This year, Jaguar celebrate two big birthdays for some of their most iconic vehicles. Marked by events up and down the country throughout the year, both of the UKs major Jaguar clubs are coming together in Scotland this September for a final flurry of celebrations at the Bo’ness Revival Hillclimb held on the Kinneil Estate over the weekend of 1st-2nd September. We thought in honour of that, we would take a look at the stories and the cars behind two iconic marques and that all used Duckhams oil back in period.
The compact, elegant and sporty Mark 2 saloon created great success for Jaguar up until the XJ series’ arrival in 1968. But at that time, Jaguar was still very much seen as a predominantly sporting marque.
Exactly 50 years ago however, the introduction of the XJ6 saloon would start to change all that, firstly by re- establishing Jaguar as predominantly a maker of large executive saloons.
Up until the XJ6 arrival, Jaguar’s saloon range was a little disparate and confusing, going from one extreme to other. On one end of the scale they had the small, compact Mark 2 and on the other, the vast limousine like Jaguar MkX / 420G. The engineering however that underpinned the 420G was sound and that was transferred into a new generation of sleeker and more modestly proportioned saloon cars. Think of Jaguar today and you’ll imagine the refined ride, silky smooth engine and luxurious interiors – the XJ6 was the car that really built that reputation. Furthermore, as Sir William Lyons personally oversaw its development, it set the design cues that would last for nearly half a century.
Following the Series 1 launch in 1968, Jaguar’s XJ6 quickly gained worldwide admiration and popularity with those that enjoyed its low, sleek and purposeful stance propelled by its robust straight six XK engine. Later a more powerful, but no less smooth and refined 5.3 litre V12 version was also made available. The V12 Jaguar XJ6 (the XJ12) featured heavily in Duckhams advertising during its launch and Duckhams Q20w-50 was the recommended oil brand for maintenance fills.
The Series 2 came along in 1973 with a host of design changes including the introduction of a stunningly proportioned “pillarless coupe” version which was produced in limited numbers until 1977 and today remains once of the most valuable in the XJ range. There was a Series 3 that followed with a distinctly sharper and more modernised design before the car entered a new era with the arrival of the code named XJ40 style cars.
The XJ40 cars had been in the making since the late 1970s, but the Jaguar loving public had to wait until 1986 to get the all -new cat. The fresh package included more squared off styling, rectangular “fish tank” headlights for the luxurious Sovereign and Daimler versions, a new independent rear suspension arrived as did a new set of modernised twin overhead cam six-cylinder engines.
By the time the 1990s arrived, these engines had been developed yet further still with 3.9 and 4.0 litre versions, the later offering whopping 221 BHP. If you thought that was impressive power though, more was yet to come.
Combining the standard cars new electronic engine and gearbox systems with “Sport” modes plus some tuning to the punchy 4.0 litre engine plus a little sporty body kit styling on top – the XJR version was born in 1989 to reinforce Jaguar’s sporting potential. It was to be the last of the cars from the independent Jaguar era because by 1994 Ford had taken over the British company and a new XJ6, code named the X300 had been developed under Ford at a cost of £200 million.
The X300 model represented a saloon car that retained the old styling cues and curves harking back to the Series 3 but wrapped subtly into a high-quality modern vehicle that arguably paved the way for Jaguar’s success today. The model range ticked all the boxes as well, the basic six-cylinder 3.2 litre was complimented by the Sovereign and Sport models in both 3.2 and 4.0 litre guises plus the XJ12, Daimler Double Six and XJR versions. The XJ6 (X300) was given gentle styling updates in 1997, with more rounded features and a revised interior but crucially a switch the all-aluminium V8.
Jaguar utilised this smooth and powerful AJV8 power unit in its 3.2 litre and 4.0 versions again with the option of the Long wheelbase, Daimler Super V8, Sport or Sovereign models and later the Executive. However, with the arrival of the supercharged version, the newest XJR, Jaguar had created the fastest production saloon car the world had ever seen. With an astonishing 370 BHP, the V8 powered XJR far outstripped what anything from Germany was capable of in terms of performance at the time, including the BMW M series. These XJs had successfully taken the model into the new century.
In 2003, again under the investment and development of Ford, the XJ6 returned with an all new, all aluminium bodyshell – the first for the company in mass production. The engine selection was huge and initially the car was badged XJ6 for the 3.0 litre V6 versions or XJ8 for the 3.5 or 4.2 V8 versions. By 2005, V6 Diesel engines had arrived and from the very beginning, the car featured all the technology required to impress modern buyers even if the retention of the rather retro looks failed to win over the new, younger owners that the company desperately needed.
Today though the XJ series has completely thrown off the shackles of traditional Jaguar styling and the latest iteration, first launched back in 2010 marks an entirely new era for the Jaguar saloon. It is unlikely that the XJ model will ever return to being one of the main mass-produced models in the manufacturers line up, but with styling from Ian Callum the car has found an entirely new and excited audience. The XJR option remains, now with a stonking great supercharged 5.0 litre V8.
The XK120 was the first sports car of the post-war era for Jaguar. They had ceased production of the SS100 in 1940 and dropped the SS name, derived from Swallow Sidecars, for obvious reasons. It was a rapid departure from the cars that came before, with its aerodynamic body design and gorgeous curves. Intended as an eye-catching prototype to show off the company’s new XK engine development, Jaguar head honcho William Lyons had never planned to put it into production. However, at the London Motor Show in 1948, it caused an absolute sensation and he was persuaded to begin production.
The new engine, a 3.6 litre 160bhp straight six quickly captured schoolboy dreams with its brutal power delivery and raucous snarling acceleration. It wasn’t just all noise either, at the time, the Jaguar XK120 was the fastest production car in the world. This accolade was proven on the mythical Jabbeke to Ostend highway in Belgium, when the car was timed to have achieved an average speed of over 132.6mph. By 1953, Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis had even managed to take a modified version up to 172.412 mph! An XK120 even won the 1954 NASACR series in America which presumably worried a few people, because non-US built cars were subsequently outlawed from entering!
The XK120 is arguably where Jaguar’s sports car bloodline really began and when Jaguar designer, Malcolm Sayer got his hands on the XK120, he put his aeronautical expertise to good effect to create a re-bodied, all aluminium version for racing, called the XK120C or better known as the C-Type. C-Types proved to be real weapons in motorsport racking up no less than two wins at Le Mans and sporting a new innovation for the period – disc brakes.
The XK140 followed as a development of the XK120 and C Type. This offered more space in the cockpit and styling refinements included bigger bumpers, over-riders, turn signals that flashed and a slightly different grille. Significant also, was the badging. Get up close to one of these cars and you will see the text “Winner Le Mans 1951 – 3” behind the enamel. Indeed, the C Type cylinder head was an optional extra that would, if added, increase the power to 210 BHP! Pretty impressive for 1954 when this car was introduced.
In 1957, the next iteration of the XK arrived. At first glance the successor to the XK140 looked fairly similar with a striking family resemblance. In fact, it was a radically revised and a much more modern car.
The split screen had gone, the doors were full height and you could wind up the windows! The car was also graced with the innovative new disc brake invention upfront and its wider dimensions afforded the occupants yet more cabin comfort and space. More of a grand tourer than an out and out sports car, the XK150 represented a slight shift in character for the XK range. Nonetheless, the engine was developed and offered in 3.4 litre or 3.8 litre variants.
In the USA, the XK denomination remained with what the UK market referred to as the E-Type, being called the XKE across the Atlantic. The now famous and revered XK engine that had been so proudly unveiled by William Lyons in 1948 found further fame with more Le Mans wins with the D Type and the engine was used throughout the lifespan of the E Type which was replaced by the XJS in 1975. The XK name on a car wouldn’t appear again until 1996 when the XK8 was launched. The XK8 was heralded as the long-awaited replacement for the E Type but in fact was a very capable sports grand tourer featuring a V8 engine. The XK8 remained in production until 2006 when Ian Callum’s design studio at Jaguar announced the “Jaguar XK” with a new generation V8 engine. Facelifted in 2009 the car’s popularity remained until it was eventually discounted in 2014 to make way for the forthcoming F Type.
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