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Jaguar Mk. 2

Cool For Cats Published: 3rd May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 3.8 manual/overdrive
  • Worst model: 2.4 automatic
  • Budget buy: 240 manual
  • OK for unleaded?: Generally yes if driven sensibly
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4591 x W1695
  • Spares situation: Excellent if pricey
  • DIY ease?: Yes but engine very heavy to remove
  • Club support: As good as you will fi nd anywhere
  • Appreciating asset?: Naturally and always will be
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Yes, if you get a good one
What Jags are all aabout but rattly interiors can cost a fortune to bring to this standard What Jags are all aabout but rattly interiors can cost a fortune to bring to this standard
XK unit can be maintained at home and parts supply is no problem XK unit can be maintained at home and parts supply is no problem
Chrome domes are for very neat towbar fi tting Chrome domes are for very neat towbar fi tting
Tin lids usually but wire wheels are popular add ons Tin lids usually but wire wheels are popular add ons
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Still one of the most desired saloons ever made and the stuff that classic dreams are made of, but is it time to get real with a Mk2 Jag?

Pros & Cons

Style, speed, image, club support, spares availability, collectable status, dream fulfi lled
Expensive to buy and restore, few bargains left now, many tart ups, sluggish 2.4
£3000 - £60,000 +

Ever since the classic car movement was founded back in the early 1970s the Mk2 has been at its forefront, despite being discontinued only fi ve years earlier. Today, three decades on, and it’s no surprise to learn that this Jaguar is still as coveted as ever and - despite soaring values - is the classic most of us aspire to at some point in our motoring lives. Our advice is don’t delay or dither any longer as prices won’t fall. Plus if you take a more left fi eld model, such as a late run 240/340 or the statelier Daimler, you can still snap up the last of the bargain Mk2s and get just as much owner satisfaction from these Coventry cats as if you were behind the wheel of a 3.8 MOD. What makes the Mk2 so special? It’s simple - the car was Jaguar at its very best and there will never be another cat quite like it.

History

The Mk2 of 1959 was a logical development to the original sports saloon, which then became known as the Mk1. While the shell was basically the same, clever refreshing by William Lyons with a broader grille, re-contoured rear end and more glass area modernised the looks, which still delight to this day. Inside the instruments were sited in front of the driver, there were new seats (with those famous picnic tables), a better heater (well, sort of) and a raft of other improvements. Mechanically, the biggest change was to the rear suspension where a wider track went a long way to counter the skittish behaviour of the original while it’s often forgotten that the front end used re-angled wishbones at the same time to further tighten handling. The 2.4 and 3.4 models were quickly joined in 1960 with the now iconic 3.8-litre model, using the legendary engine that was to soon feature in the E-Type, albeit in lower 220bhp tune for the saloon. But the car did have a limited slip diff plus the option of a higher-geared power steering system.

The Daimler V8 2.5 of 1962 was the resultant child from a marriage of convenience after Jaguar acquired Daimler. That truly wonderful 2.5 litre V8 first seen in the ‘Dart’ sports car was slotted between the 2.4 and 3.4. It seemed made for the Jag and its 140bhp was 20bhp to the good of the sluggish 2.4. Coupled with standard automatic transmission it was priced the same as the fl agship 3.8 Mk2 automatic, which greatly hindered sales. Apart from an improved Jaguar gearbox replacing the old slow Moss unit in ’65 (signified by the rounded gear knob), the Mk2 remained largely static during the 1960s before being significantly downgraded during 1966, just before Jaguar merged with British Leyland. Oh dear… This resulted in the ditching of the standard leather trim for cheaper Ambla (an upper crust PVC!), making those fl ush mounted fog lamps optional (now replaced by ugly mesh grilles) and dumping the old traditional Windtone horns. Worse, it seemed, was to come. With the open secret XJ6 delayed until 1968 Jaguar took the step of down-marketing the Mk2 in late 1967 and saw the entry model 2.4 as the key to saving this now fast ageing range.

Introduced in September 1967 the 240 (and the 340) were identifi ed by their slimmer S-Type bumpers and 420 style hubcaps along with modernised badging. Inside, the already cheapened interior was further cost cut by deleting those legendary picnic tables (never featuring on the Daimler, strangely) fitted to the front seat backs, although the wood trim – thankfully – remained. But the 240 was at least duly compensated for such belt tightening because out went the old restrictive B-Type cylinder head and Solex carbs, in favour of the 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 the power of the 2483cc engine by 11 per cent, from 120bhp to a healthier 133bhp, with torque slightly improved, now up to 146lb.ft albeit produced at a heady 3700rpm against the earlier tune’s lustier 3000rpm. Although it was kept quiet, the 340 also received the superior E-Type straight port cylinder head while the Marles power steering – hitherto only an extra on the 3.8 - became optional at long last. The Daimler was cheapened with slimmer bumpers and detailed trim changes such as a padded dash top and side trims. It was also rebadged the V8 250, although it largely escaped the penny pinching that sullied the Mk2. But penny pinching or not, you couldn’t knock the value of the new range. The 240 was pitched at £1364 - just £20 more than the original 2.4 of 1956, for instance. The Mk2’s stay of execution didn’t last long however. The 340 was dropped almost as soon as the XJ6 hit the showrooms while the 240 bowed out the following April. The V8 250 actually survived until July 1970, replaced by the XJ6-derived Sovereign. Not as well built as its reputation and legend suggests, the last of the line Mk2s were much better screwed together than the ear lier mounts. Autocar in particular praised the new 240 in its ’67 test for its smoothness and said it was “better than most Jaguars tested over the years.” Praise indeed or not?

Driving

You may fantasize about owning and driving a Mk2, but wake up and smell the coffee. Sure, this Jag is a coveted classic and rightly so but it’s not the dream drive you may imagine, especially if you’ve been brought up on moderns. That’s more to do with the passing of time rather than any major deficiencies with the Jag, although to be honest the Mk2 wasn’t exactly groundbreaking even when new, either. Don’t be too disappointed if you discover that the handling feels woolly and the steering heavy and low geared, the gearchange surprisingly slow and cumbersome (especially the early Moss ‘box) and the all round disc brakes just about 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 genuinely and unashamedly is - a wonderfully nostalgic drive and experience.

One department where the Mk2 still puts up a good fight is performance. The 3.8 is GTi quick while the 3.4 is no slouch either, especially the 340 with its E-Type top end. A word about the 2.4; yes it does feel sluggish and a 0-60mph time of some seventeen seconds makes you understand why Jaguar never allowed this model out to the press for testing, but if you are more interested in genteel GT-ing then it’s acceptable, although the automatic ‘box does it no favours.

The later 240 has much more respectable performance over the original 2.4, so much so that you may have second thoughts over a more expensive 3.4 where that larger engine may still be swifter but not as smooth. Contemporary road tests had the 240 post 0-60mph times of under 13 seconds, which is pretty adequate enough for most classic enthusiasts who have grown out of boy racing. The $64,000 question is how does a V8 250 square up to the Mk2? Well, it’s all to do with character; the Jag is the more sporting drive while the Daimler is more suited to genteel jaunts even though the lighter V8 makes the car not so heavy and lumbering.

Again according to contemporary road tests at the time, the automatic Daimler was a shade faster than a manual 240, although on both of them economy isn’t a strong point at around 17-20mpg. This is about the same for the largerengined Jags, which is one reason why the V8 and the 2.4 were the fi rst to be given the miss. It’s a different story now because this pair represent the best value in Mk2s you can fi nd. For the majority of wannabe Mk2 owners, owning satisfaction comes from the cat’s ability to purr along and that splendid drawing room interior. Despite their age, a Mk2 is still a special place to travel in and with overdrive fi tted, any Mk2 can lope along at the legal limit with ease.

Prices

Your dad will tell you of the days when you could pick up a Mk2 for banger money and even when the classic car craze kicked in back in the early 1970s, a grand was a fair wedge to pay for one. Now the sky’s the limit and top concours winners can hit the £30-50 grand mark with ease, although more realistic prices are about half this for good, ready to use cars. At the other end of the scale you still see basket cases around the £3000 mark; the worry here is that these sheds won’t be the bargains they purport to be due to wallet wobbling restoration costs. Really it pays to buy the best you can with this Jaguar. For real value go for a 240/340. Traditionally these cut-price cats lag behind the more fashionable earlier Mk2 at similar levels the Daimler does; perhaps worth up to a third less, although prices for the latter and what was regarded as “the old man’s Mk2” are steadily closing on the Jag as an increasing number of enthusiasts appreciate what the V8 has to offer.

Improvements

The MK2 won the f i r st ever European Touring Car Championship back i n 1963 and is still a popular campaigner on the tracks. There’s fair scope for you to make them more suited to modern roads. On all models, start with improved cooling although Jags aren’t the overheaters they are made out to be. An uprated radiator with an electric cooling fan are worthy mods on any model. If the suspension and brakes are shot on your car, then poly bushing together with new dampers from Koni, Spax or Gaz are excellent upgrades while a donor 420 (S-Type) should be robbed of its superior three-pot brake callipers (or go to Classic Spares and buy straight fi t 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 fi tting triple carbs fouls the clutch cylinder so use 420 (2in SU) units instead. In terms of conventional tuning the Coombs spec is still the benchmark. Incidentally the 4.2 engine isn’t the straight swap you fi rst envisage. Manual/overdrives are fine for normal use or you can graft on either the Jag/Rover fi ve-speeder.

What To Look For

  • 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…
  • Naturally rust is the biggest problem with all Mk2s. 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 fi t for spares.
  • Check the inner sills, fl oorpan 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 gook prod about. Be suspicious of fresh underseal.
  • At the rear check the fl oor (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 fi breglass 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 engine is well known and usually durable. Wear points are rattley 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 traffi c.
  • Have engines been replaced with older units? All 1968 Jag Mk2s featured the new style XJ6 fi nned 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. As 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 ever need to come off.
  • The four-speed with optional overdrive (standard on the 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. Borg Warner Type 35 three-speed auto box is a lazy affair but very smooth (unlike the old DG ‘box fi tted to earlier cars) and long-lived. Inspect the fl uid: it should be clean and not smell ‘burnt’. If it does, then it suggests wear and ageing.
  • 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.
  • The good news is that apart from thermostat housings, virtually any mechanical part you could need is freely available from an army of specialists.
  • A mix 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. Classy Daimler-badged hubcaps (and the special wire wheel spinners) are much rarer fi nds than the Jag’s and remember that the 240/340 used plainer S-Type/420 tin lids and not the ‘eared’ earlier Jaguar types.
  • Plainer trim found on last Mk2s has its compensations. 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 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 V8 as merely a Daimlerengined 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 tool kit even featuring ‘Daimler’ embossed spanners…
  • There was a 380 produced, fi tted with a 340 head and featuring unique engine serial numbers incidentally, although offi cially only a dozen were ever made - identifi ed by subtle badging which comprised of the 340 badge with a small 3.8 insignia.
  • 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 to the Jag. 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.
  • 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 everything.

Three Of A Kind

Mercedes Fintail
Mercedes Fintail
Cultured saloon that’s as solid as a rock (although they are known rusters) and slowly rising in value. Four-cylinder models unrefi ned so go for a six pot. Prices are much cheaper than a Mk2 but are much rarer finds.
Rover P5
Rover P5
Popular with PMs, MPs and bigwigs in their day, the Rover P5 is as good as the Mk2 in many ways plus a lot roomier. V8 most fancied but ‘six’ is smoother and cheaper. Rust like mad and parts supply isn’t as good as Jaguar.
Jaguar S-Type
Jaguar S-Type
Perhaps the Mk2’s biggest rival is in-house with the S-Type, a classier saloon that’s more family friendly and - thanks to E-Type rear suspension - a better handler with a smoother ride. Lacks Mk2’s charisma.

Verdict

Mk2s are the stuff legends are made of and we’d be the last to put you off buying one. You may fi nd that the reality doesn’t quite live up to the dream, but you won’t be disappointed either. Where you may feel defl ated is the price to pay for a really good example, but there again restoring one on a shoestring will rarely work either. Quite simply the Mk2 is a lovely classic car and people will tell you so every time you are out in yours - us included!



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