13th Mar, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 34

1964 Daimler SP250 Dart
1 of 26 'Darts' supplied to the Metropolitan Police

Estimated at £32,000 - £38,000

Lot details

Registration No: ALM 741B
Chassis No: 104367
MOT: Exempt

  • 1 of only 26 traffic cars supplied to the London Metropolitan Police Force
  • Sensibly upgraded with rack and pinion steering, servo-assisted brakes and a manual gearbox
  • Supplied with Winkworth bell, Pye radio and Police calibrated speedometer ready to fit
  • Treated to £3,000 of brake and engine work in 2021

The controversially styled Daimler Dart was introduced at the 1959 New York Motor Show and had its European debut at that October’s Earls Court Motor Show; the Dart name was soon dropped after the threat of legal action from Chrysler who had a car of that name within their Dodge division. Thereafter this new sports car was known as the Daimler SP250. Power was provided by the 2.5 litre, Edward Turner designed V8 that soon became revered for the smoothness of its power delivery with 140bhp on tap. Independent double-wishbone front suspension at the front and half elliptical springs at the rear with a live rear axle kept the car on the road with stopping power supplied by hydraulic disc brakes on all four corners. The coachwork was constructed with glass-reinforced plastic providing a tough, strong, and lightweight shape that enhanced performance with exciting and non-traditional looks. The 120mph plus capability was recognised by the police and they were soon being used as high-speed chase cars.

The story behind how these sports cars came into police service goes back to the late 1950s when Rock & Roll topped the charts and America increasingly influenced London with their culture of bike gangs - immortalised by the films “The Leather Boys” and "The Wild One". The post-war economy had improved in Britain and many youngsters had the disposable income to buy expensive motorcycles. Soon gangs of up to 300 of these youths, known as 'Ton-up Boys' or 'Rockers', would gather to play the jukebox and race their bikes on the roads of Britain, many of which were speed limit-less out of town. The most legendary London venue was the Ace Café, a transport cafe ideally situated on the North Circular Road. The ‘Ton-up boys' were the most infamous riders who would regularly attempt to push their bikes to over 100mph. It was estimated that there were up to three fatalities per week and with no Police car fast enough to catch them, urgent action was required to curb the craze.

In November 1961 the first batch of Police Daimler SP250s were supplied along with a further two batches in 1962 and 1964. The Police cars were all painted Black and were unmarked except for the Winkworth bell, a spotlight fitted at the front and a Pye Radio. A terrifying sight to all young leather clad hoodlums on two wheeled machines, the Dart and their crews were very effective and were responsible for bringing down the number of deaths on the roads in London.

According to factory records, ‘ALM 741B’ was first supplied by Stratstone of London to the Met's Hendon Police Garage in February 1964 and later that year was registered under the registration number that it retains to this day. After only a few years of faithful service, the car was sold out of the service in March 1969 to Hounslow Motor Co. of Tudor Place, Hounslow, Middlesex. The car was later purchased by a Mr Jeffery Slater of Chichester Close, Beckton. For whatever reason, the car was registered as ‘LMD 183B’ later in its life but was re-registered on its original registration number in 2013. The original engine number was 97632 but as these cars had a hard life in service, it would be believable that it was swapped out in that period with unit no. 96367 that it retains today. It has also in the past been fitted with an original Daimler Dart Manual gearbox in place of the automatic which makes the car far more engaging to drive as a sports car. Now owned by a former Metropolitan Police officer who is well known for his collection of classic Police vehicles and has owned the car since 2020. He has advised that the car has recently been subject to over £3,000 worth of work by Grinter Restorations (Daimler Dart specialist) that included the fitment of a brake servo, brake overhaul, work to the ignition system and work to the cooling system.

On inspection, the car presents very well with the Black paintwork showing pleasingly, with minor stone chips present due to the age of the paint. The chrome is also in overall good condition around the car and the vinyl hood presents very well when raised. The engine starts instantly, thanks to an electric fuel pump and electronic ignition and settles to a pleasant idle very quickly that is both smooth and quiet. The vendor advises that the car drives very well indeed thanks to the work of Grinter. The interior appears to be in good condition with slight aging on the Black seats but the Grey carpets are very tidy and look relatively recently fitted. The car comes with the original steering wheel which requires restoration but it is currently fitted with a period Mountney item which makes getting in and out a lot easier. The Pye police radio and calibrated speedometer are both with the car and ready for fitment although are not currently installed so it is up to the new owner to decide what to do with these.

For more information, please contact:
Lucas Gomersall
07484 082430


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 13th Mar, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars to be held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

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