When I fell in love with Jaguar…

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This is where it all began: as a teenager, I stood eye to eye with the Jaguar D Type at the speed trials in Brecht… 

The announcement of this years’ presence again of Jaguar Classic at the Le Mans Classic 2018 – just read soon our following report in these columns – made me think back to the time when I grew fond of these feline cars. As a teenager, I devoured the British car magazines, and read everything about the powerful post war Jaguars with their fantastic XK six cylinder engine. I still adore this classic, double overhead cam six, with hemispheric combustion chambers and of course crossflow cylinder head.

With my father, I attended in those days the flying – or standing – I do not remember exactly anymore – kilometer speed trials in Brecht, near Antwerp. I stood there eye to eye – as the photo shows – with a D Type. Here, the growling XK was fed by a battery of three double Webers and had dry sump lubrication.

The styling, the shape, the curves, the sound, the speed, it was all fantastic to me and I felt this was all “just right”.

Also the road holding and overall handling was just fantastic, and that this car had the latest technical miracle, disk brakes. Looking at the chassis and suspension, this D type was so much ahead of its time, sporting an ideal weight distribution and aerodynamics. But what seduced me also greatly was the fact that the engine, gearbox, the very heart of the car, stemmed from the series production Jaguars, with that XK engine, with its typical beautiful growl, mated with the very same Moss gearbox which was also found in the Jaguar sports and saloon cars of the day, with the typical whine of the long first gear when they accelerated away.

XK Jaguar engine drawing

I added my drawing here of the Jaguar XK engine, seen from the rear and the right hand side, with one of the big SU carburetors just being visible…

That was and is Jaguar to me, and still is for me today, as a happy owner of the Mk II Type S, which has the Jaguar E type independent rear suspension and the rear styling reminiscent of the fantastic Mark 10. This was actually the first car I bought when I started to earn money professionally.

I recently rediscovered the Ektachrome slide which my father took of me with his 2.8 Rolleiflex. At the time when I first fell in love with these cars, and rest assured, I am still bitten today…

Hans Knol ten Bensel