Buying Classics Abroad
Daimler SP250 ‘Dart’
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.