1957 Jaguar Mark 1

1957 Jaguar Mark 1

1957 Jaguar Mark 1
Chassis #: S980806DN
Registration #: VDU 881
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.

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 2012

By Jeremy McMullen
Jaguar reached a point during the mid-1950's were they were only selling luxury and sports vehicles along with a great deal of its production happening in foreign markets. The main two reasons for this were that Jaguar sold into market segments easily affected by a recession and there was too much dependence on foreign sales which could be closed at any moment at the whim of a foreign government.

Wanting to move away from this stereotype, and produce a vehicle that could sell into a larger market, as well as sell strongly in the home market. The vehicle not intended as a mainstream family car, but more a vehicle that could be aspired to by the ordinary motorist. In the mid 1950's, this was a segment remarkably devoid of competition. Jaguar introduced the 2.4-liter MKI at the 1955 Motor Show. The MKI was meant to cement a stronger position by producing a vehicle that could be sold at home and to a larger market. The Coventry Company added its first unitary-built vehicle, the new compact 2.4-liter saloon, known as the Mk1.

Originally, the Mk1 resembled a customized Mk2, a bit more menacing with filled in rear wheel arches and glass areas. New for Jaguar, the MKI was built of monocoque construction, immensely over-engineered. The newest model was designed to fill their product gap and appeal to the home market. Though the Jaguar Mk1 was an all-new design, it bore a striking family likeness to both of the other ranges, the front end styling of the XK, and a rear section very similar to the MK VII.

In comparison, the Mk2 was a much more capable car, due to its widened rear wheel track, but the Mk1 was both cheaper and more distinctive. Without the Mk1 there would have been no Mk2.

Several have suspected that Jaguar intended to resurrect a variant of the 2-liter 4-cylinder engine that was to have powered the XK100 if it had ever been marketed. In the end, a new 2.4-liter version of the XK 6-cylinder engine was developed by shortening the stroke and the height of the standard 3.4-liter engine.

While the 3.4 variant was probably produced for the U.S. market, the 2.4 would have viewed as underpowered. Soon becoming very popular in the home market, production figured told the tale of how well it did at home as well as abroad. In 1957 when the 3.4 liter was first produced, the disc brakes were not ready for production, so instead the early models were equipped with servo-assisted drums. Later, conversion kits were made available for owners to upgrade their brakes on both 2.4 and 3.4-liter models. The 3.4 liter was equipped with the engine from the XK140/150 and was capable of producing 210 bhp when fitted with the B cylinder head and SU carburetors.

The 3.4 liter was fitted with a larger grille, as cooling had to be increased, the grille was similar o the one on the concurrent XK150. This became standard on 2.4 liter soon after to rationalize production. The fitment of cut-away rear wheel spats was the other main distinguishing external features; this was so that wire wheels could be fitted and cooling to the marginal drum brakes increased. This was soon fitted to the 2.4 variant as well.

Standard features on the Jaguar MKI were leather seats, fog/spot lights and hub caps (on standard steel wheels). A very rare 'Standard' version was a 2.4 without Rev Counter heater, Jaguar Mascot, Windshield Washers, and foglights.

The MK1 was produced from 1956 through 1960 with a total of 36,740 units being produced. By the end of 1960, the Mk1 had become the biggest selling Jaguar ever. To keep up with production capacity, Jaguar chose to purchase Daimler.

By Jessica Donaldson
The replacement for the first small unibody sedan, the 1955 Mark 1, the Mark II was an extremely elegant sedan that has been considered the most eye-catching, most compact Jaguar sedan ever. The Mark II featured a larger greenhouse, larger side and rear windows, an updated grille, fitted fog lamps, a wider rear track without the full fender skirts, and standard four-wheel disc brakes. Jaguar postwar saloons have always been denoted by Roman Numerals until the introduction of the XJ. The Mark 2 used Arabic Numerals denoted on the rear of the vehicle as 'MK 2'.

The interior of the Mark II was truly a masterpiece with its beautiful walnut veneer dash, plush leather seats, and multiple gauges now placed in easy distance from the driver along with a row of toggle switches. The cabin space was updated with 18% more cabin glass area, which majorly improved the visibility. The Mark II had a wide windscreen thanks to new slender front pillars. The rear windows nearly wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the rear door and completely chromed frames for all of the side windows. The larger side, tail and fog lamps found a new home as the radiator grille was updated. A new heating system was added to the Mark II and ducted to the rear compartment.

Powering the Mark II was the DOHC aluminum six-cylinder, in 2.4-liter, 3.4-liter and 3.8-liter displacement from the Mark I. The fast and capable Mark II had a top speed of 125 mph and had an estimated 210 horsepower. The saloon came with a 120 bhp, 210 bhp or 220 bhp Jaguar XK engine. The 3.8 engine is very similar to the unit used in the 3.8 E-Type and shared the same block, crank, connecting rods and pistons but had a different inlet manifold and carburetion, so it was 30 bhp less. Compared to the straight ports of the E-Type configuration the head of the six-cylinder engine in the Mark II had curved ports. The 3.4- and 3.8-liter models were fitted with twin SU HD6 carburetors while the 2.4 was fitted with twin Solex carburetors.

The transmission was typically a four-speed with overdrive though some Borg-Warner automatics were purchased, usually, in the U.S. The Mark II featured independent suspension all around, and most of the models were constructed with wire wheels. Four-wheel disc brakes were standard and the 3.8-liter was supplied fitted with a limited-slip differential. The Mark II was more than 100 kg heavier than the 2.4 / 3.4 models.

In 1961 The Motor magazine tested a 3.4-liter Mark II with automatic transmission and found it to have a top speed of 119.9 mph and the ability to accelerate from 0-60mph in just 11.9 seconds. The 3.8-liter car with the 220 bhp was found to have a top speed of 125 mph and could accelerate from 0-60mph in just 8.5 seconds. The Jaguar Mark II has a history of racing success in the European Touring Car Championship.

A total of around 85,000 of the Jaguar MK II models were produced during its lifespan from 1959 to 1967. For the last twelve months of its production period, the MK II was re-labeled Jaguar 240 and Jaguar 340.

The Mark II has been portrayed in the media as either the perfect vehicle to start a car chase in, or to apprehend the lawbreakers in. With a top speed of 125 mph, the 3.8-liter model had room for up to five adults and was a popular getaway car choice. The car was also employed by the police to patrol British motorways. Fictional TV detective Inspector Morse drove a Mark II with a 2.4 L engine, steel wheels, and Everflex vinyl roof in his popular television series, which later sold for more than £100,000.

The Mark II cars were re-labeled 240 and 340 in September of 1967 as interim models to fill the void until the XJ6 would be introduced the following September. The 3.8-liter engine was dropped from the lineup. Once the XJ6 arrived on the scene the 340 was discontinued, but the 240 continued as a budget-priced model until April of 1969. Carrying a price tag of only £1364 the Jaguar 240 was only £20 more than the original 2.4 in 1956.

Output increased from 120 bhp at 5,750 rpm to 133 bhp at 5,500 rpm of the 240 engine. The torque was also increased and the engine now had a straight-port type cylinder head and twin HS6 SU carbs with a new inlet manifold. The 240 received an upgrade to a Borg-Warner 35 dual drive range instead of automatic transmission. The 340 now offered power steering by Marles Varamtic.

The 2.4-liter model could go faster than 100 mph for the first time, which resulted in higher sales. The servicing intervals were increased from 2,000 miles to 3,000 miles and there was a bit of modification in the shaping of the rear body while slimmer bumpers and over-riders were fitted. Amble leather-like material and tufted carpet replaced the rich leather upholstery that had graced the earlier Mark 2. The front fog lamps were replaced with circular vents and optional fog lamps for the UK market. The price of the 240 was reduced in an effort to compete with the Rover 2000 TC. Total production of the 240 and 340 series totaled 7,246 units with 4,446 240's sold, 2,788 340 models, and 12 380 models before the XJ6 was introduced in September of 1968.

Despite its hefty price tag and rigorous maintenance schedule, the timeless MK II is quite a popular collectible today. The bodylines of the Mark II (derived from the Mark I) proved to be the inspiration for the Jaguar S-Type introduced in 1999.


By Jessica Donaldson

Concepts by Jaguar

Jaguar Monthly Sales Volume

December 2019
October 2019
September 2019
May 2019
March 2019
January 2019
Additional Sales Volume Data

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)4,442
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)3,422
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)4,934
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)5,839
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)4,607
1957Ford (1,676,449)Chevrolet (1,505,910)Plymouth (726,009)3,685
1956Chevrolet (1,567,117)Ford (1,408,478)Buick (572,024)3,685
1955Chevrolet (1,704,667)Ford (1,451,157)Buick (738,814)3,573
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)3,349
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)3,349
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)3,349

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