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 jaguar D-type


28/5/2011


The Jaguar D-Type, like its predecessor the C-Type, was a factory-built race car. Although it shared the basic straight-6 XK engine design (initially 3.4 litres and uprated to 3.8 litres in the late fifties) with the C-Type, the majority of the car was radically different. Perhaps its most ground-breaking innovation was the introduction of a monocoque chassis, which not only introduced aircraft-style engineering to competition car design, but also an aeronautical understanding of aerodynamic efficiency. The D-Type was introduced purely for competition, but after Jaguar withdrew from racing, the company offered the remaining, unfinished chassis as the roadgoing Jaguar XKSS, by making changes to the racers: adding an extra seat, another door, a full-width windshield and primitive folding top, as concessions to practicality. However, on the evening of 12 February 1957, a fire broke out at the Browns Lane plant destroying nine of the twenty five cars that had already been completed or in semi-completion. Production is thought to have included 53 customer D-Types, 18 factory team cars, and 16 XKSS versions.





The new chassis followed aircraft engineering practice, being manufactured according to monocoque principles. The central tub, within which the driver sat, was formed from sheets of aluminium alloy. To this was attached an aluminium tubing subframe carrying the bonnet, engine, front suspension, and steering assembly. The rear suspension and final drive were mounted directly onto the monocoque itself. Fuel was carried in deformable bags inside cells within the monocoque; another aircraft innovation.





The highly efficient, aerodynamic bodywork was largely the work of Malcolm Sayer, who joined Jaguar following a stint with the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War. Although he also worked on the C-Type, the limitations of the conventional separate chassis did not allow full expression of his talent. For the D-Type, Sayer insisted on a minimal frontal area. To reduce its height, Haynes and former-Bentley engineer Walter Hassan developed dry sump lubrication for the XK engine. By also canting the engine over by 8° (resulting in the trademark, off-centre bonnet bulge) the reduction in area was achieved. Care was taken to reduce drag caused by the underbody, resulting in an unusually high top speed; for the long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans, a large vertical stabiliser was mounted behind the driver's head for aerodynamic stability with minimum drag. For the 1955 season, factory cars were fitted with a revised, long-nose version of the bodywork, which increased top speed even further.

Mechanically, many features were shared with the outgoing C-Type. The ground-breaking disc brakes were retained, as was the XK engine. Apart from the new lubrication system, as development progressed during the D-Type's competition life the engine was also revised. 1955 saw the introduction of larger valves, and an asymmetrical cylinder head design within which to accommodate them. The Jaguar D-Type was the second racing car to have Dunlop disk brakes. The Citroën DS, introduced a year later, was the first production car with disk brakes in Europe. The Crosley Hotshot was the first American automobile with disk brakes, in 1949.


















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