1957 Jaguar Mark 1
|Model History||Auction sales research||Specifications||Body styles and Chassis Data|
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.
In the days following World War II, aerodynamics and much more streamlined body styling would be all the rage. This would be utilized in the design of Jaguar's MK VII produced between 1951 and 1956. However, the MK VII would be a large sedan. Jaguar were used to making quite good sports cars, and therefore, wanted a saloon with the performance of a sports car.
But new technologies would be needed for Jaguar to produce a saloon that had the absolute best performance. Then, in the mid-1950s, Lyons and his team would begin working with unitary construction. The monocoque chassis design, which meant the outer shell of the body also doubled as the chassis, meant the car design would save a lot of weight but would be just as strong. And since the method was still rather new, Jaguar would actually over-engineer the car. This would make the design even stronger than hoped for, and yet, was still lighter than many other cars in the same category.
But the unitary construction wouldn't be the only thing that would make the MK I special. In spite of an older live rear axle design similar to what would be used on the D-Type chassis, the front suspension would be an independent front suspension with double wishbones and coil springs. An anti-roll bar would also be incorporated into the front suspension design which would make the car quite stable under braking and when turning.
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.
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.
After two seasons with Ferrari, Hawthorn would leave the team and would be immediately contacted by Lofty England to drive for the Jaguar sportscar team. This would result in an overall victory at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans. It would also result in Hawthorn dabbling in other forms of racing as well. During the season Hawthorn would take part in his first saloon races for Jaguar racing MK VIIs. In fact, in the Daily Express at Silverstone, Hawthorn would break the lap record but he would not win the race due to mechanical problems.
At the same time Hawthorn would be recovering from burns he received at a race in Sicily in 1954, his father Leslie would perish in a car accident. Besides his wife, Mike's mother, Leslie would leave behind the Tourist Trophy garage. Mike would become director. The garage would then become dealer for Jaguar, as well as, Ferrari.
Running the garage and being a dealer for both Jaguar and Ferrari, Hawthorn would have had his pick as to what car he would have wanted for his own personal use. But already being used to time behind single-seater grand prix cars and the best sportscars in the world, Hawthorn would go with a little bit more of a luxurious pick choosing the 3.4-liter MK I. Hawthorn had a close relationship with the men at Jaguar anyway which would make the decision a little easier. But the fact he could be competitive in saloon races was yet another reason for the choice. Mike knew that he could then have the mechanics at the Tourist Trophy garage to make special changes he wanted to the car to make it incredibly competitive.
In October of 1957, S970806DN would be the 806th right hand drive 3.4-liter MK I to be built by Jaguar. The interior would be finished with a green suede and its outer finish would be the all-familiar British Racing Green.
At first glance, there would be nothing special about the car when it rolled out of the factory. Nothing would be different about it from any other MKI. It had overdrive and steel wheels and that was about it. However, it would be noted in the record book that it was 'On loan to Mike Hawthorn' and that meant while it rolled out of the factory perfectly normal, it would not remain that way.
Registered VDU 881, the Jaguar would be intended for Hawthorn to use in saloon car races. Therefore, the car would undergo some changes to make it as competitive on the track as possible. It is unclear as to how much was completed in the Jaguar factory already, but it is known that Hawthorn's own Tourist Trophy garage would carry out some of the requested changes.
Almost immediately the changes would begin. One of the first of those would be to give the car a competition clutch. This would allow upward gear changes at full throttle without any sensation of slippage. This would be paired with a modified engine that would take advantage of higher octane fuels. However, to be able to do this high compression pistons would have to be added boosting the compression ratio to 9 to 1. This likely would have given Hawthorn's MK I an increase of 70 bhp over a standard MK I. This modified engine would also require the use of twin exhaust. The Tourist Trophy garage would fabricate these twin tail pipes that would exit low and out of the center of the rear of the car.
Another modification made to VDU 881 would come as a result of his dislike for German automobiles, at the time it was specifically the 300SL. The drive ratio on his Jaguar would be changed from the standard for the simple reason that he didn't want to be out-accelerated by one of those 'Kraut cars'.
Most all of these modifications would make the Jaguar MK I a true performer but it was no less comfortable or capable on the streets of London or cruising throughout the English countryside. However, when these engine and transmission upgrades were combined with the changes made to the suspension and body, then the cat was really able to be let loose and one understood full well what kind of animal Hawthorn would be driving.
One of the most important modifications to the Hawthorn's car would be at its rear. The rear wheel spats would have to be restyled because of the fact he would have a wider rear track than standard. Though a meager two inches, those two inches increase in width at the wheel would make the car much more stable in turns and would provide even better balance to the car.
The confidence to round the corners even faster would come from a stiffened front suspension and an extra leaf used in the rear springs. When combined with competition shock absorbers at all four wheels, VDU 881 would still present the driver with a little body roll but it would not be uncomfortable by any stretch of the imagination and, in fact, would help to give the car even better cornering characteristics. Nothing would be left undone. Even the battery would be moved to the centerline of the truck, presumably to provide better stability having the weight of the battery low and in the middle of the car. When combined with servo-assisted Dunlop disc brakes on all four wheels, Hawthorn's personal MK I would be one incredible performer. It would become the ultimate interchangeable car. It would arrive off the street race-ready.
Complete with Marchal headlamps, Raydyot spot and fog lamps and a spacious interior, Hawthorn would take his saloon and would enter four races with it. He and his incredible car would end up winning three out of the four events in which he entered.
On the street, Hawthorn would take the car everywhere he could. A number of photographs would be taken with him and the car. He was certainly proud of the MK I. It was certainly a car that he felt comfortable in driving on the track or on the streets (though he drove on the streets like he was still on the track). Boasting of incredible acceleration off the line that just kept coming as one went up through the gears, the car would also have a very comfortable cruise that provided its occupants with a very comfortable and pleasurable ride. One could get lost in the luxurious interior with the addition of a radio and the elegantly placed instruments and switches. However, just one glance at the changed speedometer would remind its passengers just what it was capable of doing, and in the hands of Hawthorn, was very likely to happen.
The interior of the car remained relatively untouched with the exception of a radio and some of additions like a choke cable. One addition added to the car just a few weeks before his death included a radiator blind. A hand pull control in the passenger compartment would allow Hawthorn to pull up a blind in front of the radiator. This would have helped to keep the engine warmer in the winter. But one subtle but important change that undoubtedly would have captured the attention of Hawthorn's passengers would have be the speedometer. Hawthorn's would boast of one capable of going up to 160 mph. This was demanded by Hawthorn because he was tired of going 'off the clock'.
Elegant and potent all at the same time, Hawthorn's VDU 881 would still be an incredible saloon even by modern standards. And although it would be the very chassis that would ultimately take the life of Hawthorn on the 22nd of January along the A3 near Guildford, in some respects, it would be Hawthorn that would end up taking the life of a truly magnificent street/track performer. A luxurious, mean racer would die right along with the competitive playboy. In many respects Jaguary MK I, registration VDU 881, would be the perfect chariot in which to usher Hawthorn into eternity.
'Mike's Jaguar 3.4L Mark I', (http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/mark1.php). Mike Hawthorn—A Tribute. http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/mark1.php. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
'Jaguar MK I 3.4 MoD', (http://classiccars.brightwells.com/viewdetails.php?id=2222). ClassicCars. http://classiccars.brightwells.com/viewdetails.php?id=2222. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
'Road Impressions: Mike Hawthorn's Jaguar 3.4', (http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/dp-vdu.php). Mike Hawthorn—A Tribute. http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/dp-vdu.php. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
'Replicating a Hero: Jim Patten Takes a Drive of Paul Roach's Replica Hawthorn Mark I', (http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/msl692.php). Mike Hawthorn—A Tribute. http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/msl692.php. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
'A Mike Hawthorn 3.4', (http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/881vdu.php). Mike Hawthorn—A Tribute. http://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/881vdu.php. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Jaguar Cars', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 April 2012, 00:30 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jaguar_Cars&oldid=485255887 accessed 5 April 2012
Wikipedia contributors, 'Jaguar Mark 1', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 January 2012, 22:36 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jaguar_Mark_1&oldid=469212026 accessed 5 April 2012By Jeremy McMullen
|Auction Sales Information|