It may look like a sensible and sedate upper-class cruiser, but the 3.4-litre Jaguar Mark 2 can hit 60mph in sub-11 seconds, with the sort of chassis that may encourage mischief. Of course, mischief is something that goes hand-in-hand with the big cat, for better or worse; sure, this Coventry icon may have been developed with the express aim of fulfilling Sir William Lyons’ game-plan of ‘grace, pace and space’, but when you get down to brass tacks this is a cops ‘n’ robbers car. It has wisecracking bad behaviour interwoven through its very DNA. No wonder this chassis made for such a successful Touring Car racer. Those sober lines hide a lot of get-up-and-go.
The Mark 2 is such a popular entity on the classic scene that people often apply the name to the lesser-spotted Mark 1 as well – understandable, as they are very similar. The main differences are that the Mark 2 has a markedly larger glass area – including a wider windscreen, a more wraparound rear window and the signature D-shaped rear side windows – along with all-wheel disc brakes, a wider rear track, and a better heater. The little badge on the rear bumper warns drivers of lesser cars that the Jag is running discs and thus has superior stopping power – although if you’re close enough to read it, it’s probably already too late…
It’s not just a racy tearaway, however. The Mark 2 is usefully large, impressively luxurious, and offers a cosseting and thoroughly pleasant ride. With a beautiful design which has mellowed into one of the all-time greats, and pleasingly rugged mechanicals, this is a usable and satisfying classic – one to enjoy every day if the fancy takes you. Whether it makes you feel like a 1960s bank manager or like you’ve just done over a bookie’s depends entirely on the eagerness of your right foot.
It’s a story we hear time and time again from classic car owners and enthusiasts – the reason for buying it was down to formative exposure to such a car as a child, with the experience leaving a sufficiently seismic impact to ensure that the familiar phrase is imprinted in the subconscious: ‘one day, when I can afford it, I want to own one of those’.
For the owner of this Mark 2, that particular dream came true back in May 2008. The car had been subject to a thorough restoration, all documented photographically, and presented itself as a very usable and complete example of the breed.
Over the course of his ownership, he has kept the car active and gradually improved it as he went, with the most recent improvement being a full respray in its original Opalescent Dark Green.
Nowadays, however, the Jaguar isn’t getting used as much as it once was. With the paint job and associated works having taken a couple of years, the absence has led the owner to think that he’s had his fun with the Mark 2, and it’s time to move on to something else. So with everything fixed and attended to, it’s now time for a new keeper to enjoy the fruits of his labours.
There’s a very large and impressive file of documentation accompanying this car. As well as the original Operating, Maintenance and Service Manual in the glovebox, there’s a whole folder of paperwork to prove everything that’s been done to the Jag. Most significantly, we see an official Heritage Certificate, confirming that the car was built on 30th November 1962, sold by Lex Garage, and that the first owner was the National Provincial Bank Ltd, Bishopsgate. The V5 confirms that there have been six former keepers, and there are recent receipts documenting impressively deep-dive work: very recently the engine has had a full service, as well as the car receiving new diff oil and gearbox oil. It’s also had new gearbox mounts, Panhard rod bushes, rear light lenses, and assorted other items. An invoice from 2018 shows the car receiving a new alloy radiator and head gasket among much else. There’s also a sizeable sheaf of receipts and invoices detailing all of the work that’s been carried out for decades, as well as printed A4 photographs of the full restoration the car received in the mid-2000s. The only notable omission from the paperwork is a receipt for the recent two-and-a-half year body resto and repaint – the reason for this is that the man who carried out the work is suffering ill health and unable to complete the paperwork; the owner has his details, of course, so everything can be traced back to source.
The interior of a Mark 2 Jaguar is a wonderful place to be, and this one is no exception. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that this is exactly how you’d want a Mark 2 to be presented: the original leather seats are showing a little patination, but as the old saying goes ‘they’re only original once’. It would be easy to get them back to their former glory with a little feeding, but they look like they tell a lot of cheerful stories as they are. The rear picnic tables are present and operational, and all of the wood trim is in place. There’s a little very light lacquer peel to the dash top and door cappings, but no cracks or damage and very little warping, so it’d be extremely simple for a specialist to get it all tip-top. (Again, if such a thing were required – the patination on the pieces looks wholly appropriate and rather charming.) It’s worth noting that the wooden strips on the front doors beneath the cappings are a slightly darker wood, but once again this wouldn’t be hard for a specialist to match.
All of the doors secure as they should, the windows are operational, and all of the gauges work. The steering wheel is in very good condition, as are the carpets and headlining. The only non-standard element inside is a modern CD player and speakers, but these would be easy for a purist to delete if so required; as it stands, the setup helps the car be more day-to-day usable. (The unit you can see affixed to the inside of the windscreen on the passenger side is the radio aerial.) The car has also been fitted with seatbelts in this owner’s tenure.
In the boot, everything is solid and complete. There’s a spare wire wheel, complete with mallet for the spinners, and a lovely detail is the original period toolkit.
As you can see from the photographs, this really is a beautifully presented Jaguar. Indeed, as we were shooting the car, every single person who passed by stopped to remark upon how splendid it looked, bathed in sunlight by the Thames. And this beauty isn’t just skin-deep – the extensive restoration works this car has received mean that it’s incredibly straight and solid underneath, the underside of the car looks magnificent. The body is really rather special too, with the fresh paint shining like the proverbial new pin. There are one or two very minor rust bubbles beneath the paint on the bottom edge of the bootlid and on the slim rear panel to the right of the boot lock (the owner expresses his displeasure at this, having just been repainted!), but aside from this it all presents as faultless. The body panels all sit where they should with even gaps, and the doors close with pleasing surety. All of the glass and window seals are excellent, every correct piece of chrome is present, and the owner has carried out his own secret trick to restore the brightwork to a mirror shine while also retaining just a very gentle smidge of patination. The wing mirrors and taillights are new, the wire wheels are in excellent condition, and the tyres are correct-size Dunlop radials which have evidently seen very little use.
Mark 2 Jag mechanicals are pretty bulletproof, and it’s very reassuring to note that this venerable 3.4-litre unit was rebuilt in the mid-2000s, has enjoyed gentle miles since, and has recently received a full and thorough servicing. The engine bay is extremely tidy with no signs of leaks; the eagle-eyed will spot the new battery, along with the alloy radiator which was fitted two years ago. (The owner still has the original radiator, if the new keeper is a purist and wishes to have it re-cored.) The car starts on the first turn of the key, idles evenly, pulls strongly through the gears with no smoke, and makes the trademark Jaguar straight-six noises which so endear them to enthusiasts.
This car is equipped with the automatic transmission, and this has recently received new oil, as has the differential. The ’box shifts cleanly and smoothly, changing up and down when it should. A new wiring loom was fitted around ten years ago, due to the previous one having been incorrectly installed – so this is now all in tip-top working order. The owner reports no issues with the suspension or the steering, with everything working as it should, and the all-round disc brakes have recently had new discs and pads.
This is one of the all-time classic body profiles, there’s no doubt about that. For many enthusiasts, the Mark 2 Jaguar is the archetypal classic British car. But as an ownership proposition in 2020, it actually feels surprisingly modern. Naturally it has that classic 1960s feel when you’re surrounded by such period-perfect luxury, the large steering wheel marshalling the endearing body roll as you drink in the multi-sensory splendour of it all… but with disc brakes, power steering, and that automatic gearbox, this makes for a superb contemporary cruiser.
Forget all of that cops ‘n’ robbers bluster, this is a very civilised formula indeed. And with such care and attention to getting the condition and the specs absolutely spot on – and with it all provable with the paperwork – you’d struggle to find a better example of an auto 3.4 than this. ‘Grace, pace and space’ indeed.
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