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

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 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!