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Jaguar MK1

Jaguar MK1 Published: 3rd Feb 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar MK1
Jaguar MK1
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● Harder to restore than a MK2 ● Rarity over the MK2 ● Values outstripping MK2

In brief

The significance of the ‘Mk1’ in Jaguar’s illustrious history cannot be over-stressed. After living in the shadow of the iconic Mk2 for much of its life, there’s been something of a sea change in attitudes towards the Mk1s to the point where Mk1 values have positively prospered, and not stagnated as in the case of the Mk2.


A good Mk1 is an absolute delight to drive, although the 2.4 feels lethargic by today’s standards. The 3.4-litre however is a completely different animal with a genuine 120mph possible. Jaguar had the temerity to fit drum brakes on the early 3.4s… and many have been converted.

Jaguar’s own version of the Moss ’box has synchromesh on the upper three ratios only. Handling can be curious, especially if the original style cross-ply tyres are fitted – a rarity. Radials make a huge improvement and to most mortals, the Mk1’s infamous narrow rear axle is just something only read about in the motoring press. It’s only when really pressing on in damp conditions that the driver becomes aware and any step out of line is easily cured with a little opposite lock. In period, Jaguar offered off-set competition wheels for the rear and this pretty much put things right. Curiously, the thick door window frames afford less wind noise than the later Mk2.

Best models

Some 37,000 were made, with just under 20,000 being accounted for by the base 112bhp 2.4, in just four years before the Mk2 took over. Most survivors are the 3.4-litre model however, with many 2.4s so upgraded over the decades. Drum braked models did gain a better servo in ’58, but 3.4s also adopted different rear springs, to alter the camber angles, as well as better Girling dampers. In this respect a genuine 3.4 is much better than a converted 2.4.

Two models were offered; the standard and the SE (Special Equipment), the later being by far the more popular choice – indeed has anyone ever seen the former version which lacked a rev counter?


The days of picking up a cheap Mk1 are long gone and you won’t get much of a car to cherish around the £20,000 mark.

Buying advice

To properly restore a Mk1 will cost as much as its more popular XK sisters and a 2.4 will cost exactly the same as a 3.4 to restore with residual values way behind. Parts supply isn’t as plentiful as they are for a Mk2 and some are peculiar to that model so be prepared to scout round for them.

Like all Jaguars rust attacks the floorpan, bulkheads, rear suspension pick up points and the famous ‘crow’s feet’ by the front valance. All these areas are MoT points so check carefully for proper repairs but expect to find skimped ones.

That venerable XK unit is robust, but beware of incorrect tappet adjustment – there should be some tappet noise present. If not the valve gaps have closed up in service and will require re-shimming. Timing chain and its tensioners can rattle. The bottom one is the worst to replace although it can be done at home. Look for an oil pressure of at least 40lbs at running temperature and around 20lbs on tickover. Losing lubricant from a failing rear crankshaft oil seal is common with any XK lump as it means a strip down which if that’s the case, consider a £4000 pro rebuild.

Handbrakes are notoriously poor but a lot of this is due to incorrect setting up say some Jag specialists. There’s even more wood to preserve in a Mk1! Like the Mk2, expect to face big bills for a full-on resto: £2000 for the dashboard alone.


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