Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Sketch on a Cigarette Pack Led to the Classic Jaguar XK Auto Car Series

Author: Terry Z. Voster

The legendary Jaguar XE series of fine motor cars was directly developed from the inspiration of Jaguar engineers on a rooftop watching their city of Birmingham England being bombed from the sky during the darkest days of World War II.

These engineers sketched the plans for what became the legendary Jaguar engine amazingly and simply on cigarette box carton. . This new engine was so good it became the standard that went on to become the stock Jaguar powerplant for the next 30 years. The best words that best describe this classic engine are - efficient, smooth and powerful. Indeed it was one a mechanical genius, Harry Weslake, who provided the key to the design - a light weight alloy cylinder head with dual cams and angled valves in a hemispherical combustion chamber. The final marvelous touch of genius were the two SU carburetors fed the 3.5 liter straight six, producing a 160 horse power

The new Jaguar was so good that it deserved a whole new car to be designed and built around it. The engineering felt that the motor was so exceptional it needed its own automobile - one worthy of such a powerplant. Otherwise it was if their work had been wasted. 1948 became the release date of this project. What emerged and created a storm from automobile enthusiasts was a low slung car body mounted at was then a fairly standard box-frame chassis. Independent front suspension was by torsion bars and the solid rear axle was by torsion springs. With all the power and effect the final finishing touches that were almost essential were 12 inch diameter drum brakes. Indeed the Jaguar XK120 was timed at a top test speed of 132 miles per hour

Of course the Jaguar XK proved to be a major hit - especially in the lucrative American export market. At a $ 4,000 sticker price 90 % of factory output was exported outside Britain - most of it to the American automobile market. It did not hurt the reputation and sales of the Jaguar .XK series that the car proved to be a killer on the Le Mans auto racing circuits. It was the Jaguars that were to become the inspiration for the classic "sports cars" that were to come - especially the venerable Chevrolet Corvette and Stingray.

The Jaguar line grew and evolved further with each racing win. In 1954 the next step occurred -The classic 1948 era Jaguar XE120 was replaced by what was to become a short lived production run model - the XK140. Disc brakes had made a great impression on the Jaguar racing team crews - including car design team as well as the actual drivers. Along with this went "unitary construction" a major upgrade and update from the former hefty chassis being applied from Jaguar cars from 1955 onwards.

Still the venerable motor based on the cigarette pack sketches lived on with the introduction of the next phase - the XKE Jaguar. Along with that 3.8 liter what then was a major innovation then - electric fans, which were added after exceptional results on the racing circuits with Jaguar as well as other racing cars. The XKE was considered at the time to be the sleekest automobile body shape seen anywhere and at anytime on the globe. Performance was considered mind numbing - 150 miles per hour top speed with 0 to 100 miles per hour in an extraordinary 16 seconds. A driver could accelerate from 0 to 130 miles per hour in less than 30 seconds.

It is no accident that the Jaguar XK series has gone on to be an automobile classic - both in terms of innovative styling, performance and handling.

About the Author:
Terry Z. Voster Metro Services Winnipeg Winnipeg Pre-Owned Auto Financing Manitoba Pre-Owned Luxury Car Clubs.

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