The British Daimler Motor Company (as opposed to the better-known German one) was one of the most venerable names in automobile history, tracing its roots back to 1896, and with a long-standing Royal warrant, amongst Britain’s most prestigious. Part of the Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) Group, a combine which incorporated military hardware, cars, commercials and motorcyles, by the mid 1950s the carmaking side of the business was starting to struggle against rising costs and stronger competition.
When Sir William Lyons made his hectic dash to Browns Lane to begin stylistic work for the S-Type facelift in October 1965, it was not only the act of a true autocrat, but one who was coming face to face with some home truths.
During the early 1960s, Jaguar had expanded, diversifying into commercial vehicles, encompassing trucks, buses and forklifts. These were, on the face of things, sound, viable businesses, providing the potential for additional revenue and an astute opportunity to Continue reading “State Of Contraction”
We return to Utah, examining its third significant iteration.
Right up to the late 1960s, Jaguar product planning operated very much on the whim of what its founder considered necessary. Constantly seeking a competitive advantage, Lyons would latch onto an engineering or stylistic innovation and would not be satisfied until it was brought to fruition. Needless to say, this caused no end of headaches for the engineers and technicians tasked with making them a reality.
Legend has it that in 1957, Sir William, making his daily rounds of the factory, arrived at Bob Knight’s small office in experimental. In passing, he shares his view that Jaguar ought to develop an independent rear suspension and asks Mr Knight how long it would take to Continue reading “State of Independence”
The Jaguar iconography was founded upon a small number of significant characteristics, but of these, visual appeal was perhaps the most crucial – and certainly the most obvious. For any car design to succeed in the marketplace, and to do so for an extended period of time, this appeal must be apparent, not only from the outset, but be capable of being maintained throughout a lengthy production run.
Fortunately, in Sir William Lyons, Jaguar had an arbiter of form, line, proportion and more importantly still, taste, which gave the carmaker a significant edge over both domestic and non-domestic rivals. However if Lyons had been a chef, he would have been one who had himself never cooked a meal, yet could still Continue reading “Altered State”
The compact Jaguar saloons were landmark cars for the company and did much to raise the carmaker’s profile and profitability, but in its first generation form it was not a model which Browns Lane engineering staff viewed with terrific pride, owing to a number of significant compromises buried beneath its shapely envelope.
As development progressed upon the more powerful 3.4 litre version, the handling deficiencies consequent to its narrow rear track (acceptable in the lighter, lower powered car, but less so here), forced engineers to Continue reading “State of Revision”
Overshadowed by its successor, the 1955 Jaguar 2.4 was the most significant car in Jaguar’s evolution as a serious carmaker.
In 1955, Jaguar committed their most ambitious act up to that point with the introduction of the 2.4, an all-new, compact saloon of a sporting mien – every inch a Jaguar, but no hand-down version of its larger sibling. Far from it, because despite the announcement the same year of the revolutionary Citroen DS19, the compact Jaguar was probably as advanced a product as could reasonably be envisaged from what was then a low-volume, specialist carmaker.
Initiated around 1953/4, the Utah (in Jaguar parlance) compact saloon programme would mark their first departure from traditional body-on-frame construction to a stressed unitary bodyshell. Owing to uncertainty over its strength, two stout chassis legs ran the length of the floorpan, rearmost of which (beneath the rear seatpan) would house the mountings for the unusual, inverted cantilever semi-elliptic springs, so devised to Continue reading “Pioneer State”
How the ultimate 1960’s bit of rough evolved into the best loved classic Jaguar saloon of all.
It has been said that by the mid-Sixties, it was common operational procedure for UK police patrols to stop and search any Mark 2 Jaguar with two or more male occupants aboard, such by then was the car’s association with criminality. After all, Mark 2’s were easy to purloin and were the fastest reasonably inobtrusive getaway car that could be obtained by means fair or foul in Blighty at this time.
It was perhaps this aura of the underworld, coupled with its exploits on the racetracks (at least until the US Cavalry arrived) which sealed its iconography. So, it is perhaps ironic that despite the forces of law and order also adopting the 3.8 Mark 2 as a high-speed pursuit car, that it latterly would become synonymous with that most cerebral of fictional police detectives.
The Mark 2 Jaguar was a paradox in that while it was undoubtedly handsome – a finely honed conclusion of styling themes which had begun in earnest with the 1948 XK120 – it was not only a bit of an overweight brute, but a car which never quite managed to Continue reading “State of Grace”
Often portrayed as a decade of unbroken success, Jaguar’s 1960s fortunes were decidedly mixed. The commercial and critical halo provided by the E-Type masked fault lines elsewhere, especially when it came to Jaguar’s saloon offerings, which represented the carmaker’s bottom line. By mid-decade it was apparent that the Mark Ten saloon, Jaguar’s most ambitious and expensive model programme to date, was a commercial failure. Worse still, its compact saloon stablemate, the 1963 S-Type was also flatlining in Jaguar’s most crucial export market. Continue reading “State of Emergency”