Buy­ing Clas­sics Abroad

Daim­ler SP250 ‘Dart’

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Theo Ford- Sagers

De­spite ini­tial mis­giv­ings in Amer­ica – and some early cars re­turn­ing to the UK un­sold – the US was the SP250’s big­gest mar­ket, and it’s a great place to look for one to­day. That’s the ad­vice of Es­sex-based Daim­ler re­storer and SP250 owner, Robert Grin­ter (www.robert­grin­ter.co.uk, 01787 222188). ‘Quite a few have been brought into the UK, but most of the ‘un­found ones’ not on the club reg­is­ter are still in the US. They crop up on­line oc­ca­sion­ally, some­times hav­ing been chopped about a bit and with Amer­i­can lumps un­der the bon­net.’

Val­ues in the US used to be low, but that’s rapidly chang­ing so don’t hang about. Re­cent celebrity in­ter­est from car US car mav­er­ick Jay Leno has piqued the Amer­i­cans’ in­ter­est, help­ing to push val­ues higher. ‘Be­fore they be­came so valu­able I ac­tu­ally im­ported one and broke it for spares,’ says Robert.

US Daim­lers are me­chan­i­cally sim­i­lar to those built for the UK. The main dif­fer­ences are the dif­fer­ent bumper over­rid­ers and head­lamp rims… and of course the drive side. A right-hand drive is per­fectly achiev­able (Robert charges around £3000 plus VAT) but Daim­ler’s frequent com­po­nent up­dates make this a com­plex job to plan, if not to per­form, and the cost will vary greatly de­pend­ing on the car.

The SP250 can some­times also be found in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, potentially com­bin­ing the con­ve­nience of right-hand drive with the ben­e­fits of a dry cli­mate. Just be­cause the body is GRP doesn’t mean the frame doesn’t rust and SP250s in hot cli­mates don’t ap­pre­ci­ate their in­te­ri­ors get­ting baked. ‘The in­te­rior trim is quite sim­ple to re­make, but it’s not cheap,’ says Robert, ‘They have to be cre­ated very be­spoke be­cause the body de­sign changed so much over time.’

In prac­tice though, your op­tions are lim­ited wher­ever you look. Keep your ear to the ground, con­tact Daim­ler spe­cial­ists and drop a line to the lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of over­seas own­ers’ clubs.

But if you can’t find what you want over­seas, there are around 500 reg­is­tered SP250s in the UK to keep your eyes on in­stead.

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