By on November 25, 2013

Jaguar has announced that they’re getting back into the engine designing and building business, after more than a decade and a half of being dependent on buying motors from Ford. There was a time, though, that Jaguar designed and built what many considered at the time to be the most advanced engines in the automotive world. There was the venerable and powerful six-cylinder XK engine introduced in 1948 and in production for over four decades, followed by the Jaguar V12, introduced in the late 1960s. The XK engine was designed by Walter Hassan and William Heynes, while Hassan joined Harry Mundy to lead the design of the V12. Between the two of them, Hassan and Mundy had a hand in designing many of the most technologically advanced postwar British engines that were ever made.

Walter Hassan (1905–1996) went to work a a 15 year old shop boy in W.O. Bentley’s newly formed Bentley Motors. After Bentley passed into the hands of Rolls-Royce, he left the firm and designed a number of successful racing specials in the 1930s. After a stint with ERA where he met Harry Mundy, in 1938 Hassan joined SS Cars Ltd, soon to be renamed Jaguar, as head of research and development. During the war he moved to Bristol, working on engine development but returned to Coventry after the war where he worked with Bill Heynes developing what would become Jaguar’s XK DOHC inline six that would power Jaguar to victories at LeMans. In 1950, Hassan joined Mundy at Conventry Climax where, with Claude Baily, they designed a lightweight engine originally intended to run portable fire pumps (this was just years following the bombing of London and Coventry by the Germans during WWII, when a need for portable firefighting equipment became known). The FW series of overhead cam engines would go on to wins at LeMans and in Formula 2 and Formula 1 racing, bringing two world championships to Lotus with Jim Clark at the wheel.

Jaguar "XK" six cylinder engine

Jaguar “XK” six cylinder engine

Harry Mundy (1915-1988) went to school in Coventry and apprenticed at Alvis, going to ERA (English Racing Automobiles) in 1936, first working as a draftsman. At ERA he and Walter Hassan became lifelong friends and colleagues. In 1939, Mundy went to work at the Morris engine factory where he worked for the duration of the war. In 1946, he took a position as head of design for British Racing Motors (BRM), and had a hand in the development of BRM’s V16 F1 engine. In 1950, he joined Coventry Climax, working, as mentioned above, with Hassan on the FWA engine. Mundy then took a career detour, becoming technical editor at the UK’s The Autocar magazine in 1955, though he still did consulting work. One of those commissions was for the design of the Lotus Twin Cam head for the Ford “Kent” block four cylinder. When offered the job by Lotus head Colin Chapman, Mundy was given the choice of either 1,000 British pounds as a design fee or a 1 pound per engine royalty. Not entirely believing that Chapman was running a going concern, Mundy took the sure thing but would later regret it as Lotus eventually built about 40,000 “twinks”. After Jaguar bought out Coventry Climax, acquiring Walter Hassan in the bargain, Hassan convinced his old friend to return to engineering and join him at Jaguar. Along with Bill Heynes they designed the Jaguar V12.

In the video above, Hassan and Mundy explain the features and design philosophy behind their bent twelve. Though they retain proper British reserve, you can still tell just how proud they were. They also go into technical details that you’d not likely hear at a new engine introduction today.

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28 Comments on “This Isn’t The First Time Jaguar Has Designed And Built Their Own Engines...”

  • avatar

    Jaguar also designed and built the AJ6 twin-cam sixes and the 4.0L/4.2L V8; and as far as I know the 5.0L (great engine) is also Jaguar’s own design, although certainly with Ford engineering and financial input.

    • 0 avatar

      The AJ V8s were jointly developped with Ford, also used in Ford products and built in a Ford engine plant in England. The Ford Essex engine plant even made parts for these at one time. So it’s safe to say they’re not a purely “Jag” engine.

  • avatar

    This had to be part of the plan with the sale of Jaguar. It remains to be seen what Tata can bring to the development of new engines. The earlier article states where the engines will be built, but who is doing the design, Tata engineers in India, or a new engineering group based in the UK?

  • avatar

    I do have to wonder if this move is going to drag down Jag’s climbing reliability scores along with their ability to innovate quickly.

    I realize that Aston is much smaller, but they have had to partner up with Merc to access new engine technology. Designing motors today is orders of magnitude more complex than it was in the ’50’s and ’60’s.

    Nonetheless, bespoke motors are always cool in principle; it will be good to see what Jag can do.

    As an aside, I wish Tata would buy Lotus.

  • avatar

    Too bad, the Ford developped Jag engines are the only ones I’ve ever considered actually owning. While it’s rarely talked about, the relationship with Ford dramatically improved the Jaguar brand. The AJ V8, in spite of a few minor issues like the timing chain guides on early examples, were fairly reliable engines.

    It’s not uncommon to see used X308s and X100s with 150k+ miles like it ain’t no thang. The same can’t be said for earlier models, especially those with the V12 who’s performance was solidly bested by the V8.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    The V12 was underpowered and drank like a fish. A cylinder head redesign helped as did fuel injection. The subsequent V8, also designed by Jaguar, was better in every way.

  • avatar

    While the Jag 3.8 six-banger is a lovely piece piece of machinery, it is also a royal pain to work on. Typically simple task such as valve adjustments start off with “fistly, remove the camshafts…”.

    • 0 avatar

      That was pretty common for OHC engines back then. You adjusted the valves with shims between the cam following tappets and the valves. It’s not the cam removal that’s a pain, it’s measuring, calculating and finding the right shim.

  • avatar

    I helped a friend pull his engine from a XK140 many years ago. The cherry picker wasn’t able to lift it, so we braced up the rafters in his garage and used a come along. Still we heard a lot of creaking and pulled some nails loose.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, you can find stories of people pulling down the roof of their garage trying to lift engines. Protip: if you can’t find a cherry picker that works, just build a big sawhorse over the engine bay and pull it that way.

  • avatar

    Buy the tooling for the 3800. Cut it in half. Add a turbo. Make it out of aluminum. Emboss a radiator fan icon on the intake. Call it the “Rover I3”. Profit.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    My understanding is that one of the reasons that Jaguar engines acquired such horrid reputations in the “British Leyland” years before Ford motor bought the company is that their tooling for major things like engine blocks had simply worn out. So, cylinder bores were slightly oval, etc. On the production line, they attempted various chewing-gum-and-bailing-wire fixes for these problems, with the expected bad results.

    The company did not have enough money to replace worn out tooling.

    • 0 avatar

      There are 2 key reasons JLR are dropping Ford engines.

      Firstly JLR can’t get hold of enough 4 cylinder engines at the moment. It’s well known at Jag that sales would be even greater right now if the could source more 4 cylinder engines.

      Secondly Fords 4 cylinder has now fallen behind the competitions to the point where car magazines praise the lightness of the RR Sport but then say if only they still had access to BMWs engines.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan R

      The cost of developing the XJ6 and the V12 bankrupted Jaguar. That is why they joined Leyland. I can’t imagine they were overfunded there either.

  • avatar

    Ronnie, you really must read this about that old XK lump. I’ve posted the link here before

    Was never convinced by that Harry Mundy Lotus Cortina engine design. You need to read “Cosworth” by Graham Robson. Page 60 of the original edition:
    “The head had been designed by Harry Mundy. It wasn’t all bad, but at the time the head joint wasn’t sound, the head structure wasn’t any good, and its ports didn’t look like ports ought to look”

    Cosworth did all the final detail design.

  • avatar

    Keith Duckworth and Frank Costin (and maybe his brother too, I’ll have to check) were early Lotus employees and then struck out on their own so your account makes sense.

    The Lotus Twin Cam has some design flaws (requiring removing the cylinder head to fix a water pump that was practically designed to fail) but it was still one of the highest specific output motors of its day and helped popularize the notion of DOHC engines (yes, I know about the Alfa engines, I said “helped”).

    Whoever was ultimately responsible for the Twin Cam head, it breathes very well. One problem early Elans, whose headlights were held up by engine vacuum, had is that at high RPM the engine would start breathing so well that vacuum would drop and so would the headlights.

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