Jaguar

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WALL ART

JAGUAR XJ6 SERIES 1-3

YEARS MADE

1968-87

NUMBER MADE

281,176

ORIGINAL PRICE

£1797 (2.8 in 1968)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

2792-4235cc, six-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

205bhp (Series 3, 4235cc)

FASTEST VERSION

131mph (Series 3, 4235cc)

BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY

18mpg (Series 1, 2792cc)

WHEELBASE

2765-2865mm

LENGTH

4816-4951mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

5

 

 

JAGUAR MK2

YEARS MADE

1955-69

NUMBER MADE

128,619

ORIGINAL PRICE

£1529 (2.4-litre in 1956)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

2493-3781cc, six-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

220bhp (3781cc)

 

FASTEST VERSION

125mph (3781cc)

 

BEST OVERALL FUEL

ECONOMY

23mpg (240, 2493cc)

 

WHEELBASE

2718-2730mm

 

LENGTH

4559-4597mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

5

JAGUAR E-TYPE

YEARS MADE

1961-75

NUMBER MADE

72,507

ORIGINAL PRICE

£2096 (in 1961)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

3781-4235cc, six-cylinder; 5343cc, V12-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

272bhp (V12)

FASTEST VERSION

150mph (V12)

BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY

18mpg (3.8-litre Series 1 coupé)

WHEELBASE

2438-2667mm

LENGTH

4453-4783mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

2 or 2+2

 

 

 

 

When Jaguar launched the XJ6, it rewrote the luxury car rulebook. Not with anything radical, mind: the XJ6 was a conventional saloon, front-engined, rear-driven, coil-sprung; but by masterful fine-tuning.

Jaguar combined standards of ride comfort, silence, handling and roadholding – qualities previously thought irreconcilable in a luxury car – that eclipsed Europe’s best and set the pace for two decades. On its plump tyres, specially designed for it by Dunlop, this new British world-beater would out-manoeuvre Jaguar’s own E-type and beat Rolls-Royce for ride quality. It had beauty too, a feline aggression that proved amazingly enduring.

Initially using the proven six-cylinder XK engine (a V12-powered XJ12 arrived in 1972) most XJ6s were automatic, all had power steering and Jaguar built some with a short-stroke 2.8-litre engine to beat European tax laws. Like all previous Jags, the XJ6 was a bargain, often undercutting comparable Mercedes models by 50 per cent.

The XJ6 wasn’t perfect, of course. Standards of build looked pretty flaky by the time the facelifted Series III came along in 1979. But in March 1980, John Egan was appointed to ‘fix’ Jaguar. As his quality drive took hold, flagging sales were arrested, and Jaguar enjoyed a spectacular privatisation and stock market floatation in 1984. The very last of these XJs, an XJ12, was built in 1992; wistful aficionados regarded it as the last of the old-style Jags.

 

The question anyone might reasonably ask while drooling over the lithe, chrome-encrusted and leather-lined Jaguar Mk2 in our illustration, is: “What about the Mk1?”

There is no Mk1, of course. That's a retrospective title applied to the Jaguar 2.4-litre, introduced in 1955 – the first Jaguar with unitary-construction instead of a separate chassis.

It looked rather slug-like with its tapering tail and 'spats' sealing the rear wheels (4in closer together than the fronts) into the bodywork. It had sporty handling but was fairly heavy and, because of that, its engine felt gutless. Stung into reaction, Jaguar created a 3.4-litre rendition, effectively installing the power unit from its D-type racer. It could manage 120mph, sensational in 1957, but 210bhp through a narrow back axle together with drum brakes made for a frightening machine if driven hard.

None of which should have boded well for Jaguar. Yet the Mk2 revealed in 1959 sorted the drawbacks and emerged as an unlikely all-time great.

The fundamental handling problems were fixed with a widened rear track, new back axle, revised suspension and standard disc brakes all round. Meanwhile, a masterful facelift produced slimmer roof pillars and larger, more graceful windows.

The company felt confident enough to offer a 3.8-litre engine too, conjuring up the ultimate 1960s sports saloon, a blistering 125mph performer. Renamed 240 and 340 (the 3.8 was axed) in 1967, the cars survived two more years.

 

There’s something almost emotional about the shape of any E-type. Sexy, certainly. No wonder when Frank Sinatra saw one, he said: “I want that car and I want it now!”

In 1961, the E-type was an instant classic, an exercise in cool aerodynamic theory completed with unashamed showmanship. It was the era’s most beautiful roadster and, at over 140mph, by far Britain’s fastest production car. Moreover, it undercut its nearest rival, Aston Martin’s DB4, by a third.

That curvy shape, inspired by the Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-type racer, covered an immensely strong frame, and wishbone and coil spring independent suspension gave limo ride comfort with leech-like roadholding. The 3.8-litre XK engine was well worthy of the new chassis, the clunky four-speed gearbox a little less so.

In 1964, a bigger 4.2 engine offered extra torque. Gearbox, brakes and cockpit were all improved, making the 4.2 Series 1 E the best of the bunch. A roomier two-plus-two version followed in 1966 and optional automatic transmission. But by the time the Series II was launched in 1968, emission controls demanded by North American legislation had smothered its power so that, by 1970, the car was a shadow of its snarling former self.

The final Series III introduced Jaguar’s awesome V12 engine. It was deliciously smooth and very fast once again even if its softer, fatter body shape lacked the original E’s fierce beauty.

 

 

 

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