JAGUAR MK2 REVIEW

Stylish and capable, the Mk2 is, without doubt, one of Jaguar’s finest models. We explain how you need to buy carefully...

Classic Jaguar Mk2 Review

Classic Jaguar Mk2 Review

A well-sorted and cherished Mk2 is an enjoyable car to drive and the very essence of a British sporting saloon. From the luxurious interior to the taut and confidence-inspiring handling, you are unlikely to be disappointed behind the wheel of a good example. 

There are some that find the 2.4-litre model a little underpowered, while others insist that the 3.4 is a touch sweeter than the 3.8. But whichever model you go for, you can be assured of an entertaining and enjoyable driving experience. 

On the road, the Mk2 retains a wonderful sense of civility and composure and it really is a classic that feels perfectly capable of long distance journeys with little effort. But it isn’t only about comfort – this is a Jaguar with a real sporting edge and enthusiastic use allows you to revel in the roar from the straight six. Stirring stuff indeed. 

Opt for an automatic model with power steering and it handles nicely around town as well. 


VITAL STATISTICS

JAGUAR MK2

Engine                                    3781cc/6-cyl/DOHC

Power (bhp@rpm)                  220bhp@5500rpm

Torque (lb ft@rpm)                 240lb ft@3000rpm

Top speed                                125mph

0-60mph                                  8.5sec

Consumption                            17mpg

Gearbox                                    4-spd manual/4-spd auto opt.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS
 

The monocoque bodyshell is a complex potential rust trap, so proper checks are crucial. Key areas to look at are the floorpan, inner and outer sills, wheel arches, the bottom of the doors, and the wings. The latter are expensive to replace so don’t dismiss any early signs of rot. Pay close attention to the door alignment, which can reveal more serious problems with the shell. Spend plenty of time underneath the car, closely inspecting the box sections and legs of the chassis, the front crossmember (particularly the ‘crow’s feet’ at either end, which are connected to the front valance and cross member), the suspension mountings and jacking points, and also the spare wheel well.

ENGINE

The most popular power unit is the familiar 3.8-litre XK engine. Excessive smoke from the exhaust isn’t necessarily a sign of major problems as it can be caused by blockages in the filter and pipework of the breather system – check here first before assuming the worst. Leaks from the crankshaft’s rear oil seal are a common problem, while a rattle from the front of the engine could be a sign of impending timing chain replacement, which is a tricky and expensive job. That said, low oil pressure can affect the operation of the hydraulic tensioner, leading to poor adjustment; so ensure the oil pressure is healthy – around 50psi when cold, 40psi at normal operating temperature.

ELECTRICS

Secondhand parts can substantially reduce costs. A complete set of wood trim can be had for less than £2000, but could involve a lengthy search for the right parts. Check the electrics thoroughly 

as well and ensure all the dials are working. 
Many cars have been converted to an alternator set-up, so it’s worth checking for this to see if it has been done.

RUNNING GEAR

The Moss four-speed manual overdrive gearbox is a bit heavy and slow in operation but, apart from worn synchromesh, is otherwise reliable (the later full-synchro Jaguar ‘box is smoother). The overdrive unit itself is generally reliable and can be replaced without removing the gearbox. The Borg Warner Type 35 automatic lasts well with regular fluid changes. Replacing a worn clutch means the engine has to come out – not a cheap fix – so check it carefully on the test drive. A failed master or slave cylinder could be the cause of clutch problems, but you’ll want to be sure.

BRAKES

The suspension system on the Mk2 issimple. A knocking from the front of the car can indicate broken coil springs, while a change to coil springs at the rear is a practical upgrade, so see if this has been done on the car you are looking at. The ride should be comfortable but taut, so any sloppiness could mean that an overhaul is due. Replacing the springs, dampers and bushes isn’t particularly difficult, but the costs can soon mount.

Dunlop disc brakes were standard on the Mk2 and provide decent stopping power if everything is healthy. Brakes can seize on little-used examples, while a weak handbrake isn’t uncommon. A defective servo will be apparent on the test drive and a thorough check of brake lines for signs of corrosion is a sensible precaution. Replacement parts are reasonably priced, so a system in need of overhaul shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Check for movement in the steering column as this is evidence that the bushes need replacing. The fitment of power steering (a period option) is a popular modification and worth seeking out. If wire wheels are fitted, check for wear in the spokes and splines, as professional refurbishment can be costly.


OUR VERDICT

The Jaguar Mk2 – seemingly the vehicle of choice for bank robbers and fictional TV detectives – has to be one of the most popular classics around. And for good reason. With a superb blend of performance, entertaining handling, and luxury, there’s always demand for the Mk2 among classic car enthusiasts.

There are pitfalls to watch for, so choosing carefully is key when it comes to this wonderful car. Do that and you will end up owning one that is perhaps the true embodiment of Sir William Lyons’ maxim of ‘grace, space, and pace’. You’ll be able to enjoy superb performance from the comfort of a luxurious cabin – few cars having the feelgood factor of a well-sorted Mk2. 

There is a thriving owner’s club scene and plenty of specialists that can help keep your car in top-notch condition, while a plentiful parts supply is an added ownership bonus. Follow our advice and find a well-cared for example, and you’ll be ready to enjoy everything this fine British car has to offer.  

Securing a tidy example is perfectly possible with a careful approach. We’d advise steering clear of any in need of major restoration – those examples are cheap for a reason – and instead focus on finding a solid, rot-free car.

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