- Best model: 3.8 MOD
- Worst model: 2.4 Auto
- Budget buy: 2.4/240
- OK for unleaded?: Daimler only
- Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4590 x W1700mm
- Spares situation: Excellent
- DIY ease?: Ok but heavy duty
- Club support: Always good
- Appreciating asset?: Prices have levelled
- Good buy or good-bye?: If you haven’t had one – do it now
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Evergreen sports saloon that’s one of the most popular classics around, yet prices have stagnated of late. Wide range and choice to suit all pockets and tastes, with excellent spares, specialist and club support words by Classic Motoring images by magiccarpics.co.uk
If it wasn’t for the Jaguar Mk2, and latterly a certain morose TV detective, would classic cars be so popular today? This smooth and stylish sports saloon was one of the drivers of the early classic car movement back in the early 1970s, despite it being discontinued only five years earlier.
Today, four decades on, the Mk2 seems to have hit a bit of a purple patch. It’s still as revered as ever – rightly so – but prices, along with interest, have stagnated. Does this mean that we’ve had our fill of one of the most iconic classics ever, with those who ever wanted one having done so and moved on? Probably not, but the lull does mean greater value for those who have yet to fulfil a life’s ambition. Why not make it a resolution for 2015?
1959 The Mk2 was a logical development of the saloon, which retrospectively became known as the Mk1. The shell remained basically the same but refreshing by William Lyons, involving a broader grille, re-contoured rear end and more glass area, cleverly modernised the looks. Inside, the instruments were now sited in front of the driver, new seats (with those famous picnic tables) were installed along with, a better heater plus a raft of other improvements. Mechanically, the biggest change majored on the rear suspension with its wider track, but it’s often forgotten that the front end featured re-angled wishbones all in a bid to cure the skittishness that plagued the Mk1.
1960 The revised 2.4 and 3.4 models (now riding on slightly wider rims) were joined by the iconic 3.8-litre option, using the legendary engine that was to feature in the E-type, albeit in lower twin carb 220bhp tune. But the car did have a limited slip diff to harness the power plus the option of a higher-geared power steering system. Higher rated oil pressure gauge fitted.
1962 The more upmarket Daimler V8 2.5 was the resultant child from a marriage of convenience, after Jaguar acquired the ailing Daimler company. A 2.5-litre V8 first seen in the ‘Dart’ sports car was installed into a Mk2 along with standard automatic transmission and this 140bhp (155lbft of torque) cruiser neatly slotted in between the 2.4 and 3.4, albeit at 3.8 prices. Interior is more Mk X like with different seating design, but sans picnic tables.
1964 On the Daimler, the rear axle ratio is changed to 4.27:1 to prevent over-revving and help refinement along with new auto selector arrangement. Mk X style steering boss for all models is fitted.
1965 Changes to the driveline affected all models. The slow, old Moss manual gearbox was replaced by Jaguar’s own unit (signified by the rounded gear knob). Limited slip diff option for Daimler.
1966 Mk2 range is downgraded, resulting in the ditching of the standard leather trim (now an option) for cheaper Ambla (an upper crust PVC), making those flush mounted fog lamps optional (replaced by ugly mesh grilles) and dumping the old traditional Windtone horns, but Daimler trim level survives and for 1967 receives a long awaited manual gearbox option.
1967 Introduced in September is the new 240/340 to replace the Mk2, identified by slimmer S-Type bumpers and 420 style hubcaps. Inside, further cost cutting sees those legendary picnic tables dropped (never featuring on the Daimler, strangely) and cheaper nylon carpets adorned the floor. Mechanically, the 240 came off best, care of straight-ported E-type-style cylinder head fed via twin 1.75 SUs plus a new distributor, and twin exhausts, raising the power by 11 per cent, from 120bhp to 133bhp. Although it was kept quiet, the 340 also received the superior E-type head while the Marles power steering – hitherto only an extra on the 3.8 – became optional at long last and standard on the Daimler, which was rebadged V8 250 at the same time.
1969 340 dropped almost as soon as the XJ6 hits the showrooms in 1968, 240 bowed out the following April. The V8 250 actually survived until H registrations.
DRIVING AND PRESS COMMENTS
You may fantasise about owning and driving a Mk2, but don’t be too disappointed if you discover that the Jag’s handling feels woolly and the steering heavy and low geared, the gearchange slow and cumbersome (especially the early Moss ’box) and the all-round disc brakes only adequate (by today’s standards) for a sports saloon. Our advice to all is to adjust your hats and take the Mk2 for what it unashamedly is, even in 2015 – a wonderfully nostalgic drive and satisfying experience.
One department where the car still puts up a good fight is engine performance. The 3.8 is still GTi quick, while the 3.4 is hardly a slouch either, especially the latter 340 with its E-type ‘top end’ (0-60 in 8.8 seconds) which is practically as fast as the 3.8.
Let’s have a word about the 2.4. Agreed, the car does feel sluggish in its original tune, with a 0-60mph time of some seventeen seconds – worse on the auto. But, if you are more interested in cruising then it’s more than acceptable.
The later 240 feels much livelier (contemporary road tests had the 240 post 0-60mph times of under 12 seconds), and not too far shy of the old 3.4 even if you need to use the gearbox more, because the E-type engine tune loses some of the lustiness of the old engine. In fact, get a good one and you may not feel the need for anything larger and thirstier.
The $64,000 question is; does a V8 change the Mk2? The answer is yes, and it’s all down to the character. The Jag is the racier choice, yet far from being frumpy the Daimler’s lighter V8 makes the car not so heavy and lumbering, even though it’s not a sports saloon. Again, according to contemporary road tests at the time, the automatic Daimler was a shade faster than a manual 240, while the rare manual versions feel quite energetic although, being a sports car engine, it lacks the level of torque you might expect from a V8
If you opt for any manual car – Jag or Daimler – you really must have one with overdrive as it makes cruising much more restful and frugal, although the latter will rarely touch 25mpg on a run and can go well down into the teens if driven hard. For the majority of today’s Mk2 owners, the cat’s ability to purr along is all they ask for.
When Autocar tested 3.8 it remarked that, “in one compact car an owner has Gran Turismo performance, town carriage manners and luxurious family appointments”. The magazine noted that, as always, the value angle featured strongly, commenting that “very few cars indeed set out to offer so much as the 3.8-litre Jaguar Mk2, and none can match it in terms of value for money”. But while most praise was heaped upon 3.4 and 3.8, Motor stuck up for the ‘Cinderella’ of the range; “It’s a pity that the praises of the 2.4/240 have been a trifle neglected in the past because the car has much to offer,” the weekly said.
That wouldn’t have included the unassisted steering, with its five turns lock- to-lock, mind! Motor further remarked, “The kindest thing to say of the steering…. is that it develops muscles”, although it did go on to praise the ageing Mk2’s overall handling, albeit less so the adequate ride which compared poorly to the more modern S-type and 420 with their legendary IRS set up. You’d think that the Daimler would fare best, but road tests criticised it for being strangely harsh. Legendary Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis exclusively once told Classic Motoring what he thought in more colourful terms, describing it as “bloody awful” because the car was rushed through.
Our own columnist Stuart Bladon ran a 240 for 10,000 miles when he worked for Autocar and it ranks as one of his favourite long term cars. “My spell with a 240 Jaguar has provided a lot of motoring enjoyment, the only regret that I was not able to make even more long journeys in it.” he concluded his report – read his recollections 46 years on elsewhere in this issue!
The Mk2 won the inaugural European Touring Car Championship back in 1963 and is still a popular campaigner on the tracks. Not surprisingly, a good many are now modified to some degree to make them more suitable for modern use. On all, start with improved cooling, although Jags aren’t the over-heaters they are made out to be. An uprated radiator, with an electric cooling fan, is a worthy mod, not simply for reducing the chance of overheating but also to cut out the considerable fan noise. Electronic ignition is also a wise fitment even on standard cars – especially so on the Daimler V8 which uses a quirky twin points set up. If the suspension and brakes are shot poly bushing together with new dampers from Koni, Spax or Gaz work well, while a donor 420 (S-Type) should be robbed of its superior three-pot brake callipers (or go to Classic Spares and buy straight fit modded ones at £450). If you use the entire 420 front suspension (with Mk2 springs) you can make good the power steering, too.
The 2.4 engine naturally benefits from the later 240 top end, while E-type head and cams on the other pair provide useful power gains. Be aware, though, that fitting triple carbs fouls the clutch cylinder, so use 420 (2in SU) units instead.
In terms of conventional tuning, Coombs or E-type spec is still a good benchmark and fuel injected head and cams from S3 work well as a cheap upgrade. Incidentally, the 4.2 engine isn’t the straight swap you rightly initially envisage. Manual/overdrives are fine for normal use or you can graft on either the Jag/Rover five-speeder.
Your dad will tell you of the days when you could pick up Mk2s for banger money and, while this golden age will never return, prices have stagnated over the past few years, possibly because those who ever wanted a Mk2 have had one by now?
There’s still the expensive ones around, usually concours restoration examples, but normal good ones can be bought for as little as £15,000 if you shop around and don’t mind if it’s not a 3.8 MOD sitting on wire wheels, which is still the most desired model and commands around ten grand more.
For many, a good 3.4/340 is the ideal pick but, believe it or not, interest in the once unloved 2.4/240 has been on the increase for the past year because they will have been used more for cruising and driven more gently and not subject to modifications.
The later post ’67 Mk2s remained cheaper than the originals and are particularly strong value as well as being better performing cars (the 240 is almost as quick as a 3.4, the rare 340 can keep up with a 3.8). Expect to pay between £12-18,000 for some excellent examples. The Daimler has traditionally been priced about the same as a 240 but the gap is starting to widen and match Mk2 values, as enthusiasts start to appreciate the hidden qualities of this V8 although be wary of a Jag-engined one as they are not one thing or another. Given the Mk2’s static values, opting for a shabby cat or a basket case needs to be thought through as these Jag’s are notoriously expensive to restore, with the interior alone soaking up ten grand of your budget.
When contemporary, the 3.8 was the best seller (30,141), followed by the 3.4 (28,666), then the 2.4 (25,173) although the 240 outsold the 340 (3716 against 2265). Just under 5000 V8s were made.
What To Look For
BODY AND CHASSIS
* Don’t underestimate the cost of repairing, let alone restoring a Mk2, which is why top cars sell for so much. A basket case for a few grand may sound tempting but believe us, it will work out the dearer, more painful route in the long run unless you are a real DIY enthusiast prepared to make and mend.
* Naturally, rust is the biggest problem. Main areas are the chassis box sections, front cross-member (particularly at its ‘crow’s feet’ which are welded to the valance and cross-member). If it’s really bad here then the car may only be fit for spares.
* Check the inner sills, floorpan and outer sills, the latter costing around £100 in panel work alone. Lift the carpets and look for patchwork repairs and don’t be afraid to crawl underneath for a good prod about. Be suspicious of fresh underseal as it may well be hiding something.
* At the rear, check the floor (including the boot), rear axle and the leaf suspension spring hangers. The rear spats rot but are easily replaced; less so the double-skinned arches.
* Scrutinise the doors for alignment and panel gaps. A small magnet is invaluable for detecting crafty fibreglass repairs which many Mk2s are stuffed with. Door bottoms, wings and the car’s ‘nose’ (which dissolves badly around the fog lamp region) are common rot spots. Poor repairs are legion in these areas as proper restoration work is very expensive with new front wings costing over £1300 each!
* Later 240/340 feature S-Type slimline bumpers, which some prefer. However, you can substitute the original chunkier items fairly easily.
* The XK 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 45lb ft @ 3000rpm if okay. Expect to pay around £4000 for a well-built reconditioned unit.
* The biggest fear with an old XK engine these days concerns overheating due to furred up waterways. Take the car for a good run and look for signs of head gasket failure, past boil-overs and so on. That said, with proper care, these can be cool cats in traffic.
* Have engines been replaced with older units? All 1968 Jag Mk2s featured the new style XJ6 finned cam covers for example, while many 2.4/240 have been upped to 3.4. You can easily tell as the smaller unit sits appreciably lower in the engine bay.
* Sugar-sweet 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) and hot running due to corroding alloy waterways, and cooling in saloon body isn’t as good as Dart installation.
* However, it’s a simple ohv design, the V8 is less complex to work on than the XK plus it can successfully run on unleaded it is claimed, although tougher exhaust values are still advised if the heads come off. Skimming to raise compression ratio is worth 5-10bhp alone.
First of all don’t go vetting any Mk2 with those rose-tinted specs on! Yes we know these are great cars and you’ve always wanted one, but you need to look past all that shiny paint and wood to see what this cat is really like – and how many lives have been used up! And, if you don’t know what to look for, then have a Jag specialist check the car out for you. If the vehicle is that good, the owner should not object…
Don’t dismiss the V8 as merely a Daimler-engined Mk2. There are subtle differences in the trim and fitting, 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 tool kit even featuring ‘Daimler’ embossed spanners.
* There was a 380 produced, featuring unique engine serial numbers incidentally, although officially only a dozen were ever made – identified by subtle badging which comprised of the 340 badge with a small 3.8 insignia. Beware of fakes.
* Modded Mk2s are commonplace. E-Type top ends, 4.2 engines, XJ6/420 steering and brake set ups are well known upgrades, although whether they add to a car’s value as well as desirability is questionable.
* The Daimler attracts a different type of buyer. The cars seem to be kept in better condition and, according to the owners’ club, there are a lot of cared for one- or two-owner cars around as a result.
* The four-speed with optional overdrive (standard on 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 as you either have to remove engine or drop front axle.
* Borg Warner Type 35 three-speed auto box is a lazy affair but very smooth (unlike the old DG box fitted to earlier cars) and long-lived. Inspect the fluid: it should be clean and not smell ‘burnt’. If it does, then it suggests wear and ageing.
* Is the correct axle ratio fitted? Manual (sans overdrive) and autos used same but overdrive cars had lower gearing – rarely changed if a car has been converted to overdrive. Daimler’s gearing was raised in 1964 to aid cruising.
* 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 suggest Mk2 springs may have been used on the V8 for instance.
* Check the suspension for worn bushes, clapped out front wishbones and ball joints and seized or past it disc brake callipers. Oh and defective servos buried in the offside front wing! Handbrakes were notoriously ineffective even when new and frequently seize as many owners know only too well.
* A mix of either steel rims with hub caps or wire wheels may be used. Check the latter for broken/ loose spindles. Classy Daimler-badged hubcaps (and the special wire wheel spinners) are much rarer finds than the Jag’s and remember that the 240/340 used plainer S-Type/420 tin lids.
* The Ambla trim is a lot hardier than leather (always 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 refit 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.
Three Of A Kind
S-TYPE/420This was an upmarket off-shoot of the Mk2 sharing its hull but with Mk X top and tail. It was an odd look that was also heavier and blunted the performance (so no 2.4!) but E-type IRS suspension make it a more secure handler than a Mk2 and much more comfortable. Prices are usually lower and spares not so widespread. Best buy is strangely the cheapest – the excellent 420.
MK1Retrospectively called the Mk1, for many years it stayed in the shadows of its more popular brother but the past couple of years have seen Mk1 values match and sometimes exceed the Mk2. Perhaps more purist but handling isn’t as good (skittish rear end) and some cars still have drum brakes all round. Parts supply is good although bear in mind many Mk2 parts can’t be fitted.
XJ6Replacement for the Mk2 and S-type and a world beater for decades that followed, yet XJ prices remain strangely low, meaning excellent value. Handling and ride is a world away from previous Jags (apart from underrated Mk X) as is refinement and comfort. Don’t forget the magnificent XJ12 which cost the same. S2 cars generally least liked but S3 saw XJ6 at its peak.
The Mk2 remains one of the most sought after classics and there are still some bargains available, although you get what you pay for. Try a few out for size and that includes the underrated Daimler.
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