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Manufacturing and alternative configurations

Throughout its life the XK engine was made by what might be called knife and fork methods on out-of-date machinery. A complex engine like the V12 could not have been viable without using modern automated processes (Fig. 5). The cost for such a facility, reputed to have been about 3,000,000 in the late 1960s, seems like peanuts today yet the need to raise such funding prompted the sale of Jaguar into the BMC group although this also opened the way to much needed dealerships around the world. The need to replace the aging XK was an issue of obvious importance but surely it was not thought that the V12 would be the only engine for the future. Indeed, had it been known that the various alternative engine concepts based on using segments of the V12 would all prove to be unusable the V12 might never have got off the ground. These included a 60 degree 3.5 litre V8, rejected for lack of refinement, and a 2.65 litre slant six using just one cylinder bank which was too small. Increasing the stroke to 90mm would have resolved that problem but then the extra block height could not be accommodated on the V12 machinery. However a number of slant sixes using cut and welded up V12 crankcases were found very useful for testing 4 valve and May cylinder heads. An advantage of the original flat cylinder heads had been ease of manufacture but the May combustion chamber for the HE required some further operations which cost about 500,000 to implement. In these days of Formula 1 racing engines reputed to cost 1,000,000 apiece, the V12 facility looks like a bargain. It seems sad that it is now shut down for ever, but at least the V12 did not linger on like the XK waiting desperately for a successor. The V12s successor, the AJ-V8, is already here and carving its own place in Jaguar history, but the V12, despite being a little paunchy and lacking a real punch, was a class act and will always remain just that little bit special.

Roger Bywater.
AJ6 Engineering
June 1997.

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AJ6 Engineering, 60, Henshall Road, Bollington, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 5DN, England
Email aj6engineering@ntlworld.com, Tel/Fax:- 0044 (0)1625 573556