Daimler SP250 XHP438

Donald Harley driving Daimler SP250 XHP438 on the day he bought it in 1961

Daimler SP250 XHP438 at Compton Verney in September 2019


The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust (JDHT) has acquired the oldest surviving Daimler SP250

Text and pictures courtesy of JDHT


The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust (JDHT) has recently acquired the oldest surviving Daimler SP250, which it exhibited at the NEC in November 2019.

The oldest surviving Daimler SP250, the third of three prototypes was built in 1959 as chassis 100002. The other two were dismantled when their testing was completed. Registered as XHP 438 it was used as the press car, tested by Autocar and Motor magazines, among others, and featured on the front cover of Vogue in November 1959.

In 1960 the car was returned to the factory for some re-furbishment and was then sold. Its first private owner was Mr Donald Harley who worked on the ‘Eagle’ comic as the illustrator on ‘Dan Dare’. He sold the car in 1962, replacing it with a Sunbeam Alpine. It had four further owners around England over the next few years and then in 1978 was bought by Mr R A Van Pelt who exported it to Holland. Later that year he took it with him when he moved to Canada, although the car had very little use before going into storage.

In 1987 it went to auction and was bought by two Canadian brothers, Doug and Gary Titosky, who started on a 30 year restoration project. Early in 2019 they approached the JDHT to see if we would be interested in purchasing and preserving the car. Tony Merrygold, JDHT Vehicle Collection Manager, flew to Canada to inspect it and the Trustees agreed the purchase. It arrived at Gaydon in July and the DVLA have re-issued its original registration.

Some of the original publicity photographs of the car from 1959 were taken in the grounds of Compton Verney in Warwickshire, at the time a semi-derelict country house, in Capability Brown landscaped grounds. Compton Verney is now an art gallery and the staff there were extremely helpful in giving the JDHT access to the grounds and allowing us to recreate the photographs.

The restoration work started in Canada is continuing in the JDHT’s workshop at the Collections Centre at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. Additional trim work has been completed by Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works.

XHP 438 was on display at the Daimler SP250 Owners Club stand at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC last November. Doug and Gary Titosky and their families flew in from Canada to see the car. Following the show the car was returned to Gaydon so the restoration can be completed.