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Jaguar C-Type


Jaguar C-Type Suspension

The chassis essentially ended just behind the cockpit, with the rear axle hung off the back on trailing links. These links were attached at their forward ends to the springing medium, which was a single transverse torsion bar, fixed in the center so it acted like two separate bars.

The advantages of this design were lighter weight, more positive location of the axle, and elimination of the inter-leaf friction that constituted an unpredictable damping force with the road going 120's conventional semi-elliptics. Instead of the lever-type shocks at the back of the street car, the competition model used telescopics.

Jaguar C-Type
©2007 Jaguar Cars and Wieck Media Services, Inc.
The Jaguar C-Type's suspension was designed
to save weight and provide sharp handling.

One other interesting innovation appeared at the rear. To help prevent wheelspin in this era when limited-slip differentials were rare, Jaguar designed a torque link that mounted atop the right side of the axle, leading forward.

Normally, in a conventional beam axle, the pinion gear has a tendency to "climb up" the ring gear. This creates a lifting moment that reduces the weight on the right-rear wheel, allowing it to spin just when engine output is highest. That's why powerful cars with this type of rear suspension and no limited-slip often leave just one black streak of rubber when scorching away.

Jaguar's novel link was placed and angled in such a way as to counteract this lifting force and press the right-side wheel back down onto the road. Of course, it also located the axle in a rotational sense, thus reducing any tendency to tramp or judder on acceleration.

On the original design, this link was A-shaped and had the additional duty of locating the axle laterally against cornering forces. At 51 inches, rear track was wider by an inch compared to the street car.

At the front, the control arms, longitudinal torsion bars, and transverse anti-roll bar were at least similar to those on the XK 120, though the geometry was a little different, while at 51 inches, the track was the same.

The steering was completely different, a rack-and-pinion system replacing the street car's box-type recirculating-ball mechanism. This was adopted mainly in the interest of better road feel, but it also brought a quicker ratio, and thus faster helm response.

The brakes were still iron drums all around, but at the front was a self-adjusting mechanism to take up wear as it occurred. This prevented the disconcerting long pedal travel that would build up in early XK 120s in sustained hard braking.

Wheels were knock-off wire types of the same 16-inch diameter as the road model's, but the rims were an inch wider (six inches in all), made of aluminum, and mounted Dunlop racing tires.

For more on Jaguar and other great cars, see:

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  • New Jaguars: Reviews, ratings, prices, and specifications on the current Jaguar lineup from the auto editors of Consumer Guide.
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