Your classic: Daimler DN-250

| 14 Sep 2021
Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Daimler DN-250

My father had a Daimler Century preceded by two Jowett Javelins and succeeded by a Rolls-Royce Phantom III, then progressively smaller cars via a Bentley R-type Continental to ‘Dotty’, a 1956 Daimler Drophead Coupé, for his final 20 years or so.

My own car career went from a Morris Minor followed by progressively larger cars via a Barker-bodied Lanchester LD10 and the Daimler (originally Lanchester) Dauphin, which featured in your April 2018 issue. A Daimler Empress came next, and finally I took on ‘Dotty’.

My present ‘modern’ car isa1996 VW-badged Škoda pick-up.

This, though, is my DN-250. In 1958, production of the Daimler Conquest Century had ceased but a 2½-litre V8 engine was being developed for a new range of cars.

Daimler therefore had a marvellous new engine but nothing apart from the SP250 sports car to put it into. One mass-production proposal was ‘Daimlerising’.

In 1959, a styling prototype was constructed based on Vauxhall Cresta body panels, and another complete Cresta was bought and fitted with a 2½-litre V8 engine for road testing. But in May 1960 Jaguar bought Daimler, and the prototypes disappeared.

On the cover of the July ’87 issue of Driving Member, the magazine of the Daimler & Lanchester Owners’ Club, was an artist’s impression of the DN-250, and an article in the September issue concluded that it was (probably) the prototype Vauxhall Cresta-bodied saloon.

It took my fancy, but I took another 20 years to do anything about it.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Daimler DN-250

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Daimler DN-250
Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Daimler DN-250

In March 2007 I bought a rusty Vauxhall Cresta PA without an engine; a Turner 2½-litre V8 out of a Daimler/Jag that had been written off; a radiator shell from a Daimler Conquest; and a couple of bumper bars that might be made to fit.

With a metal-bashing genius at Jules Bodycraft and an engine guru at WT Bell, all the basics were right.

The bodyshell, stripped to bare metal, was a fine example of ‘Luton ferro-lacework’. New sills were available off the shelf but floor panels and other metalwork was fashioned by Jules.

The door openings and A- and C-pillars were made vertical and the rear quarterlights were panelled in, new front panels were made and the bonnet was reprofiled to fit the cut-down radiator shell.

I’d hoped the car would be on the road in 2009 to celebrate the original’s 50th anniversary, but its first outing wasn’t untilJanuary 2012, which was in time for the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar-made Daimler V8-250.

I often give cars names, using the initial letter of the make or model – ‘Algernon’ for my Alvis 12/50, ‘Henry’ for my Morgan +4 (for HFS Morgan), ‘Lady’ for the LD10. The DN-250, however, is ‘Black Hole’(BH) for its likeness to the time and budgetary overruns of NHS computer projects.

After a couple of years on the road, BH began, with embarrassing frequency, to stop with apparent fuel starvation – so often that I removed the boot trim and carried a spare pump.

The aforementioned WT Bell genius, as well as curing the erratic rev counter, diagnosed that the fuel-tank sealant had dissolved in modern petrol and solidified along the fuel pipes.

More recently, BH has been petering to a halt with overheating HT coils, but restarts on cooling (after one coil split, I suspect).

The snagging continues…