DAIMLER Company, Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom 1896 – Jaguar since ’60 – Tata Group till now

Daimler logo.svg

Daimler Company

This article is about the Daimler brand and its owner the British automobile manufacturer. It’s possible that some pictures don’t belong to the Daimler Company, because there are 3 Daimlers, with Millner Daimler even 4.1900 Daimler 6hp Sandringham first Royal ar 1527cc Prince of Wales For other uses derived from the German engineer and inventor Gottlieb Daimler, see Daimler (disambiguation) For the two direct descendants of Daimler’s original enterprise, see Daimler-Benz (and its successor Daimler AG) and Austro-Daimler.
The Daimler Company Limited
Industry Automotive
Fate from 1960 a division of
Jaguar Cars
Abbey Road, Whitley
Coventry CV3 4LF
Successor Jaguar Cars continue to use the Daimler name
Founded 1896
Headquarters Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Key people
Percy Martin
Edward Manville
Products Motor vehicles
Number of employees
Parent from 1910 to 1960 The Birmingham Small Arms Company
Subsidiaries Lanchester Motor Company
Daimler Hire
Daimler Air Hire
Daimler Airway
Transport Vehicles (Daimler)
Hooper & Co
Barker & Co
Hobbs Transmission
Daimler Marque
Daimler logo.svg
1949 Daimler DE 36 -Green Goddess-, Hooper limousine

5½-litre 150 bhp Straight-Eight drop-head coupé 1949
Product type Motor vehicles
Owner Tata Group through Jaguar Land Rover
Introduced 1891
Related brands Jaguar Cars
Markets International
Previous owners The Daimler Motor Company Limited (1896–1904)
The Daimler Motor Company (1904) Limited (1904–1910)
BSA Group (1910–1960)
Jaguar Cars (1960–1966)
British Motor Corporation(1966–1966)
British Motor Holdings (1966–1968)
British Leyland (1968–1984)
Jaguar Cars (1984–1989)
Ford PAG (1989–2007)
Registered as a trademark in not known
Website http://www.daimlercars.com

Daimler Grill und Signet

 Flutes: Daimler’s traditional radiator grille topped by now-vestigial cooling fins adopted by 1905

The Daimler Company Limited, until 1910 The Daimler Motor Company Limited, was an independent British motor vehicle manufacturer founded in London by H. J. Lawson in 1896, which set up its manufacturing base in Coventry. The company bought the right to the use of the Daimler name simultaneously from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft of Cannstatt, Germany. After early financial difficulty and a reorganization of the company in 1904, the Daimler Motor Company was purchased by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1910, which also made cars under its own name before World War II. In 1933, BSA bought the Lanchester Motor Company and made it a subsidiary of Daimler.

The company was awarded a Royal Warrant to provide cars to the British Monarch in 1902; it lost this privilege in the 1950s after being supplanted by Rolls-Royce. The company occasionally used alternative technology; the Knight engine which it partially developed in the early twentieth century and used from 1909 to 1935, worm gear final drive used from 1909 until after World War II, and the Wilson preselector gearbox used from 1930 to the mid-1950s.

In the 1950s, Daimler tried to widen its appeal with a line of smaller cars at one end and opulent show cars at the other, stopped making Lanchesters, had a highly publicised removal of their chairman from the board, and developed and sold a sports car and a high-performance luxury saloon and limousine.

In 1960, BSA sold Daimler to Jaguar Cars, which continued Daimler’s line and added a Daimler variant of its Mark II sports saloon. Jaguar was then merged into the British Motor Corporation in 1966 and British Leyland in 1968. Under these companies, Daimler became an upscale trim level for Jaguar cars except for the 1968-1992 Daimler DS420 limousine, which had no Jaguar equivalent despite being fully Jaguar-based. Jaguar was split off from British Leyland in 1984 and bought by the Ford Motor Company in 1989. Ford stopped using the Daimler name on Jaguars (or any other cars) in 2007 and sold Jaguar to Tata Motors in 2008. Tata bought the Daimler and Lanchester brands with Jaguar, but has not used them thus far; as of 2015, the brand appears to be dormant.


Simms and the Daimler engine

Railcar Gottlieb Daimler Mercedes Museum am 12.10.2010 (049)

 Gottlieb Daimler’s railcars “tirelessly ferrying passengers around the Bremen showground as if by magic”.

1899 Simms Motor Scout from Autocar

 Simms in his Motor Scout, in June 1899.

Engineer Frederick Richard Simms was supervising construction of an aerial cableway of his own design for the Bremen Exhibition in 1889 when he saw tiny railcars powered by Gottlieb Daimler’s motors. Simms, who had been born to English parents in Hamburg and raised by them there, became friends with Daimler, an Anglophile who had worked from autumn 1861 to summer 1863 at Beyer-Peacock in Gorton, Manchester.

Simms introduced Daimler’s motors to England in 1890 to power launches. In an agreement dated 18 February 1891, he obtained British and Empire rights for the Daimler patents. That month, DMG lent Simms a motorboat with a 2 hp engine and an extra engine. In June 1891 Simms had set up a London office at 49 Leadenhall Street and founded Simms & Co consulting engineers. In May 1892, the motorboat, which Simms had named Cannstatt, began running on the Thames from Putney. After demonstrating a motor launch to The Honourable Evelyn Ellis, Simms’s motor launch business grew rapidly, but became endangered when solicitor Alfred Hendriks was found to have been illegally taking money from the company. Hendriks severed his connections with Simms & Co. in February 1893. Simms’ Daimler-related work was later moved into a new company, The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited, which was formed on 26 May 1893.

Simms plans to make cars

Following the success of Daimler-powered Peugeots and Panhards at the 1894 Paris–Rouen competition, Simms decided to open a motor car factory, possibly the UK’s first motor company.

On 7 June 1895, Simms told the board of the Daimler Motor Syndicate that he intended to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited to acquire the British rights to the Daimler patents and to manufacture Daimler engines and cars in England. That month, he arranged for the syndicate to receive a ten percent (10%) commission on all British sales of Daimler-powered Panhard & Levassor cars.

At the same meeting, Simms produced the first licence to operate a car under the Daimler patents. It was for a 3½ hp Panhard & Levassor that had been bought in France by The Honourable Evelyn Ellis, who had three Daimler motor launches moored by his home at Datchet. On 3 July, after Ellis bought the licence, the car was landed at Southampton and driven by Ellis to Micheldever near Winchester where Ellis met Simms and they drove together to Datchet. Ellis later drove it on to Malvern. This was the first long journey by motorcar in Britain. Simms later referred to the car as a “Daimler Motor Carriage”.

Later in 1895, Simms announced plans to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited and to build a brand-new factory, with delivery of raw materials by light rail, for 400 workmen making Daimler engines and motor carriages. Simms asked his friend Daimler to be consulting engineer to the new enterprise. Works premises at Eel Pie Island on the Thames where the Thames Electric and Steam Launch Company, owned by Andrew Pears of Pears Soap fame, had been making electrically powered motor launches, were purchased to be used to service Daimler-powered motor launches.

Simms sells out to Lawson

Investor Harry John Lawson had set out to use The British Motor Syndicate Limited to monopolise motor car production in Britain by taking over every patent he could. As part of this goal, Lawson approached Simms on 15 October 1895, seeking the right to arrange the public flotation of the proposed new company and to acquire a large shareholding for his British Motor Syndicate. Welcomed by Simms, the negotiations proceeded on the basis that this new company should acquire The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited as a going concern, including the name and patent rights.

In order that the Daimler licences could be transferred from Simms to the new company, all the former partners would have to agree to the transfer. By this time, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach had withdrawn from Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft’s business to concentrate on cars and engines for them. Simms offered to pay DMG £17,500 for the transfer and for a licence for Daimler and Maybach’s Phénix engine, which DMG did not own. Simms therefore insisted that the transfer be on the condition that Daimler and Maybach rejoined DMG. This was agreed in November 1895 and the Daimler-Maybach car business re-merged with DMG’s. Daimler was appointed DMG’s General Inspector and Maybach chief Technical Director. At the same time Simms became a director of DMG but did not become a director of the London company. According to Gustav Vischer, DMG’s business manager at the time, Simms getting Daimler to return to DMG was “no mean feat”.

The sale of Daimler Motor Syndicate to Lawson’s interests was completed by the end of November 1895. The shareholders of the Syndicate had made a profit of two hundred percent (200%) on their original investment.

Independent (1896-1910)

1897 Daimler 6hp twin-cylinder Six-seat brake

 Daimler 6 hp twin-cylinder shooting brake 1897 example

From starting to stability

On 14 January 1896 Lawson incorporated The Daimler Motor Company Limited. A prospectus was issued on 15 February. The subscription lists opened on 17 February and closed, oversubscribed, the next day.The Daimler Motor Company Limited bought The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited from Lawson’s British Motor Syndicate as a going concern. Simms was appointed consulting engineer to the new business but was not to be on the board of directors, possibly because he had become a director of the Cannstatt firm.

One of the duties assigned to Simms was to find a suitable location for the factory. Simms found the Trusty Oil Engine Works, a company in receivership whose six-acre site at Cheltenham included a foundry, a machine shop, and testing facilities. Simms recommended buying the works immediately since, with ready facilities and the availability of skilled workers, they could start up in a very short time. Instead, at the first statutory meeting of the company, held while Simms was overseas, Lawson persuaded the board to buy a disused four-storey cotton mill in Coventry which was owned by Lawson’s associate Ernest Terah Hooley. Despite Simms’ later protest and pleas to sell the mill and buy the Trusty Oil Engine Works, Daimler stayed with the mill as the site of Britain’s first automobile factory.

Delayed delivery of machines kept the factory unfinished throughout 1896 and into 1897. During 1896 Daimler sold imported cars from companies for which Lawson held the licences. Cannstatt supplied engine parts but the delivery of working drawings were delayed for months. Four experimental cars were built in Coventry and a Panhard van was dismantled and reverse engineered. Some Daimler engines, with details redesigned by works manager J. S. Critchley, were also made in 1896.

The first car left the works in January 1897, fitted with a Panhard engine, followed in March by Daimler-engined cars. The first Coventry Daimler-engined product made its maiden run in March 1897. By mid-year they were producing three of their own cars a week and producing Léon Bollée cars under licence. Lawson claimed to have made 20 cars by July 1897 making the Daimler Britain’s first motor car to go into serial production, an honour that is also credited to Humber Motors who had also displayed, but in their case their production models, at the Stanley Cycle Show in London in 1896. The Daimlers had a twin-cylinder, 1526 cc engine, mounted at the front of the car, four-speed gearbox and chain drive to the rear wheels.

1899 Daimler 12 HP

 1899 12 hp Daimler

In July 1897, as a result of financial difficulty, Daimler began asking Lawson’s Great Horseless Carriage Company to settle its accounts with them. In the same month, they refused to send working drawings of their 4 hp motor frame to DMG in Canstatt. Lack of co-operation with the Canstatt firm caused Simms to resign as Daimler’s consulting engineer that month. Also in July 1897, the company sold their launch works at Eel Pie Island at a loss of seven hundred pounds (£700) or more.

Ongoing difficulties with the Great Horseless Carriage Company and the British Motor Syndicate caused Lawson to resign from Daimler’s board on 7 October 1897. He was replaced as chairman by Henry Sturmey, who at the time was five days into a motor tour in his personal Daimler from John O’Groats to Land’s End. On arriving at Land’s End on 19 October, Sturmey became the first person to make that journey in a motor car.

In July 1898, Gottlieb Daimler resigned from the board of the Daimler Motor Company after never attending a board meeting. Sturmey opposed the appointment of a proposed successor who, according to Sturmey, held no shares and knew nothing about the automobile business. A committee was brought in to investigate the activities of the board and the company. The committee summed up the management of the company as being inefficient and not energetic and suggested that the company be reorganised and run by a paid managing director. When Evelyn Ellis and another board member did not run for re-election, they were replaced by E. H. Bayley and Edward Jenkinson, with Bayley replacing Sturmey as chairman. Sturmey resigned in May 1899 after Bayley and Jenkinson had reorganised the company.

In mid-1900, Simms, as a director of DMG, proposed a union between the Daimler Motor Company in Coventry and DMG in Cannstatt, but the reorganised company was not interested in the merger and turned the offer down.

Persistent financial troubles caused Daimler to be reorganised again in 1904. The previous company was wound up and a new company was formed to acquire the old one and pay its debts and winding-up costs.

Under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Jenkinson, Daimler hired American electrical engineer Percy Martin as works manager and socialite Undecimus Stratton as the head of the London depot, and promoted Ernest Instone to general manager. Jenkinson was succeeded in 1906 by Edward Manville, a consulting electrical engineer.

Royal patronage

1900 Daimler 6hp Sandringham first Royal ar 1527cc Prince of Wales

 The first Royal car 6 hp 2-cylinders 1527 cc fitted with a “mail phaeton” body purchased by the Prince of Wales, 1900. Currently on display at Sandringham

Known as Britain’s oldest car manufacturers, Daimler was first associated with royalty in 1898 when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, was given a ride on a Daimler by John Douglas-Scott-Montagu later known as Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Scott-Montagu, as a member of parliament, also drove a Daimler into the yard of the Palace of Westminster, the first motorised vehicle to be driven there.

In early 1900, Daimler had sold the Prince of Wales a mail phaeton. In 1902, upon buying another Daimler, King Edward VII awarded Daimler a royal warrant as suppliers of motor cars.

In 1903, Undecimus Stratton met E. G. Jenkinson, the chairman of Daimler, when Jenkinson’s Daimler was stranded by the roadside. Upon seeing the stranded motorist, Stratton stopped his Daimler and offered assistance. Jenkinson was impressed by Stratton and by his motoring knowledge. At the time, Jenkinson was looking to replace the head of Daimler’s London depot, a particularly sensitive position because of the royal cars. Taking the position, Stratton soon found himself having to select better royal chauffeurs and mechanics. He quickly became an occasional motoring companion to the King. In 1908, through Stratton’s Royal connections, Daimler was awarded a “Royal Appointment as suppliers of motor cars to the Court of Spain” by King Alfonso XIII and a Royal Warrant as “Motor Car Manufacturer to the Court of Prussia” by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Stratton also sold Daimlers to the Sultan of Johor. In 1911 he spent some weekends at Sandringham tutoring the new Prince of Wales on the workings and driving of an automobile.

In 1921 Stratton went into partnership with Daimler’s commercial manager Ernest Instone. Stratton and Instone took charge of the Daimler showrooms at 27 Pall Mall, naming the business Stratton-Instone. Stratton died in July 1929 after a brief illness. His successors and Instone bought out Daimler’s interest in 1930 and renamed the business Stratstone Limited. The following summer the future King Edward VIII rented Stratton’s house at Sunningdale from his widow.

Every British monarch from Edward VII to Elizabeth II has been driven in Daimler limousines. In 1950, after a persistent transmission failure on the King’s car, Rolls-Royce was commissioned to provide official state cars and as Daimlers retired they were not replaced by Daimlers. The current official state car is either one of a pair which were specially made for the purpose by Bentley, unofficial chauffeured transport is by Daimler. Her Majesty’s own car for personal use is a 2008 Daimler Super Eight but she is also seen to drive herself in other smaller cars.

Fluted radiator

1903-Daimler-AA11-1198 4cyl. 4.503cc 45mph

 Daimler 22 hp 4 cyl. 4,503cc 45 mph as driven by Sir Thomas Lipton(1903 example)

Since 1904, the fluted top surface to the radiator grille has been Daimler’s distinguishing feature. This motif developed from the heavily finned water-cooling tubes slung externally at the front of early cars. Later, a more conventional, vertical radiator had a heavily finned header tank. Eventually these fins were echoed on a protective grille shell and, even later, on the rear licence plate holder.

Sleeve-valve engines


 Knight-Daimler engine, transverse section

Attracted by the possibilities of the “Silent Knight” engine Daimler’s chairman contacted Charles Yale Knight in Chicago and Knight settled in England near Coventry in 1907. Daimler bought rights from Knight “for England and the colonies” and shared ownership of the European rights, in which it took 60%, with Minerva of Belgium. Daimler contracted Dr Frederick Lanchester as their consultant for the purpose and a major re-design and refinement of Knight’s design took place in great secrecy. Knight’s design was made a practical proposition. When unveiled in September 1908 the new engine caused a sensation. “Suffice it to say that mushroom valves, springs and cams, and many small parts, are swept away bodily, that we have an almost perfectly spherical explosion chamber, and a cast-iron sleeve or tube as that portion of the combustion chamber in which the piston travels.”

1909 Daimler 2-door coupé

 Daimler 22 hp open 2-seater
among the first of the sleeve-valve Daimlers (1909 example)

Daimler 16-55 tourer_Kop_Hill_Climb_2014_(15373006782)_(cropped)

 ” . . . left a slight haze of oil smoke trailing behind . . .” Kop Hill Climb 2014

The Royal Automobile Club held a special meeting to discuss the new engine, still silent but no longer “Wholly Knight”. The Autocar reported on “its extraordinary combination of silence, flexibility and power.” Daimler stopped making poppet-valve engines altogether. Under the observation of the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), two Daimler sleeve-valve engines were put through severe bench, road, and track tests and, upon being dismantled, showed no visible wear, earning Daimler the 1909 Dewar Trophy. Sales outran the works’ ability to supply.

Daimler’s sleeve valve engines idle silently but they left a slight haze of oil smoke trailing behind them. These engines consumed oil at a rate of up to an Imperial gallon every 450  miles, oil being needed to lubricate the sleeves particularly when cold. However, by the standards of their day they required very little maintenance.

Daimler kept their silent sleeve-valve engines until the mid-1930s. The change to poppet valves began with the Fifteen of 1933.

First fatal motor accident in the United Kingdom

In 1899 a Daimler 6 hp was involved in the first motor accident in the UK to be recorded as having involved the death of the driver. A young engineer was killed when the rim of a rear wheel of the car he was driving collapsed under heavy braking in a turn on a sloping road in Harrow on the Hill. The driver and his four passengers were thrown from the car. One of the passengers fractured his skull in the accident and died in hospital three days later.

Under BSA (1910-1960)

Acquisition by BSA

1910 Daimler Limousine_7412388488

 1910 Daimler 57 hp limousine, an official state car for King George V

Under an agreement dated 22 September 1910 the shareholders of The Daimler Motor Company Limited “merged their holdings with those of the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) group of companies,”receiving five BSA shares in exchange for four ordinary Daimler shares and ₤1 5s plus accrued dividend for each ₤1 preference share. This deal was engineered by Dudley Docker, deputy-chairman of BSA, who was famous for previous successful business mergers.

Daimler, a manufacturer of motor vehicles, had a payroll of 4,116 workmen and 418 staff immediately before the merger. BSA produced rifles, ammunition, military vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and some BSA-branded cars. The chairman of the combined group was Edward Manville, who had been chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – founded by Simms – since 1907.

However the merger was not a great success. By 1913 Daimler had a workforce of 5,000 workers which made only 1,000 vehicles a year.

Royal transport

1914 Daimler (for_Empress_of_Korea)

 Daimler 20 hp open drive limousine for the Empress of Korea

By 1914 Daimlers were used by royal families including those of Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Japan, Spain, and Greece; “its list of owners among the British nobility read like a digest of Debrett;” the Bombay agent supplied Indian princes; the Japanese agent, Okura, handled sales in Manchuria and Korea.

Public transport

1913 Daimler CC double-decker bus

 Replica of 1913 Daimler CC double-decker bus

Daimler also made engines and chassis for commercial vehicles, with the Metropolitan Electric Tramways ordering 350 double-decker buses in 1912 and engines being sold to the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC).

The 40 hp engine and chassis used with the double-decker bus was also used with lorries and drays, while a half-ton delivery van was based on a 12 hp chassis similar to a car chassis.

Daimler made a 105 hp 15.9 L sleeve-valve straight-six engine for use in large tractors co-developed with William Foster & Co. for the South American market.

World War I work

1915 Daimler Flatbed 3-ton Lorry PW104 Watts Lydney Glos

 Daimler CB-type 40hp 3-ton lorry, 1915

During World War I, the military took the normal production cars, lorries, buses and ambulances together with a scout army vehicle and engines used in ambulances, trucks, and double-decker buses. Special products included aero-engines and complete aircraft, tank and tractor engines and munitions.

The first aircraft engine manufactured by Daimler was the 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary. With no drawings available to them, Daimler’s Gnome engines were reverse-engineered from an engine delivered to them on 7 August 1914. Daimler later built the RAF 1 and 1a air-cooled V8s, the RAF 4 and 4a V12s, the Le Rhone rotary, and the Bentley BR2 rotary alongside other manufacturers. Production of RAF 4 engines gave Daimler experience in building V12 engines which would be appreciated when they later designed and built “Double-Six” V12 engines for their large cars.

Daimler trained air force mechanics at its works and its training methods became the standard for all manufacturers instructing RAF mechanics.

Having its own body shop, Daimler had the woodworking ability to build complete aircraft. By the end of 1914, they had built 100 units of the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c. These were followed by the BE12 and RE8. Daimler purchased an open field beside their Radford factory, cleared the site, and made it available to the Government, who turned it into the main RAF testing ground for aircraft built in the Coventry district. Although Daimler tooled up for production of the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.4 bomber the aircraft was cancelled due to poor performance. The last wartime aircraft produced was the Airco DH.10 bomber when they were building 80 aeroplanes a month.

British_Mark_IV_Tadpole_tank daimler 105 hp engine

 British Mark IV tank with an extended tail designed to improve its trench-crossing ability. Powered by a version of the Daimler 105 hp engine

Before the war, Daimler had been making 105 hp engines for tractors made by Fosters of Lincoln for the South American market. These tractors were developed into artillery tractors to haul 15-inch (380 mm) howitzers. Production of the artillery tractors began on 3 December 1914. These engines were later used for the first British tanks ever built, the prototypes “Little Willie” and “Mother” and later in the production Mark I tank. One major difficulty for the tanks was the fine oil haze above their Daimler engines which the enemy quickly learned meant tanks were operating nearby if out of sight. The early tanks weighed up to 28 tons. They were all Daimler powered. The Mark IV tank – the first major improvement in design – had uprated engines delivering 125 hp; these engines had aluminium pistons and are believed to have been designed by W. O. Bentley while he was working on the Bentley BR1 rotary engine in Coventry.

Daimler made more twelve inch (305 mm) shell casings than any other private business in the country, with a peak production of more than 2000 casings a day. Each was machined from a 990 lb forging down to a finished weight of 684 lb.

Wartime production

Humber Ltd. (Bentley)_B._R._2

Bentley BR2 aero engine

1917 12_inch_shells_at_Chilwell_1917_IWM_Q_30041

12-inch artillery shells

Daimler NLS_Haig_-_On_the_road

Daimler transport on the Western Front

Daimler-Foster 105 hp artillery tractor

Daimler-Foster 105 hp artillery tractor


B.E.2f at Masterton, New Zealand 2009

Civil aviation

DH34 Biplane 1 Daimler de Havilland 34

 De Havilland DH.34
Daimler Airway livery red and white

After the Armistice it was decided that Daimler Hire should extend its luxury travel services to include charter aircraft through a new enterprise, Daimler Air Hire. Following the take-over of Airco and its subsidiaries in February 1920 services included scheduled services London-Paris as well as “Taxi Planes” to “anywhere in Europe”. In 1922 under the name of Daimler Airway services extended to scheduled flights London to Berlin and places between. Frank Searle, managing director of Daimler Hire and its subsidiaries moved with his deputy Humphery Wood into the new national carrier Imperial Airways at its formation on 1 April 1924. Searle and Wood and their Daimler Airway machines formed the core of Imperial Airways operations.

Commercial vehicles

In the late 1920s, it, together with Associated Equipment Company (AEC), formed the Associated Daimler Company to build commercial vehicles. The association was dissolved in 1928 with each company retaining manufacture of its original products.

Lanchester acquisition and badging

Lanchester 10 AXF200_010511_CPS

 Lanchester Ten

In 1930 the bulk of Daimler’s shareholding in its subsidiary Daimler Hire Limited was sold to the Thomas Tilling Group and, in January 1931, Daimler completed the purchase of The Lanchester Motor Company Limited. The new Lanchester 15/18 model introduced in 1931 was fitted with Daimler’s fluid flywheel transmission.

Although at first they produced separate ranges of cars with the Daimler badge appearing mainly on the larger models, by the mid-1930s the two were increasingly sharing components leading to the 1936 Lanchester 18/Daimler Light 20 differing in little except trim and grille.

This marketing concept already employed with their BSA range of cars continued to the end of Lanchester and BSA car production. Some very important customers, including the Duke of York and at least two Indian princes, were supplied with big Daimler limousines with Lanchester grilles. The Daimler range was exceptionally complex in the 1930s with cars using a variety of six- and eight-cylinder engines with capacities from 1805 cc in the short lived 15 of 1934 to the 4624 cc 4.5-litre of 1936.

Review of BSA management before World War II

1931 Daimler Double Six Corsica Coupe

 Low-chassis Daimler double-six50 hp
four-seater drophead coupé (1931)
by Corsica of Cricklewood
chassis modified by Reid Railton at Thomson & Taylor Ltd

The divisiveness of the Daimler board did not end with the BSA takeover, but continued into the board of BSA. Despite this, Daimler prospered until the late 1920s, increasing its profits and its reputation. Along with an apprenticeship programme that was among the best in the British industry at the time, they attracted a large number of pupils out of public schools. During the First World War, Daimler’s labour force grew from 4,000 to 6,000 men.

The acquisition of Airco in February 1920 was a financial disaster for the BSA group. Percy Martin had been strongly in favour of the purchase, including Airco’s extensive production facilities near London, and no one thought to examine Airco’s true circumstances, leading to liabilities in excess of 1.3 million pounds. All dividends were passed from 1920 to 1924.

1925 Daimler 30hp 5918272390 7ca1a46f82 o

 Daimler, the choice of British royalty

By 1930, the BSA Group’s primary activities were BSA motorcycles and Daimler vehicles. However, all the quality car businesses experienced financial difficulties in the late 1920s. Daimler’s situation seemed particularly serious. Sales fell sharply in 1927–1928, a period of losses ensued and no dividends were paid between 1929 and 1936. The sleeve valve engine was outdated, Daimler’s production methods had become old-fashioned, they had an extravagantly large range of products. Their bankers noted the decreasing sales volume, the poor performance for price and the need for up-to-date machine tool equipment. Stratton-Instone’s dominance of distribution was removed and other outlets arranged. The interests in Singer and the Daimler Hire business were sold and Lanchester bought. The in-house bodywork department was closed and by the spring of 1931 car production ceased, only commercial vehicle production and aero engine work kept Daimler in business.

Laurence Pomeroy joined Damler in late 1926, at first working on commercial vehicles but from 1928 he worked at the products of the main Daimler operation. Pomeroy introduced redesigned poppet valve engines with the Daimler Fifteen in September 1932, developed new models of Daimlers, and recommended what became the September 1932 introduction of the small BSA and Lanchester Tens with poppet valve engines to help Daimler survive the depression. According to Martin, these actions rescued the business from total collapse in 1932. In 1934, the Pomeroy-designed poppet-valve Straight-Eights replaced the Daimler Double-Six sleeve-valve V12s without controversy or embarrassment, thereby being a personal triumph for Pomeroy.

Management shift

From before the merger of Daimler into the BSA group the core of Daimler’s management was formed by chairman Edward Manville, works manager Percy Martin, and sales manager Ernest Instone, who left Daimler in 1921 to start auto dealer Stratton-Instone, and was responsible for Daimler sales in England and Wales thereafter. Instone died in 1932, Manville died in 1933, and Martin, who in January 1934 replaced Alexander Roger, Manville’s replacement, as chairman, retired in 1935. In May 1936 Laurence Pomeroy was fired as managing director of Daimler with immediate effect. Daimler was not paying dividends and the 1936 BSA shareholders’ meetings were stormy. Attempted solutions had included the Lanchester acquisition and the introduction of smaller cars, the lower-priced 10 hp Lanchester and its matching but six-cylinder stable-mate the Daimler Fifteen (later DB17 and DB18) introduced in the early thirties. This particular product line as the Lanchester Fourteen and Daimler Conquest was to run through to almost the very end.

Edward H. W. Cooke attempted a revival and from 1937 introduced saloons with a freshness of design new to Daimler. The new products had successes in competitions and rallies. His policy was proved sound but another war, post-war austerity and yet more boardroom battles, this time in public, seemed to put an end to Daimler’s once-proud business.

Daimler’s semi-automatic transmissions

See also: Fluid coupling

1934 Daimler Fifteen Interior

 Shift lever Daimler Fifteen 1934 example

In 1928 Daimler started testing the “Fluidrive” system in a bus chassis. This system, patented by Harold Sinclair in 1926, applied Hermann Föttinger‘s fluid flywheel to replace the clutch in the transmission systems of road vehicles. Daimler was initially interested in the fluid flywheel for use in commercial vehicles, but Martin decided to develop the system for use in passenger cars as well. Martin and Pomeroy originally intended to use the fluid flywheel with a conventional gearbox. Their consultant, Frederick Lanchester, warned them that putting a car with that combination on the market would be “a terribly big gambling risk,” and an accident in March 1929 where a Double-Six 30 with a prototype transmission damaged a garage in Devon after Pomeroy left it idling while in gear may have shown the nature of this risk. By October 1930, when Daimler introduced the fluid flywheel on their new Light Double-Six for an extra £50, it was used with the self changing gearbox developed by W. G. Wilson. Martin and the Daimler Company patented their refinements to Sinclair’s system in 1930.

By November 1933 the combination of fluid flywheel and Wilson preselector gearbox was used in all Daimler vehicles, “ranging from 10 h.p. passenger cars to double-deck omnibuses” according to the chairman’s report to the shareholders at their Annual General Meeting that month. According to the same report, “more than 11,000 vehicles” were using the transmission by that time. Daimler would continue to develop and use these transmissions until 1956, when Borg-Warner fully automatic units were offered initially as an alternative but later as standard.

The Lanchester Sprite, a 1.6 L car with a unit body and Hobbs fully automatic gearbox, was shown at the British International Motor Show at Earls Court in 1954. Problems with the transmission and other systems were never fully sorted out, and the Sprite was discontinued about two years later with only thirteen being built.

World War II work

Daimler Mk1 Armoured Car side

 Daimler Mk1 Armoured Car

During World War II, Daimler turned to military production. A four-wheel-drive scout car, known to the Army as the Dingo had a 2.5-litre engine and the larger Daimler Armoured Car powered by a 4.1-litre engine and armed with a 2-pounder gun were produced, both with six-cylinder power units, fluid flywheels and epicyclic gearboxes. These military vehicles incorporated various innovative features including disc brakes on all four wheels.The Dingo was designed by parent company BSA and took the name “Dingo” from an unsuccessful competitor submitted by Alvis.

During the war Daimler built more than 6,600 Scout Cars and some 2,700 Mk I and Mk II Armoured Cars. Daimler also provided tank components, including epicyclic gearboxes for 2,500 Crusader, Covenanter and Cavalier tanks. They built 74,000 Bren gun, initially at a workshop in their Coventry factory and, after the workshop was destroyed in the April 1941 raid, at a boot and shoe factory in Burton-on-Trent.

Instead of building complete aircraft as they had in World War I, Daimler built aircraft components, including 50,800 Bristol radial aero-engines—Mercury, Hercules and Pegasus—with full sets of parts for 9,500 more of these engines, propeller shafts for Rolls-Royce aero-engines, and 14,356 gun-turrets for bombers including their Browning machine guns. In all, Daimler produced more than 10 million aircraft parts during the war. All this production is Daimler’s alone excluding BSA’s other involvements.

Daimler’s peak workforce, 16,000 people, was reached in this period.

The original Sandy Lane plant, used as a government store, was destroyed by fire during intensive enemy bombing of Coventry, but there were by now ‘shadow factories’ elsewhere in the city including one located at Brown’s Lane, Allesey. After the Jaguar takeover, the factory at Brown’s Lane became the principal Jaguar car plant for several decades. The factory has since been torn down.

After that war, Daimler produced the Ferret armoured car, a military reconnaissance vehicle based on the innovative 4.1-litre-engined armoured car they had developed and built during the war, which has been used by over 36 countries.

Postwar decline

1949 Lanchester LD10 'Barker' Sixlite Saloon

 Lanchester Ten, body by Briggs Motor Bodies

Winston Churchill campaigned for the 1945 and 1950 general elections in the DB18 two-door drophead coupé he had ordered in 1939. The government ordered new limousines for the commanding officers of the occupying forces. New straight-eights were supplied to the former colonies for the planned royal tours.

The first Daimler limousines to be delivered after the war went to embassies and consulates in Europe and to the Lieutenant-Governors of Jersey and Guernsey. These were Straight-Eights built largely from pre-war stock. The first post-war model was the Eighteen, a development of the pre-war Fifteen using the Scout Car’s 2.5 L engine with a new high-compression cylinder head. The model used curved glass in its side windows which were framed by chromed metal channels instead of the thick pillars that were usual at the time. Because of ongoing restrictions on steel, many of the Eighteen’s body panels were made from aluminium. The first post-war Lanchester, the Ten, looked like an enlarged Ford Prefect and its body was made in the same factory, Briggs Motor Bodies on the Ford site at Dagenham.


Photographed at Wisley Bus Rally, April 2009
Photographed at Wisley Bus Rally, April 2009

Despite the austerity of the times, Daimler celebrated the 1946 golden jubilee of the founding of the business was with a luncheon at the Savoy, at which they announced the pricing of the Daimler Eighteen and the Lanchester Ten. Production of large eight-seat limousines, the six-cylinder DE 27 and the eight-cylinder DE36, began in March 1946. These were among the first series-built cars with electrically operated windows. They were also the first Daimler cars since 1909 to use bevel gear final drive instead of Daimler’s usual worm final drive, and the DE 36 was the last straight-eight automobile to be manufactured in Britain. The DE 27 chassis was also used in the Daimler Ambulance with bodies by Barker and Hooper.

Foreign monarchs, including the Queen of the Netherlands, the King of Thailand, The Aga Khan (and Prince Aly Khan), the Emperor of Ethiopia, the Prince of Monaco, and the King of Afghanistan, re-ordered to replenish their fleets.

Then in June 1947 purchase tax was doubled on cars costing more than one thousand pounds (£1,000), with home market sales already having been restricted to cars for “essential purposes”. Petrol remained rationed; initially ten gallons a month, the monthly ration was increased to fifteen gallons in July 1946, but was reduced again late in the summer of 1947. Princess Elizabeth took her 2½-litre coupé, a 21st -birthday gift from her father, to Malta, where her new husband was stationed. The King took delivery of a new open tourer straight-eight in March 1949. In the commodities boom caused by the 1950 Korean War Australasian woolgrowers reported the new electrically operated limousine-division to be ‘just the thing’ if over-heated sheepdogs licked the back of a driver’s ears. A DE 27 limousine given to HRH Princess Elizabeth by the Royal Air Force as a wedding present was traded for a Rolls-Royce when its transmission failed.

Rolls-Royce was persuaded to re-enter the high-end luxury market and built the straight-eight Phantom IV solely for royalty, heads of state, and their chairman. Former Daimler customers, including British royals and the Aga Khan, switched to the Phantom IV, while the Emperor of Ethiopia and the King and Queen of Greece ordered coachbuilt six-cylinder Silver Wraiths.

Consorts discounted

1954 Queen_Elizabeth,_Cenotaph,_Sydney_NSW_1954

 All-weather tourer, Sydney NSW 1954

Sir Bernard Docker took the extra responsibility of Daimler’s managing director in January 1953 when James Leek was unable to continue through illness. Car buyers were still waiting for the new (Churchill) government’s easing of the ‘temporary’ swingeing purchase tax promised in the lead up to the snap-election held during the 1951 Earl’s Court motor show. Lady Docker told her husband to rethink his marketing policies. 3-litre Regency production was stopped. In the hope of keeping 4,000+ employed the Consort price was dropped from 4 February 1953 to the expected new tax-inclusive level.

1959 Daimlerade Eisenhower_Kabul_1959

 Daimlercade President Eisenhower
Kabul Afghanistan 9 December 1959

Stagnation of all the British motor industry was relieved by the reduction of purchase tax in the April 1953 budget. Daimler announced the introduction of the moderately sized Conquest in May (apparently developed in just four months from the four-cylinder Lanchester 14 or Leda with a Daimler grille).

Daimler and Lanchester (there were no more BSA cars) struggled after the War, producing too many models with short runs and limited production, and frequently selling too few of each model, while Jaguar seemed to know what the public wanted and expanded rapidly. Daimler produced heavy, staid, large and small luxury cars with a stuffy, if sometimes opulent image. Jaguar produced lower quality cars at a remarkably low price, designed for enthusiasts.

The BSA group’s leadership of the world’s motorcycle market was eventually lost to Japanese manufacturers.

Lady Docker’s Daimlers

Main article: Docker Daimlers

1952 Daimler -Blue Clover-Lady Docker

 Blue Clover, Lady Docker’s second show car

Sir Bernard Docker was the managing director of BSA from early in WWII, and married Norah Lady Collins in 1949. Nora was twice-widowed and wealthy in her own right. This was her third marriage. She had originally been a successful dance hall hostess. Lady Docker took an interest in her husband’s companies and became a director of Hooper, the coachbuilders.

Daughter of an unsuccessful Birmingham car salesman Lady Docker could see that the Daimler cars, no longer popular with the royal family, were in danger of becoming an anachronism in the modern world. She took it upon herself to raise Daimler’s profile, but in an extravagant fashion, by encouraging Sir Bernard to produce show cars.

1955 Daimler DK 400 'Golden Zebra' Coupé p2

 Golden Zebra 2-dr coupé by Hooper

The first was the 1951 “Golden Daimler”, an opulent touring limousine, in 1952, “Blue Clover”, a two-door sportsmans coupe, in 1953 the “Silver Flash” based on the 3-litre Regency chassis, and in 1954 “Stardust”, redolent of the “Gold Car”, but based on the DK400 chassis as was what proved to be her Paris 1955 grande finale, a 2-door coupé she named “Golden Zebra”, the “last straw” for the Tax Office and now on permanent display at The Hague.

At the same time Lady Docker earned a reputation for having rather poor social graces when under the influence, and she and Sir Bernard were investigated for failing to correctly declare the amount of money taken out of the country on a visit to a Monte Carlo casino. Sir Bernard was instantly dumped “for absenteeism” by the Midland Bank board without waiting for the court case. Norah drew further attention. She ran up large bills and presented them to Daimler as business expenses but some items were disallowed by the Tax Office. The publicity attached to this and other social episodes told on Sir Bernard’s standing as some already thought the cars too opulent and vulgar for austere post-war Britain. To compound Sir Bernard’s difficulty, the royal family shifted allegiance to Rolls-Royce. By the end of 1960 all the State Daimlers had been sold and replaced by Rolls-Royces.

Turner’s engines

Main article: Daimler V8 engines

1961 Daimler SP 250 Roadster

 Daimler SP250 (1961 example)

In 1951 Jack Sangster sold his motorcycle companies Ariel and Triumph to BSA, and joined their board. In 1956 Sangster was elected chairman, defeating Sir Bernard 6 votes to 3. After a certain amount of electioneering by the Dockers an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting backed the board decision and Bernard and Norah left buying a brace of Rolls-Royces as they went registering them as ND5 and BD9. Many important European customers turned out to have been Docker friends and did not re-order Daimler cars.

1964 Daimler Majestic Major

 Daimler Majestic Major, 1964 example

Sangster promptly made Edward Turner head of the automotive division which as well as Daimler and Carbodies (London Taxicab manufacturers) included Ariel, Triumph, and BSA motorcycles. Turner designed the lightweight hemi head Daimler 2.5 & 4.5 Litre V8 Engines. The small engine was used to power a production version of an apprentice’s exercise, the very flexible Dart and the larger engine installed in the Majestic Major, a relabelled Majestic. Under Sangster Daimler’s vehicles became a little less sober and more performance oriented. The Majestic Major proved an agile high-speed cruiser on the new motorways. Bill Boddy described the SP250 as unlikely to stir the memories of such ghosts as haunt the tree-lined avenues near Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor Castle. The two excellent Turner V8 engines disappeared with British Leyland’s first rationalisation, the larger in 1968 and the smaller a year later.

Buses 1911–1973

1948 Daimler CVD6 coach Halfcab bus

 Daimler CVD6 coach 1948 example

A significant element of Daimler production was bus chassis, mostly for double deckers. Daimler had been interested in the commercial vehicle market from 1904. In 1906 it produced, using the Auto-Mixte patents of Belgian Henri Pieper, a petrol-electric vehicle and on 23 May 1906 registered Gearless Motor Omnibus Co. Limited. It was too heavy. Following the introduction of Daimler-Knight sleeve-valve engines re-designed for Daimler by Dr Frederick Lanchester Lanchester also refined the Gearless design and it re-emerged in 1910 as the KPL (Knight-Pieper-Lanchester) omnibus, an advanced integral petrol electric hybrid. The KPL bus had four-wheel brakes and steel unitary body/chassis construction. Failure to produce the KPL set bus design back twenty years.

Introduction of the KPL was stopped by a patent infringement action brought by London General Omnibus‘s associate Tilling-Stevens in early May 1911 when just twelve KPL buses had been built. This was just after Daimler had poached LGOC’s Frank Searle and announced him to be general manager of its new London bus service which would be using its new KPL type to compete directly with LGOC.

Some of LGOC’s vehicles used Daimler engines. With the collapse of Daimler’s plans Searle, an engineer and designer of the LGOC X-type and AEC B-type bus, instead joined Daimler’s commercial vehicle department. Reverting to (before LGOC) omnibus salesman Searle rapidly achieved some notable sales. 100 to Metropolitan Electric Tramways and 250 to LGOC’s new owner, Underground.

First Searle designed for Daimler a 34-seater with gearbox transmission (the KPL used electric motors each side) very like the B-Type and it was introduced by Daimler in early 1912. The main difference from what became the AEC B-Type was the use of Daimler’s sleeve-valve engine. In June 1912 what had been LGOC’s manufacturing plant was hived off as AEC. Between 1913 and 1916 AEC built some Daimler models under contract and Daimler sold all AEC vehicles which were surplus to LGOC needs. After war service now Colonel Searle moved to Daimler Hire Limited and its involvement in aviation. The Searle models were developed after World War I, but from 1926–8 Daimler entered into a joint venture with AEC vehicles being badged as Associated Daimler.

In the 1930s the Daimler CO chassis became the main model, followed by a similar, but heavier, CW ‘austerity’ model produced during World War II (100 with the Gardner 5LW engine (CWG5), the rest with the AEC 7.7-litre engine – CWA6) and in postwar years production worked through the Daimler CV to the long-running Daimler CR Fleetline, built from 1960 to 1980 (CVG5 and CVG6 had been a common type of bus in Hong Kong between 1950 to 1988 and Fleetline had also become a major type of bus in Hong Kong until 1995). Small numbers of single deck vehicles were also built. Many British bus operators bought substantial numbers of the vehicles and there were also a number built for export. The standard London double-decker bus bought from 1970 to 1978 was the Daimler Fleetline.

1968 Daimler Fleetline 1968 example

 Daimler Fleetline 1968 example

Daimler buses were fitted with proprietary diesel engines, the majority by the Gardner company, of Eccles, Lancashire, although there were a few hundred Daimler diesels built in the 1940s & 1950s, and the Leyland O.680 was offered as an option on the Fleetline (designated CRL6) after the merger with Leyland. The bus chassis were also fitted with bodywork built by various outside contractors, as is standard in the British bus industry, so, at a casual glance, there is no real identifying feature of a Daimler bus, apart from the badges (Front engined Daimler buses retained the distinctive fluted radiator grille top). The last Daimler Fleetline was built at the traditional Daimler factory in Radford, Coventry, in 1973. After that date, the remaining buses were built at the Leyland factory in Farington, Preston, Lancashire, the final eight years of Fleetline production being badged as Leylands. The last Fleetline built was bodied by Eastern Coach Works in 1981.

During that Jaguar-owned period 1960–1968, Daimler became the second-largest (after Leyland) double-decker bus manufacturer in Britain, with the “Fleetline” model. At the same time, Daimler made trucks and motorhomes. BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation to give the British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. Production of Daimler buses in Coventry ceased in 1973 when production of its last bus product (the Daimler Fleetline) was transferred to Leyland plant in Farington. Daimler stayed within BLMC and its subsequent forms until 1982, at which point Jaguar (with Daimler) was demerged from BL as an independent manufacturer.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1960-1966)

1967 Daimler limousine DR450 4561cc

 Daimler limousine DR450 1967 example

In May 1960, the Daimler business was purchased from BSA by Jaguar Cars for 3.4 million pounds. William Lyons was looking to expand manufacture, wanted the manufacturing facilities and had to decide what to do with the existing Daimler vehicles.

Jaguar had been refused planning permission for a new factory in the area in which it wanted it to be. Daimler had shrunk to representing just 15% of BSA group turnover in 1959–1960 and BSA wished to dispose of its motoring interests. Jaguar stated publicly that it would continue production of the existing range of Daimler, that it would continue normal research and development for future Daimler products, and that it would expand Daimler markets in Britain and overseas.

Jaguar put a Daimler 4.5L V8 in a Mark X and tested it at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA). With an inefficient prototype exhaust, the car went up to 135 mph on MIRA’s banked track, faster than the production Mark X.

Jaguar discontinued the six-cylinder Majestic in 1962 and the SP250 in 1964, but Daimler’s core product, the old-fashioned, heavy but fast 4.5 L V8 Majestic Major, was continued throughout Jaguar’s independent ownership of Daimler. In 1961 Daimler introduced the DR450, a long-wheelbase limousine version of the Majestic Major. The DR450 also continued in production beyond the end of Jaguar’s independent ownership of Daimler. 864 examples of the long-wheelbase DR450 were sold, as opposed to 1180 examples of the Majestic Major saloon.

The 4.5 litre saloon and limousine were the last Daimlers not designed by Jaguar.

Jaguar-based Daimlers

1968 Daimler V8-250, hybrid Small Daimler V8 in a re-badged Jaguar car the most popular Daimler

 Daimler V8-250, hybrid
Small Daimler V8 in a re-badged Jaguar car
the most popular Daimler (1968 example)

Apart from the DR450 limousine, new models under Lyons control were the result of negotiations between Lyons and the executives of Daimler distributor Stratstone Ltd. In exchange for a small Daimler in the tradition of the Consort and the Conquest, Stratstone gave up their Volkswagen franchise. Lyons’ response was the 2.5 V8, a more luxurious Jaguar Mark 2 with the V8 engine from the SP250, automatic transmission, different badges, and a grille with a fluted top. Despite the obvious Jaguar heritage, motor journalist S. C. H. Davis wrote of the car’s “marked character” and claimed, “This is not a Jaguar with a Daimler radiator grille and name plate. It can stand on its own.”

1969 Daimler Sovereign

 Daimler Sovereign (1969 example)

While the 2.5 V8, later renamed the V8-250 under new ownership, became the most popular car Daimler ever produced, it was not enough to establish brand loyalty. Unlike Jaguar, whose wide range of models allowed sixty percent (60%) of new Jaguars to be sold in exchange for Jaguars, few customers traded old 2.5 V8s for new ones. Most 2.5 V8 buyers were trading up from the bigger Ford, Wolseley, or Rover cars.

James Smillie, chairman of Stratstone, made Lyons aware of this situation in 1965. Lyons responded by preparing a Daimler-ised version of the upcoming Jaguar 420 and presenting it to Smillie and Stratstone managing director John Olley. Lyons asked the Stratstone executives what it should be called; Smillie suggested “Sovereign” while Olley suggested “Royale”. Despite Lyons stating his preference for “Royale” at the meeting, the company decided on “Sovereign” two months later. The Sovereign was launched in October 1966 to fill the gap between the 2.5 V8 and the Majestic Major.

Owned by BMH (1966-1968)

Jaguar was taken over by British Motor Corporation (BMC), the new masters of badge-engineering, in 1966 and a few months later BMC was renamed British Motor Holdings (BMH).

Lyons’ reasons and reactions

Though Jaguar had diversified by adding, after Daimler, Guy trucks and Coventry-Climax to their group they remained dependent on Pressed Steel for bodies. Once BMC had taken control of Pressed Steel Lyons felt compelled to submit to the BMC takeover. Lyons remained anxious to see that Jaguar maintained its own identity and came to resent the association with British Leyland. He was delighted by Sir John Egan‘s accomplishments and by the new independence arranged in 1984.

End of Daimler brand in the United States

In 1967, BMH’s dealer network in the United States stopped importing Daimlers, claiming that there was insufficient funds in the group advertising budget to market all of BMH’s brands in USA.

Owned by British Leyland (1968-1984)

Daimler DS420 Limousine

Main articles: Daimler DS420 and Jaguar Mark X

Daimler DS420 Limoisine Jaguar Mark X Magnificent_car_outside_St_Peter's

 Daimler DS420 Limousine
based on the Jaguar Mark X

The Daimler DS420 Limousine was introduced in 1968 to replace their Daimler DR450 and BMC’s Vanden Plas Princess. The DS420 used a Jaguar Mk X unitary carcass with a restyled roof and a floor pan extended by 21 inches behind the front seat and strengthened. The extension of the Mark X unit bodies was done by Motor Panels, a subsidiary of Rubery Owen. The floor pan with mechanicals was available to coachbuilders as a rolling chassis for use with specialised bodywork, usually as hearses; Startin of Birmingham built more than 300 DS420-based hearses. Finishing from the bare metal, including final assembly and trimming the interior, was done byVanden Plas, who had earlier made the Princess for BMC.

The DS420 was withdrawn from production in 1992. From 1986 it had been the last production automobile to use the Jaguar XK6 engine. The last DS420-based Startin hearse was delivered on 9 February 1994 to Mr. Slack, a funeral director in Cheshire.

Though based entirely on Jaguar components, the DS420 was unique to Daimler. These limousines, wedding and funeral cars and the hearses made by independent coachbuilders are now the way most remember Daimler cars.

Daimler Sovereign, Daimler Double-Six

1972 Daimler sovereign 4,2 SI 1972

 Daimler Sovereign 4.2 SI (1972 example)

These were the first series of vehicles that were badge-engineered Jaguars (XJ Series), but given a more luxurious and upmarket finish. For example, the Daimler Double-Six was a Jaguar XJ-12, the Daimler badge and fluted top to its grille and boot handle being the only outward differences from the Jaguar, with more luxurious interior fittings and extra standard equipment marking it out on the inside.


1978 Jaguar XJS 5343cc

1991 Jaguar XJS Coupé

 Daimler XJS prototype, Coventry Motor Museum, England

One strategy to sell Daimlers was through fleet sales of Jaguars to boards of directors; Jaguar would offer to include a more prestigious Daimler for the chairman.

From 1972 to 1974 the chairman of Jaguar Cars was Lofty England, who began his career in the automotive industry as a Daimler apprentice from 1927 to 1932.

Fluted grilles in Continental Europe and the US

Jaguar to Daimler conversion 7941

 Jaguar to Daimler ‘conversion’

The Daimler name was dropped in Europe in the 1980s, while Jaguar adopted the Sovereign designation. This caused a great demand for imported Daimler parts as “conversion kits” to convert Jaguars into Daimlers. Deducing from this “conversion kit” market that there was still a demand for Daimler cars, Jaguar Cars returned the Daimler brand to Europe at the end of 1985.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Jaguar marketed the “Vanden Plas” with Daimler fluted grilles and licence plate housings.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1984-1989)

1986–94 Daimler Six Europe specification XJ40 produced

 Daimler Six Europe specification
XJ40 produced 1986–1994



 1988 Daimler Double-Six SIII; the V12 would not fit in the 1986-1992 XJ40

If Jaguar was not to follow Daimler into becoming just another once iconic brand it needed immense amounts of capital to develop new models and build and equip new factories. This was beyond the ability of the BMH—now British Leyland—Group. It was decided to market the Jaguar business by first obtaining a separate London Stock Exchange listing to fix a price then ensuring any successful bid for all the listed shares in the whole business would be from a bidder with, or with access to, the necessary capital. That bidder proved to be Ford.

1984 produced a record group output of 36,856 cars but less than 5% were badged Daimler. Two years later Daimler’s share had reached 11.5%, and would have been almost 23% if the Vanden Plas sold in the USA were included.

When the new XJ40 came into production in 1986, the Series III was kept in production a further six years to 1992 to carry the big Double Six engines.

Owned by Ford (1989-2007)

Further information: Premier Automotive Group

1992-94 Daimler Double Six Europe specification XJ81 produced 1992–1994

 Daimler Double Six Europe specification
XJ81 produced 1992–1994

In 1989 the Ford Motor Company paid £1.6 billion to buy Jaguar and with it the right to use the Daimler name. In 1992, Daimler (Ford) stopped production of the DS420 Limousine, the only model that was a little more than just a re-badged Jaguar.

When Ford bought Jaguar in 1990, the British press showed a coloured computer-generated image of a proposed ‘new’ Daimler car – not merely a rebadged Jaguar XJ. At least one related project has been documented.

Daimler remained the flagship Jaguar product in every country except the USA where the top Jaguar is known as the “XJ Vanden Plas” — Jaguar may have feared that the American market would confuse Jaguar Daimler with Daimler AG.


Daimler DoubleSix X300 v

 Double Six


 Double Six

Daimler’s centenary was celebrated in 1996 by the production of a special edition: 100 Double Six and 100 straight-six cars, each with special paint and other special finishes including electrically adjustable rear seats.

X300 1994–1997 SWB LWB
Daimler Six 1,362 1,330
Daimler Double Six 1,007 1,230
Daimler Century Six 100
Daimler Century Double Six 100

The single 2-door 4-seater convertible built in 1996 to commemorate Daimler’s centenary and called Daimler Corsica was based on the Daimler Double-Six saloon. The prototype, which lacked an engine, had all the luxury features of the standard saloon but a shorter wheelbase. Painted “Seafrost” it was named after a 1931 Daimler Double-Six with a body by Corsica. Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust have decommissioned it to operate as a fully functional road-legal car and it is on display at their museum at Browns Lane in Coventry, England.

Daimler Super V8

Daimler Super V8 (X308) front_20100515

 Daimler Super V8


 Daimler Super V8

1997 saw the end of production of the Double Six. It was superseded by the introduction of a (Jaguar) V8 engine and the new car was given the model name Mark II XJ. The engine was the only significant change from the previous XJ40. The replacement for the Double Six was the supercharged Super V8, the supercharger to compensate for the loss of one-third of the previous engine’s capacity.

X308 1997–2003 SWB LWB
Daimler Eight 164 2,119
Daimler Super V8 76 2,387

Daimler Super Eight

After a three-year break a new Daimler, the Super Eight, was presented in July 2005. It had a new stressed aluminium monocoque/chassis-body with a 4.2 L V8 supercharged engine which produced 291 kW (396 PS; 390 bhp) and a torque rating of 533 N·m (393 lb·ft) at 3500 rpm. This car was derived from the Jaguar XJ (X350).

Owned by Tata (2007-)

At the end of 2007 (the formal announcement was delayed until 25 March 2008), it became generally known that India’s Tata Group had completed arrangements to purchase Jaguar and Daimler.

Tata had spoken to the press of plans to properly relaunch England’s oldest car marque. In July 2008 Tata Group, the current owners of Jaguar and Daimler, announced they were considering transforming Daimler into “a super-luxury marque to compete directly with Bentley and Rolls-Royce”. Until the early 1950s it was often said “the aristocracy buy Daimlers, the nouveau riche buy Rolls-Royce”.

An application to register the Daimler name as a trademark in the USA was rejected in 2009.

Current status

The Daimler Company Limited, now The Daimler Motor Company Limited, is still registered as active and accounts are filed each year though it is currently marked “non-trading”. Until 20 December 1988 its name was The Daimler Company Limited.

Before 5 October 2007 Jaguar, while still controlled by Ford, reached agreement to permit then de-merging DaimlerChrysler to extend its use of the name Daimler. The announcement of this agreement was delayed until the end of July 2008 and made by Jaguar’s new owner, Tata.

By 2007, Jaguar’s use of the Daimler brand was limited to one model, the Super Eight, which was to be last Daimler model to be produced.

In 2009, Jaguar lost the right to trademark the Daimler name in the United States.

See also

1896 AC Daimler a 1896 AC-Daimler 1897 AC Daimler c 1897 Daimler 6hp twin-cylinder Six-seat brake 1898 AC-Daimler 1899 AC Daimler 1899 Daimler 12 HP 1899 Simms Motor Scout from Autocar 1900 AC-Daimler 1900 Daimler 6hp Sandringham first Royal ar 1527cc Prince of Wales 1903 AC Daimler 1903 Daimler 22 HP 1903 Daimler 22hp Beaulieu_National_Motor_Museum 1903-Daimler-AA11-1198 4cyl. 4.503cc 45mph 1904 AC Daimler 7 1904 AC Daimler 1904 Austro-daimler-AFV 1905 AC Daimler 8 1906 AC Daimler 1908 Daimler 48hp 4cyl 9.237l 5145 1909 AC Daimler d 1909 Daimler 2-door coupé TB22 4cyl 3.568cc 22.8hp 1910 AC-Daimler 1910 Daimler Limousine_7412388488 1910-20 Daimler EEW H82.254 12 1911 AC-Daimler 1911 Daimler 25hp landaulette 1913 Daimler CC double-decker bus 1913 Daimler TE30 Cranmore Landaulette 1913 Daimler Topedo bodied 3309cc

1913 Daimler type 20 touring car 1913 DAIMLERSHEFFIELDFirstomnibustobeboughtbySheffieldTransport-DaimlerCC419DodsonOT1816R34-SeatDoubleDeckerBusW32011913SheffieldNo1 1913 REPLICA DAIMLER CC-297 BUS J2503 1913 Replica-Daimler-CC-double-decker-bus 1913-cc-daimler-bus-at-beamish-museum-of-northern-life-passing-DAHEF8 1914 Daimler (for_Empress_of_Korea) 1915 Daimler Flatbed 3-ton Lorry PW104 Watts Lydney Glos 1917 12_inch_shells_at_Chilwell_1917_IWM_Q_30041 1920 AC-Daimler 1920 Daimler Type 45 all-weatherr tourer 1922 Daimler 21hp open tourer Car 1923 Daimler 57hp 9.4 Litre Hooper Limousine 1925 Daimler 16-55 1872cc 1925 Daimler 30hp 5918272390 7ca1a46f82 o 1925 Daimler 45 1925 Daimler 45-HP 1926-28 Daimler ADC Associated Daimler Compagny 1928 Daimler 35-120 landaulette 1930 AC Daimler 1930 Daimler Double Six Coupe 1930 Daimler 1931 Daimler Double Six Corsica Coupe 1931 Daimler double six corsica 1932 Daimler 40-50 Double Six Sport Saloon 1932 Daimler double 6 40-50 gurney-nutting sports-saloon 1932 Daimler double six 30 1932 Аustro-Daimler ADR8 Alpine 18-100PS 1933 Daimler 15 coupe 1933 Daimler Light 15 A7OC 1934 Daimler 15 drophead coupe 1934 Daimler Fifteen Interior 1935 Daimler royal double six 1935 Daimler 1936 Daimler 32hp Straight Eight

1936 Daimler e18 1936 Daimler Fifteen sports saloon 4-light 1 [ENW 924] 1936 Daimler light straight8 1937 Daimler EL Twenty-Four 241 1937 Daimler Light Twenty Saloon 1938 Daimler light straight eight vanden plas 1938 Daimler limo february ad 1939 Daimler 4 litre Light-Straight-Eight saloon 1939 Daimler 4ltr vogue 1939 Daimler 24 saloon 1947 Daimler de 27 1947 Daimler lav129 1947 Daimler Straight-Eight Limousine Landaulette 1947 Daimler Twenty-seven DE27 six-light limousine 1948 Daimler 2,5litre november ad 1948 Daimler CVD6 coach Halfcab bus 1948 Daimler hooper cabrio 1949 Daimler DB 18 Drophead Coupe 1949 Daimler DE 36 -Green Goddess-, Hooper limousine 1949 Daimler de27 hooper 1949 Daimler london '48nov 1949 Lanchester LD10 'Barker' Sixlite Saloon 1950 Daimler db 18 special sport 1950 Daimler de 36 straight 8 limousine-king thailand-max- 1951 Daimler 3-Litre Regency Saloon 1951 Daimler Consort saloon 6-light [FKG 897] 1951 Daimler DB18 Barker Sports 1951 Daimler de 36 cabrio 1951 Daimler de 36 coupe 1951 Daimler Unimog

1951 DB18 with Hooper Empress drophead coupé body 1952 Daimler 8 convertible in australia 1952 Daimler Barker Special Sports Convertible 1952 Daimler -Blue Clover-Lady Docker 1952 Daimler range advert 1952 Daimler Special Sports by Barker (DVLA) first registered 6 March 1952, 2522cc 1953 Daimler conquest roadster 1953 Daimler hooper london 1953 Daimler Roadster 1954 Daimler conquest century 1954 Daimler Conquest Series DJ Roadster and Drophead Coupe 1954 Daimler Conquest 1954 Queen_Elizabeth,_Cenotaph,_Sydney_NSW_1954 1955 Daimler conquest roadster 1955 Daimler Conquest 1955 Daimler DK 400 (2) 1955 Daimler DK 400 'Golden Zebra' Coupé 1955 Daimler DK 400 1956 Daimler conquest century roadster 1956 Daimler Conquest Century 1956 Daimler Ferret 1956 Daimler One-O-Four.1 1957 Daimler DK400b 1958 Daimler Ferret Armoured Car 1959 Daimler sp 250 tyl 1959 Daimler sp 250 1959 Daimlerade Eisenhower_Kabul_1959 1960 Daimler dart lhd centre l59 1960 Daimler Ferret Armoured Car 1961 Daimler of England DR450 (Majestic Major) Limousine 1961 Daimler SP 250 Roadster 1961 Daimler sp 250 1962 Daimler 2,5 v8 1962 Daimler majestic major january

1962 Daimler sp 250 dart 1962 Daimler v8 1963 Daimler sp250 1964 Daimler 25 litre v8 saloon 1964 Daimler Majestic Major 1964 Daimler majestic 1964 Daimler Type 250s 1965 Daimler 2,5 litre 1966 Daimler Ferret 1967 Daimler limousine DR450 4561cc 1967 Daimler Sovereign 4.235cc 1968 Daimler Fleetline 1968 example 1968 Daimler V8-250, hybrid Small Daimler V8 in a re-badged Jaguar car the most popular Daimler 1969 Daimler Sovereign 1970 Daimler limousine 1970 Daimler(2) 1970 Daimler(3) 1972 Daimler sovereign 4,2 SI 1972 1972 Daimler Sovereign based on XJ6 Series I 4325cc 1973 Daimler adcl 1974-Daimler-DS420-DV-11-SJ Vanden Plas 01 1975 Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas 1975 Daimler double-six coupe 1976 Daimler limousine 1978 Jaguar XJS 5343cc 1979 Daimler range (3) 1979 Daimler range (6) 1986–94 Daimler Six Europe specification XJ40 produced 1986-1988 Daimler Double Six sedan 01


1988 jaguar xj-s 1991 Jaguar XJS Coupé 1992-94 Daimler Double Six Europe specification XJ81 produced 1992–1994 2004 Jaguar XJR X350 4.2 litre Supercharged, Black

2004-2005 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas

The new Daimler Super Eight. (07/27/05)
The new Daimler Super Eight. (07/27/05)

2008 Jaguar XJ (Montreal) 2010 Daimler DS 420 Coventry 5846361726_80a7d25ec8_b Armored-car-batey-haosef-7-2 British_Mark_IV_Tadpole_tank daimler 105 hp engine Daimler (1) Daimler 16-55 tourer_Kop_Hill_Climb_2014_(15373006782)_(cropped) Daimler 250 V8 in a Jaguar MK1-2 shell Daimler a Daimler Armoured Car Daimler Conquest Century Drophead Coupe Daimler Conquest-Century Daimler DB18 [JLA 629] Daimler DB18 Eighteen 4-dr tourer Daimler Dingo Daimler DoubleSix X300 v Daimler DR450 Majestic Major Limousine Front End Daimler DS420 Limoisine Jaguar Mark X Magnificent_car_outside_St_Peter's Daimler Grill und Signet Daimler Limo Daimler logo.svg Daimler Majestic 3.8-litre saloon 1 Daimler Majestic Major saloon 5 Daimler Mk1 Armoured Car side Daimler r-w Daimler SP 250y

Daimler SP250 Dart driving up to the podium to collect the class award
Daimler SP250 Dart driving up to the podium to collect the class award

Daimler Sportsman sports saloon Daimler Super V8 (X308) front_20100515 Daimler Super V8 front Daimler transporton the Western Front DAIMLER V8 250 SALOON Daimler XJ40 VE

Daimler XJS prototype, Coventry Motor Museum, England Daimler-(England)-Logo Daimler, 2 cylinder motor car daimler Daimler_0 Daimler_1 Daimler_DoubleSix_h Daimler_logo Daimler_logo.svg daimler_logo_detail Daimler_Super_V8_(X308)_rear_20100515 daimler3 Daimler-car-of-Queen-Mother Daimler-England-Logo Daimler-England-Logo-brandtreeIntro-228dac20-192277 Daimler-Foster 105 hp artillery tractor daimlerlogo daimler-logo DaimlerLogo_3 daimler-logo-06 daimler-logo-24052015 Daimler-Super-Logo DH34 Biplane 1 Daimler de Havilland 34 Diplomatic Daimler Humber Ltd. (Bentley)_B._R._2 images (2) images (3) images (4) Jaguar to Daimler conversion 7941 Jaguar XJ-S V12 Cabrio Knight-Daimler_engine,_transverse_section_(Rankin_Kennedy,_Modern_Engines,_Vol_III) Lanchester 10 AXF200_010511_CPS Lanchester_Logo

Photographed at Wisley Bus Rally, April 2009
Photographed at Wisley Bus Rally, April 2009

mRvqGgwkb6knHEP4m2BwTww XU 177 Daimler bottle car LLandudno 2008 ZK-BFR_IMG_3379-Edit

List of Daimler cars

JAGUAR Cars Whitley, Coventry, England, UK at start now from Tata Motors India III


2012 Logo of Jaguar Cars, released in 2012

Whitley, Coventry, England, UK at start now from Tata Motors India III


1949 Jaguar-xk-120
  • Jaguar XK120
  • fastest production car in the world in 1949

Jaguar XK120

Jaguar XK120
Jaguar XK120

Jaguar XK120 Drop Head Coupe
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Production 1948–1954
12,055 made
Assembly Holbrook Lane, Coventry, England,United Kingdom (1948-1951)
Browns Lane, Coventry, England,United Kingdom (1951-54)
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-seat roadster (OTS)
2-seat coupé
2-seat drophead coupé
Layout FR layout
Related Jaguar C-Type
Engine 3.4 L XK I6
Wheelbase 102 in (2,591 mm)
Length 173 in (4,394 mm)
Width 61.5 in (1,562 mm)
Height 52.5 in (1,334 mm)
Predecessor Jaguar SS100
Successor Jaguar XK140

The Jaguar XK120 is a sports car which was manufactured by Jaguar between 1948 and 1954. It was Jaguar’s first sports car since the SS 100, which ceased production in 1940.


The XK120 was launched in open two-seater or (US) roadster form at the 1948 London Motor Show as a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine. The display car was the first prototype, chassis number 670001. It looked almost identical to the production cars except that the straight outer pillars of its windscreen would be curved on the production version. The roadster caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production.

Beginning in 1948, the first 242 cars wore wood-framed open 2-seater bodies with aluminium panels. Production switched to the 1cwt or 112 lb (51 kg) heavier all-steel in early 1950. The “120” in the name referred to the aluminium car’s 120 mph (193 km/h) top speed (faster with the windscreen removed), which made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch. In 1949 the first production roadster, chassis number 670003, was delivered to Clark Gable.

1949 Jaguar XK120 Roadster Clark Gable

The ex-Clark Gable XK120 at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

The XK120 was ultimately available in two open versions, first as an open 2-seater described in the US market as the roadster (and designated OTS, for open two-seater, in America), then also as a drophead coupé (DHC) from 1953; and also as a closed, or fixed head coupé (FHC) from 1951.

A smaller-engined version 2-litres, 4 cylinders, intended for the UK market was cancelled prior to production.

On 30 May 1949, on the empty Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium, a prototype XK120 timed by the officials of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium achieved an average of runs in opposing directions of 132.6 mph with the windscreen replaced by just one small aeroscreen and a catalogued alternative top gear ratio, and 135 mph with a passenger-side tonneau cover in place. In 1950 and 1951, at a banked oval track in France, XK120 roadsters averaged over 100 mph for 24 hours and over 130 mph for an hour, and in 1952 a fixed-head coupé took numerous world records for speed and distance when it averaged 100 mph for a week.

Roadsters were also successful in racing and rallying.


1950 Jaguar XK120 interior

1950 aluminium-bodied roadster, ex-Clemente Biondetti, has competition seats and aftermarket steering wheel; positions of tachometer and speedometer have been reversed

The first roadsters, hand-built with aluminium bodies on ash frames mounted on modified Jaguar Mark V chassis, were constructed between late 1948 and early 1950. To meet demand, and beginning with the 1950 model year, all subsequent XK120s were mass-produced with pressed-steel bodies. They retained aluminium doors, bonnet, and boot lid. The DHC and FHC versions, more luxuriously appointed than the roadsters, had wind-up windows and also wood veneers on the dashboard and interior door caps.

With alloy cylinder head, hemi-spherical combustion chambers, inclined valves and twin side-draft SU carburetors, the dual overhead-cam 3.4 L straight-6 XK engine was comparatively advanced for a mass-produced unit of the time. With standard 8:1 compression ratio it developed 160 bhp (119 kW), using 80 octane fuel. Most of the early cars were exported; a 7:1 low-compression version, with consequently reduced performance, was reserved for the UK market, where the post-war austerity measures then in force restricted buyers to 70 octane “Pool petrol”. The Jaguar factory, with access to 80 octane fuel, provided roadsters with the higher compression ratio to the press. Journalists could then test the model’s optimum performance in Belgium, on a long, straight stretch of road between Jabbeke and Ostend. The XK engine’s basic design, later modified into 3.8 and 4.2 litre versions, survived into the late 1980s.

All XK120s had independent torsion bar front suspension, semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear, recirculating ball steering, telescopically adjustable steering column, and all-round 12 inch drum brakes that were prone to fade. Some cars were fitted with Alfin (ALuminium FINned) brake drums to help overcome the fade.

1951 XK120 racing at Silverstone

1951 XK120 roadster racing at Silverstone has a single aeroscreen mounted behind the removable full-width windscreen

The roadster’s lightweight canvas top and detachable sidescreens stowed out of sight behind the seats, and its barchetta-style doors had no external handles; instead there was an interior pull-cord which was accessible through a flap in the sidescreens when the weather equipment was in place. The windscreen could be removed for aeroscreens to be fitted.

The drophead coupé (DHC) had a padded, lined canvas top, which folded onto the rear deck behind the seats when retracted, and roll-up windows with opening quarter lights. The flat glass two-piece windscreen was set in a steel frame that was integrated with the body and painted the same colour.

Dashboards and door-caps in both the DHC and the closed coupé (FHC) were wood-veneered, whereas the more spartan roadsters were leather-trimmed. All models had removable spats (“fender skirts” in America) covering the rear wheel arches, which enhanced the streamlined look. On cars fitted with optional centre-lock wire wheels (available from 1951), the spats were omitted as they gave insufficient clearance for the chromed, two-eared Rudge-Whitworth knockoff hubs. Chromium plated wire wheels were optional from 1953. When leaving the factory it originally fitted 6.00 × 16 inch cross ply tyres on 16 × 5K solid wheels (Pre–1951). Later cars could also specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato tyres as a radial option.

In addition to wire wheels, upgrades on the Special Equipment, or SE, version (called the M version in the United States) included increased power, stiffer suspension and dual exhaust system.


The Motor magazine road-tested an XK120 roadster in November 1949. This pre-production car, chassis number 670001, road-registered as HKV 455, was the first prototype built. It was also the 1948 London Motor Show display model, and had been driven by Prince Bira in the 1949 Silverstone Production Car Race. When tested, it had the 8:1 compression ratio, was fitted with an undertray, and ran with hood and sidescreens in place. The magazine reported a top speed of 124.6 mph (200.5 km/h), acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 10.0 seconds and fuel consumption of 19.8 miles per imperial gallon (14.3 L/100 km; 16.5 mpg-US). The car as tested cost £1263 including taxes.

Racing and rallying

XK120s were active in racing and rallying:


  • First race victory: In the Daily Express-sponsored One-Hour Production Car Race held on 30 August 1949 at Silverstone Circuit, England, Leslie Johnson drove the Jabbeke car to the XK120’s first-ever race victory (despite an early collision with a spinning Jowett Javelin which dropped the Jaguar to fifth). The car, road-registered HKV 500, was converted to right-hand drive for Silverstone. Two other XK120s took part. One, driven by Peter Walker, finished second and the other, driven by Prince Bira, spun out of contention when a tyre punctured.


  • First victory in America: In January 1950 Johnson also scored the model’s first competition success in America, winning the production class in a race at Palm Beach Shores, Florida with the car that had finished second at Silverstone. The Jaguar lost its brakes but finished fourth overall. John Lea, Jaguar’s Experimental Department mechanic who attended the race, reported: “The conditions at Palm Beach were wet, windy and sandy. Water and sand gained entry into the brake drums at the front, and the mixture had the effect of accelerating the wear very considerably. Our car finished with no linings and with the steel shoes bearing on the brake drums.”
  • Pebble Beach Cup: In May, XK120s driven by Phil Hill and Don Parkinson finished first and second in this event at the inaugural Pebble Beach Road Races in 1950.

In 1950 Jaguar allocated six alloy-bodied XK120s to drivers Johnson, Walker, Nick Haines, Clemente Biondetti, Ian Appleyard and Tommy Wisdom.

  • Le Mans: Three of the allocated cars, extensively modified, entered the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours race. Johnson, who spearheaded this factory-supported assault on the race with co-driver Bert Hadley, never ran lower than seventh place, and held second for two hours, but in the 21st hour had to retire from third place with clutch failure caused by using the gears to slow the car in the absence of brakes. (As a result the clutch was revised to a more robust design for production models.) The Jaguar had been closing the gap to leader Louis Rosier, whose Talbot’s pace was significantly slower, at a rate that would have secured victory. Haines, with co-driver Peter Clark, finished 12th, and Walker’s car, driven by Peter Whitehead and John Marshall, was 15th. The results convinced William Lyons it was worth investing in future success at Le Mans.
  • Mille Miglia: Johnson took fifth place in the Mille Miglia, with John Lea as his riding mechanic, while Biondetti and co-driver Gino Bronzoni finished eighth. Fifth was an outstanding achievement for a production car, with Johnson’s Jaguar beaten only by Fangio‘s works Alfa Romeo and the works Ferraris of Serafini, Bracco and winner Marzotto. It was Jaguar’s best-ever finish in the Mille Miglia; also the best by a British car and driver combination, a feat that only Reg Parnell ever equalled, driving an Aston Martin DB3 in 1953.
  • Silverstone Production Car Race: Five XK120s entered the race, which Peter Walker won from Tony Rolt, with Johnson recovering to eighth after spinning on oil. Jaguar won the team prize.
  • Tourist Trophy: XK120s also achieved a 1–2–3 victory in the TT, held at Dundrod in heavy rain. On the eve of his 21st birthday Stirling Moss drove Tom Wisdom’s car to a brilliant win ahead of Whitehead and Johnson, and Jaguar once again took the team prize.
1950 Jaguar XK120 roadster

This 1950 XK120 roadster won a Coupe des Alpes and a Coupe d’Or

  • Alpine Rally: Ian Appleyard’s XK120, road-registered as NUB 120, won the Alpine Rally with his wife Pat, who was the daughter of Sir William Lyons, navigating. They also won a coveted Coupe des Alpes.


  • Alpine Rally: NUB 120 and the Appleyards repeated their previous year’s success.
  • Tulip Rally: The Appleyards took first place in the Tulip Rally, with Swiss fighter pilot Rolf Habisreutinger’s XK120 finishing second.


  • Alpine Rally: Although the Appleyards’ XK120 did not win its third Alpine, it completed the rally without incurring a single penalty point, winning the first-ever Coupe d’Or (Gold Cup).


  • NASCAR road race: In America, an XK120 FHC was the first imported car to achieve victory in NASCAR, when Al Keller won the first NASCAR road race, held at Linden Airport, New Jersey, on 13 June 1954.

High-speed runs and records


  • 132.596 mph (213.393 km/h) through the flying mile: in May, Jaguar demonstrated an XK120 roadster to the press on the high-speed autoroute between Jabbeke and Aeltre in Belgium. The road was closed for the occasion. The white left-hand drive car, chassis number 670002, was the second XK120 built. Jaguar’s development engineer Walter Hassan was to have driven but fell ill, so Jaguar test-driver Ron “Soapy” Sutton substituted. With hood and sidescreens erected, and the airflow under the car improved by the addition of a full-length aluminium undertray, the Jaguar was timed through the flying mile by the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium at 126.448 mph (203.498 km/h). With hood, sidescreens and windscreen removed, a metal airflow deflector fitted in front of the driver, and a tonneau cover fastened over the passenger side of the cockpit the speed improved to 132.596 mph (213.393 km/h). The Observer’s Book of Automobiles said it was the fastest production car in the world.


  • 107.46 mph (172.94 km/h) for 24 hours (including stops for fuel and tyres): Leslie Johnson sharing his XK120 roadster, road-registered JWK 651, with Stirling Moss at the Autodrome de Montlhéry, a steeply banked oval track near Paris. The first time a production car had averaged over 100 mph (160.93 km/h) for 24 hours. Changing drivers every three hours, the Jaguar covered 2579.16 miles, with a best lap of 126.2 mph (203.10 km/h).


  • 131.83 mi (212.16 km) for one hour: Johnson solo in JWK 651 at Montlhéry. “No mean feat…driving at almost twice today’s maximum (UK) speed limit into a steep turn, assaulted by the G-Force induced by 30 degree banking twice every minute, using Forties technology, leaf spring suspension and narrow crossply tyres…Johnson remarked that the car felt so good it could have gone on for another week, an off-the-cuff comment that sowed the seed for another idea. Flat out for a week…”
1952 Jaguar XK120 fixed-head coupė averaged 100 mph for a week

This 1952 XK120 fixed-head coupė averaged 100 mph for a week


  • 100.31 mph (161.43 km/h) for 7 days and 7 nights, again at Montlhéry: XK120 fixed-head coupé driven by Johnson, Moss, Hadley and Jack Fairman. William Lyons, mindful of the considerable kudos and advertising mileage that had already accrued from Johnson’s exploits, commandeered a brand new XK120 FHC for him: bronze-colored, and fitted with wire wheels, it was Jaguar chief engineer Walter Hassan‘s car, the second right-hand drive coupé made. The car broke a spring on the track’s rough concrete surface when already well into the run. No spare was carried, and regulations stipulated that a replacement from outside would make the car ineligible for any further records beyond those already achieved before the repair. Johnson drove nine hours to save the other drivers from added risk while the speed had to be maintained on the broken spring. When he finally stopped to have it replaced, the car had taken the world and Class C 72-hour records at 105.55 mph (169.87 km/h), world and Class C four-day records at 101.17 mph (162.82 km/h), Class C 10,000-kilometer record at 107.031 mph (172.250 km/h), world and Class C 15,000-kilometer records at 101.95 mph (164.07 km/h), and world and Class C 10,000-mile (16,000 km) records at 100.65 mph (161.98 km/h). After the repair the car went on to complete the full seven days and nights, covering a total of 16,851.73 mi (27,120.23 km) at an average speed of 100.31 mph (161.43 km/h).

Jaguar XK100

A 2-litre four-cylinder version of the twin cam XK engine was to have powered an XK100 variant of the XK120 for the UK market. Details of the model were included in an “Advance Particulars” brochure for the XK  but Jaguar’s managers were dissatisfied with the engine and the project was cancelled prior to production.


  1. Jump up^ The Times, 31 May 1949
    Ostend 30 May: British Car’s Speed Record
    A Jaguar 3½-litre sports car . . . travelled at a timed speed of 132 mph on the Ostend-Jabbeke motorway today . . . The runs were timed by officials of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium . . . moreover it was running on normal Belgian pump petrol and at the end of its high speed runs it demonstrated its ability to throttle down to 15 mph in top gear and to accelerate speedily without pinking. Running with the hood up, the car averaged 126.4 mph for a mile in two runs in opposite directions. The fastest mean speed of 132.5 mph was reached with a racing windscreen in place, the best run being made at 133.2 mph. The car also covered a kilometre from a standing start at a speed of 74.1 mph and a mile at 86.4 mph.

Jaguar XK140

Jaguar XK140
1954 XK140 open two-seater or roadster

XK140 open two-seater or roadster 1954
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Production 1954–1957
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-seat roadster
2-seat convertible
2-seat coupé
Layout FR layout
Length 176 in (4,470 mm)
Width 64.5 in (1,638 mm)
Curb weight 3,136–3,248 lb (1,422–1,473 kg)
Predecessor Jaguar XK120
Successor Jaguar XK150

The Jaguar XK140 is a sports car manufactured by Jaguar between 1954 and 1957 as the successor to the XK120. Upgrades included more interior space, improved brakes, rack and pinion steering, increased suspension travel, and telescopic shock absorbers instead of the older lever arm design.


The XK140 was introduced in late 1954 and sold as a 1955 model. Exterior changes that distinguished it from the XK120 included more substantial front and rear bumpers with overriders, and flashing turn signals (operated by a switch on the dash) above the front bumper.

Emblem Jaguar XK 140

Boot emblem

The grille remained the same size but became a one-piece cast unit with fewer, and broader, vertical bars. The Jaguar badge was incorporated into the grille surround. A chrome trim strip ran along the centre of the bonnet (hood) and boot (trunk) lid. An emblem on the boot lid contained the words “Winner Le Mans 1951–3″.

Jaguar XK140(cropped)

Roadster rear

1956 Jaguar XK 140

Open two-seater or roadster interior 1956 showing waterproof leather fascia

Jaguar XK140 Drophead coupé interior

Drophead coupé interior

1955 LA2 Jaguar XK 140 DHC rear

Drophead coupé 1955

Jaguar XK140 fixed head coupé

Fixed head coupé

The interior was made more comfortable for taller drivers by moving the engine, firewall and dash forward to give 3 inches (76 mm) more legroom. Two 6-volt batteries, one in each front wing were fitted to the Fixed Head Coupe, but Drop Heads and the Open Two Seater had a single 12-volt battery. This was installed in the front wing on the passenger side (e.g. In the left wing on right hand drive cars and in the right wing on left hand drive).

The XK140 was powered by the Jaguar XK engine with the Special Equipment modifications from the XK120, which raised the specified power by 10 bhp to 190 bhp (142 kW) gross at 5500 rpm, as standard. The C-Type cylinder head, carried over from the XK120 catalogue, and producing 210 bhp (157 kW) gross at 5750 rpm, was optional equipment.

When fitted with the C-type head, 2-inch sand-cast H8 carburettors, heavier torsion bars and twin exhaust pipes, the car was designated XK140 SE in the UK and XK140 MC in North America.

In 1956 the XK140 became the first Jaguar sports car to be offered with automatic transmission. As with the XK120, wire wheels and dual exhausts were options, and most XK140s imported into the United States had wire wheels. Cars with the standard disc wheels had spats (fender skirts) over the rear wheel opening. When leaving the factory it originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch crossply tyres or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels or 16 × 5K (special equipment) wire wheels.

Body styles

The Roadster (designated OTS – Open Two Seater – in America) had a light canvas top that folded out of sight behind the seats. The interior was trimmed in leather and leatherette, including the dash. Like the XK120 Roadster, the XK140 version had removable canvas and plastic side curtains on light alloy barchetta-type doors, and a tonneau cover. The door tops and scuttle panel were cut back by two inches(50mm) compared to the XK120, to allow a more modern positioning of the steering wheel. The angle of the front face of the doors (A-Post) was changed from 45 degrees to 90 degrees, to make access easier.

The Drophead Coupé (DHC) had a bulkier lined canvas top that lowered onto the body behind the seats, a fixed windscreen integral with the body (the Roadster’s screen was removable), wind-up side windows, and a small rear seat. It also had a walnut-veneered dashboard and door cappings.

The Fixed Head Coupé (FHC) shared the DHC’s interior trim and rear seat. The prototype Fixed Head Coupe retained the XK120 Fixed Head roof-profile, with the front wings and doors the same as the Drophead. In production, the roof was lengthened with the screen being placed further forward, shorter front wings, and longer doors. This resulted in more interior space, and more legroom.


Realistically, a stock XK-140 SE could achieve a top speed of 120–125 mph (193–201 km/h). Road & Track ’​s XK-140 MC test in June 1955 recorded a best two-way average of 120.3 mph (193.6 km/h). Best one-way run was 121.1 mph (194.9 km/h). Sports Cars Illustrated ’​s test of the same model in Aug 1957 had a fastest two-way average of 121 mph (195 km/h). Their best one-way run was 124 mph (200 km/h). Karl Ludvigsen’s test published in Sports Car World (July 1957) had the same results as the SCI test.

Acceleration times from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) were 8.4 seconds, 9.1 seconds and 9.1 seconds respectively. Only the R&T test tried 0–100 mph (160 km/h) which took 26.5 seconds. Standing 1/4 mile (~400 m) times were 16.6 seconds (82 mph (132 km/h) approx) and 16.9 seconds (86 mph (138 km/h)).

Jaguar XK150

Jaguar XK150
1958 Jaguar XK150 Roadster

1958 Jaguar XK150 Roadster
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Production 1957–1961
Assembly Coventry, England
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2–3 seater coupé
2–3 seater convertible
2 seater roadster
Layout FR layout
Engine 3442 cc(210CID) I6
3781 cc I6
Wheelbase 2,591 mm (102.0 in)
Length 4,496 mm (177.0 in)
Width 1,580 mm (62.2 in)
Kerb weight 2,968 lb (1,346 kg)
Predecessor Jaguar XK140
Successor Jaguar E-type

The Jaguar XK150 is a sports car produced by Jaguar between 1957 and 1961. It replaced the XK140.

Initially it was available in Fixed Head Coupé (FHC) and Drophead Coupé (DHC) versions. The Roadster (XK150 OTS – Open Two-Seat) was launched in 1958. Minimal rear seats were fitted in the coupés.


Although bearing a family resemblance to the XK120 and XK140, the XK150 was radically revised. A one-piece windscreen replaced the split screen, and the wing line no longer dropped so deeply at the doors. The widened bonnet opened down to the wings, and on the Roadster the windscreen frame was moved back 4 inches (102 mm) to make the bonnet longer. The car was available at various times in Red, Pearl Grey, White, Indigo Blue, Claret, Cotswold Blue, Black, Mist Grey, Sherwood Green, Carmen Red, British Racing Green, Cornish Grey, and Imperial Maroon.

The XK140’s walnut dashboard was replaced by one trimmed in leather. On the early Drophead Coupés, the aluminium centre dash panel, which was discontinued after June 1958, had an X pattern engraving similar to the early 3.8 E-type. Thinner doors gave more interior space. On the front parking lights, which were located atop the wings (fenders), a little red light reminded the driver the lights were on.

Suspension and chassis were very similar to the XK140, and steering was by rack and pinion; power steering was not offered. The standard engine, the similar to the XK140, but with an new “B” type cylinder head, was the 3.4 litre DOHC Jaguar straight-6 rated at 180 SAE bhp at 5750 rpm but most cars were fitted with the SE engine whose modified cylinder head (B type) and larger exhaust valves boosted the power to 210 SAE bhp at 5500 rpm. Twin 1.75-inch (44 mm) SU HD6 carburettors were fitted.

While the first XK150s were slower than their predecessors, the deficit was corrected in the spring of 1958 with a 3.4-litre “S” engine whose three 2-inch (51 mm) SU HD8 carburettors and straight-port cylinder head increased power to a claimed 250 SAE bhp.

For 1960, the 3.4 litre engine was bored to 3.8 litres, rating this option at 220 hp (164 kW; 223 PS) in standard tune or 265 hp (198 kW; 269 PS) in “S” form. A 3.8 litre 150S could top 135 mph (217 km/h) and go from 0–60 mph in around 7.0 seconds. Fuel economy was 18mpg.[3] Four-wheel Dunlop 12 in (305 mm) disc brakes appeared for the first time although it was theoretically possible to order a car with drums. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch Dunlop Road Speed tyres as standard, or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels (basic models) or 16 × 5K wire wheels.

Production ended in October 1960, and totalled 2265 Roadsters, 4445 Fixed Head Coupés and 2672 Drophead Coupés.


A 250 bhp 3.4 litre XK150S Fixed-Head Coupé with limited slip differential was tested by The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 132 mph (212 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.8 seconds. Fuel consumption of 22.0 miles per imperial gallon (12.8 L/100 km; 18.3 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £2110 including taxes of £623. It was at the time the fastest closed car the magazine had ever subjected to a full road test.


Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type
1963 Jaguar XK-E Roadster
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Also called Jaguar XK-E
Production 1961–752014
Assembly Coventry, England
Designer Malcolm Sayer
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Layout FR layout
Related Jaguar D-Type
Jaguar XJ13
Predecessor Jaguar XK150
Successor Jaguar XJ-S
Jaguar F-Type

The Jaguar E-Type (a.k.a. Jaguar XK-E) is a British sports car, which was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of good looks, high performance and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. More than 70,000 E-Types were sold.

In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in a The Daily Telegraph online list of the world’s “100 most beautiful cars” of all time.

In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.


The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a rear-wheel drive grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as a two-seater convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). A “2+2” four-seater version of the coupé, with a lengthened wheelbase, was released several years later.

On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”.

Later model updates of the E-Type were officially designated “Series 2” and “Series 3”, and over time the earlier cars have come to be referred to as “Series 1” and “Series 1½”.

Of the “Series 1” cars, Jaguar manufactured some limited-edition variants, inspired by motor racing :

  • The “‘Lightweight’ E-Type” which was apparently intended as a sort of follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, two have been converted to Low-Drag form and two others are known to have been wrecked and deemed to be beyond repair, although one has now been rebuilt. These are exceedingly rare and sought after by collectors.
  • The “Low Drag Coupé” was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognised the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.

Concept versions

E1A (1957)

After the company’s success at the Le Mans 24 hr through the 1950s, Jaguar’s defunct racing department was given the brief to use D-Type style construction to build a road-going sports car, replacing the XK150.

The first prototype (E1A) featured a monocoque design, Jaguar’s fully independent rear suspension and the well proved “XK” engine. The car was used solely for factory testing and was never formally released to the public. The car was eventually scrapped by the factory.

E2A (1960)

Jaguar’s second E-Type concept was E2A which, unlike the E1A, was constructed from a steel chassis with an aluminium body. This car was completed as a racing car as it was thought by Jaguar at the time it would provide a better testing ground. E2A used a 3-litre version of the XK engine with a Lucas fuel injection system.

After retiring from the Le Mans 24 hr the car was shipped to America to be used for racing by Jaguar privateer Briggs Cunningham. In 1961, the car returned to Jaguar in England to be used as a test vehicle. Ownership of E2A passed to Roger Woodley (Jaguar’s customer competition car manager) who took possession on the basis the car not be used for racing. E2A had been scheduled to be scrapped. Roger’s wife Penny Griffiths owned E2A until 2008 when it was offered for sale at Bonham’s Quail Auction. It eventually sold for US$4,957,000.

Production versions

Series 1 (1961–68)

Series I
Jaguar e-Type series one
Production March 1961–68
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
2-door 2+2 coupe
2-door roadster
Engine 3.8 L XK I6
4.2 L XK I6
Transmission 4-speed manual; 3-speed automatic (automatic available 1966-onward, 2+2 model only)
Wheelbase 96.0 in (2,438 mm) (FHC / OTS)
105.0 in (2,667 mm) (2+2)
Length 175.3125 in (4,453 mm) (FHC / OTS)
184.4375 in (4,685 mm) (2+2)
Width 65.25 in (1,657 mm) (all)
Height 48.125 in (1,222 mm) (FHC)
50.125 in (1,273 mm) (2+2)
46.5 in (1,181 mm) (OTS)
Kerb weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg) (FHC)
2,770 lb (1,256 kg) (OTS)
3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)

The Series 1 was introduced, initially for export only, in March 1961. The domestic market launch came four months later in July 1961. The cars at this time used the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre six-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from the XK150S. Earlier built cars utilised external bonnet latches which required a tool to open and had a flat floor design. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin bonnet latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8-litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in October 1964.

The 4.2-litre engine produced the same power as the 3.8-litre (265 bhp;198 kW) and same top speed (150 mph;241 km/h), but increased torque from 240 to 283 lb·ft (325 to 384 N·m). Acceleration remained pretty much the same and 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) times were around 7.0 seconds for both engines, but maximum power was now reached at 5,400rpm instead of 5,500rpm on the 3.8-litre. That all meant better throttle response for drivers that did not want to shift down gears.

Autocar road tested a UK spec E-Type 4.2 fixed head coupe in May 1965. The maximum speed was 153 mph (246 km/h), the 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time was 7.6 seconds and the 14 mile (402 m) from a standing start took 15.1 seconds. They summarised it as “In its 4.2 guise the E-type is a fast car ( the fastest we have ever tested) and offers just about the easiest way to travel quickly by road.”.

Motor magazine road tested a UK spec E-Type 4.2 fixed head coupe in Oct 1964. The maximum speed was 150 mph (241 km/h), the 0-60 mph time was 7 seconds and the 14 mile time was 14.9 seconds.They summarised it as “The new 4.2 supersedes the early 3.8 as the fastest car Motor has tested. The absurd ease which 100mph can be exceeded in a 14 mile never failed to astonish. 3,000 miles of testing confirms that this is still one of the worlds outstanding cars”.

All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension with torsion bar front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were power-assisted. Jaguar was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to equip cars with disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 can be recognised by glass-covered headlights (up to 1967), small “mouth” opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the number plate in the rear.

3.8-litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and a Moss four-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for first gear (“Moss box”). 4.2-litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox. 4.2-litre cars also have a badge on the boot proclaiming “Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type” (3.8 cars have a simple “Jaguar” badge). Optional extras included chrome spoked wheels and a detachable hard top for the OTS. When leaving the factory the car was originally fitted with Dunlop 6.40 × 15 inch RS5 tyres on 15 × 5K wire wheels (with the rear fitting 15 × 5K½ wheels supplied with 6.50 X15 Dunlop Racing R5 tyres in mind of competition). Later Series One cars were fitted with Dunlop 185 – 15 SP41 or 185 VR 15 Pirelli Cinturato as radial ply tyres.[

A 2+2 version of the coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of an automatic transmission. The body is 9 in (229 mm) longer and the roof angles are different. The roadster and the non 2+2 FHC (Fixed Head Coupe) remained as two-seaters.

Less widely known, right at the end of Series 1 production and prior to the transitional “Series 1½” referred to below, a very small number 10 to 20 Series 1 cars were produced, with open headlights in the uk, these series one cars that had their head lights modified by removing the covers and altering the scoops they sit in, the headlights differ in several respects from the “production” Series 1½, the main being they are shorter at 143mm from the production Series 1½ at 160mm . Production dates on these machines vary but in right hand drive form production has been verified as late as March 1968. The low number of these cars produced make them amongst the rarest of all production E Types.

Following the Series 1 there was a transitional series of cars built in 1967–68, unofficially called “Series 1½”, which are externally similar to Series 1 cars. Due to American pressure the new features were open headlights, different switches, and some de-tuning (using two Zenith-Stromberg carburetters instead of the original three SUs) for US models. Some Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style. A United States federal safety law affecting 1968 model year cars sold in the US was the reason for the lack of headlight covers and change in switch design in the “Series 1.5” of 1968. An often overlooked change, one that is often “modified back” to the older style, is the wheel knock-off “nut.” US safety law for 1968 models also forbid the winged-spinner knockoff, and any 1968 model year sold in the US should have a hexagonal knockoff nut, to be hammered on and off with the assistance of a special “socket” included with the car from the factory. This hexagonal nut carried on into the later Series 2 and 3.

An open 3.8-litre car, actually the first such production car to be completed, was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1961 and had a top speed of 149.1 mph (240.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 7.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.3 miles per imperial gallon (13.3 L/100 km; 17.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £2,097 including taxes.

The cars submitted for road test by the popular motoring journals of the time (1961)such as The Motor, The Autocar and Autosport magazines were specially prepared by the Jaguar works to give better-than-standard performance figures. This work entailed engine balancing and subtle work such as gas-flowing the cylinder heads and may even have involved fitting larger diameter inlet valves.

Both of the well-known 1961 road test cars: the E-type Coupe Reg. No. 9600 HP and E-type Convertible Reg.No. 77 RW, were fitted with Dunlop Racing Tyres on test, which had a larger rolling diameter and lower drag co-efficient. This goes some way to explaining the 150 mph (240 km/h) maximum speeds that were obtained under ideal test conditions. The maximum safe rev limit for standard 6-cylinder 3.8-litre E-type engines is 5,500 rpm. The later 4.2-Litre units had a red marking on the rev counter from just 5,000 rpm. The maximum safe engine speed is therefore 127 mph (3.31:1 axle) and 137 mph (3.07:1 axle) at the 5,500 rpm limit. Both test cars must have reached or exceeded 6,000 rpm in top gear when on road test in 1961.

Jaguar E-Type S1 4.2 Roadster

Series 1 4.2 Roadster, pictured in London

Production numbers from Robson:

  • 15,490 3.8s
  • 17,320 4.2s
  • 10,930 2+2s

Production numbers:

FHC OTS 2+2 Total
S1 3.8 7,670 7,828 0 15,498
S1 4.2 5,830 6,749 3,616 16,195
S1.5 1,942 2,801 1,983 6,726
TOTAL 38,419

Series 2 (1968–71)

Series II
1969 Jaguar E-Type roadster
Production 1968–71
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
2-door 2+2 coupe
2-door roadster
Engine 4.2 L XK I6
Kerb weight 3,018 lb (1,369 kg) (FHC)
2,750 lb (1,247 kg) (OTS)
3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)

The Series 2 introduced a number of design changes, largely due to U.S. design legislation. The most distinctive feature is the absence of the aerodynamic glass headlight covers, which impacted several otherimported cars, like the Citroën DS, as well. Unlike other cars, this retrograde step was applied worldwide for the E-Type, not just to Americans living under the authority of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Other hallmarks of Series 2 cars are a wrap-around rear bumper, re-positioned and larger front indicators and tail lights below the bumpers, better cooling aided by an enlarged “mouth” and twin electric fans, and uprated brakes.

A combination steering lock and ignition key was fitted to the steering column, which replaced the dash board mounted ignition switch and charismatic push button starter. A new steering column was fitted with a collapsible section in the event of an accident.

New seats were fitted, which purists claim lacked the style of the originals but were certainly more comfortable. These new seats allowed the fitment of head restraints, as required by U.S. law beginning in 1969. The interior and dashboard were also redesigned; rocker switches that met US health and safety regulations were substituted for toggle switches. The dashboard switches also lost their symmetrical layout.

The engine is easily identified visually by the change from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial “ribbed” appearance. It was de-tuned in the US with twin Strombergs and larger valve clearances, but in the UK retained triple SUs and the much tighter valve clearances. (Late Series 1½ cars also had ribbed cam covers). This detuned engine produced 245 hp (183 kW), a drop of 20hp.

Air conditioning and power steering were available as factory options.

Production according to Robson is 13,490 of all types.

Series 2 production numbers:

S2 4,855 8,628 5,326 18,809

Official delivery numbers by market and year are listed in Porter but no summary totals are given.

Series 3 (1971–75)

Series III
1974 Jaguar E-Type
Production 1971–75
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupe
2-door roadster
Engine 5.3 L Jaguar V12 engine
Wheelbase 105 in (2,667 mm) (both)
Length 184.4 in (4,684 mm) (2+2)
184.5 in (4,686 mm) (OTS)
Width 66.0 in (1,676 mm) (2+2)
66.1 in (1,679 mm) (OTS)
Height 48.9 in (1,242 mm) (2+2)
48.1 in (1,222 mm) (OTS)
Kerb weight 3,361 lb (1,525 kg) (2+2)
3,380 lb (1,533 kg) (OTS)

A new 5.3 L twelve-cylinder Jaguar V12 engine was introduced, with uprated brakes and standard power steering. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued and the V12 was available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. The convertible used the longer-wheelbase 2+2 floorplan. The Series 3 is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille and flared wheel arches, and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. Cars for the US market were fitted with large projecting rubber bumper over-riders (in 1973 these were on front, in 1974 both front and rear) to meet local 5 mph (8 km/h) impact regulations, but those on European models were considerably smaller. US models also have side indicator repeats on the front wings. There were also a very limited number of six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales literature. When leaving the factory the V12 Open Two Seater and V12 2 ± 2 originally fitted Dunlop E70VR − 15 inch tyres on 15 × 6K wire or solid wheels.

Robson lists production at 15,290.

Series 3 production numbers:

S3 0 7,990 7,297 15,287
Jaguar E-Type Series 3 2+2

Jaguar E-Type Series 3 2+2

Limited editions

Two limited production E-Type variants were made as test beds, the Low Drag Coupe and Lightweight E-Type, both of which were raced:

Low Drag Coupé (1962)

Shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to investigate the possibility of building a car more in the spirit of the D-Type racer from which elements of the E-Type’s styling and design were derived. One car was built to test the concept designed as a coupé as its monocoque design could only be made rigid enough for racing by using the “stressed skin” principle. Previous Jaguar racers were built as open-top cars, because they were based on ladder frame designs with independent chassis and bodies. Unlike the steel production E-Types, the LDC used lightweight aluminium. Malcolm Sayer retained the original tub with lighter outer panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel sub frame remained intact, the windshield was given a more pronounced slope, and the rear hatch was welded shut. Rear brake cooling ducts appeared next to the rear windows, and the interior trim was discarded, with only insulation around the transmission tunnel. With the exception of the windscreen, all cockpit glass was perspex. A tuned version of Jaguar’s 3.8-litre engine with a wide-angle cylinder head design tested on the D-Type racers was used. Air management became a problem and, though a higher performing vehicle than its production counterpart, the car was never competitive.

The only test bed car was completed in summer of 1962 but was sold a year later to Jaguar racing driver Sledge hammer Protheroe. Since then it has passed through the hands of several collectors on both sides of the Atlantic and is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

Lightweight E-Type (1963–64, 2014)

Twelve cars plus two spare bodies were made by Jaguar.

In some ways, this was an evolution of the Low Drag Coupé. It made extensive use of aluminium alloy in the body panels and other components. However, with at least one exception, it remained an open-top car in the spirit of the D-Type to which this car is a more direct successor than the production E-Type which is more of a GT than a sports car. The cars used an aluminium block tuned version of the production 3.8-litre Jaguar engine with 300 bhp (224 kW) output rather than the 265 bhp (198 kW) produced by the “ordinary” version. Factory-built lightweights were homologated by Jaguar with three 45DCO3 Weber carburettors in addition to a Lucas mechanical fuel injection system. Early cars were fitted with a close-ratio version of the four-speed E-type gearbox, with some later cars being fitted with a ZF 5-speed gearbox.

The cars were entered in various races but, unlike the C-Type and D-Type racing cars, they did not win at Le Mans or Sebring but were reasonably successful in private hands and in smaller races.

One Lightweight was modified into a Low-Drag Coupé (the Lindner/Nocker car), by Malcolm Sayer.

1963 Jaguar E-type Lightweight Low Drag Coupe

The Klat designed 1963 Jaguar E-type Lightweight Low Drag Coupe

Another Lightweight was modified into a unique Low-Drag design (the Lumsden/Sargent car), by Dr Samir Klat of Imperial College. Along with the factory LDC, this lightweight is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

Many were fitted with more powerful engines as developments occurred.

On 14 May 2014, Jaguar’s Heritage Business announced it will be building the six ‘remaining’ Lightweights. The original run of Lightweights was meant to be 18 vehicles; however only 12 were built. The new cars, using the un-used chassis codes, will be hand-built to exactly the same specification as the originals. Availability will be prioritised for established collectors of Jaguars, with a focus on those who have an interest in historic race cars.


Jaguar at Goodwood Hill

Jaguar at Goodwood Hill

Bob Jane won the 1963 Australian GT Championship at the wheel of a “lightweight” E-Type.

The Jaguar E-Type was very successful in SCCA Production sports car racing with Group44 and Bob Tullius taking the B-Production championship with a Series-3 V12 racer in 1975.[29] A few years later, Gran-Turismo Jaguar from Cleveland Ohio campaigned a 4.2-litre six-cylinder FHC racer in SCCA production series, and in 1980 won the National Championship in the SCCA C-Production Class, defeating a fully funded factory Nissan Z-car team with Paul Newman.

Jaguar XJS

Jaguar XJ-S
Jaguar XJS 3,6
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Production 1975–1996
Assembly Coventry, England
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Layout FR layout
Predecessor Jaguar E-Type
Successor Jaguar XK8
XJ-S (Pre H.E.)
1978 Jaguar XJ-S
Production 1975–1980
14,800 built
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupé
Engine 5.3 L Jaguar V12
Wheelbase 102 in (2,591 mm)
Length 191.72 in (4,870 mm)
Width 70.6 in (1,793 mm)
Height 50 in (1,300 mm)

The Jaguar XJ-S (later the Jaguar XJS), a luxury grand tourer, was produced by the British manufacturer Jaguar from 1975 to 1996. The XJ-S replaced the E-Type (also known as the XK-E) in September 1975, and was based on the XJ saloon. It had been developed as the XK-F, though it was very different in character from its predecessor. Although it never had quite the same sporting image, the XJ-S was a competent grand tourer, and more aerodynamic than the E-Type. The last XJS was produced on 4 April 1996, by then 115,413 had been produced during a 21-year production life. The model was replaced by the XK8.


The first XJ-S appeared in 1975 as a 1976 model. The development of the car had begun in the late 1960s as project XJ27, with an initial shape set by Malcolm Sayer, but after his death in 1970 it was completed by the in-house Jaguar design team, headed by Doug Thorpe. Power came from the Jaguar V12 petrol engine with a choice of a manual or automatic transmission, but the manual was soon dropped as they were left over from V12 E Type production. V12 automobiles were unusual at the time, with notable others coming from Italian luxury sports car makers Lamborghini and Ferrari. The specifications of the XJ-S compared well with both Italian cars; it was able to accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.6 seconds (automatic) and had a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h).[4] The first series of XJ-S cars had a Borg-Warner Model 12 transmission with a cast-iron case and a bolt-on bell-housing. In 1977 GM Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmissions were fitted.[5] The TH400 transmission was an all-aluminium alloy case with an integrated non-detachable bell-housing. When leaving the factory the XJ-S originally fitted Dunlop SP Super E205/70VR tyres on 15 × 6K alloy wheels, though British police forces would upgrade from this factory standard and fit a higher performing 205/70VR15 Michelin XWX to the Jaguars in their fleet.

Jaguar’s timing was not good; the car was launched in the wake of a fuel crisis, and the market for a 5.3-litre V12 grand tourer was very small. The styling was also the subject of criticism, including the buttresses behind the windows. German authorities feared these would restrict rearward vision, and refused to give the model (along with Lancia‘s similarly adorned Montecarlo model) type approval: it was for a time necessary instead for German XJS buyers to obtain type approval for each individual car when registering it. Such fears were ill founded, since in reality the rear visibility was very reasonable, with only the frontmost top edges of the buttresses being visible, when looking rearward.

Jaguar did seize promotional opportunities with the television series The New Avengers and Return of the Saint. The New Avengers featured Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt) who drove an XJ-S. Return of the Saint saw Simon Templar (played by Ian Ogilvy) driving an early XJ-S with the number plate “ST 1”. Miniature versions were made by Corgi and proved popular. A decade and a half before, Jaguar had turned down the producers of the earlier Saint series when approached about the E-type; the producers had instead used a Volvo P1800.

Responding to criticisms that the XJ-S was not a worthy E-type successor, Pininfarina revealed a sporty show car in 1978 based on XJ-S mechanicals and called Jaguar XJSpider. The car never went into production.


XJ-S H.E., 3.6, XJ-SC
1981 Jaguar XJS
Production (All engines, including H.E. and 3.6)
73,207 built
Coupé: 55,822
Targa / convertible: 5,013
Full convertible: 12,372
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupé
2-door targa convertible (1983-88, V12 from 1985)
2-door full convertible (from 1988)
Engine 3.6 L AJ6 I6
5.3 L HE V12
Transmission 5-speed manual (3.6 only)
3/4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 102.0 in (2,591 mm)
Length 191.7 in (4,869 mm)
Width 70.6 in (1,793 mm)
Height 47.8 in (1,214 mm)

From July 1980, the XJ-S became the XJS-HE received the new High-Efficiency engine for much better economy which included the Fire Ball combustion chamber designed by Swiss Engineer Michael May, as a by-product, power was increased to 220 kW (295 hp) or 196 kW (263 hp) in North America. At the same time, the XJS-HE received changes to its exterior and interior (Body coloured trunk plinth in place of the standard previous black, new five-spoke (Starfish) alloy wheels, chrome inserts on the upper part of the bumpers, Burled Elm wood inserts on dashboard and door cappings). In 1982, the new V12 XJS-HE won first and second at the RAC Tourist Trophy race at Silverstone.

Six-cylinder version and a convertible

1986 Jaguar XJ-SC targa convertible (US spec, with twin headlights)

1986 Jaguar XJ-SC targa convertible (US spec, with twin headlights)

In 1983, a new 3.6-litre engine débuted – the Jaguar AJ6 straight-six (I6) engine – as well as a new cabriolet version, the XJ-SC. In the XJ-SC, the coupé’s rather small rear seats were eliminated making it only a 2-seat car. The XJ-SC was not a full convertible but had a non-removable centre targa-type structure and fixed cant rails above the doors. The rear quarter windows remained as well. The six-cylinder cars can be identified by a slightly raised “power bulge” — the longitudinal centre section of the bonnet.

Between 1983 and 1987 the six-cylinder-engined cars were only available with a five-speed manual transmission (Getrag 265), with a four-speed automatic (ZF 4HP22) offered from 1987 onwards (along with improved fuel injection as used on the XJ40). The earlier, manual models were not imported by Jaguar into the United States, which had to wait until the facelift manual 4-litre XJS coupé and convertible were available.

A V12 XJ-SC emerged in 1985.

Full convertible

1989 Jaguar XJ-S (pre-facelift) full convertible

1989 (pre-facelift) full convertible

The two-seat XJ-SC targa-type model, never a great success in the market place, was replaced with a two-seat full convertible in 1988 which proved to be a great hit.

1988 Jaguar pre-facelift XJ-S coupé note new 'crosslace' road wheels

1988 pre-facelift XJ-S coupé; note new ‘crosslace’ road wheels

Coach Builders limited(1983–1988)

Coach Builders limited converted XJS from coupe. It has 4 seats compared to factory convertible. Number produced is unknown.

Hess & Eisenhardt convertible

From 1986 a full convertible version was available through some dealers, modified by Hess & Eisenhardt in the USA. The Hess & Eisenhardt coachbuilding firm was located in Ohio, USA, and built about 893 of these cars under contract from Jaguar before the official Jaguar-built XJS full convertible appeared in 1988.

The Hess & Eisenhardt convertible differed from the later Jaguar convertible XJS as its unpadded top folded down deeper into the body structure of the car resulting in a cleaner rear profile when the roof was lowered. To accommodate this design element, the Hess & Eisenhardt convertibles have two separate fuel tanks, positioned to allow for the roof to fully retract. The process of converting the stock Jaguar XJS coupé into the H&E Convertible included the post-production removal of the roof, cutting the body in several sections, the addition of steel reinforcements behind the driver’s seat, and 20 lb (9.1 kg) weights placed just behind the headlights to eliminate harmonic resonance caused by the significant modifications to the car. H&E XJS convertibles are easily identified by the lower folding top, as well as two small badges located just behind the front wheels. The later Jaguar full convertible had a heavier padded top that did not fold into as small a bundle when in the lowered position, but retained nearly all of the original components of the coupé.

The number of H&E Jaguar XJS produced is unknown, partly because a fire at the Hess & Eisenhardt factory destroyed most of the records pertaining to the Jaguar XJS conversions.


From 1988, a special XJR-S version of the V12 5.3-litre car was produced by JaguarSport, a separate company owned 50:50 by Jaguar and TWR. This car had a distinctive body kit, special alloy wheels and suspension and handling improvements. the first 100 of these cars were termed “Celebration Le Mans” to commemorate Jaguar’s 1988 win at Le Mans. Between 1988 and 1989 a total of 350 XJR-S cars were produced with the 5.3-litre engine. After September 1989 the change was made to a special 6.0-litre engine with a Zytec engine management system (234 kW (314 hp), later 245 kW (329 hp)). This was different from the standard 6.0-litre engine used in the late XJS models. The XJR-S stayed in the line until 1993; a total of 1,130 cars were built.


Daimler XJS prototype

Daimler XJS prototype

Jaguar considered a luxury Daimler version tentatively called Daimler-S, without the buttresses. One prototype was made in 1986, but the vehicle was not put into production. Paul Banham did produce some custom notch back coupés without the buttresses, larger rear side windows, and a narrow C-pillar. In the mid-nineties, Banham also made a re-worked version called the XJSS based on the XJS.


XJS (Facelift)
1995 Jaguar XJS photographed in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at the 2010 Ottawa British Auto Show.
Also called Jaguar XJS Classic
Production 1990–1996
27,406 built
Coupé: 8,832
Convertible: 18,574
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupé
2-door 2-seat convertible
2-door 2+2 convertible
Engine 4.0 L AJ6 I6
4.0 L AJ16 I6
5.3 L HE V12
6.0 L HE V12
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 102.0 in (2,591 mm)
Length 191.2 in (4,856 mm)
Width 1992—1993: 70.6 in (1,793 mm)
1994—1996: 74.1 in (1,882 mm)
Height 48.7 in (1,237 mm)

The car was re-engineered in June 1990 and renamed XJS. The rear side windows appeared enlarged (although the body glass aperture was actually the same size as the earlier car), and the buttresses stayed (although their appearance was minimised by the new side window treatment), as designer Geoff Lawson argued that they were part of the car’s character. The car received a new 4.0-litre version of the AJ6. In 1992, a 4.0-litre convertible was added to the range. The V12’s capacity was enlarged to 6.0 litres in May 1992 (227 kW (304 hp)). At the same time the car benefited from a revision to the rear brakes, they were now fitted with outboard rear disc brakes, instead of the more complicated inboard items on previous models. With the introduction of the 6.0-litre V12, the transmission was also updated to a GM 4L80E with a fourth-gear overdrive, whilst the automatic 4.0-litre models continued with the electronic ZF4HP24E transmission. A 2+2 convertible was also introduced, as was a customised insignia line. At the same time the car received more aerodynamic front and rear bumpers.

1996 Jaguar Facelift (post-1991) XJS convertible note revised rear lights

Facelift (post-1991) XJS convertible; note revised rear lights

In April 1994, substantial revisions were made to the 4.0-litre AJ6 engine which became the 4.0-litre AJ16 with coil-on-plug ignition. In 1995, the final specification changes were made and the car was referred to as the Celebration model to celebrate the 60th year of the Jaguar company. Celebration cars feature diamond turned wheels, Jaguar embossed seats and a wooden steering wheel.

The XJS was discontinued in 1996, after 21 years in production. It was replaced by the XK8.

1996 Jaguar Facelift (post-1991) XJS in profile view note revised side windows

Facelift (post-1991) XJS in profile view; note revised side windows


For 1977, the “Group44” racing team had a very successful season in Trans Am with a race car based on the actual production XJ-S chassis and running gear. The team won the series’ 1977 drivers’ championship cup for Bob Tullius but missed winning the manufacturer’s title by two points (only one Jaguar was competing in the Trans-Am series compared to many more Porsche entrants). In 1978, a purpose-built tube-frame “silhouette” style XJS race car was constructed which greatly reduced the weight compared to the full production chassis car campaigned in 1977. This silhouette car had only the production car’s roof panel as the sole piece of factory XJS sheetmetal on the car. Group 44 succeeded in again capturing the driver’s championship for Bob Tullius and also captured the manufacturer’s title as well, by entering Brian Fuerstenau driving the 1977 car at some venues to gain additional manufacturer’s points for Jaguar. The silhouette car survived and has surfaced recently in the SVRA historic sports race series. The 1977 factory chassis race car is believed to still be in the hands of Group 44’s Bob Tullius.

In April 1979 a Jaguar XJS driven by Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough was entered into Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, widely known simply as the Cannonball Run. They completed the 2,863 miles (4,608 km) from New York to Los Angeles in a record time of 32 hours and 51 minutes, a record that stood for 4 years, until it was beaten by David Diem and Doug Turner in a Ferrari 308. Diem and Turner covered the same distance in 32 hours and 7 minutes on the US Express, an unofficial successor to the Cannonball Run.

In 1982 Tom Walkinshaw‘s TWR had entered a team of the V12 XJS’ into the European Touring Car Championship, the cars built to the FIA‘s Group A touring car rules. The XJS won its first race that season when Walkinshaw and Chuck Nicholson won the XIV Grand Prix Brno, the Jags simply proving too fast for their rival BMW and Alfa Romeo opposition with Walkinshaw qualifying 5.37 seconds faster than anyone else on the 10.925 km (6.789 mi) Brno Circuit. After more victories for the teams Jaguars in 1983, the TWR Jaguars were the cars to beat in the ETCC, with Walkinshaw claiming the 1984 ETCC Drivers’ Championship. During the championship season the TWR Jaguar team also won the prestigious Spa 24 Hours race with an XJS driven by Walkinshaw, Hans Heyer and Win Percy, proving not only the speed of the cars, but the reliability of the 5.3 litre V12 engine. By 1984 the TWR Jaguars had a new challenger in the ETCC. The turbocharged Volvo 240T arrived on the scene and had the speed to match the V12’s, though with turbocharging new to touring car racing it took a number of races for reliability to match the cars speed.

By 1985 the XJS’ had been retired and TWR was committed to running the 3.5L V8 Rover Vitesse in the ETCC. Walkinshaw had been to the 1984 James Hardie 1000 at the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Australia, to co-drive a locally developed Australian Group C XJS with Aussie John Goss. Walkinshaw qualified the V12 Jag in provisional 7th place with a 2:16.09 lap of the 6.172 km (3.835 mi) circuit, recording 290 km/h (180 mph) on the 2 km long Conrod Straight, with the promise of more to come in the “Hardies Heroes” Top 10 runoff through the use of special tyres. However, the tyres failed to arrive at the circuit in time and Walkinshaw eventually qualified 10th having to use front wheels on the car as no suitable rubber was available. Clutch failure saw the car fail to get off the start line and a helpless Walkinshaw was hit from behind by a Chevrolet Camaro Z28, causing the cars instant retirement and the races first ever restart after the track was blocked at the start/finish line.

The Scot was determined to come back in 1985 and win the race in the first season of Group A in Australia and in 1985 the three TWR XJS Jaguars were brought out of retirement and shipped down under for the James-Hardie 1000. The cars were clearly the class of the field, finishing Hardies Heroes in 1st (Walkinshaw/Percy in #8), 2nd (Jeff Allam/Ron Dickson in #9) and 6th (Goss/Armin Hahne in #10). This time the big Cats got off the start line and Walkinshaw and Percy dominated most of the race, only losing the lead to the Goss/Hahne car during pit stops (the Allam/Dickson car went out on lap 3 with engine failure). The drivers of the #10 car, who had to battle a broken seat which was held loosely in place by straps and cable ties for well over 100 laps, sat in second most of the way until a split oil line late in the race cost the Walkinshaw/Percy car 3 laps and any chance of victory. 1974 Bathurst 1000 winner Goss won his second “Great Race” while Hahne, who had won the Group A category in the 1984 race driving a TWR Rover, maintained his 100% record with his only Bathurst 1000 win. After having the oil line replaced, Walkinshaw resumed in 4th place but easily caught and passed the JPS Team BMW 635 CSi of 1985 Australian Touring Car Champion Jim Richards in the last laps to make it a Jaguar 1-3, with Walkinshaw following Goss across the finish line in a formation finish.

The TWR XJS Jaguars were next seen late in 1986 at the Fuji 500 in Japan in what was meant to be its Group A swansong as it ran out of FIA homologation in at the end of the year. Against old foes in the BMW 635 CSi and Volvo 240T, as well as newer Group A cars such as the Australian Holden VK Commodore SS Group A V8 and the turbocharged Nissan Skyline RS DR30, Walkinshaw qualified the XJS on pole, proving how competitive the car could still be in Touring car racing (the cars had been entered in the 1986 Bathurst 1000 and had undergone testing and development which gave a reported extra 50 bhp, though ultimately did not race due to a lack of money). The race saw the Walkinshaw/Percy car lead the race until retiring on lap 6 with no oil pressure while the Hahne/Denny Hulme/Walkinshaw car only lasted until half distance before retiring with a broken differential.

Despite not being eligible for Group A racing in 1987, TWR ran their two Jaguars in the 1987 (January) Nissan Mobil 500 in Wellington, New Zealand under special invitation from the race promoters. Neither car finished with Walkinshaw/Percy suffering diff failure and the Hahne/Hulme car cutting a tyre resulting in a race ending crash after fighting their way into the lead. The cars then raced at Pukekohe, with Percy/Hahne giving the big cat a second place finish in its final race behind the VK Commodore of Australian drivers Larry Perkins and David Parsons.

Aussie privateer Garry Willmington ran an XJS in the 1985 and 1986 Australian Touring Car Championships, and also the late season endurance races. While he reportedly had obtained more power from the V12 than TWR, Willmington didn’t have TWR’s resources to develop either the car or engine reliability and results were not forthcoming, though on occasions where the track had a long enough straight (such as Sandown Raceway in Melbourne or the Adelaide International Raceway), the Willmington Jag was usually the fastest car in a straight line. John Goss also ran his own privately entered XJS in the 1986 James Hardie 1000 after Jaguar-Rover Australia pulled its backing of the proposed TWR return to Bathurst due to a severe downturn in the Australian car market forced him to defend his crown alone, though he did receive some technical assistance from TWR. Electrical problems in the race Goss finish 24th with veteran Australian driver Bob Muir.

1985 Jaguar XJS TWR

1985 XJS TWR

Today the XJS continues to be extensively campaigned in club level motorsport both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Best known of the race series is probably the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club XJS championship, currently in association with Toyo Tires. Their championship has now been running for over a decade, offering an affordable entry into club motorsport in the UK, and continuing to attract large grids of this unlikely racing car. Cars compete in various states of modification, from barely modified road cars through to full race-specification cars built in homage to the great TWR specials.

Jaguar XJ220

Jaguar XJ220
Jaguar XJ220 Front JagMENA
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Production 1992–94
(275 produced)
Assembly JaguarSport
Jaguar/TWR joint venture
Bloxham, Oxfordshire
Designer Jim Randle
Keith Helfet
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door coupé
Layout RMR layout
Engine 3.5 L twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission 5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,640 mm (103.9 in)
Length 4,930 mm (194.1 in)
Width 2,220 mm (87.4 in)
including wing mirrors
Height 1,150 mm (45.3 in)
Kerb weight 1,470 kg (3,240.8 lb)
Predecessor Jaguar XJR-15
Successor Jaguar C-X75

The Jaguar XJ220 is a two-seater supercar produced by British luxury car manufacturer Jaguar from 1992 until 1994, in collaboration with the specialist automotive and race engineering company Tom Walkinshaw Racing. The XJ220 held the record for the fastest production car throughout 1992 after recording a top speed of 213.478 mph (343.560 km/h), before being superseded by the McLaren F1 in 1993 when it recorded a top speed of 231 mph (372 km/h). The Jaguar held the Nürburgring production car lap record between 1992 and 2000 with a time of 7:46.36.

The XJ220 was developed from a V12-engined 4-wheel drive concept car designed by an informal group of Jaguar employees working in their spare time. The group wished to create a modern version of the successful Jaguar 24 Hours of Le Mans racing cars of the 1950s and ’60s that could be entered into FIA Group B competitions. The XJ220 made use of engineering work undertaken for Jaguar’s then current racing car family.

The initial XJ220 concept car was unveiled to the public at the 1988 British International Motor Show, held in Birmingham, England. Its positive reception prompted Jaguar to put the car into production; some 1500 deposits of £50,000 each were taken, and deliveries were planned for 1992.

Engineering requirements resulted in significant changes to the specification of the XJ220, most notably replacement of the Jaguar V12 engine by a turbocharged V6 engine. The changes to the specification and a collapse in the price of collectible cars brought about by the early 1990s recession resulted in many buyers choosing not to exercise their purchase options. A total of just 275 cars were produced by the time production ended, each with a retail price of £470,000 in 1992.


Jaguar were approached by racing team owner Tom Walkinshaw and encouraged to enter the Jaguar XJS into the 1981 European Touring Car Championship; they succeeded in winning the competition in 1984. Jaguar had started to provide factory support to racing team Group 44 Racing, who were using the Jaguar-engined XJR-5 in the IMSA GT Championship, supplying V12 engines from 1983 onwards and supporting a Le Mans entry in 1984. Tom Walkinshaw and Jaguar agreed to entering the FIA Group C World Sportscar Championship and developed the XJR-6, which was powered by the Jaguar V12 engine; the car was launched during the 1985 season.

TWR took over the IMSA GT Championship operation in 1988 and one model – Jaguar XJR-9 – was launched to compete in both series. The XJR-9, which retained the Jaguar V12 engine, went on to win the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Sportscar Championship in the same year. The poor fuel consumption of the Jaguar V12 combined with new rules restricting refueling during races forced the replacement of the V12 engine in the XJR-9s successors, the XJR-10 and XJR-11. The normally-aspirated Austin Rover V64V engine, designed for the MG Metro 6R4 had recently been made redundant thanks to the Group B rally ban in 1987, and the design rights were for sale. The compact, lightweight and fuel efficient nature of the small-displacement, turbocharged engine was investigated by TWR, who considered it an ideal basis for a new engine to power the XJR-10 and purchased the design rights from Austin Rover Group.

Jaguar and their Director of Engineering, Jim Randle, felt these racing cars were too far removed from the product available to the general public, especially with the rule changes that mandated the replacement of the Jaguar V12 engine in the forthcoming XJR-10 and XJR-11 racing cars. Therefore a project was initiated to design and build a car capable of winning Le Mans “in house”, just as the Jaguar C-Type and D-Type had done. The groundwork for the project was undertaken by Randle over Christmas 1987, when he produced a 1:4 scale cardboard model of a potential Group B racing car.

The cardboard model was taken into the Jaguar styling studio and two mock-ups were produced. One was said to be reminiscent of the Porsche 956, the other took elements of the then current Jaguar XJ41 project and Malcolm Sayer‘s work on the stillborn Jaguar XJ13 racing car. The second design, by Keith Helfet, was chosen as it was “more obviously Jaguar in its look”.

The project still had no official support, leaving Randle no option but to put together a team of volunteers to work evenings and weekends in their own time. The team came to be known as “The Saturday Club”, and consisted of twelve volunteers. To justify the resources consumed by the project, the XJ220 needed to provide meaningful data to the engineers on handling, aerodynamics – particularly at high speeds – and aluminium structures. These requirements, together with FIA racing regulations and various government regulations governing car design and safety influenced the overall design and engineering direction of the car.

Concept car

Jaguar XJ220 concept car with V12 engine at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon

Jaguar XJ220 concept car with V12 engine at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon

The FIA Group B regulations steered the concept towards a mid-engine, four-wheel drive layout, with a Jaguar V12 engine as the power source. The concept car was designed and built at very little cost to Jaguar, as Randle called in favours from component suppliers and engineering companies he and Jaguar had worked with in the past. In return he offered public recognition for their assistance and dangled the possibility of future contracts from Jaguar.

The name XJ220 was chosen as a continuation of the naming of the Jaguar XK120, which referred to the top speed of the model in miles per hour. The concept car had a targeted top speed of 220 mph (350 km/h) so became the XJ220. The XK120, like the XJ220, was an aluminium-bodied sports car, and when launched was the fastest production car in the world.

Engine and transmission

Jaguar and engine designer Walter Hassan had previously created a 48-valve variant of their V12 engine specifically for motorsport use. It featured a double overhead camshaft layout with four valves per cylinder, compared with the single overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder of the production engine, which was used in the Jaguar XJ and Jaguar XJS models at the time.

TWR and Cosworth had manufactured a number of these racing V12 engines during the 1980s and they had been raced competitively, with a 7-litre version of this engine featuring in the Le Mans winning Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-9. Five of these engines still existed, all of which were fitted with dry sump lubrication. These engines were chosen and considered to be especially useful as the dry sump would lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity. The displacement of the V12 was set at 6.2 litres (6222 cc) for the XJ220. The engine fitted to the XJ220 concept had titanium connecting rods.

Jaguar had little experience with four-wheel drive systems at the time, having previously only produced rear-wheel drive cars. Randle approached Tony Rolt‘s company, FF Developments to design the transmission and four-wheel drive system for the XJ220, with Rolt’s son Stuart running the project. Tony Rolt was the Technical Director of Ferguson Research, where he was heavily involved in the design of the four-wheel drive system used in the Jensen FF, the first sports car to be fitted with such a transmission. Tony Rolt also had a long involvement with Jaguar, winning the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans with the factory works team driving the Jaguar C-Type.

The mid-engine complicated the design of the four-wheel drive system, and an innovative solution was needed to get drive from the rear of the engine to the front wheels. The chosen design took the front-wheel drive from the central differential on the rear transaxleand sent it through the V in the centre of the engine using a quill drive, before joining an inverted differential. The clutch was a twin-plate unit designed by AP Racing.

Bodywork and interior

The design brief for the exterior restricted the use of aerodynamic aids, and aimed for a stylish yet functional body similar to the Jaguar D-Type. Drag and lift were limited at the envisioned ground clearance for road use, but the design allowed for additional downforce when the car was set up for racing; the body produced around 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) of downforce at 200 mph (320 km/h). The design was also intended to have a variable rear wing that folded into the bodywork at lower speeds. Aerodynamic work was undertaken at the Motor Industry Research Association wind tunnel using a 1:4 scale model, as the project was unable to budget for a full-scale mock-up.

The bodywork for the concept car displayed in 1988 was hand built from aluminium by Park Sheet Metal, a specialist automotive engineering company that manufactures concept cars and low-volume, niche models for various manufacturers, including Bentley. QCR Coatings undertook final painting of the bodyshell in silver. The concept also featured electrically operated scissor doors and a transparent engine cover to show off the V12 engine.

The concept car had a Connolly Leather-trimmed interior produced by Callow & Maddox, and was fitted with front and rear heated windscreens, electric windows, air conditioning, heated electrically adjustable seats with an Alpine Electronics CD player. The dashboard was supplied by Veglia.


The chassis was manufactured from aluminium using Alcan‘s bonded aluminium structure vehicle technology (ASVT), and had a wheelbase of 2845 mm. The design for the chassis featured rear wheel steering and packaged the fuel tank behind the centre bulkhead. Suspension design largely focused on road use, but a good compromise for racing use was achieved and the suspension height was adjustable. The concept car was fitted with a four-channel anti-lock braking system.

The concept car was larger than the production model at 5,140 mm (202 in) in length and 2,000 mm (79 in) wide. It weighed 1,560 kg (3,440 lb).


The concept car was completed in the early hours of 18 October 1988, the day it was due to be unveiled at the British International Motor Show, being held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. The vehicle was completed at 03:00 GMT, moved to Jaguar’s stand at 06:00 GMT and unveiled at 11:00 GMT.

Jaguar’s marketing department had allocated space on their stand at the motor show for the XJ220, but had not seen the vehicle until its arrival. Jaguar chairman John Egan and Roger Putnam, who was in charge of Jaguar’s racing activities, were shown the vehicle the week before the motor show and signed off on the concept, allowing its unveiling. The car received an overwhelmingly positive reception by public and press, and a number of wealthy Jaguar enthusiasts handed over blank cheques to secure a purchase option should the XJ220 concept go into production. Ferrari displayed their F40 model at the same event; an estimated 90,000 additional visitors came to see the Jaguar and Ferrari cars.

The XJ220 was not initially intended to be a production car, but, following the reception of the concept and financial interest from serious buyers, a feasibility study was carried out by teams from TWR and Jaguar. Its conclusion was that such a car would be technically feasible (subject to engineering changes), and that it would be financially viable. The announcement of a limited production run of 220 to 350 cars came on 20 December 1989. The list price on 1 January 1990 was £290,000 exclusive of value added tax, options and delivery charges, but by 1992 that had increased considerably owing to indexation of contracts. The offer was four times oversubscribed, and deposits of £50,000 exclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT) were taken from around 1400 customers; first deliveries were planned for mid-1992.

Production version

The XJ220 used a road version of the XJR10 and 11 V6 turbo racing engine.

The XJ220 used a road version of the XJR10 and 11 V6 turbo racing engine.

Jaguar were unable to develop the XJ220 in house as their engineering resources were committed to working on the Jaguar XJ and Jaguar XJS models; the re-engineered and facelifted XJS was launched in May 1991.

Jaguar and TWR had an existing joint venture, JaguarSport Ltd, formed in 1987 to produce racing cars. Jaguar’s board made the decision that subject to contractual agreement, TWR and JaguarSport would be responsible for the XJ220. JaguarSport formed a new company, Project XJ220 Ltd, specifically to develop and build the XJ220.

The team that should determine the necessary engineering work and assess the car’s financial viability was put in place during mid-1989, working from the TWR workshops. Mike Moreton headed the team, joining TWR to run the XJ220 project. Moreton came from Ford Motorsports where he led the team responsible for the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, and was a project manager for the Ford RS200 Group B rally car program. Richard Owen was appointed chief designer, and the remainder of the team was made up of Jaguar and TWR staff, including Pete Dodd, the only member of the group of twelve responsible for the XJ220 concept. The exterior and interior designers who had worked on the XJ220 prototype, Keith Helfet and Nick Hull, rejoined the project when it became clear that more design work would be needed.


The development team looked at the two principal competitors, the Ferrari F40 and the Porsche 959. These were powered by compact, lightweight engines; both the Ferrari and the Porsche used forced induction to obtain high power outputs from small-displacement engines. Ferrari used a 2.9-litre twin turbo V8 that produced 478 PS (352 kW; 471 hp) whilst Porsche used a 2.9-litre twin-turbo flat six producing 450 PS (330 kW; 440 hp), resulting in cars that were significantly lighter and smaller than the XJ220 concept: the Ferrari was lighter by 600 kg and 710 mm shorter, whilst the Porsche was 250 kg lighter and 870 mm shorter. The Porsche’s specifications were closer to the Jaguar’s, with four-wheel drive and a luxurious interior. By comparison the rear-wheel driven Ferrari had a very basic interior, with no carpets, door handles or a stereo.


The production XJ220's V6 engine is visible through the rear window

The production XJ220’s V6 engine is visible through the rear window

The production XJ220 used a 3.5-litre (3498 cc) twin turbocharged engine, which was given the designation Jaguar/TWR JV6. This engine, which replaced the Jaguar V12 engine featured in the concept car, was a heavily redesigned and significantly altered version of the Austin Rover V64V V6 engine. The decision to change the engine was based on engine weight and dimensions, as well as to environmental emission considerations. Use of the shorter V6 engine design allowed the wheelbase of the XJ220 to be shortened and its weight to be reduced; the V12 engine was definitively ruled out when it was determined it would have difficulty in meeting emissions legislation whilst producing the required power and torque.

TWR purchased the rights to the V64V engine from Austin Rover in 1989 and developed it into their Jaguar/TWR JV6 engine. TWR redesigned all parts of the engine, increasing the displacement to 3.5 litres, and adding two Garrett TO3 turbochargers. The JV6 engine would first be used in the JaguarSport XJR-10 and XJR-11 racing cars; its compact dimensions and low weight made it an ideal candidate for the XJ220. The engine had a 90° bank angle, four valves per cylinder and belt-driven double overhead camshafts. It shares a number of design features with the Cosworth DFV Formula One engine.

The V64V engine chosen had a short but successful career as a purpose-designed racing car engine. It was designed by Cosworth engine designer David Wood for Austin Rover Group’s Metro derived Group B rally car, the MG Metro 6R4. The redesign work necessary to create the Jaguar/TWR JV6 engine was undertaken by Andrew Barnes, TWR’s Powertrain Manager, and also involved Swiss engine builder Max Heidegger who had designed and built the race engines used in the XJR-10 and XJR-11 racing cars.

The XJ220’s engine had a bore and stroke of 94 mm × 84 mm (3.70 by 3.31 inches), dry sump lubrication, Zytek multi point fuel injection with dual injectors and Zytek electronic engine management. The engine was manufactured with an aluminium cylinder block, aluminium cylinder heads with steel connecting rods and crankshaft, and in the standard state of tune, it produced a maximum power of 550 PS (400 kW; 540 hp) at 7200 rpm and torque of 475 lb·ft (644 N·m) at 4500 rpm. The XJ220 can accelerate from 0–60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 213 miles per hour.

The exhaust system had two catalytic converters, which reduced the power output of the engine. During testing at the Nardò Ring in Italy the XJ220, driven by 1990 Le Mans Winner Martin Brundle achieved a top speed of 217.1 miles per hour when the catalytic converters were disconnected and the rev limiter was increased to 7,900rpm; owing to the circular nature of the track, a speed of 217 mph (349 km/h) is equivalent to 223 mph (359 km/h) on a straight, level road. The V64V engine had the additional benefit of being very economical for such a powerful petrol engine, it was capable of achieving 32 mpg-imp (8.8 L/100 km; 27 mpg-US), in contrast, the smallest-engined Jaguar saloon of the time, the Jaguar XJ6 4.0 could only achieve around 24 mpg-imp (12 L/100 km; 20 mpg-US).


Four-wheel drive was decided against early in the development process, for a number of reasons. It was thought rear-wheel drive would be adequate in the majority of situations, that the additional complexity of the four-wheel drive system would hinder the development process and potentially be problematic for the customer. FF Developments were contracted to provide the gearbox/transaxle assembly, modifying their four-wheel drive transaxle assembly from the XJ220 concept into a pure rear-wheel drive design for the production car. A five-speed gearbox is fitted; a six-speed gearbox was considered but deemed unnecessary, as the torque characteristics of the engine made a sixth gear redundant. The transaxle featured a viscous coupling limited slip differential to improve traction.

The transmission system featured triple-cone synchromeshing on first and second gears to handle rapid starts, whilst remaining relatively easy for the driver to engage and providing positive feel.

AP Racing provided an 8.5 in (22 cm) diameter clutch.

Gear 1 2 3 4 5 Final Drive
Ratio 3.00:1 1.95:1 1.42:1 1.09:1 0.85:1 3.364:1


Jaguar Rear three-quarters view of the production XJ220

Rear three-quarters view of the production XJ220

Jaguar XJ220 from behind

XJ220 from behind

The exterior retained the aluminium body panels of the XJ220 concept, but for the production vehicles, Abbey Panels of Coventry were contracted to provide the exterior panels. The scissor doors were dropped for the production model, and significant redesign work was carried out on the design when the wheelbase and overall length of the car was altered. Geoff Lawson, Design Director at Jaguar took a greater interest in the car and insisted the design had to be seen to be a Jaguar if it was to be successful in promoting the company. Keith Helfet returned to undertake the necessary redesign work mandated by the change in the wheelbase, which was reduced by 200 mm. The turbocharged engine required larger air intakes to feed the two intercoolers. Situated between the doors and the rear wheels, the air intakes were larger on the production version of the XJ220 than on the concept car. A number of small design changes for the body were tested in the wind tunnel; the final version had a drag coefficient of 0.36 with downforce of 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) at 200 mph (320 km/h). The XJ220 was one of the first production cars to intentionally use underbody airflow and the venturi effect to generate downforce.

The rear lights used on the production XJ220 were taken from the Rover 400.


The production model utilised the same Alcan bonded honeycomb aluminium structure vehicle technology (ASVT) as the concept car for the chassis. The chassis design featured two box section rails which acted as the suspension mounting points and would provide an energy absorbing structure in the event of a frontal impact, these were successfully tested at speeds up to 30 mph (48 km/h), an integral roll cage formed part of the chassis and monocoque, providing additional structural rigidity for the car and allowing the XJ220 to easily pass stringent crash testing.

The rear-wheel steering was dropped from the production car to save weight and reduce complexity, as was the height adjustable suspension and active aerodynamic technology. The suspension fitted to the production model consisted of front and rear independent suspension, double unequal length wishbones, inboard coil springs and anti-roll bars, with Bilstein gas-filled dampers. The suspension was designed in accordance with the FIA Group C specifications.

The braking system was designed by AP Racing and featured ventilated and cross-drilled discs of 13 in (33 cm) diameter at the front and 11.8 in (30 cm) diameter at the rear. The calipers are four pot aluminium units. JaguarSport designed the handbrake, which are separate calipers acting on the rear brake discs. Feedback from enthusiasts and racing drivers resulted in the decision to drop the anti-lock braking system from the production car. The braking system was installed without a servo, but a number of owners found the brakes to be difficult to judge when cold and subsequently requested a servo to be fitted.

Rack and pinion steering was fitted, with 2.5 turns lock to lock; no power assistance was fitted. The Bridgestone Expedia S.01 asymmetric uni-directional tyres were specially developed for the XJ220 and had to be rateable to a top speed in excess of 220 miles per hour (350 km/h), carry a doubling of load with the exceptionally high downforce at speed and maintain a compliant and comfortable ride. Rally alloy wheel specialists Speedline Corse designed the alloy wheels, these are both wider and have a larger diameter on the rear wheels; 17 inches (43 cm) wheels are fitted to the front and 18 inches (46 cm) are fitted at the rear, with 255/55 ZR17 tyres at the front and 345/35 ZR18 tyres at the rear.


XJ220 Interior

XJ220 Interior

The interior was designed for two passengers and trimmed in leather. Leather trimmed sports seats are fitted together with electric windows and electrically adjustable heated mirrors. The dashboard unusually curves round and carries onto the drivers door, with a secondary instrument binnacle containing four analogue gauges, including a clock and voltmeter fitted on the front of the drivers door. Air conditioning and green tinted glazing was also fitted.

The luggage space consists of a small boot directly behind and above the rear portion of the engine, also trimmed in leather.


The car was assembled in a purpose-built factory at Wykham Mill, Bloxham near Banbury in OxfordshireHRH The Princess of Wales officially opened the factory and unveiled the first production XJ220 in October 1991.

The JV6 engines used in the Jaguar racing cars were produced by Swiss engineer Max Heidegger, but delivering the number of engines required for the XJ220 program was considered beyond his capacity. TWR formed a division, TWR Road Engines, to manage the design, development, construction and testing of the engines for the production cars. The JV6 engine used in the XJ220 featured little commonality with the engines Heidegger built for use in the XJR racing cars, being specifically engineered to meet performance and in particular, the European emissions requirements, which the race engines didn’t have to meet.

FF Developments, in addition to their design work on the gearbox and rear axle assembly were given responsibility for their manufacture. The aluminium chassis components and body panels were manufactured and assembled at Abbey Panels factory in Coventry, before the body in white was delivered to the assembly plant at Bloxham. The car, including chassis and body components, consists of approximately 3000 unique parts.

The first customer delivery occurred in June 1992, and production rates averaged one car per day. The last XJ220 rolled off the production line in April 1994; the factory was then transferred to Aston Martin and used for the assembly of the Aston Martin DB7 until 2004.


Press coverage of the concept XJ220 in 1988 was overwhelmingly positive and contributed to the decision in 1989 to put the XJ220 into limited production. The production version of the car was first shown to the public in October 1991, at the Tokyo Motor Show. The first car was released for press review in autumn 1991.

Autocar reviewer Andrew Frankel was the first journalist to road-test the car and reported: “Savage acceleration really is a given here. What’s really incredible about the XJ220 is its ability to provide such performance in a way that never, ever intimidates.” He was particularly impressed with the throttle response, the driver’s ability to control the performance of the car very precisely, and the way in which the engine delivers its power progressively rather than in one short burst.

Performance Car reviewer John Barker was also impressed with the performance as well as the ride and stability of the car, writing “The V6 has a rumbly, loping note which, in league with a remarkably supple ride, belies the speed we are travelling at. I glance to the speedo and have trouble believing that it is indicating 170 mph.” Barker was also impressed with the engineering, saying “this car is catalysed, fully homologated and has passed the same tests that a Volvo needs before going on sale,” going on to discuss how the vehicle looked at home on the racetrack thanks to the design. Autocar ’​s verdict was “Right now, the XJ220 gives us a standard by which all other fast cars can be compared. For the few who will actually own and, hopefully, use their XJ220s, the fact that they are in command of the most accomplished supercar ever made should suffice.”

Critics of the car consider it underwhelming for such an expensive, powerful and high performance machine. Motoring journalists have been critical of the interior and the car itself for being too comfortable and lacking the sense of occasion present with other supercars. Commentators who approve of the interior have criticised the luggage space as being “largely useless”. Journalists and other commentators often bemoaned the lack of the Jaguar V12 engine and other technical components fitted to the concept car. Contemporary reviews pondered on whether the sales performance and residual values would have been improved by sticking more closely to the specification of the concept car.

Sales performance was disappointing. Jaguar had intended to produce up to 350 cars, but production ceased in 1994 with 275 production cars produced, not all of which had been sold; some left-hand drive examples were still available in 1997. The recession left many of those who placed a deposit unable to complete the purchase. The index linking of contracts exacerbated the issue, and added almost £200,000 to the purchase price between early 1990 and mid-1992. The McLaren F1 suffered from similarly poor sales performance, with just 71 cars sold against McLaren’s target of 300. McLaren’s F1 program eventually turned a small profit thanks to the sale and servicing of the 28 GTR racing variants produced.

The price of collectible cars collapsed as a result of the recession over the six-year period from 1989–94; for example, a highly collectible Ferrari 250 GTO sold for just $3.5 million in 1994, an $11.1 million loss from its sale price in 1989. The Jaguar XJ220 had attracted a significant number of speculators who hoped the scarcity of the XJ220 and enthusiasm for the Jaguar marque would push up prices overnight, allowing large profits to be made over a short period of time.

The market for supercars was growing when the production XJ220 was announced, with comparable cars immediately reselling after delivery for three and four times the list price. The Ferrari F40 had been selling for more than £800,000 in 1990, but like the XJ220 it was adversely affected by the recession, and by 1992 prices had dropped to between £100,000 to £150,000.

Further complicating the sales situation was the announcement by JaguarSport of a road-going version of the Jaguar XJR-9, the last of the racing cars to feature the Jaguar V12 engine. The Jaguar XJR-15 was developed by TWR and styled by Peter Stevens whilst the XJ220 was being developed at Jaguar, and featured the V12 engine and a host of other technologies not adopted for the XJ220, including carbon fibre construction and the option of a six-speed racing gearbox. It was considerably rarer and more expensive than the XJ220 when it went on sale; only 50 were built, each with a list price of £600,000 ($1 million) in 1990. It was designed primarily for racing but could be specified as a road-legal vehicle. About half were built as road-going variants, which added £55,000 to the list price.

Jaguar customers attempting to withdraw from their contracted purchases were given the option to buy themselves out of their contracts, but by 1995, the issue had resulted in legal action as buyers claimed the specification changes rendered any contracts void. Jaguar produced evidence clearly demonstrating that the vehicle specification shown in the contract matched the vehicle that was delivered, and the presiding judge, John Donaldson, quickly ruled in Jaguar’s favour. The last of the unsold XJ220s were sold for £127,550 plus VAT in 1997. While never officially approved for sale in the United States, the XJ220 was approved under the Show and Display exemption by 2001.

The XJ220 remains popular with the contemporary motoring press; Evo journalist David Vivian, writing a head-to-head test between the XJ220 and the Lamborghini Murcielago in 2009, commented that “going ludicrously fast seems trivially easy”, and acknowledged that the decision to change the V12 engine for a turbocharged V6 engine has more recently become acceptable. Vivian was impressed by the car’s ride, handling and grip.


Jaguar XJ220S

Jaguar XJ220S

A racing version was introduced at the 1993 Autosport International motor show; given the model name XJ220-C, it was built to compete in FISA GT racing. The XJ220-C driven by Win Percy won its first race, a round of the BRDC National Sports GT Challenge at Silverstone.

Three works XJ220-Cs were entered in the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans race, in the newly created Grand Touring Class. John Nielsen, David Brabham and David Coulthard won the GT class, beating Porsche by two laps; the other two cars retired, both through engine failure. However, the class win was revoked when the Jaguar XJ220-C was controversially disqualified for failing to run with catalytic converters. The Jaguars had passed scrutiny and completed the first day of qualifying when senior steward Alain Bertaut complained that Jaguar were not running catalytic converters. The cars had been entered under the IMSA GT category and Bertaut claimed that they needed to run with catalysts. The cars ran in the race under appeal. International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) officials wrote to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) (English: Automobile Club of the West), organisers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, confirming that the XJ220s had complied with IMSA rules. Jaguar won their appeal (supported by the FIA) but were nevertheless disqualified, as the ACO confirmed that the appeal had not been lodged in time.

Four cars were entered in the GT1 class for the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, two by PC Automotive Jaguar and two by Chamberlain Engineering, though the latter did not run their cars. Neither team had Jaguar or TWR backing; both of PC Automotive’s cars were outpaced by the new McLaren F1 GTR. Richard Piper, Tiff Needell and James Weaver were holding fourth position until an engine failure during the night, ending their race, whilst the second XJ220 retired after leaving the road.

An XJ220 was also used in the Italian GT Championship, although without factory support; it raced in Martini livery. The XJ220C was promoted in the United States in the-made-for-TV “Fast Masters” racing series at Indianapolis Raceway Park, airing on ESPN in the summer of 1993 and featuring invited drivers over 50 years old in an elimination format.

TWR developed a further six XJ220-S road cars, featuring one-piece carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer front and rear bodywork; the engine was tuned to 700 PS (510 kW; 690 hp). The XJ220-S models did away with the hidden headlamps of the original and instead opted for perspex covered lights. The S models were essentially road-going versions of the XJ220-C racer, and as a result featured a much simpler race-orientated interior with kevlar seats and the removal of the leather trim. Colin Goodwin, a writer for Autocar, tested an XJ220-S in June 1995 at Millbrook Proving Ground and set the lap record at an average speed of 180.4 mph (290.3 km/h).

Jaguar XJ220 Pininfarina

The Jaguar XJ220 Pininfarina is a special XJ220 built in 1995 for the Sultan of Brunei and his brother Prince Jefri, who commissioned a number of rare and one-off heavily modified cars based on expensive luxury cars. This car was modified by Pininfarina, with modifications including fixed headlights, new rear lights with a redesigned double-vane rear wing, and a new interior package. The car also comes with dark green exterior paint.

  • 1997–2006 XK8/XKR (X100)
  • 2006–2014 XK (X150)

Jaguar XK (X100)

Jaguar XK8
Jaguar XKR
Jaguar XK8 coupé

Jaguar XK8 coupé
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Production 1996–2006
Assembly Coventry, England
Designer Geoff Lawson (1992)
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Body style 2-door coupé
2-door convertible
Layout FR
Platform X100
Related Aston Martin DB7
Engine 4.0 L AJ26/27 V8
4.0 L AJ26S SC V8
4.2 L AJ34 V8
4.2 L AJ34S SC V8
Transmission 5-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
ZF 5HP24 (NA models) 1997-2002
Mercedes-Benz W5A580 5G-Tronic (Supercharged models only) 1998-2002
ZF 6HP26 2002-2005
Wheelbase 101.9 inches (2,590 mm)
Length 1997–2004: 187.4 inches (4,760 mm)
2005-06: 4,775 mm (188.0 in)
Width 1997–2004: 1,830 mm (72.0 in)
2005–2006: 1,800 mm (70.9 in)
Height 1997–1998 Coupe & 1999–2006 XK8 Convertible: 1,295 mm (51.0 in)
1997–98 Convertible: 1,305 mm (51.4 in)
XKR Convertible: 1,288 mm (50.7 in)
1999–2006 XK8 Coupe: 1,283 mm (50.5 in)
XKR Coupe: 1,278 mm (50.3 in)
Predecessor Jaguar XJS
Successor Jaguar XK (X150)
Jaguar XKR convertible

Jaguar XKR convertible

Jaguar XKR Coupé

Jaguar XKR Coupé

The Jaguar XK8 (project code X100) is a grand tourer car that was launched by Jaguar Cars in 1996, and was the first generation of a new XK series. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7. Both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. Development began in 1992, with design work starting earlier in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996.

Power and performance

Both the XK8 and XKR are electronically limited to a maximum of 155.4 mph (250.1 km/h). The XK8 came standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, while 18-inch (Standard on the XKR), 19-inch, and 20-inch wheels are available for additional cost. Jaguar’s Adaptive Cruise Control is an optional feature available on both models. Both come with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Geartest-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. In 2004, the grille design of the XKR was refreshed.

Initially the ZF ZF 5HP24 five-speed automatic transmission was coupled to the conventionally aspirated 4.0-litre model and a Mercedes W5A580 five-speed transmission to the Supercharged version, but in 2002 the new ZF 6HP26 six-speed automatic transmission was fitted in both versions of the 4.2-litre model.

Limited editions

XKR Silverstone

Only 100 Silverstone models were made in Phase I and II (model year 2000 – 01, 50 Coupé, 50 Convertible original and 75 Coupé and 175 Convertible models in more), in celebration of Jaguar’s return to F1 racing in 2001. It featured high gloss paint finish, specific badges and tread plates,a high-performance package (with the same engine as the standard XKR, but improved transmission, steering, suspension and brakes), 20-inch Silver BBS wheels and a custom interior (red-stitched black leather and birds-eye maple wood) . All possible factory options were included, to the exception of the telephone and the navigation system, which had to be ordered separately.

XKR 100

Built to celebrate the centenary of Jaguar’s founder, 500 ‘XKR 100’ coupes and convertibles combined total were made in 2002. The XKR 100 featured an Anthracite paint finish, Recaro seats, 20-inch BBS alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, and custom interior.

XKR Portfolio

The convertible-only Portfolio models featured either red paint with matching Recaro sports seats and interior, or blue paintwork and interiors.

XKR 4.2-S

In Europe the 4.2-S was unveiled at Geneva on 1 March 2005. This was the last XK to be rolled out that was based upon the original 1996 design. Features for the 4.2-S included new exterior and interior colours and two distinct veneer options for the instrument panel, polished door treadplates with chequered-flag emblems and embossed, leather-edged floor mats. The revised white Jaguar badge on the bonnet also feature chequered accents. New 20-inch Atlas wheels plus cross-drilled Brembo brake discs, red wheel badges and red brake callipers were also fitted.

XKR-R concept

Jaguar XKR-R convertible

Jaguar XKR-R convertible

Jaguar also produced a concept car called the XKR-R which was very similar to the production XKR, but boasting a more powerful 450 bhp (340 kW) engine, a manual or auto gearbox, a limited-slip differential and improved handling. 2004 models on are the ones to look out for

Victory Edition

Introduced at the 2005 Los Angeles International Auto Show, the Victory Edition was offered in model year 2006, to “celebrate Jaguar’s four championship wins in the North American Trans-Am road racing series and add to a successful lineage of special and limited edition XKs introduced since its launch,” according to Jaguar’s press statement. The statement went on to explain that “All four XK models – XK8 Coupe and Convertible and supercharged XKR Coupe and Convertible – will be offered as ‘Victory’ editions when the line-up goes on sale next summer. The new exterior styling changes introduced for the 2005 models continue to give the car a bolder, more aggressive and more muscular look.” The Victory Edition was offered in all standard XK colours, plus four unique Victory Edition colours: Black Copper Metallic, Frost Blue Metallic, Bay Blue Metallic and Satin Silver Metallic. Victory Editions offered carbon fibre interior trim on XKR models, and a new Elm wood veneer on the XK8 models. Victory Editions also received special badging and accents. The “growler” badge on the hood (bonnet) had a unique checkered-flag background, and door sill plates featured checkered-flag emblems. Production of Victory Edition models was 1,050 cars.


Between 1995 and 2005, Jaguar built 90,064 XK:

  • 19,748 XK8 coupe
  • 46,760 XK8 convertible
  • 9,661 XKR coupe
  • 13,895 XKR convertible

Jaguar XK

This article is about the Jaguar XK grand tourer series produced from 1996. For the straight-six engine, see Jaguar XK6 engine.

For the Jaguar XK120, XK140 & XK150 models, see Jaguar XK120, Jaguar XK140 & Jaguar XK150.

Jaguar XK
2007 Jaguar-XKR-convertible-front
Manufacturer Jaguar Cars
Also called XK8, XK, XKR
Production 1996–2014
Model years 1997-2015
Assembly Castle Bromwich Assembly,Birmingham, United Kingdom
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Body style 2-door coupé
2-door convertible
Layout FR layout
Predecessor Jaguar XJS

The Jaguar XK series (XK, XK8 and XKR) is a series of grand tourer cars produced by British car maker Jaguar Cars since 1996. The series was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March 1996, and the last car came off the production line on 23 July 2014. The first generation of the series, the XK8, replaced the XJS, and was available as a coupé and convertible. The XK8 was the first 8-cylinder vehicle produced by Jaguar since the Daimler 250, introducing the Jaguar AJ-V8 engine.

The second generation XK was launched in 2006 (as a model year 2007). The new XK introduced an aluminium monocoque bodyshell, and is available both as a two-door coupé and two-door cabriolet/convertible, with just the engine and associated mechanicals being carried forward.

XK8/XKR (1996–2006)

Main article: Jaguar XK (X100)
2009 Jaguar X100 Convertible front

XK8 Convertible

The XK8 was launched in 1996 to replace the XJ-S. Two body styles were produced – a coupé and a convertible. The car was the first in the Jaguar line-up to use Jaguar’s newly developed V8 engine – the AJ-V8. In 1998 the supercharged XKR was added to the range. However, both the XK8 and XKR are limited to a maximum top speed of 155.4 mph (250.1 km/h).

The XK8 came standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, while 18-inch (Standard on the XKR), 19-inch, and 20-inch wheels were available for the XK8 at an additional cost. Jaguar’s Adaptive Cruise Control is an optional feature available on both models. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags.

XK/XKR (2007–2014)

Main article: Jaguar XK (X150)
2010 Jaguar XKR Coupé (X150)Facelift

XKR (X150) Coupé

The newly designed XK was unveiled in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum (who was also responsible for working on the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish coupés) claimed that the inspiration for the shape of the new XK came from his admiration for British actress Kate Winslet‘s curves. The X150’s grille was also inspired from the famous 1961 Jaguar E-Type.

The standard XK model has an unlimited top speed of 158 mph whilst the XKR an unlimited top speed of 174 mph. An even faster variant, the XKR-S model was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. The XKR-S gained an additional 40 horsepower over the XKR bringing the 0-60 mph time down to only 4.4 seconds and the top speed up to 300 km/h (186 mph) – making it the fastest Jaguar yet after the Jaguar XJ220. A convertible version of the XKR-S was released in 2012.

Production of the XK ceased in July 2014 without a replacement model.

Racing and competition

Jaguar C-Type

Jaguar C-Type