Road-Test Report on the Daimler 2-1/2-litre V8, and Road Impressions of the 3.8-litre S-Series Jaguar
One of Britain’s best ambassadors in export markets have been the value-for-money products of Jaguar Cars Ltd. of Coventry. Their products have always been renowned for combining unexpectedly low prices with acceptably high performance. Never has this been more true than since the advent of the 3.8-litre Jaguar saloons, the Jaguar E-type sports car and the great 4-1/2-litre Daimler V8 Majestic Major.
It is hard to find a valid reason for turning down a Jaguar or a Daimler for another make of car in the same engine-capacity or price class. To forgo the pleasure of owning and driving a Jaguar merely because, a long time ago, it was occasionally referred to as a poor-man’s Bentley, or because so many are encountered that exclusiveness is lost, is as dubious a form of self-punishment as wearing a hair-vest or indulging in nightly flagellation. Certainly money could hardly be better spent and presumably those who buy elsewhere have given deep thought to the matter and can back their choice with valid technicalities…
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When the Daimler 2-1/2-litre V8 saloon came to us belatedly for appraisal, nearly three years after it made its debut as a Jaguar body shell hiding the Daimler vee-eight engine which had made the Daimler 250SP sports car too fast for its chassis, I fell to contemplating those Jaguars Motor Sport has received for roadtest since the war.
In 1948 we had for test the 3-1/2-litre push-rod o.h.v. Jaguar saloon, which had a beam front axle and Lucas P100 exposed headlamps. We tried it round Goodwood (lapped anti-clockwise in those days – another occasion when I knew I would never be a racing driver!). It was 1951 before we got our hands on the wheel of an XK120, but the smooth flow of almost unlimited, very rapid acceleration (0-100 m.p.h in 25.4 sec.) from the famous twin-cam engine remained an outstanding memory long after the total brake-fade had been forgotten. The supple suspension and fast cornering of this open, white XK120 caused my wife to be sick on the winding road joining Odiham to Alton.
It was not until 1957 that the next Jaguar came our way. This was a Mk. VIII saloon with Borg-Warner automatic transmission, a very fully-equipped and beautifully-appointed (as they say) Company Director’s sort of carriage, which developed a blown exhaust gasket during the test.
An even more acceptable Jaguar arrived at our offices in 1958, in the form of an XKI50 coupé, a medallion on the boot-lid listing Jaguar’s Le Mans victories and the twin-carburetter twin-cam engine developing 210 b.h.p. In spite of doing nearly 130 m.p.h. in overdrive-top gear, fuel consumption was better than 22 m.p.g. Nineteen fifty-nine was barren of Jaguars but I was very favourably disposed towards the Daimler Majestic saloon I tested, then with 6-cylinder push-rod o.h.v. 3.8-litre power unit united to the Borg-Warner automation.
We made amends in 1960 by reporting on both the very impressive 3.8-litre Mk. II and XK150S Jaguars. The XK150S was used to cover the R.A.C. Rally, which embraced a run up M 1 at an average speed of fractionally under 114-1/2 m.p.h. and tough schedules in Scotland and the Lake District, the twin-cam engine turbine-smooth in spite of poking out 250 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m., although again an exhaust-flange gasket failed. The 3.8 Mk. II saloon had me in raptures – I described it as one of the best saloon cars in the World (its price was £1,890), concluding: “Such a car is virtually without rivals and if anyone likes to provide the Editor with one of these excellent, race-bred, and very English motor cars he will raise no objections.” No one has!
Nineteen sixty-two was memorable for a Continental expedition in something of a hurry, to see the Monaco G.P. in a Jaguar E-type, and for experience of the Daimler SP250, a very smooth engine the best aspect of this very fast car, for road-holding wasn’t really in keeping and a glass-fibre body seemed unusual on a car bearing the majestic name of Daimler.
Last year I was able to acquaint myself with that quite splendid car, the 4-1/2-litre Daimler V8 Majestic Major (my comments so favourable my Managing Director has bought one), and the palatial but bulky and rather softly sprung Jaguar Mk. 10, while a colleague had a brief encounter with the 3.8 Jaguar S, also with all-round independent suspension, and a normal gearbox. Now two more Jaguar products have been submitted for test, and the following observations relate to the 2-1/2-litre Daimler V8 and a Jaguar S-series with automatic gearbox.
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The 2-1/2-litre V8 Daimler saloon
This model was introduced nearly three years ago and upset the purists because it was so obviously a 2.4 Jaguar with the Daimler SP250 V8 engine. Today such people are just as upset, especially when they learn that these so-called Daimlers are built in the Jaguar factory, the power units being sent across, as it were, from “The Daimler.”
However, we are concerned with how this small Daimler motors rather than with the ethics of “badge engineering” or the intermarriage of popular models.
Within, this is indeed a 2.4 Jaguar. You sit on large, separate leather-upholstered front seats, rather shapeless but not uncomfortable, their squabs adjustable. The facia and window-surrounds are of highly-polished walnut or shittim or something which, with the screen, tends to reflect overhanging trees, etc. Front and back seats incorporate centre folding arm-rests, the floor is thickly carpeted, the roof lining matched by niceties of interior trim, and the anti-dazzle vizors remain rather board-like affairs, also upholstered, but swivelling to one side when required.
The controls are definitely part of the Jaguar allure – a row of neatly-labelled pendant-switches controlling, from I. to r., the triple interior lamps (which also have courtesy action), 2-position panel lighting, fast and slow heater-fan settings, cigar ignition, map lamp, 2-speed wipers, and screen washers. The central lamps switch is reminiscent of that gracing a Derby Bentley and there is a push-button starter switch, the ignition-key serving also to lock the front doors. In front of the driver are the large, matching dials of the Smiths tachometer (incorporating a small clock, which was slow) and speedometer. The former reads to 6,500 r.p.m. with red marking from 6,000, the latter to 120 m.p.h. There are the usual warning lights; the black needles of both these instruments are white-tipped and move in the same plane, but that of the speedometer had an irritating and inconsistent flutter.
Over the line of flick-switches are four small, matching dials, recording, from I. to r., dynamo charge or discharge, fuel contents within the limits of E, 1/4, 1/2, F, although the slow-reading gauge was reasonably accurate (there is also a fuel warning light – which didn’t function), oil pressure (0, 20, 40, 60), normal reading being 40 lb./sq. in., and water heat, the calibrations being 30, 70 and 110, with 70º C. or a shade more usually indicated.
Before the front-seat occupant is a wooden-lidded cubby-hole, just able to digest a Rolleiflex and light meter. On the right of the driver’s dials is a vertical mixture-enriching control, with COLD, HOT and RUN settings, a warning light above it remaining alight until the knob is pushed down. As it also opens the throttles, the car surges about in an un-Daimler-like fashion until it is warm. Outboard of this is another warning lamp, that Jaguar speciality so ably emphasising power and performance, and sensible withal, the handbrake/brake fluid reminder.
The steering wheel is very low-set and small, with a half-hornring sounding an unpleasantly blatant horn note. One soon becomes accustomed to the small wheel and an adjustable column provides for individual preferences. Further front-compartment refinements include an under-facia handle for extending and retracting the radio aerial and a centre open shelf beneath the “black crackle” central instrument panel, within which is the knob for opening and closing the scuttle vent. Near the aerial-winding handle is a big knob acting as the bonnet release.
A heavy, wide, hanging, Lucas rear-view mirror offers excellent vision. The heater controls comprise neat quadrants on each side of the radio installation (Radiomobile set on the test car), that on the left for volume, that on the right far distribution. There is a radio speaker on the wall above the wide transmission tunnel. Ventilation is assisted by 2-position guttered quarter-lights and toggle-held opening vents in the back doors. The internal handles of the rear doors move forward to open them, which could be dangerous.
There are spring-loaded, stiff pockets in each front door, open pockets in the back doors. The doors shut with a fair imitation of those in a coachbuilt car, but the driver’s tended to bounce open; their hinges possess grease-nipples. The driver’s window-winding handle needs 2-1/8th full turns. There are door arm-rests, the rear ones incorporating plated ash-trays.
A r.h. stalk controls the Borg-Warnerism in the usual manner, except that there are two “D” positions, D1 for 3-stage action, D2 for cutting out changes into low gear. The l.h. stalk controls the turn-indicators, neat indicator arrows being located each end of the permanently-illuminated gearbox control-quadrant, and acts as a lamps-flasher.
Old-fashioned this Jaguar – beg pardon, Daimler – may be, but the presentation and arrangement of the instruments and minor controls is very acceptable, with two provisos – a light from behind the facia escaped about the floor and twinkled intermittently in the o/s. window frames, etc.. making night driving a disconcerting experience, and after about 150 miles there was a “ping” and the turn-indicator control fell limp in one’s hand, requiring thereafter to be held up for indicating r.h. turns, proving that this luxury Daimler has this same crude bit of Lucas equipment as the Editorial Morris 1000.
On the road this 2-1/2-litre Daimler is likable, but could be improved. The engine starts promptly, given rich mixture, on a rather noisy starter, and although it is so quiet at idling speed (400 r.p.m.), that it cannot be heard, a lumpiness indicates that it is running, without need to glance at the tachometer. On a warm June day, Oxford Street traffic raised the water temperature to 90º C. and the engine stalled. Opening up, it revs freely to 6,500 r.p.m., smoothly and without much increase in sound. But the axle ratio is such that it has to be held at peak crankshaft speed to maintain 100 m.p.h., and 85 is a more effortless gait.
The automatic transmission functions well, if
ierkily under wide throttle openings, and kick-down is reasonably effortless.
The .power steering is very light, almost too light for cornering, and is far too low-geared, at 4-1/2 turns, lock-to-lock. The wheel transmits judder rather than kick-back on bad surfaces, hisses only faintly, at full lock, and has smooth castor-return action. The fast-cornering trend is understeer but the average Daimler driver would be more likely to call it neutral, after a trace of initial oversteer. Apart from the slight lack of feel to the exceedingly light steering, handling is very satisfactory, supplemented by less than average roll. The all-round Dunlop disc braking with Lockheed servo application is superbly powerful and progressive, even a trifle sudden for ordinary motoring. They are very light to apply and squealed only slightly under light usage.
The suspension, using coil-springs and wishbones at the front, with lighter damper settings to compensate for the lower weight of the engine, a rigid axle on 1/4-elliptic leaf rear springs, well located, is firm, so that the back-seat ride is sometimes lively and occasionally somewhat un-Daimler-like thumps intrude. Over rough surfaces the ride is poor and could make a Citroën or Lancia sick with mirth. On main roads, however, the standard of comfort is good for a rigid-rear-axle automobile.
The r.h. brake lever is sensibly placed, fairly easy to reach but with a long travel, and it does not obstruct egress from the driver’s door. If pushed fully open, the doors have strong “keeps.”
The performance is that of a small sports car, as the acceleration figures in the data panel prove. Holding the car on the broad brake pedal didn’t permit building up engine speed beyond 1,500 r.p.m. or so, and using this method, and holding the transmission in low gear to 6,000 r.p.m. or more, and again to this speed in intermediate gear, gave less effective acceleration than driving normally with D1 engaged, which is a tribute to Borg-Warner automation. Using the low-gear hold, indicated maxima of 42 m.p.h. in low gear, 70 m.p.h. in intermediate, are reached at 6,000 r.p.m. Surprisingly in such a quiet car, the speedometer appeared to be slow but, in fact, was accurate at 20, 30 and 40 m.p.h., slightly optimistic above these speeds. There is the faintest transmission hum on drive at low speeds, which vanishes on the over-run.
So new Was the D1/D2 transmission that no literature was provided about it but the object appears to be to obviate unnecessary low-speed automatic gear shifts, for smoother running and perhaps economy, at the expense of acceleration – an s.s. 1/4l-mile in D2 occupied 21.5 sec., against 19.6 sec. in D1.
To sum up the road behaviour of the 2-1/2-litre V8 Daimler, it runs impeccably for a car of this engine size, and its quiet, smooth acceleration, very light controls, and general air of well-considered luxury give a truly restful approach to high average-speed driving, although higher gearing of steering and transmission would be an improvement. The rear compartment is somewhat restricted in leg rooms. but cut-aways in the backs of the front seats are provided.
There are other excellent aspects of this fine motor car. The body is free from rattles, the inbuilt Lucas Fogranger fog lamps are brought in from the main lamps switch, there are “telltales” above the separate side-lamps (of which only the off-side one was visible to me), and bonnet and boot-lid remain up automatically. The boot is lengthy but not very deep. The spare wheel is in a well below the floor and carries a neat tool-kit.
Fuel consumption averaged 18.7 m.p.g. of premium fuel but this could be considerably heavier with motorway driving; for example, performance testing reduced the figure to 17.7 m.p.g., an average of 18.2 m.p.g. of premium (not too-octane) petrol. The tiller cap is behind a sprung flap in the n/s. rear mudguard. The tank is said to hold 12 gallons. After more than 900 miles not a drop of oil had been consumed.
The Champion plugs are recessed but fully accessible, but the dip-stick gets almost too hot to hold. The battery box also gets pretty warm.
This vee-eight Daimler is an excellent proposition if you do not mind frequent inquiries as to why your Jaguar has a Daimler-fluted grille or your Daimler a Jaguar body shell. As a very fast, accelerative, safe and restful car, typically British from a famous Coventry company, which is refreshing in an age of American take-over bids, the Daimler 2-1/2-litre V8 is very good value at £1,725 7s. 8d. There is no starting handle; 10 points need greasing every 2,500 miles. two more after 5,000 miles.
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The Jaguar 3.8 S-series Saloon
Before I tried the Daimler I had a brief experience of the Jaguar S-series. It should have been the other way about, because the independent rear suspension, mounted on an insulated subframe, enables softer springing to be used, giving much improved ride and road-holding, the power-steering feels more sensitive, perhaps because the engine above it is heavier, and is more sensibly geared at 3-1/2 turns lock-to-lock, and the considerably more powerful 6-cylinder twin-cam engine is as smooth as the Daimler’s vee-eight, although theoretically it should be otherwise. So I rate the Jaguar the more desirable car, especially as it is equally luxurious, similarly equipped, and obviously gives greater performance.
The Jaguar I tried was the 3.8-litre model with 8.0-to-1 compression-ratio, developing 220 b.h.p at 5,000 r.p.m. The Borg-Warner automatic transmission had but one “D” position but a flick-switch on the right of the facia enabled intermediate gear to be held in – most useful. A limited-slip differential contributed to the improved road-holding endowed by the i.r.s.
There are minor differences compared to the Daimler. The sophistication of a handle to wind in and out the radio aerial is absent but there is push-button control of the scuttle ventilator flap and a pull-out shelf (rather flimsy) below the facia, also an improved heater with horizontal controls.
The S-series Jaguar has a bigger luggage boot and more rear-compartment leg room than the Mk. II. The dual fuel tanks are retained, which I like. They each hold 7 gallons.
Petrol of too-octane rating wasn’t required and this very smooth, quiet and fast car averaged 16.6 m.p.g. of premium fuel. The engine used Shell X100 oil rather fast. the level being almost off the dip-stick after 630 miles, a consumption of approximately 3 pints.
I am aware that Rolls-Royce do not use disc brake-s in ease they squeak but those on this Jaguar never emitted a sound and were extremely effective.
I rate the softer-sprung S-series Jaguar a very fine car indeed and at £1,885 11s. 3d. it constitutes magnificent value-for-outlay. It is, in fact, a pity that it has been termed an “intermediate model,” because it is a significant car with every right to succeed, even if wishful thinking prompts us to hope for a Jaguar 4-1/2-litre V8 in the future.