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Jaguar MK2

Jaguar MK2 Published: 14th Mar 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar MK2
Jaguar MK2
Jaguar MK2
Jaguar MK2
Jaguar MK2
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Why not own a…? Jaguar MK2

Jaguar’s legendary Mk2 hits 60 this year; it’s always been an immensely likeable saloon that’s perhaps more popular now than when it was new as it was only out of production for a little over five years before finding a new fanbase when this executive express became a founder and major prime mover of the then fast-growing classic car movement of the early 1970s.

The car remains on many enthusiasts’ bucket list and interest is sure to increase in its anniversary year. Values have levelled off of late but this is certain rally for the same reason. Best act on that long held dream now then…

Model choice

The Mk2 was a clever evolution to the original saloon, which in turn became known as the Mk1. While the bodyshell was fundamentally the same, clever refreshing by Jaguar founder and designer William Lyons made it look all new. There’s four versions to choose from: 2.4, 3.4 (along with later 240/340 offshoots) and the Daimler 2.5 V8, although for many there remains only one – the E-type-engined 220bhp 3.8.

This is understandable as it offered sports car pace in its day that’s by no means shabby six decades on either.

Don’t run away with the idea that the others aren’t the cat’s whiskers though because they are – in their own way. The 3.4 is a lively enough, smoother running and much cheaper substitute and nor should you turn your nose up at a good 2.4 either. Agreed, pace is decidedly leisurely, especially as an automatic, and they’re hardly any more frugal than their bigger brothers but if all you want is the experience of a Mk2 (as many do), they make fine cruisers because this unit is the smoothest XK engine of them all.

Continually and somewhat unfairly overlooked, interest in 2.4s has warmed because canny buyers have noted that they are generally driven the gentlest plus the majority still run in standard trim, unlike the other Mk2s which are normally modified to some degree.

Another cat coming in from the cold is the Daimler V8 2.5, the resultant offspring from a marriage of convenience after Jaguar acquired Daimler, slotting in between the 2.4 and 3.4. That silky and swift V8, first seen in the ‘Dart’ sports car seems tailored for this 60’s saloon, its 140bhp output being 20bhp to the good of the 2.4 XK unit. The Daimler originally came standard with automatic transmission before a manual was offered in 1967; many have been retro-fitted and with overdrive it answers the sole criticism that the V8 was always strangely strongly undergeared (improved in 1964).

Apart from a much improved Jaguar gearbox, replacing the old heavy and slow shifting Moss unit in 1965 (signified by the rounded polished gear knob), Mk2 development remained largely static during it’s 60’s production run before being downgraded during 1966, just before Jaguar merged with British Leyland.

This resulted in the ditching of the standard leather trim for cheaper Ambla (an upper crust PVC), making those lovely flush-mounted fog lamps optional (sadly replaced by ugly mesh grilles) and dropping those wonderful sounding traditional Windtone horns.

When Jaguar launched the revised 240/340 models, the 2.4 came off the best of them all. The engine was usefully uprated care of an E-type cylinder head with twin SU carbs (previously Solex) plus a new distributor, improved cooling system and twin exhausts, all raising the power of the 2483cc engine by a hefty 11 per cent, from 120bhp to a more respectable 133bhp – small wonder that many older 2.4s have been so converted as it’s such a simple upgrade.

Although it was kept rather quiet, the 340 also received the superior E-type straight port cylinder head while the Marles power steering – hitherto only a 3.8 extra – became optional. Those in the know will tell you that a good 340 is almost as fast as the old 3.8 so don’t instantly dismiss either a 240 or 340 both identified by their slimmer, neater S-type bumpers coupled with 420-style hubcaps and modernised badging.

The Daimler escaped the cost cutting that afflicted post ’66 Mk2s and thanks to the 250V8’s slimmer transmission tunnel and MkX-like seating, pre-’65 versions (which do not have to have front seat belts-ed) can be technically classed as six seaters. This model was the only version which deviated from the standard Mk2 trim.

Behind the wheel

The Mk2 was a pin up 60’s sports saloon and put on a pedestal by many but remember what they say about meeting your heroes? Certainly, Mk2s were superb in their day but if you’re expecting anything other than a vintage 50s feel you’re going to be a little deflated.

Instead, treat this Jaguar saloon as wonderful nostalgia drive down memory lane. This is not to say that the Mk2 can’t be modernised for today’s roads because it can – and many are – but while the numerous mods can give this cat sharper claws, it’s imperative the car’s character isn’t lost along the way. One department where the Jag can still put up a fair fight is in its performance. A healthy 3.8 is GTi still pretty fast while the 190bhp 3.4 is no slouch either, especially the tweaked 340, as it’s only 10bhp down on the admittedly lustier bigger engine.

It’s not so much in the performance differences but the car’s character change between a V8 250 Daimler and the Mk2. The Jaguar (of any engine size) feels the more sporting steed while the Daimler is better suited to genteel drives; ironic given that the lighter V8 engine actually makes the car not so heavy and lumbering than the Jaguar and so handles that bit better!

For the majority of wannabe Mk2 owners, the pleasure chiefly comes from the Jag’s splendid XK purr and that wood and leather interior. A good Mk2, despite their age, is still a special – if not overly roomy – place to be and with overdrive fitted any model can lope along at the legal limit with ease. A popular option, it’s rare to find a car without that extra electrical ratio as many were retro-fitted. If done right then the axle should also have to be changed (along with speedo) for a lower ratio to restore acceleration. If it isn’t, the car might not go as well although will cruise better due to even higher gearing. Your choice.

On the subject of gearboxes, for 1965 the old Moss ’box was replaced by a better Jaguar transmission but it’s still no slick stick shift while all the controls are heavy, as you’d expect from a 1950’s design. But that’s all part of the appeal.

Making one better

The Mk2 was first car ever to win the Touring Car Championship back in 1963, cementing its sports saloon image and as a result there’s always been a wealth of upgrades to make a Mk2 even more usable and desirable.

What matters the most is that the external appearance isn’t changed (it makes it harder to resale) – a Coombsstyle louvred bonnet (which also aids cooling) and rear wheel spats is likely to be as far as you should go.

When it comes to the oily bits, the sky is pretty much the limit but even if you want to keep yours to factory spec, an electronic ignition (especially to the Daimler which sports a quirky ‘twin points’ set up) and uprated radiator are well worth adding.

In excess of 300bhp is attainable but most owners settle for E-type level outputs and you can use either factory or aftermarket components; speak to a specialist. A cheap mod is to use Series 3 XJ6 head and cams, but few retro fit the larger 4.2 engine – surprising given that they’re a perfect fit and plentiful.

Traditional suspension upgrades work well and the all-wheel disc set up may only require an overhaul and better pads to suffice although you can go large with Coopercraft, Fosseway Performance (or similar) upgrades. Keeping it in-house, the 420 front axle, complete with its better brakes, works well – as does its power steering – or you can go all modern with an electric system from EZ or Litesteer. Modern automatic transmissions are sought after (XJ40) and the XJ6 five-speed manual ’box works a treat too.

Latest tweak, concerns a half-way S-type rear suspension conversion from specialist SNG Barratt that’s simpler to fit than the original kit swapping leaf springs for coil overs. Said to improve handling and the ride, it costs £1674 although it’s pretty much irreversible once installed.

Maintenance matters

The Mk2 poses relatively few problems for the average DIYer although most major jobs are heavy duty. A clutch change, for example requires taking the engine out (so you need a substantial hoist) or dropping the entire front axle – small wonder it’s usually left to workshops. The valve clearances are set by shims when they fall silent and ideally should be done with the cylinder head off (a good time to carry out a decoke) but they stay set for years. Timing chains should technically need the sump to be removed but there are ways around this that a good specialist will know.

Replacing the oil and filter every 3000 miles is a wise if not cheap job, requiring some 13 old fashioned pints of 20W/50. Similarly keep its anticorrosion properties up to strength by annually replacing the anti-freeze. And as XKs can run hot, a new rad every fi ve years or so is preventative maintenance.

Unlike E-types, you can’t obtain new shells although, in the main, spares are plentiful and attainable both new and used. The twice-yearly International Spares Days at Stoneleigh Park (Warcs) is worth attending for not only parts but to chat with owners and specialists.

The car’s timeline

1959

The Mk2 débuts with a choice of 2.4, 3.4 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 together with 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.

1960

Iconic 3.8-litre is introduced, using the legendary engine that was to feature in the E-type, albeit in lower twin carb 220bhp tune. But the car did sport a desired limited slip differential plus the option of a higher-geared power steering system.

1962

Daimler V8 2.5 joins range. Interior is much more MkX like with its 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 improve high speed refinement along with new auto selector arrangement. A pointed MkX style steering boss for all models figures.

1965

Changes to the driveline affected all models. The Moss manual gearbox is 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 for cheaper Ambla but Daimler trim level survives largely intact and for 1967 receives a long awaited manual gearbox option.

1967

New 240/340 to replace the Mk2, identified by slimmer S-Type bumpers and 420 style hubcaps. Mechanically, the 240 is fitted with an E-typestyle cylinder head, twin 1.75 SUs plus a new distributor, and twin exhausts, raising the power by 11 per cent. 340 receives the superior E-type head while the Marles power steering is optional across the ranges.

Buying Tips

Lucky you if you buy one but how many lives are left in your cat?

General advice

If you’re thinking of buying a project with a view to doing most of 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. Front wings, for example, are nearly £2400 each new. All that wood and leather may be past it and replacing the lot professionally costs £7000+ if you want it to look better than new.

Body & Chassis

Mk2s rot for England. Scrutinise the ‘crow’s feet’; this is where the chassis legs, crossmember and radiator cowls all meet, it’s an area often bodged, as it’s complicated yet overlooked by buyers.

The Panhard rod mounting in the offside rear wheelarch tends to dissolve, with repairs very tricky. The rear spring hangers consist of three steel sections. Rot penetrates 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 dissolve pretty spectacularly, so look for a lot of old filler repairs. Focus your attention especially 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 rots, as do the door bottoms.

Engine

Make sure the engine doesn’t suffer from noisy timing chains or over silent valve clearances. A cherished engine can see out 300,000 miles, the key being 3000-mile oil changes. An alloy cylinder head means anti-freeze levels must be maintained; a new radiator every 5-10 years is pretty normal. 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. A full rebuild costs around £5000.

Expect an oil pressure of 40psi when cruising. Some quite heavy oil consumption is quite normal even on sound engines. Rear crankshaft oil seal leaks and engine usually needs a full rebuild to replace it.

The 3.8-litre unit differs, as it features cylinder liners and as a result, has an extra water gallery at the top of the block yet tends to run hotter. The Daimler V8 is a simple OHV unit and poses few problems other than overheating (and potentially head to warping) as it runs hotter than the SP250 sports car. Most also have an appetite for oil, with the earliest cars guzzling at the rate of 400 miles per pint.

Running gear

The Moss ’box fitted until late 1965 may be strong, but parts are now becoming scarce. Cars without power steering featured a Burman recirculating ball system, which is heavy, low-geared, but reliable. More troublesome is the power-assisted system on pre-1963 cars. Brake overhauls are expensive and handbrakes are notoriously ineffective and awkward to set up correctly, best leave this to a specialist.

What to pay…

Mk2 values may have stagnated of late, but this is good news for first timers and genuine Mk2s will always find buyers. True, concours 3.8s can still command £100K and genuine Coombs cars somewhat more, but general excellent examples may be had for half this with good ‘work in progress’ models yours for around £20K. As you’d expect, 3.8s are worth the most and can be priced there times that of a 2.4 with the 3.4 somewhere in-between. Daimlers are normally valued mid way between a 2.4 and 3.4, so there’s something for everybody. Best value has to be the later 240/340s which can be up to half the price of an equivalent earlier Mk2. Condition is paramount and why it’s better to own a cracking 240 than a mediocre Mk2, even if it’s a 3.8.

Here’s six of the best reasons to buy one

  • High owner satisfaction
  • Great specialist support
  • Always easy to sell
  • Good value 240/340s
  • Underrated Daimler alternative
  • Terrific social scene


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