Jaguar's Post-War Sedans
During World War II, SS-Jaguar turned away from making sedans and sports cars and turned instead to producing a diverse assortment of war goods, including aircraft fuselages and components, plus a variety of trailers and sidecars.
Meantime, some of Jaguar's design team had been forced to spend uncomfortable and boring nights watching for fires over their factories, Coventry being a prime target for Luftwaffe bombing. Among them were Lyons and Heynes, who wiled away the time by drawing up a new chassis and twincam six-cylinder engine for postwar use. The latter would materialize as the famous XK powerplant of 1948, introduced with the stunning XK120 sports car and destined to survive four decades. The new chassis would appear at the same time under an updated version of the prewar sedan, as well as in shortened form beneath the 120.
With war's end in 1945, the initials SS were inextricably linked in the public mind with Adolf Hitler's failed madness, so SS-Jaguar dropped them from its title and its cars, both becoming simply Jaguar. Resuming civilian production was as much a priority in war-ravaged Coventry as it was in Detroit, so Lyons and company dug out their old jigs and began building 1940 models again. Though no one now seems to recall exactly why, the sedans now became unofficially known as Mark IVs. Exactly 11,952 were completed through 1948, mostly 1.5- and 3.5-liter models. Jaguar also built another 104 2.5-liter and 560 3.5-liter convertibles.
Then came the Mark V, still riding a 120-inch wheelbase but on Lyons' wartime chassis. A solid box-section frame with modern independent front suspension (via torsion bars and wishbones), it would be the literal foundation of Jaguar's large sedans for the next 13 years. But it was the only thing truly new about the Mark V, which was basically an interim model and thus powered by the same old 2.5- and 3.5-liter sixes. Also continued was the elegant Thirties-era styling with flowing fenders and separate running boards, though partly faired-in headlamps were a new gesture toward style. Still, the Mark V sold very well by Jaguar standards, 9,461 being produced in less than three years.
On the next page, read about Jaguar's Mark VII, the company's first all-new post-war sedan.