­fits that saw the car be­ing hired be­came re­dun­dant as the M1 speed limit and ev­ery other dual car­riage­way in Bri­tain was re­duced to 115kmh.

That limit, which re­mains to this day, came about af­ter Bri­tain’s red-top tabloids car­ried a story about AC sports cars’ Le Mans team be­ing caught test­ing a 427 Co­bra Coupe on the mo­tor­way at more than 300kmh.

The car was re­tired to pri­vate own­er­ship, com­plete with an oper­a­tional Winkworth bell, driv­ing light, ra­dio, mi­cro­phone, aerial, pas­sen­ger footrest and ra­dio in­ter­fer­ence sup­pres­sion kit.

Metic­u­lously main­tained by the same owner for 32 years, the black, soft- top Daim­ler, whose styling is of ac­quired taste was adopted as an of­fi­cial course car at the an­nual Goodwood Re­vival in 1998, and af­ter 13 suc­ces­sive ap­pear­ances, has be­come syn­ony­mous with the event.

De­spite be­ing par­tially dis­abled fol­low­ing a non- rac­ing re­lated ac­ci­dent in 2003, 68- year old Percy now plans to have the car sym­pa­thet­i­cally adapted in or­der to al­low him to drive it, and to re­turn to Goodwood in 2012 to con­tinue the car’s legacy in what will be its 50th An­niver­sary year, in his un­paid role as driv­ing stan­dards of­fi­cer.

Com­ment­ing on his new car, tin- top star Percy re­marked: ‘‘Although my role at Goodwood is a labour of love, I am ef­fec­tively there to po­lice driv­ing stan­dards, so what bet­ter way to keep an eye on pro­ceed­ings than from be­hind the dash of an ex-con­stab­u­lary car?’’

Mean­while, news of its an­tic­i­pated re­turn to the Re­vival was wel­comed by the event’s cre­ator and cus­to­dian of the Goodwood es­tate, Lord March, who com­mented: ‘‘It’s great to see such a beau­ti­fully kept car, with such a unique his­tory, at the Goodwood Re­vival each year.’’

Fit for the chase: The Daim­ler SP250, in­tro­duced in Bri­tain to help catch speed­sters on the open limit M1.

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