Jaguar XK Engine Applications-By Nigel Thorley
We are celebrating the anniversary of the XK power unit, an incredible engine with some three quarters of a million produced between 1948 and 1992. Jaguar/Daimler Cars Initially launched in the XK120 sports in 1948, the XK power unit was regularly upgraded and developed for the XK140, XK150 and then in the sixties for the "E" Type Series I and Series 2 models. For the saloons the Jaguar XK engine primarily powered the Mark VII leading to the Mark VIII, Mark IX and then Mark X and 420G flagship saloons. Initially with a new smaller configuration of 2.4 litres the XK engine powered the "compact" Mark 1 and 2 saloons from the mid fifties to the late sixties which included the re-badged 240/340 models and "S" type/420 saloons. Daimler versions became available from 1966. "C" and "D" types took the engine to many victories in the 50s.
With the introduction of Jaguar's one-model saloon policy in the late sixties, the XK engine was again the only unit available until the release of the V12 engine in 1971. The XK engine, however, continued in the more popular XJ saloon car range into Series 3 until late in 1986. Three generations of saloons, two generations of sports cars and nearly fifty models in total all used the Jaguar XK6 cylinder engine. Commercial Uses Alvis had, by 1969, stopped producing private motor cars but were a major manufacturer of small armoured vehicles for the British and foreign armed forces. Both companies being part of the British Leyland empire, Jaguar adapted the XK engine and subsequently called it the "J60" to power a range of vehicles.
Applications for the military J60 engine included the complete Scorpion family of tanks and armoured personnel carriers including the Scimitar, the Fox Milan reconnaissance and Fox Scout armoured vehicles, the Ferret and a special four wheel drive all-terrain lorry, the Stonefield. There were also many times when the J60 version of the XK power unit was used as a stationery engine to generate electricity, etc, all over the world. We should also not forget the non-military use of the J60 power unit for the Fire Service as many engines were fitted to contemporary Dennis fire engines and served the service well until well into the eighties. Allied Uses Such was the reputation of the Jaguar XK engine that many other individuals and private companies opted to use this power unit over the years.
For example, Goldie Gardner of MG record breaking fame used a four cylinder XJ engine, the forerunner of the XK engine to power his EX 181 car. Over the years several water speed record attempts have benefited from the use of the XK engine including the Lady Windermere and Mathea series. Other car manufacturers realised the potential for the XK engine and used it for many years. Marques such as Allard, used a 3.4 XK140 engine as an option for their Palm Beach and it is rumoured that Jensen considered the application for the 541.During the sixties amalgamation, an in-house search for a suitable replacement for the ageing Healey 3000 prompted Jaguar to re-think the 3 litre engine and built a prototype with 3 x 1.75 inch carburettors. In later years, specialist car builder Panther used Jaguar power units. Cooper, HWM, Lister, Tojeiro, and others chose the racing XK engine to propel their sports racers, often toppling major manufacturers on the circuits.
Then there have been the many replica and kit-car producers who have and still use Jaguar XK engines. Names like Suffolk, Aristocrat, Broomstick, Kougar and Ronart come to mind and there have been many, many more, in fact I can think of over 100 privateers who have used the XK engine over the years. And so the story of the XK engine goes on and on and on. Never has an engine been used for so many diverse uses from static power generation to world records, racing successes to sedate carriage work. Look around the infield at XK50 and you will find everything from a Limousine to a Le Mans racer, all using the same power unit. Perhaps the final accolade goes to the XK140 at Bonneville Salt Flats where it recently took the Modified Sports Class E speed record by achieving 180.42 mph. The XK engine is already part of not only the Jaguar legend but the very backbone and essence of motoring.