"I have always been convinced that visual appeal - without resort to gimmickry - is fundamental to the success of any product, and it costs no more to design a product in a pleasing manner."
Sir William Lyons
Developing A Car For Competition Success
Right from the earliest days of the SSI, the company had appreciated the prestige value of competition successes, and even though their early efforts (such as in the 1933 Alpine Trial) met with little success, it was not long before SS cars, either factory-backed or in private hands, were hitting the headlines of the motoring magazines. The introduction of the S100 had given a big boost to the company's reputation in the sporting field, and while this car piled up the successes in races, rallies and hill-climbs, the large saloons and drophead coupes became consistent winners of concours d'elegance coachwork awards, which were a popular feature of motoring events before the war.
The SS 100 Coupe was exhibited at the 1938 London Motor Show, but war was near, and production plans were shelved...
At one stage it was thought that the SS100 would be reintroduced after the war, but in fact only one post-war car was sold, and it was used very effectively by lan Appleyard, a Jaguar distributor in the North England, who scored success after success with it in international rallies, including gaining a coveted Coupe des Alpes in the "Alpine" of 1948.
But this was only a foretaste of what Appleyard was to achieve after the introduction of Jaguar's first genuine post-war sports car - the brilliantly conceived XK 120
, with its Bill Heynes-designed twin overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine which still had a place in the Jaguar range some 20 years later.
The XK 120
was the star of stars at Britain's first post-war motor show, which took place at London's Earls Court in October 1948.
Overnight it rendered obsolete all previous conceptions of what constituted a mass-produced sports car, which perhaps could best be best summed up as a car for the skilled enthusiast who, in turn for high performance, was prepared to make considerable sacrifices in the areas of ride, weather protection, tractability, ease of control, and sometimes reliability.
The XK 120
altered all that, by combining refinement and comfort with outstanding good looks and brilliant performance, all at the staggeringly low price of £998. With so many "plusses" it just couldn't fail to become le great sports car successes of all time.
This was the first time that a twin-overhead camshaft engine had been adopted for high-volume production. The Jaguar design team under Bill Heynes had built and considered several alternative prototype engines before adopting the six-cylinder 3,442 cc design with its 83 mm bore, 106 mm stroke, and 160 bhp power output.
Some of the initial tests were carried out on a four-cylinder 1.4-liter engine, and some on a modified version of Jaguar's 1,776 cc engine as fitted to the 1.5-liter saloon. Then came the twin-ohc 2-liter XJ engine, one of which was loaned to Goldie Gardner for a successful attempt on some 2-liter class records with his famous MG-based EX 135 record-breaker (he covered a flying kilometre
at 176.7 mph, and the flying mile
at 173.7 mph).
Stirling Moss at the wheel of the first Jaguar designed specifically for racing, the C-Type. His victory in the tourist Trophy that day repeated his previous year's success with an XK 120 entered by Tommy Wisdom...
Finally the decision was taken to market two engines - the six-cylinder 3.4 liter XK 120
, and a four-cylinder 2-liter XK 100, the smaller engine being a longer-stroke version of the XJ.
As it transpired, the smaller engine being a longer stroke was never put into production, partly because of the inevitable tremendous demand for the XK 120, and partly because the six-cylinder engine was the more suitable unit to power the series of new saloons which were to be introduced in the years ahead. Even with Jaguar's meticulously careful costing, it was only possible to market such a complicated piece of machinery at so attractive a price by standardising it throughout the range of Jaguar cars.
The first XK 120
was announced with open two-seater bodywork, based on a rigid box-section chassis, and with torsion-bar independent front suspension and a live rear axle suspended by leaf springs. It had large hydraulically operated drum brakes all round, a four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on all but bottom gear, a single-plate clutch of marginal dimensions, and recirculating-ball steering.
Its top speed was close to 130 mph, and even faster if the optional higher rear axle was specified. The 2 seater was soon followed by two even more refined XK 120's
, a drophead coupe version and a very stylish fixed-head coupe, the top of which was vaguely reminiscent of that of the still-born SS100 coupe of 1939. The three models were carried through to 1954, when they were all superceded by the XK 140 series
, which were identifiable by their double height bumpers, more substantial radiator grilles, a roomier cockpit for the coupe, allowing space for children behind the front seats, and many detail refinements.
Jaguar had announced a higher-compression version of the XK 120 engine, producing 190 instead of 160 bhp, but an even higher performance alternative, producing 210 bhp, was offered in a special equipment version of the XK 140. The new models were also made much more pleasant to handle by the use of rack-and-pinion steering, both the engine and steering improvements being a direct pay-off of Jaguar's re-entry to competitions with factory-supported cars.
|Stirling Moss piloting a Jaguar Mk. VII at Silverstone in 1952, when he won the production car race. The car proved quite a force in saloon racing and win the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally...
Inevitably it hadn't taken long for the XK 120
to find its way on to race tracks and rally routes, but initially it was left to private owners to fly the Jaguar flag, the factory being too preoccupied with the problem of meeting customer demand for their models to consider running a factory team.
But by mid-1950, with cars appearing in production car races from Silverstone
to Dundrod, and in international rallies all over Europe, the factory were being kept busy supplying high-performance equipment, and in return were collecting valuable data from their competition customers, who were rapidly turning the XK 120 into the most successful sports car of all time. The real competition story was get to come
. Everyone assumed it was only a matter of time before the company would be in international racing, and the time proved to be 1951.
Already the XK 120
had won outright the Coupe des Alpes with the aid of lan Appleyard, and the Tourist Trophy race in Northern Ireland, where Stirling Moss had been loaned Tommy Wisdom's car to score his biggest racing success to date. But there were even greater victories for Jaguar just around the corner.
Right from the start the number one target in the Jaguar race programme directed by F. R. W. "Lofty" England
was Le Mans, where three privately entered XK 120s
had competed in 1950
and achieved moderate success. An outright victory at Le Mans, William Lyons figured, would be worth more in publicity than money could buy elsewhere, but he also knew that something more than a modified stock XK 120
would be needed to defeat the combined strengths of Ferrari
and Talbot and the very powerrful American-engined Cunninghams
Developing A Purpose Built Le Mans Racer - The C-Type
The solution came in the form of the C-type, which was the first car to carry the 210 bhp version of the XK engine, and was bred strictly for competitions. It had a relatively lightweight, though robust, tubular chassis, and a completely functional two-seater body carrying a small racing screen ahead of the driver, and a canopy over the passenger's seat. Many of the mechanical components came from the production Jaguars, but special close-ratio gears were fitted, and of course centre-lock wheels were provided to speed up the pit stops which would be needed in endurance racing. The first C-types retained drum brakes all round - the sensational disc-braked C-type was still two years away. Three cars were entered for Jaguar's first all-out attack at Le Mans, supported by an XK 120, and although only one of the C-types lasted the full 24 hours it finished in the right place - first
First of the Five. Peter Whitehead receives the chequered flag at Le Mans in 1951 in a works entered C-Type. Jaguars were to score again in 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1957 ...
Peter Whitehead and Peter Walker were the victors, at a record 93.49 mph, and Stirling Moss, who shared another car with Jack Fairman, was credited with a new lap record, and was leading the race when he retired with engine trouble, a problem which had earlier eliminated the third C-type. Inevitably, several of the more prominent and avid private owners of XK 120s were soon queueing up for replicas of the Le Mans-winning car, and the factory responded by putting the C-type into limited production.
Unlike some of the Continental manufacturers, the company did not support all the races counting towards the Sports Car Championship, but concentrated instead on those events likely to bring the company the maximum return in prestige and publicity. The Tourist Trophy, of course, was one such race, and in the September Stirling Moss paid a return visit to Dundrod to lead home the team of victorious C- types.
Mercedes Enter The Le Mans Fray
The following year Mercedes-Benz entered the fray with a team of their very rapid 300 SL coupes
, and in an effort to match their speed Jaguar went to Le Mans with their C-types wearing modified bodies with smaller and lower front air intakes and long, sweeping tails. But unfortunately it had not been possible to test the new cars adequately, and the complete team were eliminated early in the race with overheating engines.
Naturally, this was a bitter disappointment for the team, which was only partly offset by Stirling Moss's victory in the poorly supported sports car race at Reims a few weeks later. But Jaguar prestige was restored in August by the announcement that four drivers - Stirling Moss, Leslie Johnson, Jack Fairman and Bert Hadley - had shared the wheel of an XK 120 fixed-head coupe for seven days and nights at Montlhery, outside Paris, and had covered nearly 17,000 miles at an average speed of over 100 mph, breaking several world speed records on the way. This was one of the "special equipment
" XK 120s, which had been announced a few months earlier, and incorporated several high-performance items, including the more powerful engine used in the C-type.
Jaguar's second Le Mans win came in 1953, when the winning C Type drivers were Rolt and Hamilton, thh first to do it averaging over 100 miles per hour ...
After the 1952 Le Mans fiasco
, the factory were determined to avenge their defeat in 1953
, and the C-types which went there wore the original short bodies, although in lighter-gauge metal, but underneath there were important differences. Dunlop disc brakes were fitted to all four wheels, the engines had been given a further 10 bhp by the use of Weber carburetors, and the tubular chassis had been considerably lightened.
This time there had been no mistakes, and the C-types achieved their eatest victory of all, Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton being the first drivers to win Le Mans at over 100 mph (their average was in fact 105.85 mph), and Stirling Moss and Peter Walker taking second place after being slowed with fuel starvation. With the third factory C-type finishing in fourth place, in the hands of Peter Whitehead and lan Stewart, the Jaguar victory was complete. Meanwhile, C-types in private hands continued to do extremely well in less publicised events, and altogether 44 of these cars were built, including the original team cars. The fantastic engine was soon to be seen in another competition Jaguar.
Jaguar had something completely new for the 1954 racing season - the D-type, the company's first car to feature monocoque body-chassis construction. Like the C-type it had torsion-bar independent front susslsion, and at the rear was a live axle with trailing arms and torsion bars. The XK engine had been converted to dry-sump lubrication, and the power output had been further increased to 250 bhp. The new body, with its shallow, oval air intake, slim cockpit with rear head fairing, and nipped-in body sides, was obviously very slippery, but it needed to be to combat the immense power of the 4.9-liter Ferraris, which were to provide the principal opposition at Le Mans, which was still the focal point Jaguar's racing programme for a few years to come.
The Hawthorn-Bueb le Mans victory of 1955 completed the Jaguar hat-trick, but there were few celebrations at the end...
saw one of the wetter 24-hour races, but few people cared about the soaking they were getting as they watched the Ferrari-Jaguar
battle taken right through to the final lap of the race, an unexpected pit stop by the Gonzales-Trintignant Ferrari in the closing minutes bringing the Rolt-Hamilton Jaguar on to the same lap. But the Ferrari was still two and a half minutes in front when the flag was held out at 4 p.m. on the Sunday. Jaguar, it seemed, were destined to win Le Mans only on alternate years, and the pattern was continued through to the 1955 race, when Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb were the victors in a D-type which had sprouted a tail fin behind the cockpit, had no less than 285 bhp beneath the one-piece lift-up front body section (a feature of all C and D-types), and had had its monocoque centre section strengthened by a tubular sub-frame.
But this was the saddest of all victories, following the horrific accident in front of the pits and the crowded enclosures lining the narrow track after just over two hours of racing. Over 80 spectators and the driver Pierre Levegh were killed when the Frenchman's Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR left the course at high speed following a chain reaction along the approach road before the pits.
Daimler-Benz, who were making their return to Le Mans after their successful foray three years earlier, had been engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Jaguar before the tragedy, but Moss and Fangio, paired in their number one car, had pulled out a comfortable lead during the night, and were still there when an order came through from Stuttgart to withdraw the remaining team cars. The Jaguar victory, therefore, was a hollow one this time, though in no way was this a reflection on the D-type's speed and stamina - it had pushed the race record up to over 107 mph!
Success And Expansion Go Hand In Hand
All these victories at Le Mans and elsewhere had helped to keep demand for Jaguar passenger cars booming, particularly in the United States, where the "Jag war
" in its various forms was an equally familiar sight on the race circuits. The XK 120
, and later the XK 140
, were selling so fast that the factory was constantly under pressure to increase production. The Foleshill factory had already been stretched to its limit, and in 1951 the company acquired new premises at Browns Lane, Allesley, on the north-western outskirts of Coventry, and spent the next two years gradually transferring operations to the new site, and streamlining production techniques.
The saloon market was also booming, for the demand which the Mark V had created was, from 1951 on, being met by the first all-new saloon Jaguar to appear since the war-the Mark VII, the impact of which in its own class had been as great as the XK 120's in the sports car field. In the Mark VII the Jaguar stylists achieved a purity of line hitherto not seen in mass production. It was also a large car, designed especially for the space-conscious American public, and of course it shared the XK 120's 3.4-liter twin-overhead-camshaft engine, which made it a genuine 100-mph car. Surprisingly, in view of its considerable bulk, it was to prove a very effective rally car, and even won a number of producction car races, its crowning competition success being as late as 1956, more than five years after its introduction, when Ronnie Adams, Derek Johnston and Frank Bigger took one through to an overall win in the Monte Carlo Rally.
"Run and Jump time"., Five D-Types and an XK 140 chase Stirling Moss' Aston Martin at the start of the 1956 le Mans race. Another Jaguar victory on the way...
Jaguars First Unit Construction Car, And Sir William Lyons Knighthood
But essentially the Mark VII was designed for maximum-performance, maximum-comfort, minimum-effort road use, and as the bulk of producction was heading to the land of two-pedal control, Jaguar offered the Borg-Warner two-speed automatic transmission as an option in 1953
, and were soon fitting it to four out of every five Mark VIIs they built.
The following year another transmission option was announced - Laycock de Normanville overdrive which, coupled to the normal manual gearbox, gave the choice of five speeds - and in 1955 the Mark VII became the Mark VIIM, with closer-ratio gears, firmer suspension, and a number of improvements, including more substantial bumpers and full-width seats. The year 1956
marked yet another important milestone in the Jaguar story.
It was the year of the company's first unit construction passenger car - the 2.4, which was also the first post-war compact Jaguar saloon - and it was the year in which Sir William Lyons received his Knighthood, in recogniition of the vital role he had played since the war in bringing both international prestige and much-needed foreign currency to his country.
The engine of the 2.4 had been developed out of the 3.4-liter XK unit by the simple expedient of reducing its stroke from 106 mm to 76.5 mm to give a displacement of 2,483 cc. In this form the engine produced 112 bhp, which proved sufficient to put the 2.4 neatly into the 100 mph bracket. The torsion bar front suspension system used on other Jaguars had been replaced by a coil spring and wishbone layout, trailing arms and a Panhard rod were used to locate the live rear axle, and the drum brakes were servo-assisted. The four-door saloon, which was the first Jaguar since the war to use a curved one-piece windscreen in place of the two-panel "V" screen, was offered in only one body style - four-door saloon
- but in two standards of trim and equipment, either of which could be obtained with the addition of overdrive to the four-speed gearbox. No automatic transmission option was offered at this stage, but the Mark VIIM was obtainable in 1956
with the three-speed Borg-Warner unit in place of the earlier two-speed unit, and a few months later, when the big Jaguar was given a new radiator, a single front screen and the 210-bhp version of the XK engine, it was redesignated the Mark VIII
Ron Flockhart passes the crowded stands in the victorious D-Type, appropriately numbered 4 for the Jaguars fourth win on the Sarthe circuit since 1951. Flockhart drove for the emerging Ecurie Ecosse private team ...
The Growing Stature Of Ecurie Ecosse
Back on the racing front, the Jaguar effort had been strengthened by the growing stature and success of Ecurie Ecosse, a Scottish motor racing team which had been formed in 1952
, and which had since branched out of local into national events, and then into the full international scene.
The team had been strongly Jaguar-orientated from the start, and although they had operated independently they had an arrangement whereby they were offered first refusal on the purchase of the "retiring" factory cars at the end of each race season. In 1954, therefore, they were running the 1953 C-types, while in 1955 they were able to switch over to the early D-types, replacing them with the later models for the 1956 season.
Good second-handers! Inevitably, the Le Mans disaster had had many repercussions in the racing field, but although the international racing calendar was seriously curtailed, Le Mans itself was unaffected, apart from being run later in the year to enable some of the much-needed circuit modifications made to improve spectator safety.
The factory entered their usual complement of three cars, all of them equipped with fuel injection, while Ecurie Ecosse ran their D-type with carburetors, which gave them a lower top speed but a better fuel consumption. Which was to prove the better solution to the newly imposed maximum fuel load regulations was never really tested, because the works cars were in trouble almost before the race had begun. Two of them were eliminated on the second lap in a multiple crash beyond the Esses, fortunately no-one being injured, and the third was a fault in a fuel line, which put the car right out of the running.
Hawthorn and Bueb were able to fight it back up to sixth place at the finish. With the factory cars out of the running it was left to Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson to take on and beat the Ferraris and Aston Martins, which they did after an exciting battle, the Moss-Collins Aston Martin finishing less than a lap behind at the end of the 24 hours. The factory, meanwhile, had been considering retiring from active participation in motor racing, their six years of operating team cars estimated to have cost £650,000, having more than achieved its objective of boosting sales of Jaguar production cars. If they were to continue in the sport they would have to expend a lot more time and manpower they could no longer afford, for more new models were on the way, and the development of these was already demanding the full-time attention of people who had also been involved in the competition side. The withdrawal announcement was made at the end of the 1956 season, but once again Ecurie Ecosse bought the Le Mans cars, and were to return to France with them to gain more honours in 1957, when Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb shared the winning car, which used a 3.8-liter engine for the first time, with Sanderson and Lawrence taking second place in a 3.4 liter version.
Jaguars endurance race victories were not confined to Le Mans. Pictured here is the Hawthorn-Walters D-Type heading for victory in the 1955 Sebring 12 Hours...
With the withdrawal of the factory team Ecurie Ecosse expanded their international race programme, and took in the majority of the classic sports car races, scoring several other important successes in 1957 and in succeeding years until dwindling funds caused them to gradually contract and eventually to terminate their racing activities. Like the C-type, the D-type had been put into limited production, and there was even a demand - mainly from America - for a road-going version of the Le Mans winner. The Jaguar engineers, ever willing to oblige, came up with a neatly upholstered version, fully equipped with full-width screen, side windows, bumpers and all other regulation items, and called it the XK SS, but unfortunately, after a few had and sold, the XK SS became a victim of the disastrous £5-million factory fire of February 1957, which destroyed a third of the companies manufacturing facilities, though fortunately not the machine shops.
But as with an earlier fire shortly after the war, a superhuman effort by the fire-fighters, the Jaguar employees and their component suppliers got the production lines flowing again with scarcely a break, even though many cars were lost in the costly disaster. Fortunately, although the fire killed off the XK SS, the even more exciting, and immeasurably more saleable E-type was already on the drawing board. But this, the most beautiful of all Jaguar sports cars, was not due until 1961, and in the intervening period the XK series underwent its second face-lift, to become the XK 150
in 1957. It was sold in drop-head and fixed-head coupe forms, with a choice of 190 and 210 bhp 3.4-liter engines, the main styling changes from the XK 140 being a squatter and wider radiator grille, and a one-piece curved screen behind a wider engine compartment. Automatic transmission, which had been intrduced a few months earlier on the XK 140, was offered as an alternative to the four-speed manual gearbox, with or without overdrive, and as before a special equipment version was listed, the "goodies" in this case including Dunlop disc brakes inboard of centre-lock wire road wheels.
The same year saw the introduction of another new model - the 3.4, which was based on the 2.4 but fitted with the 210-bhp version of the 3.4-liter engine. A wider grille and circumferential, rather than all-over rear wheel covers identified it from the smaller-engined car, and it was not long before it began to appear in rallies and production-car races. In 1958 both the 2.4 and 3.4 saloons were available for the first time with disc brakes, and the 2.4 could also be bought with automatic transsmission, while the XK 150
was listed in open-two-seater form. Since the previous year the factory had been turning out a 3.8-liter version of the XK engine for competition purposes, the extra displacement having been obtained by increasing the cylinder bore to 87 mm, giving 3,781 cc and developing over 300 bhp.
The most exciting Jaguar road car of all, the XK SS, developed from the racing D-Types, was a victim of the £5 million factory fire in 1957 ...
On the other hand, modifications to the international sports car race regulations had restricted displacement to 3 liters for championship events, and so Jaguar also had to put through a rush programme of modified 3.4-liter engines, with the stroke reduced to 92 mm to give a displacement of 2,986 cc, the engines in this form giving just over 250 bhp. These were used widely during the following year, not only in D-types, but also in the widening range of specialist sports cars which were relying on Jaguar power for their performance-cars like the very succcessful Lister, the Cooper, the Tojeiro and the HWM.
The 3-liter engine, of course, was strictly a competition exercise, but the 3.8-liter was scheduled for general production, and it was introduced at the end of 1958 in passenger car form as the power unit of the Mark VIII's
replacement, the even more luxurious Mark IX, which also featured disc brakes all round and power-assisted steering. A few months later Jaguar's sports car customers were offered the XK 150S, with a high-performance cylinder head with triple SU carburetors, and limited-slip differential, the new car being available in both 3.4 and 3.8-liter forms, and for 1960 the smaller saloons were given an improved specification and reclassified Mark II. Two important modifications were a wider rear track to improve stability and the use of disc brakes as standard equippment, while the body, though basically unchanged, had a wider rear window to increase visibility, and a modified grille.
The power of the 2.4 engine was stepped up to 120 bhp, the 3.4 remained at 210 bhp, and a 3.8 Mark II was introduced, with the 220-bhp engine already used in the Mark IX. The 3.8, which had a limited-slip differential as standard, immediately became the main force in saloon car racing, and scored victory after victory in international events in skilled private hands, until ultimately overshadowed by the big American saloons and the highly-tuned racing lightweights. These saloon car successes did much to keep the Jaguar name in the racing spotlight after the fantastically successful Le Mans era came to a close when Flockhart and Bueb won for Ecurie Ecosse in 1957. For some years it had been Jaguar policy to record the Le Mans victories in the name badges on their road cars, and the badge designer had to use all his skill and artistry to record no less than five successes in the space of seven years-1951, 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1957!
The Acquisition Of Daimler
The year 1960 brought another important milestone in the Jaguar story with the acquisition of the Daimler
Company Ltd., which not only gave Sir William Lyons control of one of the most famous names in motoring history, but also gave him some much-needed additional manufacturing capacity in Coventry, for with Jaguar production running at the rate of over 20,000 units per year the Brown Lane factory, which had seemed so roomy only a few years before, was already at the limit of its resources. Furthermore, Jaguar were on the eve of their most exciting model announcement to date - the E-type
As with the SSI, the SS100, and the XK 120 before it, the new car set entirely new standards of sports car performance and value. Clearly inspired by the racing D-types, the car was based on a stressed-steel centre section with boxed strengthening members, with a tubular sub-frame at the front to carry the 265 bhp 3.8-liter engine (as used in the XK 150S), front suspension and steering assemblies. The suspension was independently sprung all round, by torsion bars and wishbones at the front, and by a novel system of double coil springs (one each side of the axle case), radius arms and transverse links at the rear. The disc brakes were mounted inboard at the rear, the brake system having divided circuits as in racing practice, the steering was by rack-and-pinion, and a power-lock differential was standardised.
Two body styles were offered - an open two-seater with optional detachhable hardtop, and an ultra-smooth fastback fixed-head coupe, which was to be the GT style-setter of the sixties. It looked every inch the 150 mph road car which it was, and of course to this day it remains one of the world's most desirable sports cars, and inevitably has enjoyed a most successful racing career, even without the impetus of factory participation to boost its development. The racing 'know-how' is built'in.
1961 was indeed a momentous year for the company, for no sooner had the motoring world recovered from the impact of the E-Type than it was bowled over again by the announcement of the Mark X saloon
, yet another styling achievement without parallel - a car with that millionaire look, and beneath the sheet metal an equally exciting mechanical specification, including the E-Type's 3.8-liter engine and all-round independent suspension system. By European standards it was a big car, but it was the right size of package for the American buyer at whom it was particularly aimed, and who was quick to accept it. Another success.
The Aquisition Of Guy Motors and Coventry Climax Engines
With two outstanding newcomers in the range, the Jaguar company could afford to move on to another period of consolidation, during which time it acquired both Guy Motors Ltd., the truck and bus company, and Coventry Climax Engines Ltd., whose products had been linked with so many racing successes over the previous decade. The latter acquisition was to prove invaluable in the long-term preparation of some exciting new Jaguar products, some of which have yet to hit the streets and the newspaper headlines.
Independent rear suspension was soon proving an attractive sales feature of the Mark X, and at the end of 1963 Jaguar offered it in a smaller package size with the announcement of the 3.4S and 3.8S saloons, based on their Mark II models. Apart from the improved rear suspension, and the extra ride comfort and stability which went with it, the "S" also offered greatly increased luggage space (one of the shortcomings of the earlier models), more interior room, and improved seating and ventilation equipment. A year later the cause of another minor criticism of Jaguar cars-the weak synchromesh of the manual gearbox-was removed with the introduction of a new production gearbox, which also extended synchromesh to bottom gear for the first time, the new box being stanndardised throughout the Jaguar range within a few months.
In 1964 came another development in the long and successful career of the XK engine when the 3.8-liter unit was given a bore increase to 92.07 mm to bring the displacement up to 4,235 cc, and was first used at the end of the year to power revised versions of the Mark 10 (the "X" nomenclature was dropped at the same time) and the E-type. Earlier in the year competition customers had been delighted to learn that a limited number of special light-weight E-types were to be made to special order (about 15 were built all told), the list of available equipment including light-alloy cylinder block and head, Lucas petrol injection, lightweight suspension with competition geometry, wider wheels, magnesium body panels, and choice of four or five-speed gearbox, any permutations of which could be specified.
Only detail improvements were announced during 1965, mainly involving the Mark 11 and S-types, but early in 1966 E-type customers who might have been starting families were wooed by a new 2+2 version, which would take up to two children on a rear seat ingeniously built into a slightly taller and longer version of the fixed-head coupe body, the new car being identifiable by a more upright front screen and a plated flash along the body sides just below the windows. The additional wheelbase required for this model also allowed automatic transmission to be fitted to the E-type for the first time.
Parked side by side, it is easy to see which car inspired the E-Type ...
In the year 1966 the 420 was introduced - a new model designed to bridge the gap between the "S" and the Mark 10. The company took the "S" body, restyled it from the windscreen forwards along the lines of the Mark 10, dropped in a twin-carburetor version of the 4.2-liter engine, developing 245 bhp in place of the 255 bhp of the three-carburetor verrsion used in the Mark 10, and offered the same transmission option as on the larger car. The 420 could also be bought with variable-ratio power-assisted steering, which had earlier been introduced on the Mark 10. The introduction of the 420 marked the beginning of Jaguar's changing policy of car identification, and the Mark 10 was also renamed the 420G, and given a new radiator grille to mark the occasion.
In 1967 the name-changing was extended to the Mark II's, which became known as the 240 and 340, the 3.8-liter version being discontinued in September of that year. At the same time, both of the surviving models were listed with Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission as an option, and the 2.4-liter engine was given a straight-port cylinder head, twin carburetors and dual exhaust system similar to that developed for the E-type, raising power to 133 bhp. The Jaguar range of cars was now well spread through the luxury saloon and sports car markets. There were the 240 and 340 saloons, the 3.4 and 3.8-liter S-types, all four models being available with three transmission options - manual, manual with overdrive, and automatic - then came the 420 and 420G, both in manual or automatic form, and for the sports car enthusiast the three versions of the 4.2-liter E-type, the 2+2 being available with automatic transmission if required.
But the company - with all its subsidiaries - was again on the verge of history-making. In 1966 it had amalgamated with the giant British Motor Corporation to become an integral part of British Motor Holdings, and early in 1968 BMH were merged with the Leyland Group to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation, Britain's largest car-manufacturing complex by far, and one of the biggest in the world. The XJ6 followed, it being in the pipeline well before the British Leyland merger came about, for which Lord Stokes, the chief executive of BLMC, must have been very thankful. He needed an important new car to stimulate public interest in the new combine during its first very testing year, and the XJ6 did the job admirably, becoming a star of the 1968 Earls Court motor show.
There was just a suspicion of disappointment that the new car was not accompanied by a brace of Vee engines, as had been rumoured, but this development was only temporarily deferred, and meanwhile, the XJ6 had two outstanding power units in the well-known 4.2-liter twin overhead camshaft 'six', and a new, lighter weight 2.8-liter version developed from the 3-liter racing XK engine, which would have been introduced several years earlier had Jaguar gone ahead with their proposed return to sports car racing.
The 3-liter engine originally had been designed with a bore of 85 mm and stroke of 86 mm, and with the aid of fuel injection to produce 300 bhp at 6750 rpm. But the XJ6's requirements were very different, the emphasis being on high torque and low fuel consumption. There was also the problem of high taxation and insurance rates in certain European countries, and for this reason the displacement was reduced to 2,792 cc. (Conveniently close to the 2.8 liter barrier) by reducing both the bore and stroke by 2 mm. In this form, with a 9 to 1 compression ratio and twin SU carburetters, the engine delivered 180 bhp at 6,000 rpm, compared with the 245 bhp at 5,500 rpm of the 4.2-liter engine.A very adaptable engine!
Both versions of the Jaguar XJ6 were available with automatic transmission by Borg-Warner, the 2.8-liter having the Type 35 three-speed, and the 4.2-liter the larger Model 8 three-speed unit, and manual-transmission cars could be fitted with Laycock de Normanville overdrive, controlled by a switch recessed neatly into the top of the floor-mounted gear shift.
A Special Kind Of Motoring That No Other Car In The World Can Offer
Over the years Jaguar used many different slogans with which to advertise its products, but perhaps the most fitting was the justifiable claim that Jaguar cars provide "a special kind of motoring that no other car in the world can offer
". This was the foundation on which their success was built. The Jaguar story continued into shaky times in the 1970's and 1980's, however too many were too quick to write the company off, and these days their reputation remains untarnished as a high quality vehicle manufacturer, taking the fight up to the metal coming from Germany.