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Jaguar S Type

Jaguar S Type Published: 13th Jul 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar S Type

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 420
  • Worst model: 3.4 Automatic
  • Budget buy: Dalmler Sovereign
  • OK for unleaded?: Generally yes
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4750 x W1680 mm
  • Spares situation: Not as good as Mk2
  • DIY ease?: As good as the Mk2
  • Club support: Excellent
  • Appreciating asset?: Yes, but should be better
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Former as a Mk2 with the most!
Still a lovely sight, S-Types never used the 2.4 XK unit but the 4.2 was fi tted to great effect on later models Still a lovely sight, S-Types never used the 2.4 XK unit but the 4.2 was fi tted to great effect on later models
Interior even posher than MK2’s with more wood and luxury; lack of popularity and value may keep condition low Picture courtesy of new Jaguar Speed and Style book from Haynes Interior even posher than MK2’s with more wood and luxury; lack of popularity and value may keep condition low Picture courtesy of new Jaguar Speed and Style book from Haynes
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And when you consider what the S-Type offers over the Mk2, and at cheaper prices, well… what else can you say?

Pros & Cons

Value for money, comfort and refi nement, roominess, usual Mk2 feelgood factor
Ungainly looks, lacks Mk2’s image and sporty nature with inferior pace and economy

What is is that they say about letting the facts stand in the way of a good story? Take the S-Type Jaguar, so often still seen as the poor relation of the Mk2 family. Yet when the two models were produced in tandem did you know that the S-Type easily outsold the Mk2 and the only reason there’s more of them about was because it enjoyed a 10 year run? Make no mistake, the S-Type – a blend of E-type sophistication and MkX luxury is the more accomplished car yet considerably cheaper to buy. Who says so? Well none other than Jaguar legend Norman Dewis, that’s who!


Rumour has it that Jaguar was looking at a more upmarket Mk2 pretty soon after its 1959 launch and the S-Type saloon surfaced in October 1963 as a logical bridge between the Mk2 and the cruise-liner MkX launched in ‘61.

Sadly, rather like the X-Type of today, the S-Type came over as a somewhat unhappy mix and match of popular Jaguar body styles. The hull was mainly Mk2 albeit with a flatter roof line and a MkX style rear end to boost boot space – it also added independent rear suspension, which was fi rst seen on the E-type.

It sounds a simple enough job but the shell had to be considerably redesigned, double-skinned and strengthened to achieve this and at a cost of almost 350lb in weight.

To balance the car’s odd looks, the front end was tweaked with new front wings featuring hooded headlamps and slimline bumpers, but even when it was launched the car was criticised for its dubious appearance with numerous magazines hinting that the Jag looked as though it was designed in a hurry – which it indeed was!

Inside the Mk2 cabin was revamped to a MkX level of luxury with even more wood plus a full-width parcel shelf under the facia. As befitting being more upmarket various other updates, including automatic transmission and power steering were more popular fixtures with the S-Type than on the Mk2 and it seemed to suit the car’s character better.

Those trusty XK engines were offered in familiar tune, but this time only in 3.4 and 3.8-litre guises as the sluggish, if smooth 2.4 was rightly deemed far too underpowered in the larger, heavier S-Type.

Apart from receiving Mk2 mechanical upgrades, including the Jag gearbox to replace the old Moss unit in 1965 – usually identifi ed by the ball-like gear knob (together with the Borg Warner Type 35 auto) the S-Type remained largely unchanged but was sadly downgraded like the Mk2 in 1966 with Ambla trim instead of leather hides, cheaper carpets and a lack of standard fog lamps.

Now imagine a Mk2 with the 4.2 E-type engine. Sounds like Jaguar heaven, yet the 420 was, and remains, the least popular S-Type of them all. The 420 (also known as the even more luxurious Daimler Sovereign after dealers pestered Browns Lane for one) was introduced in August 1966 as a stop gap to keep customers sweet until the long-awaited XJ6 hit the showrooms two years later. Rumour has it that Jaguar legend Sir William Lyons always intended that the S-Type was to have the sharper looking MkX nose from the outset but time constraints prevented this and meant the Mk2’s snout had to be grafted on instead. There’s little argument that the 420’s shape was the best balanced as a result.

The 420 is probably the best ‘Mk2’ of them all too, offering 245bhp (slightly less than the E-type) and swathes of torque that suited it well. Most 420’s were autos but manual with optional overdrive was also offered on Jags – most Daimlers were autos. The S-Type and the 420 bowed out in June 1968 to make way for the XJ6 but the Daimler model survived well into 1969.


You’d think that the addition of the E-type’s stern would have enthusiasts drooling over S-Types, but on the road the more skittish Mk2 edges it for many due to its sportier feel, helped by success in motorsport. It did, after all, the fi rst-ever European Touring Championship way back in 1963.

In a 1967 road test, Motor magazine summed up the 420 Automatic saying that despite its E-type pedigree… “This is not a car with any strong sporting pretentions” but reckoned the manual version (a rare Daimler Sovereign, incidentally) was more sporting than many sports cars and claimed that the S-Type possessed a ride that was unequalled in Europe.

There’s little argument that the S-Type feels far more polished and planted compared to a Mk2 thanks to that superior rear end plus the ride is a lot smoother, too. Motor found that upping the tyre pressures to a bloated 34psi improved the car’s agility although it felt that the excellent ride was a result of “quite high angles of roll”. That said, the respected weekly regarded the S-Type as one of the most comfortable cars ever produced – certainly this side of the pond – and a marked improvement over the Mk2. The message is clear – if you favour comfort and cruising then go against the grain for the S-Type.

Straightline speed is where the Mk2 scores due to its lighter weight and better aerodynamics. Generally, a 3.8 S-Type is only slightly quicker than a 3.4 Mk2, although the 420 was a bit of a Q car, hitting 60 in a highly creditable 9.2 seconds and almost 120mph but with “little performance gain over the automatic” said one road test. Economy will never impress; 15.3mpg on a 3.8 automatic model back in 1964, (after rocketing to 60mph in over 14 seconds) reckoned one weekly. Strangely, manuals fared little better economy- wise at 15.6mpg except on a run when overdrive came into its own and the dizzy heights of 19mpg were possible! For families, the S-Type’s bigger boot certainly makes it a more practical proposition, boasting 19cuft of space against the Mk2’s measly 12cuft, but there again the S-Type is 178mm (seven inches) longer. The cabin feels decidedly roomier thanks to a flatter roof line and steeply rake rear screen to increase headroom. Slightly thinner MkX style front seats liberated a touch more legroom and it is almost a well appointed and cossetting as its bigger brother.


It’s image – surely? Here’s a Jag that is not only trumps the Mk2 but is much better value, too. Typically S-Type realises around 50-65 per cent the worth of a Mk2 and it has to be a superb example to break the £20,000 barrier. Most examples will go for around half of this, while restoration projects start from £3000 upwards. The unloved 420 is even more affordable – perhaps two-thirds the price of an S-Type. Surely prices can’t stay this way for ever?

What To Look For

  • All three-speed auto boxes are lazy affairs but smooth and long-lived. Inspect the fl uid: it should be clean and not smell ‘burnt’. If it does then it suggests wear. Check for slipping, slow, clunky take up and loss of ratios. Try the box in manual modes but bear in mind that on the later (Daimler-sourced) Borg Warner Type 35 unit, ‘D2’ position allows the car to move off in second for smoother, slower progress so don’t assume there’s something wrong with the ‘box on a test drive.
  • Clutch replacements are a major job and beyond the realms of many home mechanics because the engine and transmission have to come out as one. And it’s real heavy duty stuff.
  • Rear axles are known to leak oil and are harder to fix than on a Mk2 due to the independent rear suspension set-up plus the bearings in the alloy hub carrier can fail, leading to clonking.
  • S-Types are hefty things so springs and dampers wear over time. See that the car sits straight and true. If replacing springs, ensure that you get the right ones as the heavier S-Type used different spring rates to the Mk2.
  • The rear suspension is located on a special sub-framed cradle with insulating rubber bushes, that can perish, causing rear steer and they’re very awkward to replace (as are the inboard rear brakes). It’s worth biting the bullet though, as a re-bush job can transform the car’s road manners at a stroke.
  • That independent rear suspension means inboard rear disc brakes are part of the package and apart from the diffi culty of renewing the pads, they are prone to picking up oil from a leaking differential (very common).
  • There’s even more wood and leather to restore than on a Mk2 so don’t under estimate the cost of a refi t. A new dash can cost thousands for example while a full interior makeover can run to £10,000 and S-Type values have yet to justify such expenditure.
  • Most part prices mirror that of the Mk2 so reckon on £600 for a stainless exhaust, £30 per brake disc (£75 for the caliper), £200 for a clutch kit, a fiver for new lower wishbone bushes and £67 for replacement front springs. A decent, fully overhauled XK engine will cost around £4000 and anything that’s signifi cantly cheaper can’t be the real deal.


Three Of A Kind

Daimler V8 250
Daimler V8 250
Perhaps the MK2 is the natural choice but the Daimler is more in character with the S-Type, with the accent on smoothness and refi nement. What that lovely V8 lacks in pace it amply compensates in its sweetness and fl exibility. The interior is more akin to the S-Type’s cabin too, and both score over the normal Mk2 in terms of value. Buy soon, as Daimler prices are starting to rise – and about time too...
Rover P5
Rover P5
A fine car and one that’s been overlooked for too long as a good MK2 alternative. This old school Rover is pure class and very smooth both in straight six and the more respected V8 form – although the former has the edge for refi nement if not speed. Values are starting to drift upwards for good ones but be warned, as there are some dodgy ones around rust is rife and cost Mk2 money to restore.
Triumph 2000/2.5PI
Triumph 2000/2.5PI
While most people look to Dolomite Sprints and Stags, don’t overlook the forgotten 2000 that was the BMW 5-Series of its day. A silky smooth straight six makes the Triumph refined and quite quick in 2500 form – the fuel injection can be made reliable these days but carbs are the best bets. Estates are very useful classy holdalls and the entire range represents strong logic and value for money.


Our advice is to view the S-Type from a fresh angle, not as a second-rate Mk2, but as the more sophisticated, sweeter alternative, especially the forgotten 420 and Sovereign versions. The fact that it’s the cheaper buy makes one a steal, too.

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