Compact Daimler led

executive pack

Daimler 2.5

WE might think that we are living in the heyday of the premium executive saloon, but in the 1960s Jaguar had the market cornered.

And one of the company's products which focused on pure British style and luxury was the Daimler 2.5 V8.

Based on the successful Mk II Jaguar, the V8 was produced from 1962 to 1969, with 17,620 rolling off the production line.

This four-door, four-seat expression of pure opulence is one of the classic greats.

It differed from its Jaguar cousins in having a 2,548cc V8 OHV engine which could swoosh along under automatic transmission - there were a few manual versions too -to a top speed of 112mph and reach 60mph in 13.8 seconds.

The V8 was the result of a 1960 deal in which Jaguar purchased Daimler from BSA Automotive who had ownedthe famous marquesince 1910.

Daimler had not been doing well in the 1950s, but had, in 1959 introduced the SP250 sports car, designed to appeal to the US market, and fitted with a lightweight V8.

The design of the engine was credited to Edward Turner, the managing director of BSA Automotive, who had been a noted designer of motorbike engines in his early career.

Jaguar gained a factory from the purchase, but it was also impressed with this 2.5-litre V8 engine, and the decision was made to fit it into a slightly altered Jaguar Mk II body shell and produce an upmarket model with Daimler badging aimed at a different segment of the motoring public - professional people like doctors, lawyersand well-off retirees, plus the odd motoring journalist because I owned one.

The body shell was altered to incorporate a traditional Daimler grille, and badging, mascots, etc. were suitably changed.

To match its more sedate target audience it was initially available only as an automatic, although it handily outperformed the Jaguar 2.4.

Daimlers were always built with more standard equipment than their Jaguar brethren, and when the Jaguar Mk II range evolved to becomethe 240/340, and lost previously standard equipment such as leather seating and integrated fog/spot lights, the same fate did not befall the Daimlers.

The change in designation from 2.5-litre V8 to V8 250 came at the same time as the renaming of the Mk II to the 240 and 340, and the cars' appearance changed in the same way, as the slimline bumpers from the Jaguar S type were fitted. However the Daimler was not cheapened like the Jaguar, and retained all its standard equipment.

Apart from brake seals, which burst with monotonous regularity, I have very fond memories of my beautiful blue Daimler.

To me it was one of the last of the real cars. It featured that leathery, polished wood smell that cars of the golden days had and it was a gem to drive.

Yes it was heavy and my example did not have power steering, but it always gave everything its best shot and was a real friend.

It even got me out of a nightmare situation when, in the depths of winter I was driving along a hilly Welsh road in sleet and rain. I got to the top of a hill and too late discovered that the windchill factor had dropped off the clock and the gale had turned the downward slope into an ice rink.

The Daimler started to skid down the slope with the wheels still in drive. Luckily it was so stable that I was able to slip the transmission in reverse and give it a bucketful of revs full astern to take some of its speed off in order to turn into a sideroad with an upward slope.

Just after I had been able to stop, a mail van came over the same rise and spun off the road. Just says it all about this wonderful car.

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