New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature -

Early vari­a­tions of the XK and other ex­per­i­men­tal Jaguar en­gines were prob­a­bly test run­ning as early as 1943, dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Prior to the war, SS cars, as Jaguar was then known, had used en­gines sup­plied by the Stan­dard Mo­tor Com­pany. They were a 1.5-litre four-cylin­der and two six-cylin­der en­gines of 2.5 and 3.5 litres. Af­ter the war, Jaguar boss Wil­liam Lyons, to­gether with Wil­liam Heynes, Claude Baily, and Wal­ter Has­san, sought to de­velop a range of new en­gines for the cars, de­signed to stay ahead of the op­po­si­tion for some years. A range of en­gine types was con­sid­ered, and dif­fer­ent types of valve op­er­a­tion ex­per­i­mented with. XG four: 1776cc, us­ing Stan­dard en­gine with cross­over pushrods sim­i­lar to BMW 328 en­gines XF four: 1732cc with twin cams and run in 1942 XK1: the first of four Heynes en­gines of 1790cc XK2, 3, and 4: 1790cc, de­vel­oped from 1946 –1947 En­gine of 1970cc used in the MG land-speed record breaker of Goldie Gard­ner in 1948 XK1 and 2 had a three-bear­ing crankshaft and XK5 had a five-bear­ing crankshaft. By 1947, a 3.2 litre six-cylin­der was be­ing ex­per­i­mented with. It was then stroked to 3442cc, and be­came the pro­duc­tion en­gine size in 1947–48. A four-cylin­der XK unit was also kept in de­vel­op­ment along­side the sixes un­til 1953. In 1951, a 1986cc six-cylin­der XK was de­vel­oped, and by 1954 this had been stretched to 2483cc to power the new Jaguar com­pact, the Mark I, as a short block ver­sion of the larger XK en­gine, later ex­pand­ing into 2.8 litres for the new XJ6 sedan, along with al­loy block race ver­sions of the en­gines . Pow­er­ful and re­li­able even un­der ex­treme race con­di­tions, the XK six en­gine in 4.2-litre guise sol­diered on in the XJ6 sedan un­til 1986 and in the Daim­ler DS420 Limou­sine un­til 1991. The XK en­gine also saw use in some Bri­tish ar­moured ve­hi­cles and in low-pro­duc­tion race and road cars, and it re­mained one of the long­est serv­ing power plants in the world for some six decades.

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