Car History

Jaguar / Daimler

Sir William Lyons had a profound effect on the world’s motor industry - as did several others including W O Bentley.  Sir William started with making sidecars for motor cycles - he called them Swallow Sidecars, and later modified Austin Sevens to create an up-market Austin Swallow.  The SS100 sports car is an outstanding example of the desire for speed in an open-topped car of divine proportions.  Unfortunately the Second World War made the initials ‘SS’ somewhat risky and a new name based on the animal kingdom representing stealth and speed emerged as Jaguar.  Sir William had an eye for proportion often having mock-ups of body designs brought to him for comment where he made changes ‘by sight’ rather than on a drawing board.  His cars are unmistakably his - you can see the similarities, and the 1960's Jaguar saloons are a testament to his eye for the right look.

Jaguar Car Hire WellingtonThe Mark 2 Jaguar evolved (not surprisingly) from the Mark I, the first Jaguar saloon to be built with a monocoque body - without a separate chassis.  Originally powered by the Jaguar 2.4 litre XK six cylinder engine, a desire for more power resulted in fitting the Jaguar 3.4 litre XK engine which significantly improved performance. 

The Mark 2 bodies were made to look lighter in appearance with bigger windows and chrome plated window supports to the doors. 

The Jaguar XK engine is legendary; our Jaguar has the 3.4 litre engine, bore of 83mm and a stroke of 106mm with a total swept volume of 3,442 cc  Producing 210 bhp (159 kW), it has a top speed of 120 mph (nearly 192 kph) and a 0 - 60 mph (0 - 96 kmh) time of around 9 seconds, these were fast.  This car is fitted with the four speed manual gearbox with electric overdrive, a fast touring car in today's terms, which was quite exceptional in the 1960's.

The Daimler name is as old as the British motor industry itself.  The company’s first factory was established in a converted cotton mill in Coventry in 1896 to produce and sell British versions of the aristocratic Daimler cars from Germany.  Daimler subsequently amalgamated with the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) after World War I. Following the Second World War, Daimler was struggling to manufacture and sell cars to a ‘new world’.  Jaguar on the other hand was struggling to meet demand, and still anxious to expand, so purchased Daimler from the BSA group. 

Two designs of car were part of the assets, the Daimler Majestic Major in both saloon and limousine forms (powered by the Daimler lightweight 4½ litre V8 engine), and the Daimler SP 250 sports car (powered by a smaller lightweight 2½ litre V8 engine).  The smaller engine is one of the smallest V8 production engines the world has seen.

The 2½ litre V8 was interesting to Jaguar due to its higher power and torque figures compared to that of their own 2.4 litre six cylinder XK engine.  It also weighed less and run much more smoothly.  When it was tried in a Jaguar Mark I saloon, it transformed the car.  Better chassis balance (52 / 48 % front/rear weight distribution) significantly improved handling because the weight over the front wheels was reduced by 1.25 cwt (about 74 kg).

The decision was therefore made to install the Daimler 2 ½ litre V8 engine in the then new Jaguar Mark 2 body shell with the result of an up-market derivative of the Jaguar Mark 2 saloon.  The Daimler name had long been associated with luxury cars of the highest quality.  The Daimler 2 ½ litre V8 saloon was launched in October 1962.

The engine is built around a 90-degree cast iron cylinder block with aluminium heads.  Push-rods and valve rockers are operated from a single camshaft high in the centre of the vee.  With a bore of 76.2mm and stroke of 69.25mm, swept volume is 2,548cc.

A new and improved Borg Warner type 35 automatic transmission was fitted to the Daimler saloon.  It was shaped differently which meant a smaller transmission tunnel could be used creating increased interior space.  The front seats could be joined, so if placed in the same position, three abreast could be squeezed into the front.  The Jaguar/Daimlers have full wood and leather interiors.

A total of 17,880 Daimler 2 ½ litre V8s were made.
A total of 91,226 Mark 2 Jaguars were made.

With globalisation running with no end in sight, Jaguar is now owned by Tata of India with no new Daimler models being made.

Acknowledgements: 
The Classic Jaguar Saloons
Original Jaguar Mk I/Mk 2 – The restorers guide to Mk I,  Mk 2, 240/340 and Daimler V8.


Click here to read about Bentley