Showing posts with label Jaguar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jaguar. Show all posts

Jaguar MKII

Jaguar MKII 1950s British classic car

The Jaguar MKII was one of the great all-rounders. Pretty much anything you wanted from a car, it could do. So versatile was the 'MKII Jag' that both cops and robbers fell in love with it! That was understandable. The top-spec 3.8 version - with manual overdrive - was good for 125mph. And, with no speed limit on British roads at the time, you could make the most of that number - whichever side of the law you were on. Not that observing speed limits would have been top of the robbers' list of priorities, of course! For all that, the MKII Jag was also the ideal commuter car - for the business class. As refined as you like when it wanted to be, the MKII would transport its well-heeled occupants with ease. The MKII Jaguar, then, was all things to all men. It was also affordably-priced.

It was not long before the movie studios came calling. The MKII played a cameo rĂ´le in Performance - alongside James Fox and Mick Jagger. And starred in Get Carter - in which it was hard on the tail of Michael Caine. On TV, Inspector Morse would not be seen in anything else. Such sashaying across screens did sales figures no harm at all. 83,980 MKIIs were built. At racetracks, too, the Jag played a leading part. In saloon car showdowns, it was highly competitive. Indeed, racing driver Graham Hill - as well as Lotus boss Colin Chapman - both owned MKIIs.

Certainly, the car was beautiful to behold. Designer William Lyons - or, Mr. Jaguar, as he was affectionately known - had seen to that. And that, really, was the reason for its popularity. Stock-broker or law-breaker - in a MKII, you looked like $1,000,000, either way! The car had Sir William's styling stamped all over it. Inside, the leather seats, wooden dash and door cappings all displayed Lyons' keen eye for design detail. As did the dial- and switch-encrusted facia. On the engineering front, the MKII used tried and tested Jaguar technology. Its straight-six 3.8-litre XK engine delivered 220bhp. For a while, that made the MKII the quickest saloon car around. Technically, it was released in '59 - though it will always be synonymous with the '60s. As was the Mini - that other Sixties automotive icon. Instantly recognisable, the MKII helped define its times. In other words, the Jaguar MKII was as cast-iron a classic as cars come!

Jaguar XJ 220

Jaguar XJ 220 1990s British supercar

The Jaguar XJ 220 parts-list seemed more suited to aerospace than automobiles. The body was made from bonded-aluminium honeycomb. Its aerodynamics came straight out of Group C racing. The result was cerebellum-splitting acceleration. '220' stood for its mph top speed. Jim Randle - Jaguar's chief engineer - conceived the car. Thereafter, he coaxed a few colleagues into spending Saturdays on the XJ project. To begin with, at any rate, we are talking spare-time supercar!

The XJ's race credentials were clear to see. Keith Helfet's svelte bodywork was just for starters. A 5-speed transaxle ran through an AP clutch. Alloy wheels were centre-locking - for speedy wheel changes. Hefty brakes had 4-piston calipers. Suspension was wishbone/inboard. Output was 500bhp. In theory, at least, though, the XJ was a roadster. Jaguar teamed up with TWR - to found JaguarSport. A production facility was built - in Bloxham, Oxfordshire. In total, 350 XJs rolled out of it. Each with a price tag of £403,000.

When the prototype appeared - at the '88 Birmingham Motor Show - it had triggered a tidal wave of excitement. Jaguar were besieged by orders. But when the supercar bubble burst, panic had set in. Suddenly, lawyers were overloaded with cases - as over-eager buyers tried to wriggle off the car's high-priced hook. The Jaguar XJ 220 story - which began in Whitley, West Midlands - morphed into something more suited to Hollywood! What started as a sideline - to keep boffins' brains busy - turned into a study in Eighties excess.

Jaguar D-Type

Jaguar D-Type 1950s British classic sports racing car

In the mid-Fifties, the Jaguar D-Type was motor racing's top dog. It won consective Le Mans 24 hour races - in '55, '56 and '57. At the '57 event - come the chequered flag - D-Types occupied five of the first six places. Fair to say, then, it was their day. Not only that - but they were all privateer entries. It would seem the famous French circuit was a second home to Jaguar at the time. Silverstone, of course, being their primary stamping-ground.

As was apt, the Jaguar C-Type blazed the trail. 'C' stood for Competition. Jaguar turned to their XK120 sports car. It was a proven success - on both road and track. William Lyons was boss at Jaguar. He opined that - when it came to racing - pure production cars could no longer cut it. A dedicated Jaguar motorsport division was required. As a result, a race-spec body kit was grafted onto the XK120 chassis. The C-Type subsequently won twice at Le Mans. In doing so, it demonstrated its new-fangled disc brakes were the way to go. The race department was paying for itself already!

The D-Type was Jaguar's first full-on racer. It hit the grid in '54. From the get-go, it was clear Jaguar had been busy. The flowing curves of its bodywork came courtesy of Malcolm Sayer. The stabilising fin at the rear looked like it had been lifted from a land speed record car. Beneath it sat a 'monocoque' chassis. Disc brakes were fitted all-round. They had been jointly developed by Jaguar and Dunlop. The front-mounted 6-cylinder engine fed 250bhp to the rear wheels. Top speed was 175mph. In the '54 Le Mans race, a D-Type harried a Ferrari all the way to the flag. Though Ferrari fended it off, it had a much bigger motor. When it came to the 'press conference', Jaguar no doubt chalked that up as a moral victory! The D-Type was still available to privateer drivers, and race wins were duly recorded around the world. Coventry, England was Jaguar HQ. The city was now well and truly on the automotive map. The D-Type was a racer, rather than a roadster. To that extent, it changed motor racing. No longer were competition cars within easy reach of the average driver. Motor racing would become less accessible. Few cars, then, have moved motorsport on more dramatically than the Jaguar D-Type!

Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type 1960s British classic sports car

The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most recognisable sports cars of all time. Logically enough, its shell was derived from the D-Type. A production racer, par excellence, the D-Type had been a multiple Le Mans 24 Hours winner. In large part, that was due to its slippery shape. Like its forebear, the E-Type cleaved quickly through air. After all, it pretty much wrote the book on long, low and sleek. Road-holding was also a forte. Notwithstanding its cross-ply tyres being Kate Moss thin, hard cornering induced nary a wobble. The E-Type was a technological trendsetter. Its unibody construction helped make it lighter and more robust than the competition. Its disc brakes - and all-round independent suspension set-up - made it safer and more agile. A rack-and-pinion steering system only ramped up the car's smiles per mile quotient.

The E-Type was a Sixties icon. Anyone who was anyone wanted one … as well as many who were not. Rock stars and footballers were especially susceptible to its charms. The E-Type, though, transcended celebrity. When exhibited at NY's Museum of Modern Art, it became a design classic in its own right. Malcolm Sayer was the man who had drawn such illustrious bodywork. Built in Coventry, England, E-Type production lasted from '61 to '75. On the day of its launch, no less a critic than Enzo Ferrari described it as 'the most beautiful car ever made'. A string of prestigious automotive publications found themselves agreeing with him. Doubtless, MoMA had taken note.

E-Type power was provided by Jaguar's 3.8-litre XK engine. Though a bit long in the tooth, even then, the venerable motor could still pack a punch. The gracefully rising contours of the E-Type's bonnet were practical - as well as aesthetic. They were there, first and foremost, to accommodate the dimensions of the XK. The resulting top speed was around 150mph. 0-65 mph came up in less than 7s. The Jaguar E-Type, then, merged cooler than cool lines with prodigious poke. A shortlist of items defining 'Swinging London' would simply have to include the 'E-Type Jag', darling!