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Jaguar MK2

Jaguar MK2 Published: 8th Feb 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar MK2

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Mk2 3.8
  • Worst model: 240
  • Budget buy: Mk2 2.4
  • OK for unleaded?: No problem
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): 4590 x 1700mm
  • Spares situation: Outstanding
  • DIY ease?: fine, resto less so
  • Club support: Excellent
  • Appreciating asset?: Slower than you might think
  • Good buy or good-bye?: In a class of its own – but you must buy a good one
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Classic 60’s sports saloon and star of road, track and the silver screen that’s full of class and character. Still good value and backed by an superb club and specialist support, but many are on their last lives... WORDS BY RICHARD DREDGE IMAGES BY MAGICCARPICS

In the 1960s you could have a grand tourer, a saloon car or a sports car, but the sports saloon was a rare beast. Not where Jaguar was concerned though, which churned out an array of sports saloons, most notably the Mk2 that was a clear evolution of the Mk1 of 1955. Fast, luxurious and stylish, the Mk2 has become one of the most desirable family cars of the sixties and 1970s, where you could buy a used one for relatively little cash. Relatively speaking you still can as the market has relaxed of late, but the gulf between good ones and concours cats is large so buy with care. Here’s how.


1955 Jaguar introduces its first monocoque saloon, the mould-breaking 2.4.

1957 The 3.4 arrives and this newcomer and the 2.4 are retrospectively called Mk1.

1959 The Mk2 débuts with a choice of 2.4, 3.4 or 3.8-litre XK engines. The 2.4-litre engine is a modified edition of the unit fitted to the Mk1, while there are also disc brakes all round, a wider rear track (covered by redesigned bodywork) and front suspension upgrades, compared with the earlier car. There are lots of other changes too, such as a broader radiator grille, increased glass area as well as a bigger (wraparound) rear window. There’s new front seats, now incorporating integral rear picnic tables. A revised dash is more user-friendly, with the key instruments now in front of the driver, the sidelights are now mounted on top of the front wings, and where there were previously air intake grilles spotlights now sported.

1960 The revised 2.4 and 3.4 models (now riding on slightly wider rims) were joined by the iconic 3.8-litre, 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 plus the option of a higher-geared power steering system. A higher rated oil pressure gauge was now fitted to all models.

1962 Launch of the Daimler V8 2.5 that 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. This 140bhp velvety smooth cruiser neatly slotted in between the 2.4 and 3.4, albeit at 3.8 prices. Interior is much more Mk X like with different seating design, but sans those useful 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. A Mk X style steering boss for all models figures. 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 significantly downgraded, resulting in the ditching of the standard leather trim 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 minual 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 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 a handier 133bhp.

Although it was kept strangely quiet for whatever reason, 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 across the range.


If you think you’ll be able to jump into an original-spec Mk2 and drive it like a modern saloon you’ll be pretty disappointed. Sure it’s quick – especially in 3.4 or 3.8-litre forms – but the brakes will feel marginal and the steering vague if you’ve just jumped out of a Ford Mondeo. What the Mk2 does is provide a sense of occasion, as you can luxuriate in one of the most opulent cabins going, while surveying all that’s going on around you and all round visibility is superb.

When the Mk2 arrived more than half a century ago, it was like a rocketship compared with what else was on the roads at the time. The Mk2 3.4 was capable of 120mph (the 3.8 can do 125mph), and performance was so superior to anything else on the road it quickly became the car to have. Handling was much superior to the skittish Mk1 meaning it could be driven hard with much more confidence.

When The Motor tested a Mk2 3.4, it couldn’t heap enough praise on it, claiming that “it is only seen to best advantage on reasonably well surfaced roads, but within this frame of reference it offers an outstanding combination of speed, refinement and true driving ease. When price is also considered, it is easy to see why Jaguar competition has been driving one make after another out of existence”.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the magazine’s enthusiasm was that when it had reviewed the Mk1 in 1957, it had come away less than impressed, accusing the car of being “dangerously underbraked” and unruly at high speed, largely thanks to the narrowtrack rear axle. Jaguar took those criticisms to heart and introduced disc brakes front and rear plus a wider rear track for the Mk2.

For most Mk2 buyers, nothing less than a 3.8-litre car will do; it’s the ultimate production edition and a serious Q car. When Autocar tested one its opening line was that “in one compact car an owner has Gran Turismo performance, town carriage manners and luxurious family appointments”. The magazine noted that, despite packing more power and torque than the 3.4-litre engine, the bigger unit was just as sweet and flexible. The huge braking capacity was also commented upon – in period they were among the best available, but technology in this area has moved on massively in the intervening half-century. Once again, the value angle featured strongly, Autocar commenting that “very few cars indeed set out to offer so much as the 3.8-litre Mk2 Jaguar, and none can match it in terms of value for money”.

The late Bill Boddy was equally taken by the Mk2’s value when he drove the a Mk2 3.8 for Autosport. Boddy was moved to write it was “one of the best saloon cars in the world. That such a car can be sold for just over £1800 is a commercial miracle understood only by Sir William Lyons”. Both Motor and Autocar had experience of the 240 and came away quite impressed, the improved performance being the main reason. Motor in particular 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,” it said, and we hear that 2.4s are now finding increasing favour due to both their lower prices, better condition and originality. If all you want to do is cruise they are quite acceptable although automatics are particularly sluggish and economy fares no better than its bigger-engined brothers.


Simon Cronin is the Mk2 registrar for the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club and has run a 3.8 for 37 years (see separate panel). He comments: “even though the Mk2 is very sought after, there are surprisingly few really good cars available, as proper repairs are so costly. A full restoration will still cost much more than the car will be worth, which is why most Mk2s don’t get the love they deserve. As a result it’s essential that you look at lots of cars before buying, to establish whether a car is as good as you actually think it is”.

Cronin continues: “Few people will take on Mk2s that need significant work, with projects particularly unlikely to find buyers. However, enthusiasts are more likely to take on a ropey 3.8-litre car, which is why these editions tend to be the subject of the most thorough restorations. Genuinely good Mk2s will always find a buyer, especially if it’s got a 3.4 or 3.8-litre engine. On that note, there’s not much difference in values between these two variants and they’re much the same to drive too – but despite “some people won’t settle for anything less than a 3.8”. As long as the external appearance isn’t messed with, originality isn’t too important for the majority of Mk2 buyers – as long as any upgrades are done properly. Modern transmissions are hugely desirable for example, but the most sought after cars have a manual gearbox and overdrive. Cars converted from automatic to manual transmission are worth less than those that came out of the factory with a manual gearbox.

Cronin adds: “There’s a gulf between the 2.4 [and to a lesser extent the 240] and its bigger-engined siblings. A really nice 2.4 in British Racing Green sold recently for just £10,000, even though it was a low-mileage car that was in good, original condition. That was a bit on the low side as many such cars will cost a bit more, especially if they’ve had some restoration or upgrades.

“A usable Mk2 with a 3.4 or 3.8-litre engine can be bought for as little as £20,000 to £25,000 but you’ll generally need to spend closer to £30,000 to secure a really nice car that hasn’t had any upgrades. Find a superb Mk2 3.4 or 3.8 with the right improvements and you can pay £60,000 for it – especially if it’s got the right colour”.

On that note, British Racing Green is one of the most popular colours along with low-key metallic finishes such as gunmetal. Red interior trim is also sought after, but the interior must be in good condition. According to Cronin, the standard of the interior trim can make a big difference to Mk2 values, as it gives a good general indication of how well the car has been looked after.


The Mk2 was a very capable car in its day – so much so, that it’s still surprisingly usable more than 50 years on. But there are still plenty of upgrades that will make a Mk2 even more usable and even more desirable. What matters most is that the external appearance isn’t changed, so wheels must be in keeping and the bodywork shouldn’t be altered significantly – a louvred bonnet is likely to be as far as you should go.

When it comes to the mechanicals, the sky is pretty much the limit. Modern electronically controlled automatic transmissions are very sought after along with improvements to the brakes, steering and suspension – later 420 front axle is a good low cost mod or there’s no shortage of aftermarket tuning equipment. Fitting modern seats with electric adjustment is also a good thing – as long as they’re in keeping with the Mk2’s cabin and retrimmed to match. Modern air conditioning systems and hi-fi upgrades are also desirable, but keeping things as stealthy as possible is always a good idea.


Few Jaguar Mk2s cover many miles from one year to the next, which is a shame as these are among the most usable classics around. That’s not the case with Simon Cronin’s 1965 Mk2 3.8 though, which averages between 8000 and 10,000 miles each year.

Says Cronin, tours co-ordinator for the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club: “It’s used for everything as I tow a caravan with it, regularly take it on track days and I use it for longdistance touring too. Every year it goes to Ireland and mainland Europe plus it’s been all over mainland UK too. I do most of the maintenance myself including lubricating the suspension twice a year, applying Dinitrol rustproofing annually and replacing the oil and filter every 3000 miles. I also check the oil and water every week – or every day if I’m touring.”

Cronin bought his Mk2 in 1979, having taken 18 months looking for the right car. He chips in: “I wanted a 3.8-litre manual overdrive example with a limited-slip diff and either British Racing Green or red paintwork. I ended up buying the car locally, for £400 – even though it was an automatic with no LSD. The day after I bought the car, I hitched up my caravan and went to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. I ran the Mk2 for two years and in that time it needed only routine servicing but one day on the way back from Brands Hatch the radiator failed, so I got the car home, parked it up and it stayed there for five years”.

Before the Mk2 was returned to the road it was comprehensively upgraded, so it could be enjoyed even more. The automatic transmission was swapped for a manual overdrive gearbox, while the steering box was replaced with a rack-and-pinion set-up. But this produced lousy handling so Cronin resorted to fitting the mechanics from a Jaguar 420 front end – the power-assisted steering box, suspension and brakes (along with XJ rear-wheel cylinders), which transformed things.

What To Look For


  • If you’re thinking of buying a project with a view to doing the work yourself, make sure you’ve got the necessary skills and equipment. Reviving a tatty Mk2 can take a lot more expertise – and cash – than you think plus you’ll rarely get a return on your outlay.
  • A tired interior makes a big difference to a Mk2’s ambience as well as its value. With carpets, leather trim and 29 pieces of burr walnut all to take into account, restoring a Mk2 interior will cost plenty – getting it done professionally can easily cost the thick end of £10,000. Most folk overlook this.
  • The exterior trim can be another can of worms, with – believe it or not – no fewer than 160 separate pieces of brightwork. Just ensuring everything is there takes time – you’ve also got to make sure that each part is in good enough condition.


  • When Jaguar created the Mk1 – its first monocoque car – it designed in plenty of rust traps. The Mk2 carried over the Mk1’s structure along with these traps, which is why serious corrosion is far from unusual. The problem is that a Mk2 can look structurally sound even when it’s on the verge of collapsing under its own weight.
  • Analyse the area in the nose where the chassis legs, crossmember and radiator cowls meet as rust is common here. Once rust breaks out, water gets into the chassis leg and moves down to the jacking point below the A-post, so look for distortion of the metal and poor-quality plating. This area is often bodged, as it’s a complicated area.
  • Once rust has started, the structure can be compromised, so check the base of each front wing, looking for evidence of cracking paint working downwards across the sill from the bottom front corner of the door aperture. This area is key, as proper restoration requires a jig for strengthening, and all rotten metal cut out. The usual giveaway is uneven door shuts, the lower front corner sticking out while the window surround is in contact with the door jamb.
  • The Panhard rod mounting in the offside rear wheelarch tends to dissolve, with repairs very tricky as it’s a complicated area. Rotten anti-roll bar mountings are a pain as there are captive nuts within the chassis legs, which can shear.
  • The rear spring hangers rot, each one consisting of three steel sections. Condensation penetrates the layers of unprotected steel, so by the time anything is visible, things are really bad. If left, rot will penetrate the floorpans, wheelarches and the back of the sills along with the spare wheel well’s centre section and the fuel tank.
  • The outer panels also corrode spectacularly, so look for filler. Focus on the grille and headlight surrounds plus the area where the sill, rear door and wheel spat meet. The trailing edge of the boot lid also rusts, as do the door bottoms.


  • The four-speed Moss manual gearbox that was used until September 1965 has no synchromesh on first. Although it’s very tough, it wears out eventually and parts to undertake a rebuild are now hard to find. Because most Mk2s came with the earlier box, these are easier to find on a used basis – the later all-synchro units are very rare. The main problem is owners not respecting the fact that there’s no synchromesh on first, so check it doesn’t jump out of gear.
  • Most (but not all) Mk2s have overdrive, so check it works as it should, engaging smoothly. Also make sure that there’s no sign of clutch slip as replacing the clutch means removing the engine. Automatic gearboxes are equally long-lived, although the earlier DG unit isn’t as smooth as the Borg Warner one that came later.
  • Cars without power steering have a heavy and low-geared Burman recirculating ball system, which is reliable but has lots of bushes etc to wear. More likely to give problems is the PAS on pre-1963 cars. Leaks are par for the course which is why a lot of Mk2s now feature later Adwest box and subframe.
  • Even in good condition the brakes are only just up to the job if one of the larger engines is fitted; problems usually centre on corroded pistons and cylinders. Handbrakes notoriously ineffective. Everything is available and upgrades are straightforward.


  • Offered in 2.4, 3.4 and 3.8-litre guises, the XK engine needs regular maintenance. Look for a service history, make sure the engine doesn’t sound hollow or rattly and ensure the oil is clean. The key is to budget for a rebuild as soon as the engine is showing signs of wear; delay things and the bills quickly mount, especially if something ends up breaking. A full rebuild costs around £4-£5000.
  • A cherished engine easily lasts 300,000 miles; the most important thing is to change the oil and filter and anti-freeze on time. A fresh radiator every 5-10 years is normal for peace of mind.
  • Expect oil pressure of 40psi when cruising, although senders and gauges can be unreliable. Some oil consumption is normal, but lots of blue smoke means the cylinder bores or piston rings have worn; if a bottom-end rebuild is needed, a top-end overhaul will be needed too.
  • If the rear crankshaft oil seal fails, the engine needs a complete rebuild to sort it, so look for lubricant all over the underside. A later type seal is now the only cure or don’t top up sump to full mark.
  • The construction of the 3.8-litre engine is different from its smaller siblings, as it features cylinder liners; the pistons of a 3.4-litre engine run within the block. As a result, the 3.8-litre powerplant has an extra water gallery at the top of the block, although the heads are similar. Consequently, the 3.8 unit runs hotter, leading to an increase in oil consumption. When rebuilding a 3.8-litre engine, the liners must be removed to check for corrosion, usually ignored.
  • Tappets should be just audible but timing chain silent, especially lower one. All are DIY jobs but we’d leave it to experts.


Three Of A Kind

Until recently this was the bargain alternative but values of XJs have climbed sharply over the past year or two – especially the Series 1. With values of these cars having been so low for so long, you’ll find it even harder to find a good one than you will tracking down a mint Mk2. Choose between six-cylinder (3.4, 4.2) and V12 (5.3) engines, but buy one of the latter and you’ll need very deep pockets for the running costs.
This could be the best Mk2 for you thanks to a smoother V8 up front which, ironically considering the Daimler stuffier image, is also the best handling Mk2 of them all. Most were automatics although many have been converted to manual transmission which improves the 2.5-litre’s performance considerably. Daimler prices have always trailed Mk2s but the gap has closed somewhat over the past couple of years.
Up against the Mk2 in period was the Rover P5, which is one of the most imposing saloons of the sixties thanks to its upright stance, bulk and superbly appointed interior that can’t match the Jag’s, but it’s still a pretty special place to be. Standard fare for the P5 was a 3.0-litre straight-six but in 1967 came the P5B, with the now-legendary 3.5-litre V8 in the nose. It’s the one to go for.


The Mk2 is easy to recommend whether you’re looking for a classic for occasional use, something for long-distance touring or perhaps even as an investment. Running one is about as straightforward as it gets thanks to some excellent clubs and specialists that are there to support you. Where it’s easy to go wrong is by purchasing a car that’s not as good as you think, which is why if you’re in doubt, enlist an expert to undertake a full inspection. If a really good Mk2 isn’t within reach, don’t be too quick to dismiss a 240/340 or the Daimler. You’ll have the same problem of trying to track down a really good example but when you do find one, you won’t have to pay as much for it.

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