Daimler V8 2.5Cat with the cream Published: 4th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!
- Best model: Manual/Overdrive
- Worst model: Butchered Jag re-engines
- Budget buy: Standard auto
- OK for unleaded?: Generally yes
- Will it fit in the garage? (mm): (mm): L4591 x W1695
- Spares situation: Not as good as Mk2
- DIY ease?: Yes and engine easier than XK
- Club support: As good as you will fi nd
- Appreciating asset?: Interest is gaining…
- Good buy or good-bye?: Yes, as a cultured Mk2
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A Mk2 but with the creaminess of a V8 sounds the purrfect combination, yet many still shun the Daimler V8 250, even though it’s a top cat!
Pros & Cons
What is it with the Daimler ‘Mk2’ that turns people off? Is it that prime and proper fluted grille that replaces the Growler?
It can’t be anything else because the V8 2.5 and the later V8 250 are true Mk2s in all bar the engines. Yet in many ways that’s to the Daimler’s advantage because it bestows the Coventry Cat with added smoothness and agility it always deserved.
Factor in lower prices and exclusivity and it’s illogical why the Daimler remains in the shadows. Don’t let prejudice put you off the best Mk2 for you!
Ace Dewis hated the Daimler's handling
The V8 2.5 was the result of a marriage of convenience that should have spawned a happy family. When Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons acquired Daimler in 1960 (more down to his desire for the company’s factories rather than that established English badge) he faced a dilemma.
Dour Daimler desperately needed a new modern model, so in 1962 Lyons took the logical step of slipping that wonderful 2.5-litre V8 that was arguably the only really good thing about the ‘Dart’ sports car into the engine bay of a flutted-grilled super luxury Mk2.
That majestic 2.5-litre engine was only slightly larger than the 2.4 ‘six’ but with a quoted 140bhp was 20bhp to the good of the underpowered 2.4, bridging the gap nicely between the entry Jag and the 210bhp 3.4 Mk2. However, coupled with standard automatic transmission, it was priced the same as the flagship 3.8 automatic.
On the other hand, it was more luxurious than the Jag, with better wood and carpets and MkX-style armchair seats. Together with the deletion of the large centre console (not needed thanks to the smaller autobox used) – it allowed unofficial three-abreast seating.
Sadly those wonderful picnic tables fitted to the front seat backs weren’t fitted on the Daimler while – curiously – supposedly plusher interior only boasted three courtesy lights instead of four found on the Jag versions!
The Daimler gained the same revisions as the sister Jag throughout its seven-year production, plus a revised 4.27:1 rear axle ratio circa in Spring ‘66 to prevent over-revving at top speed which some owners complained about in those free and easy pre-70mph limit days and make high speed cruising not quite so frantic.
During 1966, and along with the Mk2, the Daimler was cheapened with the deletion of appointments although thankfully the V8250 escaped the bulk of the penny pinching that sullied the Mk2’s reputation late in its life..
A year later, with the advent of the 240/340, the Daimler also gained slim-line bumpers and detailed trim changes plus was rebadged the V8250 before its demise in 1969, although in Feb ’67 the long awaited manual option surfaced. Using a 2.4 ‘box, overdrive was also made available and it suited the V8 extremely well. A total of 17,620 V8s were made, the majority – initially anyway – being autos.
So how does the Daimler compare to the Mk2? The best way to summarise the two cars is to discuss their character. The Jaguar is the more sporting steed, while the Daimler is better suited to genteel touring: it’s really down to how you want to drive one.
Jaguar legend Norman Dewis recently and exclusively told Classic Cars For Sale that (apart from the engine) he thought the Daimler was “Bloody awful” and put it down to the car being rushed into production to please Daimler. The V8 installation was first tried out on the Mk1 and Norman always felt that the front spring rates were never quite right. This was backed up to some degree by a Motor road test in ’66 which said that the front suspension “..is much firmer – even a little harsh and pattery than might be expected”.
It did however remark on a “Good handbrake”, one specially set up by Browns Lane for the test car perhaps? Even so, the lighter engine endows the 2.5 V8 with better handling over the Jag, meaning it’s not so heavy and lumbering while the finger-light optional power steering (which most cars had) makes the Daimler easy to pilot.
Replacing that sexy straight six tone with a smooth V8 soundtrack sounds sacrilege to some, yet in terms of performance the Daimler’s 140 horses have more than ample poke for modern roads.
According to contemporary road tests at the time, the V8 was a shade faster than a manual 240, one test automatic clocking an impressive 113mph against the Mk2’s 105mph, with brisker sprints to 60mph (12-14seconds, depending upon axle ratio).
Note that we are talking about the much pokier, later Mk2, as original 2.4s were credited with a 0-60mph time of more than 17 seconds and couldn’t even crack the ton, so the Daimler definitely justified a place in the range.
The manual transmission really made the most of the V8 and some road tests had this Daimler almost as lively as a 3.4 (0-60mph 11.1 secs). In contrast left in D2 the auto was considerably more sluggish than working the ‘box as a semi auto. Mk2 devotees will argue that the 3.4 and 3.8s are the ones to buy anyway, but the plain fact is that the Daimler is lively enough for most owners and cruises like a Roller. Fuel economy is around 18-20mpg although some owners claim to have achieved 24mpg on a leisurely run: impressive for a heavy, old school automatic.
The rest of the Daimler is pure Mk2, which means loads of leathered luxury (nicer seats than the Jag) and fair space for a full-sized family. In fact, the slimmer seats found in the Daimler give it ever so slightly superior rear leg and knee room. At the front, the deletion of the big transmission tunnel (not needed for the compact V8) means usefully more leg room. What did the press say at the time? Well although generally complimenting the Daimler for its sweetness and smoothness nobody ever said that they’d have one over a Jaguar for the same money…
The Jaguar won the first ever European Touring Car Championship back in 1963 and is still a popular campaigner on the tracks. There’s fair scope for what you can do to make a Daimler more suited to modern roads as a result. If the suspension and brakes are shot, then poly bushing, together with new dampers from Koni, Spax or Gaz is the way to go, while a donor 420 (S-Type) should be robbed of its superior three-pot brake callipers (or go to Classic Spares and buy straight fit modded ones at £450).
The V8 kicks out 140bhp, although during development an experimental engine equipped with eight Amal motorcycle carbs helped hoist it up to 200bhp! As it’s a traditional ohv design, subtle gas-flowing and better breathing will release more go although for a real woof in sheep’s clothing consider fitting the bigger 4.5 V8 as found in the bigger Daimlers. Yielding 220bhp Jag tried out this engine in development MkXs and the big cat really flew – as good as the V12! The V8 isn’t as prone to overheating like the XK straight six but an uprated radiator, together with an electric cooling fan, are worthy mods anyway.
Traditionally the car always lagged behind the more fashionable Jaguar by around a third. And while this is generally still the case top examples are now selling for big money – up to £50k, it’s been mooted! That is the exception because as rule rough ones can cost not much more than a couple of grand with decent examples under the 10K mark. Unless it’s something really special, even the very best cars should still leave change out of £20,000, which is much less than an equivalent Jaguar Mk2, which has seen prices stagnate of late anyway.
What To Look For
- It seems that the Daimler attracts a different type of buyer to the Mk2. The cars seem to be kept in better condition and, according to the owners’ club, there are a lot of one or two-owner cars out there.
- Essentially the V8 2.5 suffers the same woes as the Mk2 it is based upon. The good news is that, like the Mk2, there’s a raft of Jag/Daimler specialists and experts to help with service and renovation and parts are as plentiful – even for that V8 engine.
- Naturally rust is the biggest problem. As with the Mk2 the main areas for rot are the chassis box sections, front cross-member (particularly at its ‘crow’s feet’ which are welded to the valance and cross-member), inner sills, floorpan, outer sills, door bottoms, wings and the car’s ‘snout’ which rots badly around the fog lamp region.
- z At the rear check the floor (including the boot) rear axle and leaf spring hangers. Check the doors for alignment and the panel gaps. A small magnet is invaluable for detecting crafty fibreglass repairs.
- That sugar-sweet of a V8 is long-lasting if serviced properly. Lowly oil pressure (you need to see in the region of 40psi if good), general decay and hot running due to corroding alloy waterways can occur, so check. The good news though is that the V8 can run on unleaded it is claimed, although tougher exhaust values are still advised if the heads ever need to come off. As it’s a simple ohv design, the engine is less complex to work on than the XK engine.
- The ignition system comprises of a centrally mounted distributor with two sets of c.b. points. They are readily available and setting the pair up isn’t difficult, but many owners take the sensible step of replacing the system with a ‘points-less’ ignition system.
- Unlike the V8250 sports car, the saloon uses all Jaguar transmissions. The fourspeed with overdrive (introduced in 1967) is characteristically heavy and slow to use. Watch for weak synchro and noise. Clutch replacements are a major job like the Mk2 and beyond the realms of many DIYers.
- Incidentally, although initial take up of the manual transmission option was minimal, now it is reckoned that they may be more of them around as classic enthusiasts swapped the auto for a stick-shift to make more of the usable performance.
- The three-speed auto box is a lazy affair but beautifully smooth and long-lived. Inspect the fluid: it should be clean and not smell ‘burnt’. If it does then it suggests wear.
- Springs and dampers differ to the Mk2 due to the lighter alloy engine (ensure the correct replacement have been used). See that the car sits straight and true; a nose up stance suggest Mk2 springs may have been used.
- Like the Mk2, a mix of either steel rims with hub caps or wire wheels may be used. Check the latter for broken/lose spindles. A fully refurbished wire rim costs over £200 a go; Classy Daimler badged hubcaps (and the special wire wheel spinners) are much rarer finds than the Jag’s.
- Most spare part prices mirror that of the Mk2 so reckon on £300 for a new exhaust, £30 per brake disc (£75 for the corresponding caliper) and little more than a fiver for new lower wishbone bushes.
Three Of A Kind
Rover P5Popular with PMs, MPs and industry big wigs in their day, the Rover P5B (V8) is as good as any Mk2 in many areas plus a lot roomier. V8 most fancied but older ‘six’ is even smoother and cheaper. P5s rot like mad and parts supply isn’t as good as Jaguar/Daimler.
Daimler SovereignThe poshest of the S-Types is the classiest and even more for suited for cruising thanks to E-type rear suspension and the lustier 4.2 engine. It’s a better handler with a smoother rider, too but like the ‘2.5’ lacks the charisma of the Jaguar. You may love it however.
Austin Princess 4-Litre REssentially it’s a big Austin Westminster with a Rolls- Royce engine and full Vanden Plas luxury. Even with optional electric damping it’s built more for easy cruising. On sale from 1964-68, over 6500 were made but most have rotted away or been banger raced…
Don’t discard the Daimler when hunting for a classic cat. The Daimler V8 is every bit as good as a proper Mk2 – perhaps even better if you value cruising rather than caning it. Unless you hanker for the top 3.8, the Daimler’s more than adequate 140bhp has ample pace and is considerably superior to the 2.4 for the same money. Add the Daimler’s rarity and resultant exclusivity over the Jag but with cheaper prices (and so better value), isn’t it time that you forgot your prejudices and opted for the smoothest and most sensible ‘Coventry Cat’ of them all?
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