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Jaguar MKVII

Jaguar MKVII Published: 16th Nov 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar MKVII
Jaguar MKVII
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Why should i get one?

This opulent, gigantic Jag – tailored for the American market – is, save for build quality, well on par with the Cloud yet, as you’d expect from the badge, sportier to drive. As these big cats are overlooked, they still remain strong value if you get a good one and that’s important as spares are harder to find than for other classic Jags. Not as posh as a Roller, although far classier than the larger, brasher MkX.

 

What can i get?

This range of post-war Jaguars ran up to 1961 and, in total, 47,190 were made, 21,000 being the original MkVII. The vast majority went Stateside. All were saloons and the revised MkVIIM, which followed four years after launch in 1954, is the better option due to repositioned auxiliary lamps, indicators instead of semaphores plus simplified bumpers front and rear. There’s also a more powerful 3.4-litre engine (190bhp instead of 160bhp) complete with closer stacked gearbox ratios to suit together plus a firmer suspension that’s no less comfortable. Power was further lifted to a hearty 210bhp, while a single-piece windscreen signified the MkVIII. Best of the breed is the MkIX, as it came with standard power steering, disc brakes all round and the sharp 3.8-litre XK engine destined for the E-type.

 

What are they like to drive?

While the Jag is much sportier than a Rolls to drive, and also enjoyed fair success in motorsport, don’t get carried away here. There’s an enormous amount of body roll through the corners, of course, but that’s similar to all cars of this period. It’s no Mk2, to drive with gusto, but it’s much better than an equivalent Rolls or Bentley and – happily – almost as comfortable and refined, particularly for the driver, thanks to the adjustable steering column.

Interestingly, despite this big cat’s considerable size and weight, braking has never been an issue; whether they are early drum type or later discs, all systems are efficient enough and (unlike the Rolls) can easily be uprated. Power steering only came around with the later MVIII and is a must for most so consider retro-fitting.

There’s heaps of room inside (and how often can you say that about a Jaguar?) for up to six if the slippery bench front seat is fitted, as in the case of automatics, which most examples are. However, a manual with overdrive was offered and both can help the fuel returns, which can be of V12 E-type proportions, especially if the carbs are worn although (in good tune) gentle cruising may see up to 20mpg if you pussyfoot around – as we’d do simply to savour the looks this graceful saloon rightly attracts.

 

WHat are they like to live with?

Like the Rolls, they’re heavy beasts and so need similarly meaty tools to work on, safely. Unlike the Crewe cars, parts are cheaper, plus there’s more chance of interchangeability with other period Jags, such as the adoption of disc brakes from the MkVII and MkVIII, for example As the engine is the wonderful XK, then the lustier 4.2 engine from a MkX/XJ6 seems a good move. Handling improvements are along the lines of the XK sportsters, but cooling is a major concern on old Jags, so invest in an electric fan and an uprated radiator, more so on 3.8s which have a tendency to run hotter, leading to an increase in oil consumption. These big cats aren’t the bargain bangers they used to be and truly top cats can command Rolls-like prices, but most are appreciably cheaper. That said, the tide has turned, so buy asap for a bargain.

 

We reckon…

A larger, comfier alternative to a Mk2 or S-type, the big cats boast a Rolls-like presence (unlike the in-your-face but admittedly great value and modern to drive MkX-ed) but are nicer to pilot and rarer on the road. If we were in the market for a large saloon, we’d certainly give one a long look before going the Rolls’ route.



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