It was the Daimler company's failure to retain its earlier position in the luxury-saloon market during the 1950s which brought about the creation of the V8 engine which is the raison d'etre of this book. Desperately seeking a product which would sell, the Daimler management hit upon the idea of a sports car which would emulate the success of MG, Triumph, Austin- Healey and Jaguar in the USA. To keep costs down, it would have a fibreglass body shell; and to put in the power and give it USA appeal, it would have a V8 engine.
The man given the task of designing the engine was Edward Turner, who had been an engine designer with the Triumph motorcycle concern which had been bought out by the BSA combine which owned Daimler. Not surprisingly, the engine he sketched up drew heavily upon motorcycle practice and, as one of the articles in this book comments, the Turner V8 was essentially four vee-twin Triumph motorcycle engines put together. But what a gorgeous little engine it was! Smooth, economical and powerful, it also looked good when the bonnet was raised on the SP250 sports car in which Daimler launched it during 1959.
Though the SP250 sold reasonably well, it was never a huge success; and it was certainly unable to stave off the inevitable for Daimler. The company was already in deep financial trouble by the time the new sports car became available and, in June, 1960, it was bought out by Jaguar. The SP250 remained in production until 1964, although there was never any real enthusiasm for developing it further under Jaguar management. Jaguar's engineers did show some enthusiasm for its engine, however, and dropped one experimentally into a Mk. I saloon. Not only did it fit, but it made the car considerably quicker than Jaguar's own 2.4-litre XK-engined version. The next step was inevitable: Jaguar developed the concept and launched the Daimler V8 engine in their own Mk. II bodyshell during 1962. Known initially as the Daimler 21/2-litre and later as the V8 250 saloon, this hybrid proved to be one of the nicest and most refined compact luxury saloons of the 1960s. And even though it was no road-burner, with its standard automatic gearbox, it was still quicker than a manual-transmission Jaguar 2.4.
The last of the V8 Daimler saloons was made in 1969, but it was not to be long before the model joined the SP250 and the Mk. II Jaguars as a sought-after classic. SP250 fans today tend to be Daimler enthusiasts, while saloon fans tend to be primarily Jaguar adherents - but they all share an admiration for the lovely V8 engine which links these two models. This book provides a fascinating insight into the Daimler V8 story, and I am sure that owners and armchair historians alike will find it an enjoyable and illuminating read. Included are road and used car tests plus advice on acquiring a good used example. A total of 200 fully illustrated pages.