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Jaguar XKE History

Jaguar XKE Chassis and Suspension

Apparently, the basic concept that would evolve into the Jaguar XKE had evolved since Motor's clandestine evaluation of the E1A in Wales.

No longer a very small, very light sports car, it had grown to the wheelbase of the E2A (96 inches) and track dimensions at both ends as wide as the D-Type's front (50 inches). Chassis and body would be made of steel rather than light alloys, and though a lift-up hood/front-fenders assembly would be retained, it would reveal a normal iron-block 3.8 with a standard deep sump.

 The Jaguar XKE's elongated purity of line owed much to stylist William Lyons.
The Jaguar XKE's elongated purity of line
owed much to the inspired hand of
born-stylist William Lyons.

Basic chassis structure again involved a front space-frame of square-section steel tubes, but this was now bolted to a rear monocoque of sheet steel. Front suspension would be very similar to the D-Type's, with forged control arms, tubular shock absorbers, and longitudinal torsion bars. Steering would be rack-and-pinion, of course.

Such familiarity only highlighted what would be a big attraction of the forthcoming XKE: Jaguar's latest independent rear suspension. This employed the usual U-jointed halfshafts to take power from a chassis-mounted differential out to the wheels, but also used them as upper control links.

This efficient, two-jobs-in-one idea was not new, having already been used by Lotus on some of its racing cars as well as on its roadgoing Elite. In America, Zora Arkus-Duntov had been using such a design experimentally since the late 1950s and would adapt it for the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.

Under the halfshaft was another control arm forming the lower element of a wheel-locating parallelogram. In the E2A, this had been a wide-based transverse "wishbone" or A-arm, but in the production XKE it took the form of a lateral tube with a forged yoke on each end.

Its job was to locate the wheel in both camber and toe. A third control link ran from this tube forward to the bottom of the chassis to resist braking and accelerating forces.

"Ears" on each tube supported a pair of vertically sited coil-spring/tubular-shock units per side. Having pairs precluded twisting forces on the tubes and allowed the spring/shock units to be small enough to fit beneath the rear floor area without undue space intrusion.

That was important, because this same independent rear suspension was also going to be used in Jaguar sedans. The entire suspension package was carried on a steel substructure, which itself was rubber-mounted to the main monocoque to keep noise and road shock out of the cabin.

Naturally, all four brakes would be discs, but the rears would be mounted inboard, next to the differential. Some of the time between 1958 prototype and 1961 production car had been spent making sure that heat from the rear brakes wouldn't soak into the differential.

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