lauantai 30. kesäkuuta 2012

Jaguar Mk 1 1957

Kalevi Putkonen Jaguar Mk 1 1957
 Suur-Saimaan Ympäriajo 30.6 – 1.7.2012

In 1922, Sir William Lyons and William Walmsley would found the Swallow Sidecar Company. Lyons would switch from sidecars to developing passenger cars. However, World War II would present a problem, but along lines not necessarily considered. It would be clear at war's end that Lyons would have to change the company's name considering the bad connation the 'SS' initials would foster. This unfortunate connection with the Third Reich would give rise to Jaguar.

Times would be tough for the company in the years after World War II. However, the company would make itself well known by producing a number of small sports cars. Models, such as the XK120, would be quite popular and successful on the race track.

Then, in 1951, Jaguar would move to Browns Lane. This move would prove to be very important for the company. The larger plant not only allowed continued production of already existing models, but it also allowed for the production of a larger saloons. And while not the first four-door saloon produced in the UK, the company's new MK1 would be different in so many ways and would take saloons to an entirely different level.

Compared to other cars, however, the MK I would have a narrower track. But this was on purpose for it would be designed to balance out when operated at higher speeds, which was certainly an area of the car's ability people like Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss would like to operate it.

When the car was launched in 1955, it would come with drum brakes. However, in 1957, the car would be made available with optional disc brakes. But the disc brakes, and the larger 3.4-liter engine, which would also become available in 1957, would make the MK I a truly fantastic performer.

Jaguar Mk 1 1957
Aided by the 210 bhp inline 6-cylinder engine, the 3.4-liter MK I would be able to reach speeds much greater than 100 mph at a time when most other saloons could barely touch 90 mph. And with a zero to 60 mph time of just 11.2 seconds, the car could actually out-perform some of the sportscars of the day. The Autocar would actually test a 1958 model of the MK I and would go from zero to 60 mph in just 9.1 seconds.

Complete with left-hand or right-hand drive positioning and centrally located instruments and switches, the Jaguar MK I offered customers levels of performance only dreamt about but only known to exist on the race track. It would create a category of production car all its own called the luxury sports sedan. And many would suggest Jaguar would not have lasted more than a couple of more years had it not been for the MK I and its successor.

And on the race track the MK I would feel right at home as well. Specially-tuned models of the 3.4-liter saloon would be successfully driven by Mike Hawthorn, Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori and others. This is because it would be the car of choice for racing drivers that wanted something more than a sportscar but still wanted the performance.

And it would be on the track that VDU 881, chassis S980806DN, would really make a name for itself. Jaguar's racing team manager Lofty England had come to notice Hawthorn after his performance in the rain at the Daily Mail Trophy race at Boreham in 1952. England wanted Mike to drive for the Jaguar team but Hawthorn would sign a contract with Enzo Ferrari that same year and would be prohibited from driving any cars for any other manufacturer. 

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