Many manufacturers are credited with inventing the super saloon – shoehorning a seemingly oversized engine into a four-door family-sized car – and most of them seem to be German. But long before BMW Ms, RS Audis or Mercedes-AMGs arrived on the scene Jaguar was busy creating a dynasty of performance orientated saloons with its Mk1 and Mk2 models from the 1950s and 1960s. And what marvellous machines they were, personifying Sir William Lyons’ famous ‘Grace, Space, Pace’ advertising slogan.
The Mk1 – retrospectively named after the arrival of the Mk2 – made its debut in 1955 and while it was an excellent car it was the Mk2 that was launched in 1959 that’s garnered the greater following. Both cars were a breath of fresh air when they were introduced compared to the standard British offerings of the time and not only looked sharp and modern but in top spec guises were genuinely fast cars with the sort of performance that most saloons could only dream of.
The Mk2 was available with three different versions of the classic XK engine – a 120bhp 2.4, a 210bhp 3.4 and the most desirable, the 3.8 with 220bhp, effectively the same engine as the E-Type but with a brace of SU carburettors rather than the triple set up on the E-Type. The other main change over the Mk1 Jaguar was the adoption of a limited-slip differential for the 3.8 version of the Mk2 while all models received significantly larger windows, including a wrap around rear screen which made the interior feel significantly more light and airy.
The Mk2, and in particular the 3.8, was a huge hit with the public and would be used to good effect in saloon car racing, too. Its superb turn of speed made it popular with criminals and it was the archetypal getaway car that would accommodate burly robbers and their loot with ease. As it was back when it was new, the Jaguar 3.8 Mk2 is a superb classic buy today. It’s fast enough even by 21st century standards, is still a hoot to drive and can accommodate the whole family. It has a devoted following too and has a raft of specialist companies dedicated to keeping them on the road.
This particular example – a 3.8-litre with three-speed automatic gearbox – has spent the majority of its life in South Africa where it underwent an extensive restoration under the watchful eye of its enthusiast owner who was one of the leading lights of the Cape Jaguar Driver’s Club. The restoration took a number of years to complete and included a complete repaint, a mechanical rejuvenation along with an interior retrim.
The owner wanted it restored to his ideal specification and as a result several updates were undertaken including the fitment of modern air conditioning from a BMW 3 Series along with a modern power steering set up and reclining seats from the more luxurious Jaguar 420. The restoration of this Mk2 3.8 was obviously a real labour of love and took several years to complete and culminated in it winning the Pride of Ownership Class in the Cape Jaguar Driver’s Club Concours event.
The current owner bought it in 2015 and imported it back to the UK from South Africa. During the restoration the odometer was reset to zero and now reads just 1946 miles which shows it’s been used only sparingly since the extensive restoration was completed.
There isn’t an extensive paper trail to accompany this Jaguar Mk2 but there is a comprehensive photographic record of the car’s restoration. This is contained in an 80 page album that accompanies the car which shows the attention to detail that went into this build and illustrates the various updates that were carried out by the owner.
The Jaguar was MoT’d between 2015 and 2018 but doesn’t currently have an MoT – it’s exempt due to its age. There is a V5C in the owner’s name.
What really sets this Mk2 Jaguar apart from other models is the attention to detail that’s gone into the interior and it really looks the part. Perhaps not one for the ultimate originality buff, there’s no doubt that hours and hours of work has gone into creating a wonderful cockpit for this 3.8. Just about everything that could have been restored has been from the wooden dash and door cappings to the seats and the addition of a modern air conditioning system.
The wooden dash looks immaculate and contains refurbished instrumentation that all presents in excellent condition. The headlining is grey suede and is unmarked. In order to enhance the comfort of the Mk2 reclining seats from a Jaguar 420 were used and these were completely retrimmed in ‘Dusk Blue’ leather with the same leather being used for the rear seats and the door trim panels and part of the centre console. This also contains the air conditioning vents, located where the speaker panel would sit in a standard Mk2. The leather work appears to be of a very high standard and presents in virtually unmarked condition.
The interior brightwork is all in good condition and the finishing touch is a lovely wood-rimmed Moto Lita steering wheel. The blue Wilton carpet was fitted during the restoration and was laid over aluminium insulation. The boot presents well with a custom made black carpet.
The Mk2 Jaguar has a gloriously curvaceous body and this example looks absolutely resplendent in gunmetal silver having been resprayed back in South Africa. The paint has an excellent finish with a deep sheen to it and the panel gaps are generally uniform. The rear wheel spats have been replaced with replica Coombs items which are fibreglass.
All of the car’s brightwork is in excellent condition as are the light lenses and badging. Overall the car’s condition suggests its restoration was carried out to a very high standard and even several years after its completion it looks superb.
Within the car’s photographic restoration folder are images of the car’s underside during the restoration process prior to the suspension being fitted and from what we can see it remains in impressively solid condition. The Mk2 is fitted with a set of excellent wire wheels with Jaguar centre-lock spinners and these are fitted with a set of Federal Super Steel 657 185/80 R15 tyres.
During the car’s restoration in South Africa the vast majority of its components seem to have been refurbished and rebuilt and this includes the XK 3.8-litre straight-six. The front and rear axle assemblies, steering column and brakes were rebuilt and modern power steering and air conditioning was installed, both of which are believed to have been sourced from BMW.
Despite the non original additions the engine bay looks remarkably original and in excellent condition. The twin-SU carburettors are gleaming and the engine runs well while the car was manoeuvred for photography and it sounds glorious breathing through a custom made stainless steel exhaust with Powerflow exhaust boxes.
Judging by the photographic restoration images this Mk2’s refurbishment was hugely comprehensive and after this amount of work it should be a turn-key proposition for a new owner. Since the car has been in the UK it’s been fully serviced along with retuning the carburettors. It’s also benefitted from a new fuel pump and a new starter motor as well as some work on its steering arms.
While the Mk2 Jaguar wasn’t built in similar number to quintessentially British classics such as the Morris Minor or the Mini it seems to occupy a similar place in the hearts of classic car enthusiasts. It’s a glorious piece of design and still looks as glamorous today as it must have when it rolled out of the showroom over 50 years ago.
The intervening years might not have been kind to some examples but this 3.8 has been thoroughly revamped and restored from top to bottom and should provide many years of wonderful motoring in the coming decades. For modern tastes some classics are becoming hard work but with its upgrades such as air conditioning and power steering and a superb plush interior this is one classic that should put a smile on the face of its new owner on a daily basis.
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