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Jaguar Mk. 2

Purring Along Published: 6th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar Mk. 2

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 240 MoD
  • Worst model: 2.4
  • Budget buy: 240
  • OK for unleaded?: Needs convert/additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): 4590 x1700mm
  • Spares situation: As good as any Mk2
  • DIY ease?: Okay but some jobs heavy duty
  • Club support: Superb
  • Appreciating asset?: Questionable
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Former – as a cheap Mk2
Pre ‘66 cars always wore leather and better appointments Pre ‘66 cars always wore leather and better appointments
Always a great looker but beware of hidden half-hearted rot repairs and poor conversions to 3.4 or 3.8 power. Always a great looker but beware of hidden half-hearted rot repairs and poor conversions to 3.4 or 3.8 power.
Smallest XK engine is physically smaller too. But sweet Smallest XK engine is physically smaller too. But sweet
240 revamp best and early 2.4s can be upraded 240 revamp best and early 2.4s can be upraded
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For too long the Mk2 2.4 has been regarded as the poor relation to this cat’s family. But in these credit crunching times a purr rather than a growl makes perfect sense

Pros & Cons

Mk2 style and reputation, value for money, smooth engine
Performance, many half-hearted 3.4/3.8 conversions, sluggish auto versions

It’s a fact – two out of three cats could be costing you dearly! When it comes to Jaguar Mk2s, the general coconscious 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 humble 2.4, has everything they want from this classic saloon plus this version is far cheaper to buy into the bargain. Why the 2.4 (and the later 240) is so put down is all down to performance – or lack of it. Jags are supposed to be scalded cats and the 2.4 never was. In fact, the car was decreed so sluggish by Bill Lyons himself that he refused to allow a car out for the press to test – and that’s after crafty but unsuccessful tweaks by the factory on a test car to crack the magic ton, the benchmark that separated the sporty from the sedate back then.

But with the Mk2 marking its 50th this year, in these tough times the 2.4/240 makes more sense than ever. Okay, so this cat is more a suited for loping than growling… but who drives their classic that hard that often anyway? And given the cost of fuel (and gatsos on every corner), most of us are perhaps more content these days to cruise quietly along and simply enjoy the experience of a classic; and a Mk2 at 70mph on a whiff of throttle is the same – whatever engine is under the bonnet! So let’s give the 2.4 Mk2 its due.


The Mk2 replaced the original 2.4 saloon in 1959 and was a clever update by ace stylist Lyons, keeping the basic hull shape but giving it a lighter more airy look and a sleeker face. Although the cars looked similar there was very little carried over from the Mk1 and the same went for the interior. Mechanically, the rear track was widened to counter the Mk1s tail happy nature while the front suspension benefi ted from a revised roll centre. The engine, still breathed through Solex carbs but the adoption of a B-type cylinder head along with larger valves raised the 2483cc’s game from 112bhp to 120bhp, although due to the added 50kg weight and larger frontal area, the Mk2 was slower than the original, which incidentally remained in production until 1960.

The most signifi cant changes occurred after 1962 when a Police spec dynamo, Mk10 style steering wheel and a larger 3in prop shaft were universally fi tted. For ‘64 a better oil fi lter and a thicker S-Type front anti roll bar were employed (not many know this). But the biggest change was in ‘65 when the Mk2 benefi ted from the new Jag gearbox, fi rst seen on the E-type, which was easier, lighter to use than the old Moss design; the clutch actuating system was also improved at the same time. Mk2s fi tted with the Jag ’box are denoted by a round polished gear knob. Launched in 1959 to much acclaim but 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) and with Jaguar now coming under control of BLMC after merging in July 1966, rationalisation quickly took place to cut costs, and the Mk2 suffered.

For the Mk2 this meant replacing the standard leather with Ambla (an upper crust pvc!), making the flush-mounted fog lamps optional (replaced by ugly mesh grilles) and dumping the old traditional Windtone horns. During 1966 sales of the 3.8 Mk2 had dwindled to just 689 that year. In contrast almost 1600 2.4s were sold although all Mk2 sales dramatically tailed off the following year. 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 as the key to car.

Introduced inSeptember 1967 the 240 (and the 340) were identified 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 fi tted to the front seat backs. The famous wood trim remained thankfully, but not so high a quality many believe. But the 240 in particular was amply compensated for such undignifi ed belt tightening because it was given the sort of power it should have enjoyed years ago. Out went the old restrictive B-Type cylinder head and Solex carbs, replaced by a straight-ported 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 a healthy 11 per cent, from 120bhp to a healthier 133bhp, with torque slightly improved, now up to 146lbft albeit produced at a heady 3700rpm, against the earlier tune’s lustier 3000rpm.

The 240 was pitched at £1364 – just £20 more than the original 2.4 of 1956. The Mk2’s stay of execution didn’t last long however. The 340 was dropped almost as soon as the XJ6 arrived while the 240 bowed out the following April. In terms of sales fi gures the 2.4/240 always trailed its bigger brothers, except during the start of production in ‘59/60 where the 2.4 sold almost 2000 more units. During the mid 1960s the tables were turned and the 3.4 ruled the showroom, narrowly piping the 3.8. However the real sales stealer was the often overlooked Daimler that comprehensively outsold the 2.4 Jaguar (by double in 1965) and even comfortably outsold the 3.4 and 3.8s too! Not as well built as its long reputation suggests, the last of the line Mk2s were much better screwed together than the earlier mounts. Autocar in particular praised the new 240 for its smoothness and said it was “better than most Jaguars tested over the years.” Praise indeed!


So how bad is the 2.4? Actually it’s quite okay for most of us. That engine may be slower but it’s by far the sweetest XK unit of them all. Stopwatch fi gures for the 2.4 seem grim – road tests of the time had the car well short of 100mph while the 0-60mph time was a lazy 17.3 seconds – but in today’s real world driving conditions the sweetness and smoothness of the small block XK goes a long way to compensate for the Growler’s lack of bite as does its outstanding fl exibility where ambling at 10mph in top is easy. Interestingly, another road test of the 2.4, in automatic guise, saw the car appreciably livelier. Much of the criticisms levelled at the 2.4 were cured with the uprated engine found in the post September ‘67 240s where the added pep gives the engine much more respectable performance over the original plus even makes you have second thoughts over a more expensive 3.4! Contemporary road tests by Autocar and Motor had the 240 post a respectable 0-60mph time of 12.5 seconds and truck on to 106mph, making the Jag much more competitive against the likes of in house British Leyland rivals such as the Rover 2000 TC and the Triumph 2.5PI, as well as the surprisingly good truck-engined Vauxhall Ventora. Handling of the 2.4 is slightly better over its more powerful stablemates due to the fact that the engine is lighter so the car isn’t so noseheavy and under steer-prone, although with its heavy tiller requiring close to fi ve turns lock-tolock, a cross country dash is a bit of handful and power steering was never an option on the entry-model Mk2.

But as we said at the start, the 2.4/240 is more about cultured cruising, albeit not exactly a frugal one. Yes, a 2.4 is usefully more economical than the 3.4 or 3.8 but only if you pussy foot around. Use the limited power to the full and expect no better than 20mpg in general although a really gently amble using overdrive as much as possible may yield 25mpg.


These cut-price cats lag behind the more fashionable Mk2s, sometimes by 80-100 per cent depending upon year, condition and spec! Typically a 2.4 could be around £4-5000 less than an equivalent 3.4 and perhaps £7-8000 over the iconic MoD 3.8. You have to ask the question, is all that extra power worth the extra outlay? The run-out 240 is priced much the same as the 2.4 (not so the 3.4/340) and this may be due to its superior performance. Basket cases are around £1500, good cars in the region of £6-7000 while unless it’s something really special, even the best cars should still leave change out of £12,000.


There’s only a limited amount you can do to the 2.4 engine, as logically, serious power gains are best served by the bigger engines. The most natural upgrade on pre ’68 models to is to upgrade to 240 spec, which along with electronic ignition will be more than adequate for most. Jaguar used to offer various states of tune to the 2.4; a myriad of camshaft and cylinder head mods saw power hiked to 131bhp and 150bhp although again simply fi tting a 240 ‘top end’ seems a cheaper method. The rest of the mods depend what you want from your Mk2, although uprated dampers and springs with new harder suspension bushes will tighten the handling but given the power of the car, a just thorough overhaul of the all disc set up with performance front pads will more than suffi ce. For the more cruising type, overdrive is a really worthwhile fi tment as it raises the gearing from a fussy 17.8mph/1000 rpm to a more relaxed 22.4mph. Stick with the non overdrive rear axle ratio and it’ll be even higher geared but at the expense of performance.

Decide on a Daimler

If you’re after the best ‘2.4 Mk2’ then go for the great V8! Launched in 1962 using the excellent Daimler 2.5-litre V8, this is the most underrated Mk2 of them all. With its silky smooth 140bhp power, usually allied to standard automatic transmission, the Daimler is a much quicker and even smoother alternative to a 2.4/240 and yet just as cheap. It’s all due to the Daimler’s duller image which has always hindered interest as a classic while the popularity of Mk2s soared. But in return you’ll own something that’s rarer, more dignifi ed and – thanks to its MK10-like furnishing – certainly more plush. Whisper it, but some even rate the Daimler the better handler than any Mk2 due to its lighter compact alloy engine…

What To Look For

  • Although the 240 performed much better than the old sluggish Mk2 2.4, many have been upgraded to 3.4 spec, Check to see which engine is fi tted. They look the same but the smaller engine sits much lower in the engine bay.
  • Look for half-hearted conversions; the heavier XK engines needed their own dedicated suspension set up while chances are the lower 2.4 rear axle may still be fi tted.
  • 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, floorpan, outer sills, door bottoms, wings and the car’s ‘nose’, which rots badly around the fog lamp region.
  • At the rear check the floor (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 fibreglass repairs – which many Mk2s are stuffed with!
  • The 240s feature S-Type slim-line bumpers, which some prefer. However you can substitute the original chunkier fenders fairly easily although the bracketing and valances are different. It’s similar to 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. 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 45lbft @ 3000 rpm if okay. Expect to pay around £4000 for a well built reconditioned unit.
  • But really, the biggest fear with an old XK engine these days concerns overheating due to overheating furred up waterways due to second rate or spent anti-freeze being used. Has the engine been replaced with an older unit? All 1968 Jags featured the new style finned cam covers.
  • On all cars, the four-speed with optional overdrive is characteristically heavy and slow to use. Watch for weak synchromesh and noise, especially on the Moss unit.
  • Clutch replacements are a major job on all and beyond the realms of many home mechanics but can be done without dropping the front suspension if you have a super strong hoist.
  • Overdrive should kick in smoothly and speedily, if not oil level may be low, which will damage unit. Factory spec gearboxes with overdrive have a slightly lower fi rst gear ratio but the difference is okay to live with.
  • The Borg Warner Type 35 three-speed auto box is a lazy affair but ver y 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.
  • Rear axles are usually robust although the driveshaft oil seal is known to weep. Incidentally axle ratios were; 4.27:1 or 4.55:1 with o/d. 3.4 cars were 3.54:1/3.77:1 respect ively.
  • Worn springs and dampers are common to all Mk2s so check and bear in mind that the Daimler and 2.4 ones differ to other Mk2s due to the lighter engines (ensure the correct replacement have been used). See that the car sits straight and true; a nose up stance suggests 3.4 springs may have been used.
  • Check the suspension for worn bushes, shot front wishbones and clapped out swivels, which be adjustable with shims.
  • Seized/clapped out disc brakes are a bit of a Mk2 way of life. Handbrakes are notoriously ineffective and frequently play up – modifi ed in ‘66 to provide improved alignment of the pad carriers supposedly.
  • Like other 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 and bear in mind that the 240 used plainer S-Type/420 tin lids and not the ‘eared’ earlier Jaguar types.
  • The plainer trim found on post ’66 Mk2s has its compensations. The Ambla trim is a lot hardier than leather 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 now available.
  • Don’t dismiss the Daimler V8 as merely a Daimler-engined 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 dedicated took kit even featuring ‘Daimler’ embossed spanners.

Three Of A Kind

Jaguar XJ6 2.8/3.4
Jaguar XJ6 2.8/3.4
For 2.4 Mk2, read 2.8 and 3.4 XJ6 where these smaller engines never caught on. The 2.8 performed okay but suffered from holed pistons, although this 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 unit. Both suffered in the hands of the 4.2 however as they gave no added economy for the power losses. Good budget buys now though.
Rover 2000/2200
Rover 2000/2200
The 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 2200 (‘73-77) 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 2000/2500
Triumph 2000/2500
In 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 is a real dark horse.


Let our verdict come from that late, great weekly Motor who reckoned: ‘It’s 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’’. We couldn’t agree more… so let those after speed rather than style pay more for their Mk2s!

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