The 2-1/2-litre V8 Daimler Dart

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Something truly new…

At long last something refreshingly new is to emerge from a British factory, for last month, at the New York Show, the Daimler Dart made its debut. This new sports car is the work of Edward Turner, managing director of the Automotive Division of the B.S.A. Group. It is revolutionary in respect of its V8 engine and plastic body.

The Daimler Company has made sports cars previously but these have always been distinctly secondary to their dignified closed carriages. Long-standing readers of Motor Sport  may recall that in the mid-nineteen-twenties we road-tested a 16/40 sports Daimler, although this was virtually a normal chassis carrying a boat-shaped sporting body. Many years were to pass before further fast models, like the 1954 Century and Conquest and later one-o-Four and Majestic, were introduced into the Daimler range.

The new Dart should be a really fast, highly accelerative Daimler. Its 90 deg. V8  76.2 by 69.85 mm. (2,547 c.c.) engine has a cast-iron block with alloy heads and crankcase, with o.h. valves in hemispherical combustion chambers, operated by alloy push-rods from a central camshaft, from the rear end of which is a right-angle drive for the ignition distributor. With 8.2 to 1 compression-ratio this engine is claimed to give 140 b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m., which makes it virtually inferior to none in the up-to-2-1/2-litre class. Twin semi-downdraught 1-3/4 in. S.U. carburetters are situated between the cylinder blocks, and are fed by S.U. pump from a rear tank quoted from one source as holding 11.6 gallons. The lubrication system incorporates a full-flow filter and circulates 1.45 gallons and a water pump is belt driven, in conjunction with the dynamo, from the nose of the five-bearing crankshaft, which carries a torsional vibration damper.

The Daimler Dart has a box-section chassis with a wheelbase of 7 ft. 8 in. Front independent suspension is by coil springs and wishbones, but at the back a rigid axle on 1/2-elliptic springs suffices. Disc or wire wheels are to be optional, shod with Dunlop Road Speed tyres. A dry plate clutch conveys the drive to a four-speed gearbox, with Laycock overdrive or fully automatic transmission as optional extras. Top gear ratio is 3.58 to 1. The tail-finned sports body is of reinforced polyester, a pretty revolutionary development for a major manufacturer. There are two separate bucket seats with an occasional seat behind them. A heater is provided and gear lever (splendidly short and stubby) and handbrake are centrally located. Splendidly, braking is by discs on all wheels.

This new Coventry-built sports car is promising from two viewpoints. First, although performance figures are naturally not yet available, a 140 b.h.p. engine giving 123 lb./sq. in. b.m.e.p. at 2,660 ft./min. piston speed, maximum torque of 153 lb.ft. being developed at 3,600 r.p.m., promises excellent performance in an 18-3/4 cwt. dry weight car geared to give 20.6 m.p.h. at 1,000 r.p.m. and to reach over 112 m.p.h. at 2,500 ft./min. piston speed. Maximum speed, indeed, is expected to be in the region of 120 m,p.h. and the V8 power unit is exceptionally flexible.

Secondly, Daimler hope to pin the price of the Dart, which goes into production in the autumn, at near to £1,500 inclusive of British purchase tax. At this price here is a very competitive newcomer although no one can pretend that the Dart looks every inch a Daimler. Indeed, it, is unlikely to stir the memories of such ghosts as haunt the tree-lined avenues near Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor Castle.  —  W. B.