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Origins of the S type

Jim Elston

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Hi All,

After yet another "informed" person telling me that I am driving a rebodied Mondeo and my S-Type is basically a Ford...I pointed out that the S Type is longitudinal and rear wheel drive and a Mondeo is transverse and front wheel drive, I also told him that the original V6 3.0 4WD only shared 19% of parts with a Mondeo, different track, different wheelbase and so on but to no avail. PLease don't let the facts get in the way of the car's reputation! In doing some research though I cam up with the following, which may be of interest. It certainly was to me!

I read on Jaguarforum.com a post from 2007 by a contributor named Stirling. It referenced a post from another contributor that said the Jaguar S-Type was in many senses the last true British classic. This was said some eleven years ago, and I still think that this is the case. There is evidence that S-Type values are rising, and that interest is beginning to build, albeit slowly.


The following is taken from Stirling’s post. It is taken from a special supplement which came out with Car magazine on the eve of the S-Type going on sale in March 1999. The part that is reproduced here concentrates on the evolution of the model, and it is of great interest for several reasons. Firstly, it makes it quite clear that the S-Type is the last project left over from the glory days of Jaguar under Sir William Lyons and F.R.W. ‘Lofty’ England. It was Lofty England’s plan for a successor to the Mark 2 which was revived under Ford. Lofty England had even specified that the proposed model should be built at Castle Bromwich where, of course, the S-Type ended up being built thirty-odd years later. This fact ought to put to rest any further suggestions that the concept of the S-Type was a Ford one, it was a long standing Jaguar project finally given life by Ford’s investment in the company - and the development and set-up costs of the S-Type came solely from profits made by Jaguar themselves.

Secondly, the article demolishes the idea that the Jaguar S-Type was made up from existing Ford parts bin components, or that it was designed by other than Jaguar design teams. The article makes clear that the only connection with Lincoln was the fact that an entirely new platform - NOT an existing Ford one - was developed specifically to be shared by Jaguar’s new S-Type and Lincoln’s new LS. Apart from that the bottom and crankshaft of the S-Type’s V6 engine is shared with the Duratec, but the rest of it was developed by Jaguar’s engineers, the V8 version being entirely Jaguar. (Note: The V6 has a fascinating history of its own. It was originally commissioned by Porsche and engineered by Yamaha. Porsche abandoned the idea and the engineering was sold to Ford. Cosworth developed the cylinder heads for the Duratec. Jaguars engineers however used only the block and crankshaft. Jaguar engineers added DOHC, VVT, 4 Valves per cylinder and instead of the finger type followers used buckets (DAMB). Basically, two of these V6 engines made up the Aston V12!) Again, this is no different from
Lofty England’s plans for a Mark 2 replacement nearly 40 years ago, ’the engine and transmission would be based on bought-out items.’ The idea that today’s S-Type is therefore somehow ‘less British’ than earlier Jaguars is therefore a non-starter.

Thirdly, the amount of thought which went into the design of the new S-Type is detailed below. Of interest is the care that was taken to combine traditional Jaguar design cues with the latest technological advances. It always annoys me to read the S-Type’s appearance being described as ‘retro’. It’s my view that, if Jaguar had had the money to implement
Lofty England’s plan for a new Mark 2 over thirty years ago, then that level of Jaguar would have evolved by today into something not unlike the appearance of the current S-Type. Look at today’s XJ’s, they’re a natural evolution of 1968’s original XJ6 and I believe that if Jaguar had had the money to continue a more compact model at the time that it too would have evolved as a recognisable descendent of the Mark 2. So today’s S-Type is no more ‘retro’ than today’s version of the XJ, or, for that matter, the BMW’s and Mercedes which perpetuate design cues peculiar to their respective marques.

So, I hope this post might stop future ill-informed suggestions that the S-Type was a Ford concept, or a Ford parts-bin construction or that it is somehow less genuinely a British Jaguar than those built under Sir William Lyons and
Lofty England.

__________________________________________________ ___________

Jaguar has been wanting to build a car like this for 20 years. But only now, with a successful XJ and XK, and the resources of Ford, has it been possible to realise its dream. We discover how the S-Type was conceived and examine the result.

JAGUAR has dreamed of building this car for years. It’s an obvious thing to do: create a model smaller than the imposing XJ-series and enjoy the twin benefits of competing where the prestige sales volumes are (BMW 5-series, Audi A6, Mercedes E-class) while playing the sure-fire heritage card.
Heritage card? Of course. It doesn’t mean the new, smaller Jaguar must be a retro-fest, but it helps massively that Jaguar virtually created the posh-but-slightly-sporty, sub-plutocrat executive sector around 40 years ago. The car that did it, or rather the two cars, were the 2.4 and 3.4. If that means little, then maybe what those cars became in 1959, the Jaguar Mark 2, will mean more. That’s the car, and the market sector, Jaguar abandoned in 1968. Now, 30 years later and in a drastically changed world, the junior Jag is back.

So, why has it taken all this time? It hasn’t been for want of imagination. Jaguar chairman Nick Scheele will tell you that shortly after Jaguar got drawn into British Leyland, chief engineer Lofty
England proposed a plan. It was for a replacement for the Mark 2, to be built at the rate of 50,000 cars a year and powered by a 2.5-litre engine. The engine and transmission would be based on bought-out items, and the car would be built at the old Fisher and Ludlow body plant at Castle Bromwich.
British Leyland’s directors said no. That market territory belonged to Rover and Triumph. Much later, Ford’s directors said yes.
Lofty England’s plan, with the addition of an extra half-litre of engine capacity, has been turned into reality with uncanny accuracy. The reality is called the Jaguar S-Type, and it was one of the biggest stars of last October’s Birmingham motor show.

It’s a striking looking car. It has rear-wheel drive, of course, and it’s available not only with the existing 4.0-litre V8 but also, crucially, with a 2.5-litre 240bhp V6, Jaguar’s first V-configured six-pot. Now, as it goes on sale, we look more deeply behind the car, at the people who created it, the way they did it and the reasons why.

Clearly, the new car looks like a Jaguar. Eighty-five percent of people seeing it for the first time at customer clinics, at which all badges had been removed, correctly identified the S’s maker. Equally clearly, though, the S-Type doesn’t look like a shrunken XJ8: Jaguar has not gone for the same-prospect, different sizes approach of its German rivals. It had to be distinct from the bigger cars, unique and younger in its appeal. How to achieve this was something that has exercised Jaguar brainpower in a way it hasn’t been exercised for years.

There was also the question of what to call it. Jaguar’s naming policy to date has not been a model of consistency, it once had a Mark 2 and a Mark 10 in its range simultaneously, so six key Jaguar people mulled over a list of all the old Jaguar names.

“We liked SS” says Scheele,
but we couldnt really use it. We looked at the Mark idea, but there was the Lincoln Mark VIII so we veered away from that. We tried 400, as a reference to the 420 and 420G, but it didn’t gel. The S-Type was the last iteration of the Mark 2 idea, if you disregard the 420, so we went with that. It’s the same with XK: if you own such initials, use them.”

“S-Type is a name we can move into the future. I’m bored with all the past names. What a hotchpotch!”

Thus was the S-Type named. The problem will be even harder to solve for Jaguar’s next model line, aimed at BMW’s 3-series and currently codenamed X400. Anyone want to take a bet on T-Type?

The reason why Jaguar have taken so long to plug its downrange hole is that it has been seriously strapped for cash. The money continued to haemorrhage after Ford’s takeover, but the bleeding eased after the XJ6’s 1994 re-make and sales renaissance. Since then, helped by the success of the XK8, Jaguar has become profitable. Profitable enough to become a four-range car company, XJ saloon, XK sports car, X200 (the new S-Type) and upcoming X400 ,while still living only on the profits from the two ranges sold up to now.

Jaguar is proud the new model programme has been funded from its own profits. However, there has been much Ford resource to help it on its way, not least the fact that Ford US was planning a new Lincoln (the LS, poised for launch as you read this) at the same time as Jaguar was dusting off the Mark-2-for-the-1990’s idea. (Note: I did read that the LS was destined for the UK to replace the Granada/Scorpio range. The Jaguar S-Type fulfilled that role instead.)

This was a godsend for Jaguar, because it allowed both cars to be developed and built on a common platform, saving a stack of money. The vital trick was to keep the two cars distanced in customers’ perceptions: “The Ford board wanted them to be unique” says X200 chief programme engineer David Szczupak, “So the cars were developed by two separate teams, with some engineering groups kept in loose formation”

“The S-Type doesn’t use Ford bits,” Szczupak chooses his words carefully,
but there are some common parts which are used on both cars. The fuel tank, for example, came from the same drawing and has the same part number, but is made in two different factories.” Another very obvious common part is the crankshaft, shared with the 3.0 litre version of Fords Duratec V6 (the 2.5 appears in the Mondeo and Cougar) on which the Jaguar V6’s bottom half is based.

The result of this shared effort is a Jaguar which, under its skin, is like no Jaguar before it. From Mark 10/E-Type to XJ8/XK8, Jaguar’s suspension design changed only in detail. Now, it’s modern thinking exemplified, wide-spaced wishbones, multilinks, passive rear-steer and all. Yet certain vitals haven’t changed: the short front overhang, the 50/50 weight distribution, helped by placing the battery in the boot (Jaguar insisted) and, of course, the rear-wheel drive.

As for engines, the V8 is Jaguar-only, and the V6 has cylinder heads quite unlike the regular Duratec’s. The V6 is made at Cleveland, Ohio, with its Ford relatives, but the two-stage variable inlet-valve timing and three-stage variable inlet manifolds are Jaguar’s own. The 24 valves are operated not by Duratec’s finger followers but by lightweight bucket tappets, just as they are in the V8, and the engine is a much freer breather. This explains both its high peak power (240bhp) and the high revs at which it happens (6800rpm). The LS uses the same head castings, incidentally, Jaguar wasn’t allowed to keep the advantages all to itself ,but without the VVT and with a less sporty cam profile.

Clothing all is a body of striking and controversial style. It looks like a Jaguar. But exactly how does it look like a Jaguar? What it is not meant to be is a collection of retro-pastiche details: there was a fine line to be trodden between marque values and schmaltz. “People think we get Andrew Whyte’s Jaguar history book, open a bottle of wine, and look at old Jags.” says design director Geoff Lawson,
But its nothing like that.”

Understandably, though, people do look for bits of old Mark 2 in the new S-Type. And it has to be said that the front grille, the fairings for the inner headlights, the curved rear quarter window and the rearward-drooping side-crease give them plenty to go on. Fair enough: BMW has its rear-pillar dog-leg and so-called double-kidney grille. Mercedes, too, has its grille and ribbed tail-lights. Of such things are marque-identifiers made.
In fact, Mercedes, historically, has had two main face-types: the regular grille, and the wide mouth with the three-pointed star in its centre for the sportier cars. And Jaguar, as it happens, has had three: the original, formal squared-off grille still used in squat form in today’s XJ, the horizontal-oval air intake of the D-Type, E-Type and XK8, and the vertical, slatted oval which began with the XK120 and ended with the Mark 2 and old S-Type.

This is the face reborn here, after a long absence. It’s the face of smaller, sportier but still-practical Jaguars, familiar enough to please those who remember, but indicative of a new Jaguar direction even for those who don’t. The new car’s grille lacks a thick central bar, as its inspiration did in all its pre-Mark 2 guises; the historically fastidious will see it as more like a C-Type racer’s version than any other, broader at the top and not a true oval. Why no central bar? Lawson’s eyes turn heavenwards. “The difference between a sense of integrity and a parody of the ethos is very small, but a central bar would have been a parody. We did try it with a piece of tape, but it just looked naff.”

Deep body sides and a (Mark 2-like) domed roof give the S-Type more interior space than an XJ saloon can offer. This is important, because people are larger nowadays. Surprisingly, the wheelbase is longer, too, even though the bonnet and boot are shorter relative to the passenger compartment than they are in the grander car. Despite this, Lawson and the chief architect of the S-Type’s styling, Simon Butterworth, have managed to keep a large ‘dash to axle’ dimension.

“This distance is traditionally long in a Jaguar.” says Lawson,
But as A-pillars move further forward we lose a distinctive Jaguar element. If were not careful, it could end up looking generic. We have the front doors shut line as far back as we can, and we angle the screen pillar to reduce the perception of screen rake. Its still a faster screen than an XJs, though, achieved by pulling the bottom edge forward in the middle and so increasing the curvature.”

If designing the outside was tricky, given the need to attract a whole swathe of new buyers without compromising the car’s “Jaguarness”, then the interior really concentrated the stylists’ minds. “It had to be sporty, not a scaled-down X300 (XJ
interior, and we had to integrate the satellite-navigation screen. It was,” Lawson is trying to emphasise, very tough. We needed to make it bolder and fresher, but still with wood, understatement, natural materials. It was really hard.”

“There’s a spitfire-wing motif,” continues Butterworth as we debate the cabin
s Britishness, a shape which makes a statement across the car.” He points out the centre facia vents as an example, which in an earlier facia design joined the semi-circular centre console in an oval echoing the grille up front. “Just a hint of that remains,” says Butterworth. Weve kept the design fairly clean, with a level of symmetry.”

“We didn’t want a driver-biased interior. Nor have we put the instruments in port-holes this time, and we haven’t gone the chronographic route.” Butterworth is hinting at the Lexus IS200 and to the car whose upper versions might tread on the S-Type’s toes, the Rover 75. He rejects those cars’ fancy dials. “We’re trying to attract a new customer, so we wanted something clean, clinical and no-nonsense for the instruments. But we’ve still tried to put in as many Jaguar stereotypes as possible.”

The sat-nav screen is important, because it’s a visible indicator of deeper technological cleverness. The sat-nav includes real-time traffic information on its map, courtesy of a Trafficmaster interface, but the S’s techno treat is a voice-activation system for stereo, telephone and climate control. Devised by Visteon, a Ford component subsidiary, its fitment in the S-Type is a world first. Alert the system by pressing a button on the steering wheel, issue your command (it can understand nearly all English-language accents) and you will be obeyed. Just like that.
The world has waited long for the Jaguar S-Type, and expectations are high. It’s a new kind of Jaguar, and rosy memories of Mark 2’s won’t be enough to push it onwards on their own. Nor would Jaguar want them to be, for this is a car intended to build on the delights of driving a BMW 5-series while still feeling like a Jaguar.

Now it’s down to the buyers to decide. And judging by the way the order book has filled since October, they seem to be deciding in its favour.


In the previous post, Jaguar’s chief architect of the S-Type’s styling, Simon Butterworth, drew attention to the deliberate use of an elliptical spitfire-wing shape throughout the S-Type. Examples of this elliptical theme can be seen, as mentioned, in the air vents, but also on the inside and outside door handles, the wood door trims, the centre console (although a lot of these were lost in the “facelift” or series II cars), as well as the shape created by the rear light clusters and the back of the boot lid. Butterworth doesn’t say so in the article, but the reason for the Spitfire wing theme being chosen is that the S-Type is built at Castle Bromwich, the same factory which turned out the iconic Spitfire fighter of WWII, and these design cues are therefore a tribute to one of Britain’s most iconic aircraft. And what is more emblematic of Britain’s transport heritage than the Spitfire and the Jaguar? All of which goes to bolster the S-Type’s right to claim to represent the best of British. In October 1998, Jaguar produced a numbered limited edition commemorative Book for the S-Type’s launch. Bound in heavy brushed-aluminium covers, the book includes the story of the Spitfire connection and a picture of the aircraft being built at Castle Bromwich. It’s interesting to read this history of the factory where our S-Types were built:

__________________________________________________ ___________

Over 60 Years ago, building work started on a “shadow” factory at Castle Bromwich which was to cost £4.6 million and take 18 months to complete. The priority was to produce a fighter plane “the Spitfire“ an aircraft which would carve a unique place in aviation history.

The initial planning concept for the factory layout was revolutionary because it utilised motor industry assembly line methods pioneered by car makers. The man in charge, Lord Nuffield, wanted to simplify construction as much as possible. However, despite his best intentions, there were still no completed aeroplanes by May 1940.

Lord Beaverbrook, the newly appointed minister responsible for aircraft production, was keen to make his mark. He promptly demanded an explanation from Nuffield about the lack of progress; Nuffield made the mistake of suggesting that perhaps Beaverbrook would like to take control. The canny newspaper baron accepted the challenge immediately and with considerable speed relocated managers and skilled labour from the Vickers Armstrong Supermarine factory in Southampton. The first Spitfires took off within weeks of the changeover in time to take part in the Battle of Britain.

In the immediate post-war years Fisher & Ludlow undertook body pressings for some of the most famous cars of the day, including the Standard Vanguard, Standard 8 and 10, Morris Minor saloon and the razor-edged Triumph Mayflower. Body production continued with a broader range of pressings once Fisher & Ludlow became part of the British Motor Corporation “BMC”. Famous marques such as Wolseley, Riley and Austin were added as customers. Besides automotive work, the site also produced washing machines, sinks, vending machines, bicycles, plastic products and central heating radiators.

In 1966, a two-year series of mergers began which involved Jaguar, BMC and subsequently the Leyland Group; the result was the birth of the British Leyland Motor Corporation. Fisher & Ludlow then became Pressed Steel Fisher in the same period.

One outcome of these changes meant that bodyshells for the Jaguar XJ6 and XJS models were pressed alongside those for some Austin and Rover ranges. Jaguar took control of the site in 1980 when all resources were concentrated on body assembly and painting of XJ saloons and XJS sportscars, before delivery to Browns Lane for final assembly. Substantial investment to support the introduction of the XK8 was made in 1996.

The 105 acre site has seen many changes since the first Spitfire left the factory many years ago. Now the eagerly awaited S-TYPE is about to emerge with the same sense of immense pride.


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Hi Jim,

A brilliant and detailed summary of the S type.   Indeed, your research is not dissimilar to the book I am currently writing  "Jaguar, its Cars and its People", but in far more detail,  Two weeks ago I had a meeting with SirJohn Egan, who was CEO of Jaguar from 1980 until the Ford take-over in 1989, and who rates the S type very highly as a real contribution to the Jaguar line up. And as a S type owner, I agree with his comment that the roadholding of the S Type was real Jaguar style.

When Ian Callum was given the job of designing the new Jaguar, the XF, he sat inside the Mk2 Jaguar to think, and his first thought were that he had to create atmosphere which makes Jaguar have a difference with other luxury cars.   It comes as no surprise to me the Jaguar are re-engineering the Mk2 and will be producing later in the years the first new model  of the Mk2, prices at somewhere between £300,000 and £350,000.

I am now wating for someone to disagree with you!



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Thank you for the replies. Let me know when the book is finished Pete, I would love to read it. I have seen pics of Ian Callum's Mk2...mouth watering, and the basis for the production models. The S-Type remains to me a very special car, and I agree with the statement that it is the last true British classic. I also did some reading on the X Type and that has a very convoluted history. The X Type R was a missed opportunity. The Jaguar specific platform, which bore very little resemblance to the Ford Mondeo platform, a supercharged 3.0 V6, aggressive styling and Four wheel drive...What a "Might of been" although Ford had a similar spec on the Cougar 3.0 4WD which also never made production...I believe the Jaguar helped make the Mustang handle as well...

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Hi Jim,

My book is for International strategic management, but I am hoping that I can get some copies for free distribution to interested members of the JOC.

I have it on good authority that Jaguar are setting up a department that will move on from the Lightweight E-Type when 18 were made to re engineering earlier models from the XK150 to earlier models.




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I would be most interested in the book! If I had a lottery win, I would love to do something similar to Nico McBrain, Iron Maidens drummer. He commissioned Jaguar to "create" his Series 3 XJ6. Subtly updated and quite gorgeous. On the subject of classics, there was an absolutely stunning XK150 in Ryde a couple of days ago. I saw it in Union street. It was in silver and had to be close to concours condition. Really nice to see it being driven on the road.

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Hi Jim,

A photograph of an E Type I took at Swansway Jaguar in Crewe the April 2017.   The unique part of this photo is that it is driven by Mary Sayer, the youngest daughter of Malcolm Sayer who designed the C Type, D Type, E Type and the XJS.



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14 hours ago, Jim Elston said:

Thank you for the replies. Let me know when the book is finished Pete, I would love to read it. I have seen pics of Ian Callum's Mk2...mouth watering, and the basis for the production models. The S-Type remains to me a very special car, and I agree with the statement that it is the last true British classic. I also did some reading on the X Type and that has a very convoluted history. The X Type R was a missed opportunity. The Jaguar specific platform, which bore very little resemblance to the Ford Mondeo platform, a supercharged 3.0 V6, aggressive styling and Four wheel drive...What a "Might of been" although Ford had a similar spec on the Cougar 3.0 4WD which also never made production...I believe the Jaguar helped make the Mustang handle as well...


Last time I went JLR Classics open day, there was a Red X-type R there, They made one and its there, they just never decided to put it into production



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I have seen pictures of the X Type R. I think perhaps they couldn't have put it into production, it would have out performed everything except the Supercharged S type, had nearly the same interior space, was more technically advanced and would have been cheaper...I believe that the same platform however was used for the Freelander 2 and Evoque...


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On ‎7‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 2:07 PM, Old Peter said:

Hi Jim,

A photograph of an E Type I took at Swansway Jaguar in Crewe the April 2017.   The unique part of this photo is that it is driven by Mary Sayer, the youngest daughter of Malcolm Sayer who designed the C Type, D Type, E Type and the XJS.



What a great picture. A fantastic legacy for Mary Sayer to have. The E-Type speaks for itself...

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Looking carefully at the pictures of the old Mark 2 and the old S types from the 1960s, and comparing them (two monitors are useful here!) you can immediately see the striking resemblance in the 'lines' and the way the old and new cats sit on the road, as it were. Driving my S type reminds me of my old XJ6 series 2 that I had back in the 1980s. There is no doubt at all - S types are a classic in the making - just wish I could afford an S type R! 

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