Classic Jaguar Mk2
1959 - 1969
A classic Jaguar Mk2 is pure class. Nothing more to say really!
- Straight six engine
- Classic Jaguar lines
- Style and class
- Uncomplicated mechanicals
- Starter button. That starter button!
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The 1960s classic Jaguar Mk2 not only defined an era of British classic cars, but when it was launched it broke the mould by creating its very own class of classic cars, the sports saloon. Therefore, Sir William Lyons, Head of Jaguar Cars at the time, was 60 years ahead of “hands, face and space’ when he craftily coined the slogan, “grace, pace and space”. This means that Lyons was clearly an early example of what we now call an ‘influencer’ and he certainly nailed it with the Jaguar Mk2.
As a result, no other classic car came close at the time or has since, in our view. It is no surprise it is one of the most popular cars on the classic car scene. In this buyer guide, we will convince you to get one.
Classic Jaguar Mk2 Sports Saloon
Look back into the 1960s – you could buy a grand tourer, a saloon or a sports car. The classic Jaguar Mk2 erupted on to the scene in 1959, and changed all that overnight. With the classic Jaguar Mk2 ‘sports saloon’ you could now have the best of all worlds.
The Mk2 was only the second Jaguar to be built as a monocoque design. It was a bold move. When the first classic Jaguar Mk2s rolled off the production line they came fitted with the 2.4 litre magical XK straight six engine. That 2.4 litre was later joined by a 3.4 litre and then the famous 3.8 litre. Give or take, the mechanicals remained largely the same across all models.
The monocoque design was a departure for Jaguar, in fact for all manufactures at that time. We do have a large soft spot for the Mk2, but if the classic Jaguar Mk2 has an Achilles heel it is probably the body. Back then, it was ground breaking development. Today it is seen as, ahem, a challenge!
Buying a Classic Jaguar Mk2
Like every other classic car of its time, the classic Jaguar Mk2 does suffer a little after close encounters with the British climate. But don’t let any consequences of that be a reason for not owning one of these delightful classics. Just ensure you have a thorough check around before buying. Equally, don’t let anxiety of what ‘might be’ turn you off. What might look to the untrained eye as a tonne of aggro may be a very simple fix.. Repair sections are very good value and there are now a huge number of brilliant specialists who will quote you a great price to fit them if you don’t fancy the option of having a go yourself. Many people do, because the Jaguar Mk2 really isn’t that difficult to mend. If you’re not sure, give us a shout and we’ll go in to much deeper detail on what to check and where. It’s what we do.
Jaguar Mk2 Engines
What about those classic six cylinder engines? Let us clear up a misconception or two. There is nothing wrong with the 2.4 litre engine, it is brilliant – and the 3.8 litre, commonly thought of as ‘the best’ isn’t. There. Boom. We’ve said it! Don’t judge us, okay.
The 2.4 straight six really is a lovely engine. In fine fettle it is good for 120 horses of pulling power and boy can it gallop. You’ll have no problem keeping up with modern traffic, and what’s more, you can have a little bit of fun at the traffic light Grand Prix if you’re that way inclined. The classic Jaguar Mk2 in 2.4 litre will take other cars by surprise. Under no circumstances should you dismiss the 2.4 straight six. Enough has been written about the classic 3.8 litre fitted in the Jaguar Mk2 to sink a battle ship. Ask Google about it and you’ll discover details about how long your conrod is and how much your balance shaft weighs. We’re not that fussed if we’re honest. It looks great, sounds great and my goodness it goes great too. Probably good for 200bhp plus. Does it deserve the moniker of ‘best’. In our view that goes to the Jaguar Mk2 3.4 litre. It’s throatier than the 2.4, a little smoother, if that were possible, and you won’t pay a premium for having the 3.8 badge on the back. All the engines in the classic Jaguar Mk2 are good. Do not be put off buying one because it doesn’t have the ‘right’ engine.
The Jaguar Mk2 Mechanicals
We’ll try not to bang on too much about the running gear and brakes and mechanicals. All the classic Jaguar Mk2s drive splendidly. Jaguar got it right and all the mechanicals have stood the test of time. Clutches on manual cars can sometimes be bit heavy, comparative to a modern car. You’ve probably heard the handbrake is a bit naff, but it is a pretty unsophisticated if faffy fix. The disc brakes are good, even by today’s standards. Bushes and pins and widgets need replacing, but hey, this is a 50-year-old car. Most of the fettling needed is doable in your own garage with some time, patience and help from Dr. Google. In fact, don’t use Google, ring one of us, and we’ll put you in touch with one of our contacts in the owners’ club.
Classic Jaguar Mk2 Interiors
The interior in the Mk2 is on another level. A classic interior for a classic Jaguar. The sumptuous leather seats, the burr walnut dash, the splendid clocks, the timeless dials, the classic steering wheel, the peerless driving position, the all-round view…the enjoyment is never ending. And there’s the starter button. Every time you press it, you’ll grin, we guarantee.
Back to planet Earth for a mo. The leather on some classic Mk2s can give the impression of being a bit tired at first glance. Sometimes a natural leather treatment, time and elbow grease can transform that. The wood also can look slightly unappealing if it’s not been cherished. This is another job that can be tackled by someone who knows the right end of a screwdriver. You don’t need to be an expert to do it. The best news is there are so many really good value, good quality specialists who can refurb wood for you once you have it out, if it really, really is that bad. That lush carpet can also be done by a handy, patient DIY-er if it needs attention and they come in sections and are very affordable.
Classic Jaguar 240, 250 and 340
We’ll say a couple of words about the classic Jaguar 240 and the 340 and the 250 (not strictly a Jaguar).
Basically, the classic Jaguar 240 & 340 are 2.4 litre and 3.4 litre with different names. Simple as that. Jaguar cars intended the XJ6 to replace the classic Mk2 at the end of the 60s. Jaguar overrun, of course they did, this was Jaguar, gawd bless ‘em, in the 60s. To give the Jaguar Mk2 a bit longer in the market, Jaguar rebadged the 2.4 and 3.4 and called them 240 and 340 respectively. They are still every bit the classic Jaguar Mk2. Every single bit. Experts will tell Jaguar replaced the leather with ‘Ambla”, we don’t even know what that is. Additionally, they’ll talk about the front lights being replaced by grilles and trim being cut down by half an inch and…look, we’re not going to bang on. The 240 and 340 are lovely cars. End of.
The 250 is a different beast. A lovely beast, but different. Essentially, still a classic Mk2. In looks definitely a classic Mk2. For some reason best known to the Jaguar marketing boffins, they decided in the mid-sixties to market the brilliant successful Mk2 as a Daimler 250. Maybe because too many villains were charging about in Jaaaags, and the hoi polloi wanted a Jaguar Mk2 shaped Daimler. Who knows, who cares. Jaguar swapped the marvellous XK straight six for a glorious 2.5 litre 150bhp V8. Apart from the engine, badge and some trim, it was a classic Jaguar Mk2. The Daimler 250 is massively underrated and under-valued, don’t be out off by anyone buying one, it’s a top car.
What a classic car the Jaguar Mk2 was, and remains today. Compared to everything else at the time, it was like a rocket ship, easily capable of 125mph in its Jaguar Mk2 3.8 form.
Climb in and your senses will be invaded. The smell, the light, the space, the reassuring sound of the door closing with a clunk beside you. Then press ‘that’ button and listen to the double overhead cam XK engine purr at the front with a lustful exit through the exhaust at the rear. Then, once you’ve stopped grinning and do pull away, the classic Jaguar Mk2 feels like a special place to be. Extend your right ankle towards the floor and the reward is delightful change in tone from the XK engine as the SU’s squirt fuel into the innards of the classic XK and everything comes alive. Any Jaguar Mk2 will hit 60+ with surprising ease.
The balance of the car is terrific and as a result, if you’re not careful, you’ll be slinging it into corners like Jack Regan is chasing you. By far and away the best way to enjoy the marvellous Jaguar Mk2 is to tickle it along listening to that engine note and appreciating the time you have with it and family and friends. Whether it’s a weekend away, a trip to the Goodwood Revival or punt down the pub with four pals on board, the Jaguar Mk2 does not disappoint. It is close to being the perfect classic car. We think it is definitely one of Jaguar cars' finest.