Jaguar 240 – 340Life Begins At 40 Published: 25th Oct 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!
- Best model: 340 MoD
- Worst model: Automatics
- Budget buy: 240
- OK for unleaded?: Needs convert/additive
- Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4590 x W1700mm
- Spares situation: As good as any Mk2
- DIY ease?: Okay but some jobs heavy duty
- Club support: Superb
- Appreciating asset?: Always behind early MK2s
- Good buy or good-bye?: Former as a cheap Mk2
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For too long the Mk2 240 & 340 have been regarded as the poor relation to this cat’s family. But a purr rather than a growl makes perfect sense for those on a budget…
Pros & Cons
It’s a fact, two out of three cats could be costing you dearly! When it comes to Jaguar Mk2s, the general opinion is that only the 3.4 and the 3.8 models are worth giving garage space to. And yet, for many, the runt of the litter, the later 240 and 340 models, have everything they want from this classic saloon, plus they’re far cheaper to buy into the bargain. Compared to a ‘proper’ Mk2, the 240 and 340 (not forgetting the vastly under rated Daimler V8 250 – a car that’s always been in the shadows of the Jag) are faster, better built and easier to maintain and restore – plus are a heck of a lot cheaper to buy!
Most enthusiasts consider the 240 and 340 Mk2s as the runt of the litter; the fag end of what was a great car, but in truth while they were cheapened cats the degeneration started 12 months before the 240 and 340 surfaced, in September 1967.
Launched in 1959, by the mid 1960s this great sports saloon was coming under increasing attack from newer upstarts such as the Triumph 2000, Rover 2000TC and the plush Vauxhall Viscount (the latter voted British Car of 1966 by the Sunday Times). With Jaguar now coming under control of BLMC, after merging in July 1966, rationalisation quickly took place to cut costs. For the Mk2 this meant replacing the standard leather with Ambla (an upper crust pvc!), making the fl ush-mounted fog lamps optional (replaced by ugly mesh grilles) and dumping the lovely old traditional Windtone horns.
The Daimler V8 2.5 was a curious car in ways and reckoned to be the resultant child after a marriage of convenience. That truly wonderful 2.5-litre V8 engine (taken from the SP50) was only slightly larger than the 2.4 ‘six’ but with a quoted 140bhp it was 20bhp to the good of the then underpowered 2.4. Yet, coupled with standard automatic transmission, it was priced the same as the fl agship 3.8 Mk2.
With the ‘open secret’ XJ6 delayed until 1968, Jaguar took the step of launching the 420 – an S-Type with a MK10-style front end plus the 4.2-litre engine – to sustain sales during 1966, although sales of the 3.8 Mk2 had dwindled to just 689 that year. In contrast, almost 1600 2.4s were sold although, during 1967, Mk2 sales had dramatically tailed off all round.
To bolster the range until the XJ6 was launched in September 1968, Jaguar took the step of down-marketing the Mk2 and saw the entry model 2.4, the cat that was so unloved, as the key to saving the range. Introduced in September 1967, the 240 (and the 340) were identifi ed by their slimmer S-Type bumpers and 420 style hubcaps, along with modernised badging. Inside the already budgeted interior was further cost cut by deleting those legendary picnic tables (never featuring on the Daimler, strangely) fi tted to the front seat backs, although the wood trim remained, thankfully, but not of such high a quality as before many believe.
But the 240,in particular was amply compensated for such undignified belt tightening because it was given the sort of power it should have enjoyed years before.
Out went the old restrictive B-Type cylinder head and Solex carbs, replaced by a straightported E-type-style top end with twin 1.75 SUs plus a new distributor, improved cooling system and twin exhausts (so it looked sportier too). All this raised power of the 2483cc engine by a healthy 11 per cent, from 120bhp to a far more respectable 133bhp, with torque slightly improved, now up to146lb.ft, albeit produced at a heady 3700rpm, against the earlier tune’s slightly lustier 3000rpm.
Although it was kept quiet at the time the 340 engine also received the improved straight-port cylinder head, while the Marles power steering – hitherto only an extra on the 3.8 – became optional at long last.
Penny pinching or not, you couldn’t knock the value of these new cost-cutting cats. The 240 was pitched at £1364 was just £20 more than the original 2.4 of 1956. The 340 was even better value and only cost £1422- over £200 less than when the MK2 was launched!
The Mk2’s stay of execution didn’t last long, mind. The 340 was dropped almost as soon as the sensational XJ6 arrived, while the 240 bowed out the following April. The Daimler V8 250 actually survived until July 1970, replaced by an XJ6-derived Sovereign.
Options at that time were varied and included modifi ed cylinder head and camshafts on all models, limited slip differential, high ratio steering rack and a steel sliding sunroof – but we’ve never seen a Mk2 fi tted with one!
Not as well built as the The Growler’s reputation would have you believe, the last of the line Mk2s were much better screwed together than the earlier mounts it’s claimed. Autocar in particular praised the new 240 for its smoothness and said it was “better than most Jaguars tested over the years.” Praise indeed!
It’s the 240 which gains the most, where the added pep gives it much more respectable performance over the original 2.4 and makes you have second thoughts over a more expensive 3.4, where that larger engine may still be swifter but isn’t as smooth. Contemporary road tests (Jaguar never offi cially released an earlier 2.4 to the press because of its lacklustre performance!) had the 240 post a 0-60mph time of under 12 seconds and truck on to 106mph, making the car much more competitive against the likes of the in-house British Leyland rivals such as the Rover 2000 TC and the Triumph 2.5PI, all which cost similar money at the time. However, the newly launched and very swanky Ford Cortina 1600E had it licked for pace and price. But at £1363 the 240 was only £6 dearer than a Rover 200SC!
“It is a pity that the praises of the 2.4/240 have been a trifl e neglected in the past because the car has so much to offer”, said Motor, praising the smoothness of the shorter stroke engine over the 3.4.
The 340 stood up well against modern opposition such as the Vauxhall Ventora (a Victor with the Cresta six pot engine), the newly launched Rover 3500 V8 and even the Mercedes 250 SE – a car costing almost double the Jag’s price. If nothing else the revamped Mk2s offered outstanding value for money.
Again, according to contemporary road tests at the time, the automatic Daimler V8 was a shade faster than a manual 240, although on both economy isn’t a strong point, at around 17-20mpg - a penalty of the heavy bodyshell. But best of all, the tweaked 3.4 engine made the 340 almost as fast the exalted 3.8 – see our box out to compare the performance table.
The handling remained much the same – the biggest criticisms concerning the heavy low speed steering (fi ve turns lock to lock) but Motor was “surprised at the nimble, responsive handling… allied to outstanding adhesion and roadholding” in its test of the 240 back in January 1968, although described the ride quality as only adequate.
Even though these later Mk2s were downgraded, they are still opulent enough for most of us, with the Daimler in particular offering loads of leathered luxury as well as nicer seats than the Jaguar. “Almost the only cost cutting expedient adopted in the facelift – and one which few owners are likely to notice – is the use of Ambla leathercloth for the upholstery instead of real leather”, commented Motor.
So long as overdrive is fitted, the Mk2 cruises very well. The automatic models lose out on performance somewhat, but the driver is spared the weighty clutch and gearchange. At least it’s not the old Moss box on these late Mk2s, and it’s something you do get used to.
Traditionally these cut-price cats lag behind the more fashionable earlier Mk2, perhaps worth up to a third less, although prices for what was regarded as “the old man’s Mk2” are steadily closing on the Jag, as an increasing number of enthusiasts appreciate what the V8 has to offer.
Not so the 240 and 340, meaning cars can cost not much more than a grand for a basket case, with decent examples hovering around the £7000 mark. Unless it’s something really special, even the best cars should still leave a wedge of change out of £15,000. Considering how much earlier Mk2s sell for, the smart money should go on one of the ‘roaring 40s’.
What To Look For
- Although the 240 performed much better than the old sluggish Mk2 2.4, many have still been upgraded to 340 spec, Check to see which engine is fi tted. They look much the same but the smaller engine sits much lower in the engine bay.
- There was a 380 produced, fitted with a 340 head and featuring unique engine serial numbers incidentally, although offi cially only a dozen were ever made – identifi ed by subtle badging which comprised of the 340 badge with a small 3.8 insignia.
- The Daimler attracts a different type of buyer to the Mk2. The cars seem to be kept in better condition and, according to the owners’ club, there are a lot of one or two-owner cars around it’s reckoned.
- Naturally rust is the biggest problem with any Mk2. The main areas for rot are the chassis box sections, front cross-member (particularly at its ‘crow’s feet’ which are welded to the valance and cross-member), inner sills, fl oorpan, outer sills, door bottoms, wings and the car’s ‘nose’, which rots badly around the fog lamp region.
- At the rear check the fl oor (including the boot) rear axle and leaf spring hangers. Scrutinise the doors for alignment and the panel gaps. A small magnet is invaluable for detecting crafty fi breglass repairs – which many Mk2s are stuffed with!
- These run-out Mk2s feature S-Type slim-line bumpers, which some prefer. However you can substitute the original chunkier fenders fairly easily although as the bracketing and valances are different. Like converting an MGB from rubber to chrome, but this time the conversion is not so involved or costly.
- The XK engine is well known and usually durable. Chief wear points are rattly timing chains (a tough DIY job to replace), over silent tappets that have closed up in service (requiring expert re-shimming and usually carried out alongside a decoke) and oil leaks from the cam covers and that notorious rear crank oil seal. Oil pressure should be around 45lb.ft @ 3000 rpm if okay. Expect to pay around £4000 for a well built reconditioned unit that will last.
- But really, the biggest fear with an old XK engine these days concerns overheating, due to furred up waterways, where second rate or spent anti-freeze has been used. Has the engine been replaced with an older unit? All 1968 Jags featured the new style fi nned cam covers, as a guide.
- The sugar-sweet sound of a Daimler V8 is also long-lasting if serviced properly but, like the XK, look for lowly oil pressure (you need to see in the region of 40psi if good), general decay and hot running due to corroding alloy waterways. As it’s a simple ohv design, the V8 is much less complex to work on than the XK engine.
- More good news is that the V8 can successfully run on unleaded it is claimed, although tougher exhaust values are still advised if the heads ever need to come off.
- V8 ignition system comprises of a centrally mounted distributor featuring two sets of c.b. points. They are readily available and setting the pair up isn’t diffi cult, but many owners take the sensible step of replacing the system with a ‘points-less’electronic ignition system.
- On all cars, the four-speed with optional overdrive (standard on the manualtransmission V8) is characteristically heavy and slow to use. Watch for weak synchromesh and noise. Clutch replacements are a major job on all and beyond the realms of many home mechanics.
- The Borg Warner Type 35 three-speed auto box is a lazy affair but very smooth (unlike the old DG ‘box fi tted to earlier cars) and long-lived. Inspect the fluid: it should be clean and not smell ‘burnt’. If it does then it suggests wear.
- Incidentally, although initial take up of the manual transmission option was minimal on the V8, now it is reckoned that they may be more of them around as classic enthusiasts swapped the auto for a stick-shift to make more of the usable performance.
- Worn springs and dampers are common to all cars so check and bear in mind that the Daimler ones differ to the Mk2 due to the lighter alloy engine (ensure the correct replacements have been used). See that the car sits straight and true; a nose up stance suggests Mk2 springs may have been used on the V8 by mistake.
- On all cars check the suspension for worn bushes, front wishbones and seized/clapped out disc brakes. Handbrakes are notoriously ineffective and frequently play up but some reckon it’s usually because they are set up wrongly. With the aid of a four thou feeler between pad and disc face, adjust initially at the caliper with the cable disconnected before setting the cable.
- Like earlier Mk2s, a combination of either steel rims with hub caps or wire wheels may be used. Check the latter for broken/ lose spindles. A fully refurbished wire rim costs over £200 a go; Classy Daimler badged hubcaps (and the special wire wheel spinners) are much rarer fi nds than the Jag’s and remember that the 240/340 used plainer S-Type/420 tin lids and not the ‘eared’ earlier Jaguar types.
- The plainer trim found on these later Mk2s has its compensations. The Ambla trim is a lot hardier than leather (still used on the Daimler by the way) although, that said, don’t underestimate the cost of a ground-up interior restoration. A new dash can cost thousands for example, while a full refi t can run to £10,000. If the trim needs recovering then consider leather, as the upgrade isn’t that costly due to cheaper hides that are now readily available.
- Don’t dismiss the V8 as merely a Daimlerengined Mk2. There are subtle differences in the trim and fi tting, while the front seats are more akin to miniature Mk X bench-style perches and, if you’re after total originality, then you’re in for a hard time. For example, the Daimler has its own tool kit even featuring ‘Daimler’ embossed spanners…
Three Of A Kind
Jaguar XJ6 2.8/3.4For 2.4 Mk2, read 2.8 and 3.4 XJ6, where these smaller engines never really caught on. The 2.8 performed okay but suffered from holed pistons, although this problem has been cured. This unit was replaced in 1975 with the 3.4, which is not the old Mk2 unit but a smaller take of the 4.2 block. Both suffered in the hands of the better performing 4.2 however, as they gave no added economy for the power losses. Good budget buys now if you can fi nd one with overdrive/5-speed.
Rover 2000/2200The Rover 2000 was as advanced as the Mk2 was old fashioned, when the former was introduced in 1963, and it ushered in a new type of compact sports saloon. Effi cient OHC engine with a De Dion rear suspension, the Rover was an excellent car in its day, especially in sportier TC guise. Later 2200cc benefi ted slow automatic models the most, and all P6s remain strangely unwanted and affordable. A good one will convince you of their worth.
Triumph 2000/2500In-house rival to Jaguar and Rover was Triumph's large saloon and estate. Smooth straight six engine could also be had in 132bhp 2.5 fuel injection guise although many were converted to carbs for reliability sake. Like the Rover, the Triumph is mostly overlooked and restorations are hardly an economic proposition although a good one makes for smooth swift luxury motoring. Mk2s after '69 best - BMW-style 2500S saloon from 1975 is a real dark horse.
We reckon every true classic car enthusiast should own a Jag Mk2 at some point. More than half a century on, they still turn heads, while that exhaust note has known grown men to go weak at the knees. And the fact that you can only afford a 240 or 340 (or the V8) in no way dilutes the pleasure of driving or owning this classic sports saloon. Just try one.
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