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Motoring: Jaguar Mk II - 1959

In the mid-fifties Jaguar had reached a point in its history of selling only luxury and sports vehicles. The company also sold a great deal of its production in foreign markets. Jaguar needed to cement a stronger position by producing a car that could be sold at home and to a larger market. Thus, the Jaguar MK I was introduced at the 1955 Motor Show. The vehicle was designed to fill their product gap and to appeal to the home market. This Jaguar was of monococoque construction which in itself was new for the company.

The Jaguar MK 2 replaced the Mk 1 in 1959. Adhering to William Lyons' maxim of "grace, pace and space", the Mark 2 was a beautiful, fast and capable saloon car. It came with either a 2.4 L, 3.4 L or 3.8 L Jaguar XK6 engine. The 3.8 is similar to the unit used in the 3.8 E-Type (XKE), having a different inlet manifold and carburation (two SUs versus three on the XKE in Europe) and therefore 30 hp less than the similar 3.8 unit used in the E-Type (XKE). The head of the six cylinder engine in the E-Type was significantly different with its "straight port" layout as opposed to the slightly curved ports of the MK2. The 2.4 was fitted with twin Solexes, of which three were used in US spec 3.4s and 3.8s in order to meet SMOG emissions legislation. As is often the case this did reduce performance over the equivalent SU carburetted examples.

The Daimler 2.5 litre engine was fitted to the Daimler 250 derivative (known as the Daimler 2.5-V8, then Daimler V8-250 in European Markets), having been transplanted from the Daimler SP250 (This was colloquially known as the Daimler Dart in European Markets although "Dart" was a trademark of Dodge and never officially used by Daimler or Jaguar). This aluminium alloy unit is lighter than the cast iron sixes, changing the handling; many say for the better.

The Mark 2 gained a reputation for transcending the borders of class and breeding in the 1960s, breaking down barriers in the name of good taste, owned by city bankers and bank robbers alike. The 3.8 specifically gained a reputation as a capable car for bank raids, being fast (over 200 bhp (149 kW) and 125mph (200km/h) in 1959), roomy enough for five adults and with a big boot. 1966 saw the leather seat covering replaced by 'high grade synthetic upholstry', and for the UK market the car lost its standard fog lamps. What it gained was a significant price reduction[1], as the sector became signifcantly more closely contested with the introduction of the Rover 2000 TC distinguighed by twin carbureters. The Jaguar Mark II was by now nearing the end of its production life.

After Daimler was bought by Jaguar in 1960, plans were put in place to replace the current 4 door passenger car line up with a new model, which became the XJ Series. In 1967, the Mark 2 became the 240 and 340, whilst the 3.8 litre engine was dropped; the later cars are identified by slim front and rear bumpers. It was raced successfully in the European Touring Car Championship, until the Ford Falcon convincingly outperformed it. Several other Jaguar variations were produced to fill a market gap between the 3.8S and the large MK X, including the S-Type and 420/420G. All these models ceased production on the introduction of the XJ-6 in 1969. Below left: Jaguar Mk X. Below right: Jaguar 420G

Jaguar 420G

Jaguar Mk X

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