Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but by the conventional automotive standards, it's hard to call the Daimler SP250 pretty. This odd version with a retractable hardtop is even harder to find attractive, but the engineering into lowering the roof deserves admiration.
Even the standard SP250 has an awkward look. The outward-poking grille is reminiscent of a catfish. There are bug eyes, and the huge fins at the back don't fit with the rest of the exterior's rounded styling.
Gallery: 1961 Daimler Dart SP250
Normal SP250's had a folding softtop, with a removable hardtop as an option. This one received a retractable hardtop from the British business Antony H. Croucher Precision & Prototype Engineering Co Ltd. as a show car for displaying the novel tech.
This SP250 appears to be a hardtop at first glance. The design is odd with massive windows along the side. The roof has electro-hydraulic power operation at the flip of a switch in the cabin. It slides back to the rear deck and then lowers onto the tail. From the back, the rear glass is still visible and offers a look at the trunk, including the vehicle's badge.
The SP250 debuted in 1959 with a 2.5-liter V8 from Triumph motorcycle engine designer Edward Turner. THe powerplant had hemispherical combustion chambers and made 140 horsepower (104 kilowatts) and 155 pound-feet (210 Newton-meters) of torque. It also had standard disc brakes for all four wheels, which was uncommon at the time.
The Daimler automaker behind the SP250 is not the same company that is the parent of Mercedes-Benz. Wayback in 1896, a British businessman bought the rights to the Daimler name for England.
In 1960, Jaguar took over, and over the years, Daimler became something akin to Maybach-badged Mercedes products today. A Daimler would look practically identical to the Jaguar product but with a more luxurious cabin.