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SS Jaguar 1.5-litre saloon and drophead coupe (1936 - 1951)

Source material from Honest John Classics, Wikipedia,, Classic and Sports Car and Autopedia

Body and interior pictures from: Classic and Sportscar Centre

Engine pic: As shown

Production: 13,046


In the pre-war Swallow Sidecar and SS era, the company cut its teeth building increasingly desirable sports cars and saloons.

A new saloon for 1936 was the first to be called SS Jaguar. It was introduced on 24 September 1935 at a trade luncheon in the Mayfair Hotel in London. Company head William Lyons had asked his secretary for a list of animal and bird names out of the dictionary, and he chose Jaguar as the name for his new model. At this time it was only the name of the model, rather than the company.

This smallest one of the range, built on a 108" wheelbase rather than its sister's 119" version, originally featured a 1608 cc, side valve, Standard 12 engine but from 1938 this was replaced by a 1776 cc, overhead valve, Standard 14 unit. That company also supplied the four-speed manual transmission. Available pre-war as a saloon or drophead coupé, only the closed model was made afterward.

Quick enough to justify its upmarket styling, despite its modest engine, the 1.5 Litre (or MkIV as it was later known) returned after hostilities had ceased to become one of Britain's first new post-war cars. As with many late 1930s and early 1940s cars, it didn’t look terribly advanced, but in the Jaguar's case, was still highly desirable.

Up to 1938 body construction was by the traditional steel on wood method but in that year it changed to all steel. The car featured the same cabin dimensions and well-appointed interior as its larger-engined brothers.

Its new 112.5-inch frame had sliding trunnions rather than conventional shackles and the Bendix brakes had been replaced by Girling units. More importantly, that four door saloon looked so much more modern than the SSII, and the simplified radiator and stylish lines set the SS tone for the rest of the decade. Performance was not a strong point: Underpowered and overbodied, it was still good for 70 mph (112 km/h), a lot better than many other 1½-litre saloons.

Despite lacking out-and-out performance, a report of the time, comparing the four-cylinder 1½-litre with its six-cylinder siblings, opined that the smallest-engined version of the car was "as is often the case, the sweetest running car" with a "big car cruising gait in the sixties".

While by 1938 the bigger 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre models were using special Weslake-developed overhead valve heads, the 1.5-litre had switched to the Standard Fourteen 1776 c.c. engine with Standard-produced o.h.v. This engine went on to power post-war Triumph Roadster and Renown models as well as the what was by then Jaguar 1.5-litre.

This early small SS Jaguar can be recognised by the spare-wheel cover, the top of which is higher than the level of the bonnet. It easily outsold all the other models in the pre-war range. 

Production resumed on all three Saloon models with the end of war production work, with no major changes to the cars. The SS hexagon logos on grille, bumpers, wheel hubs and engine blocks were changed to read Jaguar within an elongated hexagon. Model names were simply the engine sizes, 1-1/2 Litre, 2-1/2 Litre and 3-1/2 Litre. Drop Head Coupe production was resumed near the end of 1947.

Post-war cars came to be known by enthusiasts as Mark IV after the next model, the Mark V, was introduced in September 1948.

Development Changes:

Wheelbases were increased to 120" and 112.5" for the 1938 model year and the 1.5 litre was given a larger more advanced OHV engine.

Initially a single side-mounted spare tyre was provided, but this was later moved to below the luggage compartment.

Bodies were initially made by coachbuilding methods; aluminium panels over an ash wood frame. For 1938 the bodies were all steel construction.

The company name was changed in March 1945 to Jaguar Cars, Ltd

Styles and Major Options:

All three models were offered in four door saloon and two door Drop Head Coupe body styles. A number of chassis were sent to various coachbuilders in the UK and Switzerland for special custom (bespoke) bodies.

A heater for the passenger compartment became available for the 1940 model year.

Fuel economy

1936-37 1.5 Litre - 26 miles per Imperial gallon

1938-48 1.5 Litre - 25 miles per Imperial gallon


Brakes on all models were rod-operated mechanical units, originally from Bendix but later supplied by Girling .


Road testers of the period reported the cars to be reliable and good value for the money.

Warranty was for six months.


The cars were provided with safety features of the period such as dipping headlamps, semaphore trafficators and brake lights. Seat belts were unknown at the time.

Hybrid Models

During the war one car was tested with a coal gas propulsion system, anticipating a severe shortage of gasoline (petrol) in the UK.

Unique Attributes

Auto magazine writers of the period considered the SS Jaguars equal to Bentley in quality and good value for the money.


The cars featured leather upholstery and burled walnut instrument panel and door trimmings. Road testers of the period reported them to be very comfortable.


The cars were offered in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and most other former British possessions. Other markets included many European and African countries. SS Cars Ltd. was unable to make much headway in the USA in the 1930s due to someone else having trademarked the initials SS and thus being able to lay claim to all US sales of SS cars. After the war William Lyons himself took a leading hand in organising the US dealership network.

Design quirks and oddities

Only right hand drive was offered before the war. After the war, success in the USA induced the company to produce left hand drive cars. This entailed relocating the oil filter and air filter to provide clearance for a LHD steering column. Some cars had seven-inch sealed beam headlamps installed inside the 12-inch Lucas headlamp shells to comply with American preference.


New Eagle Lightweight GT

The sumptuous leather interior is hand-crafted in-house

Three twin-choke Webers deliver a racing car feel

16" racing wheels are specially manufactured for Eagle

The Lightweight's curves have been subtly enhanced

Eagle launches ultimate E-Type: the legendary Lightweight comprehensively re-engineered for the road

• The most comprehensively upgraded E-Type ever built

• 8,000 hours of craftsmanship

• Intoxicating blend of E-Type character with modern reliability, comfort and performance

East Sussex (UK) June 24th 2020 – The question ‘what’s the best an E-Type can be’ has been answered by Eagle, the world’s leading specialist in the legendary Jaguars. More than 35 years of E-Type experience has been focussed on the analysis of every component, identifying no compromise design improvements, followed by an 8,000 hour build to create the missing model in Jaguar’s E-Type evolution: a Lightweight, thoroughly reengineered to be enjoyed on the road.

Only 12 Lightweights were manufactured by Jaguar, introducing their most exotic E-Type for the 1963 season. Noisy, brutal, exhilarating and exhausting, these brilliant race cars were intoxicating on the track and visceral on the road. Six years earlier, Jaguar had re-equipped and retuned 16 of their legendary D-Type racers to create the XKSS: race car fast, yet with a level of comfort and refinement that allowed owners such as Steve McQueen to drive them every day. Until now, there has been no Lightweight E-Type equivalent.

“An Eagle E-Type is always an ultimate development of the model, with each variation created for a different type of driver,” explains Eagle founder Henry Pearman. “Three years ago, a customer asked us to create Eagle’s vision of Jaguar’s ultimate E-Type, the Lightweight. The result of that project is the Eagle Lightweight GT, rigorously developed and proven and now ready for further builds.”

The challenge for Pearman’s team was even greater than that of creating its three other E-Type Special Editions, the Speedster, Low Drag GT and Spyder GT. “The factory Lightweight was a stripped-out racer. We wanted to retain that special feel of a 60s competition car from an incredible era in British motorsport, but with the comfort, refinement and reliability that would make it an exhilarating daily driver or long-distance GT.”

The process begins with a 100 per cent strip-down of an original Series 1 E-Type. Every panel is replaced with lightweight aluminium of a modern grade more suited to road use than the thin, fragile material of the original Lightweights. Specialist craftsmen invest more than 2,500 hours forming the sensual curves, then fitting them to a tolerance many times more demanding than those specified by Jaguar’s Competition Department.

The famous Lightweight profile is faithfully recreated, with subtle enhancements to aerodynamics including a deeper rear ramp angle, deeper sills (which also increase chassis stiffness and allow the driver to sit lower, improving headroom and lowering the centre of gravity) and increased screen rake front and rear with bespoke glass. Wheel arch size has also been enlarged to accommodate 16” peg-drive magnesium alloy wheels, modelled on the original Dunlop racing wheels but wider, with a little more offset and one inch taller to allow more modern tyres.

The heart of the car is Eagle’s 4.7-litre evolution of the famous Jaguar XK straight six that was fitted not just to E-Types, but also to the C and D-Types that, in the 1950s, won an astonishing five outright victories at Le Mans. Factory Lightweights were specified with an aluminium block replacing the iron block of road cars, an upgrade replicated by Eagle. A bespoke crankshaft, pistons and con rods improve responsiveness and durability, while a wide-angle head, as specified for factory Lightweights, accommodates larger valves and a higher lift camshaft for improved breathing.

Peak power of 380 bhp arrives at 5,750 rpm, but the pleasure of this unit is the vast wave of torque: 375 lb ft at 4,000 rpm and a wonderfully flat curve that makes the Eagle Lightweight GT feel effortlessly fast, before an urgent, howling dash for the redline.

From hand-forming to 3D Printing

Ultra-lightweight magnesium alloys are specified for the gearbox case, bell housing, differential case, sump and rear hub carriers. The gearbox has been uprated to a carefully re-engineered, all synchromesh five speed unit, taking care to provide a perfect period feel to the change with no compromise in the position of the lever. There is no compromise allowed in the gearbox ratios either, as each one has been designed to ensure a seamless flow of torque that is ideally matched to the weight of the car and the characteristics of the engine.

Through extensive use of specialist lightweight materials including magnesium, Inconel and titanium, the Eagle Lightweight GT weighs just 1017 kg; not in stripped-out race configuration, but luxuriously specified and fully air conditioned for comfortable road use.

Comfortable road use also means resisting the temptation to give the Eagle Lightweight GT an exhaust note that shouts ‘race car’ or a track-focussed suspension calibration that too often makes such vehicles too harsh. “Far more challenging is to combine taught, sportscar dynamics with the ride quality and refinement of a world-class Grand Tourer,” explains technical director Paul Brace.

Working together with the seats and tyres, Eagle’s lightweight suspension, carefully specified geometry, spring rates, bushings and bespoke Ohlins adjustable dampers, ensures long distances can be completed in refreshing comfort.

That attention to detail is continued throughout the Eagle Lightweight GT in the most comprehensive review and enhancement of an E-Type ever undertaken, accomplished with great sensitivity to the original feel and aesthetic. Take the driving position as an example: The design of the floorpan, pedal mountings and the rear bulkhead have been tweaked to dramatically increase legroom in the E-Type’s notoriously cramped cabin while the seats are redesigned to improve safety, retention and long-term comfort. The remarkable attention to detail has even increased finger room around the seat adjusters, using the latest 3D printing techniques to create bespoke control levers.

Most of the revisions, like the gorgeous peg-drive magnesium alloy wheels and aluminium three-eared wheel spinner nuts, could be described as ultimate evolutions of the correct period technologies, but there are also carefully selected modern systems that have been discreetly integrated. Braking is by four piston, servo assisted vented discs, a subtly integrated electrical distribution panel increases safety and reliability and the extreme cabin heat of the original is solved by modern thermal barrier materials and the careful integration of a discreet air conditioning system; designed in-house to eliminate the compromises that would be inevitable with a bought-in design.

Pearman says the Lightweight GT is a classic supercar that fuses the character and charm of the original Jaguar E-Type with the intoxicating thrills of a 1963 factory Lightweight, thoughtfully and comprehensively re-engineered to ensure the new owner enjoys every mile, every day. For enthusiasts wanting to wrap the intense flavours of ‘60s motorsport in the sumptuous, hand crafted comforts of a luxury GT, “this,” he states with confidence, “is as good as an E-Type can be.”

The Eagle E-Type range

The Lightweight GT joins Eagle’s three established E-Type ‘special editions’; the Speedster, Low Drag GT and Spyder GT. Just two ‘special edition’ E-Types will slip discreetly from their UK workshops each year, each one the product of more than 8,000 hours of skilled workmanship and 35 years of focussed, passionate, E-Type experience.

This brings the Eagle range to six, including the original steel-bodied Roadster and Coupe Eagle E-Types of which 48 have been completed since their introduction in 1994. In addition to the rigorous re-engineering of the original vehicle, customers can choose from more than 100 options, developed to ensure that every Eagle E-Type delivers a combination of character, performance, comfort and technology that is precisely tailored to the demands of its new owner.

Video here:

60 years; from then 'til now

Anniversary plaque

The final engine took a team of seven specialists 15 hours to finish

Caption? None needed

Bentley Turbo-R

After 61 years, Bentley's original V-8 drives into the sunset

By Mark J. McCourt, on Jun 5th, 2020

Pics by Bentley Newsroom

Bentley recently announced the end of production of its venerable, highly regarded "6¾-litre" V-8 engine, which it called the longest-serving V-8 design in continuous production history.

Replacing the silent, smooth Rolls-Royce/Bentley F-head inline-six that had been the parent company's sole postwar powerplant used in cars like the R-Type Continental, this L-Series eight-cylinder debuted in 1959 under the hood of the Bentley S2, as well as in the sister Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II. In that original application, the five main bearing, 90-degree, aluminum-intensive OHV engine displaced 6.2 liters ( via a 4.1 x 3.6-inch bore and stroke. It made an estimated 180 hp, although the British firm only noted its power and torque were "adequate," since actual figures might be deemed too vulgar for its refined clientele.

Spearheaded by senior engine designer Jack Phillips, the V-8 was designed to be at least 50 percent more powerful than the six it would replace, while retaining the inline engine's basic size and weight. It went from concept to running prototype in 18 months, and each example would be run-in and road-tested, some even stripped down so skilled inspectors could examine the components for wear.

The V-8 ended up weighing 30 pounds less than the straight-six it supplanted, and it would grow to its final 6¾-litre ( displacement in 1971, when the 3.6-inch stroke was increased to 3.9 inches. It would undergo several notable design changes to fit in different engine bays and to meet changing emissions regulations, not to mention increasing power. Always handcrafted in the Crewe plant, not machine-assembled like a mass-production V-8, it would retain the same configuration and bore spacing through its many decades.

In the 1980s, Bentley got its own version of the L-Series for 1982's Mulsanne Turbo. When a single Garrett AiResearch T04 turbo was fitted to this carbureted engine, it produced an estimated 298 hp and more than 450 lb-ft of torque, capable of propelling the 5,052-pound sedan to 60 mph in around 7 seconds, and on to 135 mph. This model would evolve into the fuel-injected, intercooled Bentley Turbo R, a bold statement of purpose and return to the high-performance roots of the stately automaker.

After Volkswagen's purchase of Bentley in 1998, this V-8 engine underwent further development, and the Mulsanne of 2010 featured fresh components in the forms of the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, and cylinder heads; variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation were also included on this new-millennium variant. Bentley quoted the Muslanne Speed's L-Series V-8 as making 530 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque—that said, for a time, to be the highest torque spec of any engine—along with 15 percent better fuel economy than its predecessor. This engine was claimed to produce 99 percent fewer harmful emissions than its forebear.

The automaker has constructed 36,000 L-Series V-8s over the last 61 years, with the final 6¾-litre engine—which took a team of seven specialists 15 hours to finish on June 2, 2020—going into the 30th, and final, Mulsanne 6.75 Edition by Mulliner.

Those final Mulsanne 6.75 Edition cars include numerous nods to the impressive lump under the bonnet, including badging, blueprint graphics, and a miniature version of the V-8 oil filler cap topping the ventilation "organ stops."

Peter Bosch, Bentley’s Member of the Board for Manufacturing, commented: “Our venerable 6¾-litre V-8 has powered the flagship Bentley for more than six decades, and so has earned its retirement. I am extremely proud of the generations of skilled craftspeople that have meticulously assembled every one of these engines by hand over the years.

"That this engine stood the test of time for so long is testament to the ingenious engineers who kept making the engine ever more powerful, refined and reliable. Now, we look forward to the future of Bentley, powered by our exceptional W-12, sporting 4.0-liter V-8 and of course our efficient V-6 Hybrid—the start of our journey to electrification.”

The XK-SS seldom found its way into professional road-test hands

Four-sight: Jaguar XKSS - the original

1) Jaguar XK-SS Road Test

By the auto editors of Consumer Guide

How vivid was the performance of the racer-for-the-road Jaguar XK-SS? The XK-SS seldom found its way into professional road-test hands, but Road & Track clocked one at 5.2 seconds, 0-60 and through the standing quarter-mile in 14.1 at a little over 100 mph.

That was despite considerable wheelspin due to the lack of a limited-slip differential, but another example tested by The Autocar pretty well confirmed those numbers.

The traditional 3.54:1 rear-end gearing of other Jaguar street cars was rather short for the XK-SS, so top speed was limited by the 5,800-rpm redline to 144 mph. In all, stupendous performance for the day -- for just about any day, in fact. But enjoying it took some commitment.

As the cockpit was basically identical to the D-Type's, accommodation was none too generous. The passenger side was especially cramped in foot room. In America, that passenger sat watching the oncoming traffic, because no XK-SS was built as a "left-hooker." The passenger also had to put up with heat beating through the aluminum cockpit side from the left-mounted exhaust system.

The driver had more fun, though it was fun of a demanding sort. While the engine retained much of the tractability for which the XK powerplant was long renowned, it did have racing cams, so its power was concentrated in the upper third of the rev band.

Also, because the D-Type engine had no specific flywheel, it responded vividly to the throttle. Both characteristics made smooth engagement of the abrupt multi-plate racing clutch all the harder.

There were other functional quirks that rendered the XK-SS a questionable proposition as a true dual-purpose vehicle. Some drivers familiar with the D-Type felt that the SS chassis flexed a little by comparison, because it didn't have the cockpit center brace.

Then there was that bulky exhaust system, which apparently was pretty noisy and probably not hard to scrape on a curb. Prolonged urban slogging risked running the battery down, because the generator (no alternators yet) was set up to need more than 2,000 engine rpm to charge.

When the time came to top up the huge rubber-bag gas tank, the same 44-gallon (U.S.) item that filled the shapely tail of the D-Type, it had better not be raining, because the top had to be dismantled to get at the racing-type fuel port.

On the good side, ride quality was described as surprisingly comfortable. The windshield seemed to work well, though it was something less than graceful to look at. And though the steering suffered some of the kickback over bumps characteristic to rack-and-pinion mechanisms, it was quite quick at 2.3 turns lock-to-lock on a 32-foot turning circle, yet pleasingly light.

There was a noticeable tendency to under steer that had been deliberately built into the D-Type for stability at LeMans, and which proved to work well on the highway. Yet whenever a corner seemed too tight, there was plenty of poke to get the tail out. The all-wheel disc brakes, of course, were fabulous.

Sixteen cars were built up from scratch -- more accurately, from incomplete D-Type chassis. Two more finished D-Types were converted to XK-SS specification, one apparently the very car that had finished second at LeMans 1954 and was later tested for Autosport by John Bolster. (On the other hand, several owners of cars originally built as XK-SSs subsequently converted them to D-Type spec.)

Then, overnight, production ended. Was such a super-sports concept too virile to be as popular as one might have expected? Perhaps, but we will never really know. On the night of February 12, 1957, only three weeks after the XK-SS had been formally introduced, the part of the Browns Lane factory where it was built caught fire. Several incomplete chassis and many parts were destroyed; more crippling, so were most of the jigs and tooling.

Thanks to enormous effort and dedication, production of normal cars was going again within days, but it just wasn't worth restarting the XK-SS line. So in a flash, Jaguar was out of the super-sports business, though perhaps that wasn't entirely bad. But there was a lot of obvious good in the basic idea of a sports car built on D-Type lines, and it was worth pursuing.

Next view after the break

2) 1956/1958 Jaguar XKSS

It began life as a D-Type but was later converted to SS spec at the factory

By John Lamm, Road & Track, Apr 29, 2011

Jaguar's D-Type was one of the landmark race cars of the 1950s. Not only was it beautiful, but it fulfilled Jaguar founder William Lyon's desire to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. D-Types won there in 1955, 1956 and 1957. That's only three of the D-Type's victories; many others came in the hands of private race teams.

In 1956, Jaguar suspended its factory racing efforts while 25 D-Types were still in inventory. Famed American racer Briggs Cunningham convinced Jaguar to add another 25 D-Types, the total of 50 meeting the Sports Car Club of America's rules to qualify for production sports car racing in the U.S.

The factory changed the model number of the cars from XKD to XKSS, the initials apparently standing for Super Sport. Externally, Jaguar added bumpers to protect the aluminum bodywork, a luggage rack for touring, turn signals, larger taillights and a full-width windshield. The distinctive D-Type headrest and fin were removed. For creature comfort, side windows and a folding top were devised, while the center divider between driver and passenger was removed and the rider got a proper door.

Basically unchanged were the technical specifications. XKSS customers received the same 250-bhp dry-sump 3.4-liter straight-6 engine that would move the Jaguar to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds on the way to its 149-mph top speed. Also retained for the XKSS were the rack-and-pinion steering and disc brakes used in the competition D-Type.

Jaguar unveiled the car at the New York Auto Show and orders were taken, customers anxious to get their street-legal D-Types. Work began converting the 25 remaining D-Types to XKSS specification, but then disaster struck. A fire at the Brown's Lane factory in February 1957 destroyed not just nine of the cars, but all the necessary jigs and tooling needed to build them.

The 16 remaining XKSS were delivered and remain icons among Jaguar aficionados; the group was even honored at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours. Most famous of their owners was Steve McQueen, who bought his XKSS in 1958 and twice almost lost his license driving the Jaguar. He sold the car...but so missed the XKSS that he bought it back.

In fact, there are 18 XKSSs. Two original D-Types were returned to Jaguar in 1958 to be converted to XKSS specs. One of those, XKD533, is the car in the Ralph Lauren collection. Being shown in Paris is something of a homecoming for XKD533, as it was first delivered in France in 1956.

Next: Steve McQueen's old car

3) The McQueen car

Words by David Lillywhite of

Steve McQueen loved cars and bikes. He loved fast cars and bikes still more. And of all his automotive loves, his XKSS was the greatest, to such an extent that he bought it twice. When McQueen’s fame began to build in the early 1950s, and his wealth followed suit, it wasn’t long before his long-suffering, oft-broken MG TC was replaced by faster, newer sports cars. First an Austin-Healey, then a Corvette were driven hard and fast around Los Angeles, until wife Neile Adams persuaded him to slow down a little and he settled for a Ford Fairlane – for a while.

It was never going to last though. In 1957 he bought a Siata 208, closely followed by Porsche 356 Speedster and Lotus XI. And then, in ’1958, he topped them all with this XKSS. It had been bought new in April ’1957 by James E Peterson of Altadena, California, who kept it for just a year; it’s often noted that Peterson ran the XKSS at San Fernando dragstrip in August of that year, setting fastest time of the day, but just as interesting is that Peterson was one of the small team behind the Riverside Raceway, which opened in September 1957, and went on to be used extensively by Hollywood in TV and film.

Anyway, Peterson sold the XKSS in 1958 to radio and TV personality Bill Leyden, who by that point was two years into fronting the game show It Could Be You, touted as ‘The man who will amaze you by what he knows about you’ (thanks to hidden ‘spies’ and researchers in the audience). He drove the XKSS regularly, parking it in a studio lot on Sunset Boulevard, which is where McQueen first spotted it. It wasn’t long before he began to pester Leyden.

Inevitably, it also wasn’t long before Leyden caved in, at which point McQueen turned his persuasion techniques onto Neile, who ended up having to hand over a cheque to Leyden for $5000. This was late 1958, and Steve McQueen was the excited owner of XKSS 713, previously XKD 569 in D-type form, supplied new painted cream with a red interior.

McQueen, though, preferred dark colours, and quickly sent the XKSS to be repainted in British Racing Green and retrimmed in black leather by renowned hot rodder Tony ‘The Loner’ Nancy in Sherman Oaks.

Soon he was roaring around LA in the newly painted XKSS, which he nicknamed the Green Rat, famously attracting the attentions of the traffic cops and apparently often outrunning them, to the point that the sheriff of the LAPD offered the prize of a steak dinner at Lawry’s in Beverly Hills to whichever of his men could catch McQueen. It’s reckoned that McQueen twice came close to losing his licence in his first year of XKSS ownership.

Another famous tale of McQueen and XKSS: he once tricked a patrolman into racing him and Neile to the hospital, claiming that Neile was in labour. Sure, she was pregnant, but only by six months, and once the patrolman had left he told the nurses ‘false alarm’ and headed home. Not that he got away with it entirely, of course… Neile was furious and didn’t speak to him for the rest of the day.

Google ‘McQueen XKSS’ and you’ll be rewarded with any number of images of the star and his car, including several of him dressed as a cowboy and toting a sawn-off rifle on the set of the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive. In some, his horse is even tied to the XKSS.

More evocatively, picture McQueen during the shooting of Love with the Proper Stranger, leaving his home on Solar Drive early each morning, blasting through the Los Angeles canyon roads to pick up co-star Natalie Wood for a pre-filming breakfast at the Old World Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.

But after all this, in 1967 McQueen decided to sell the XKSS, apparently in fear of finally losing his driving licence – though ordering a new Ferrari 275 GTB/4 might have had something to do with the decision, too.

Not that McQueen was letting going of it altogether, as far as he was concerned at least. This was a ‘sale of convenience’, as it was later referred to by lawyers, to the famous Harrah Collection in Reno, under the verbal agreement (according to McQueen) that the car would neither be driven by anyone nor sold.

But when McQueen asked to buy the car back, Harrah refused, and only after legal intervention did the sale finally go through, at a much higher price than he’d sold for, ten years before. This was February 1978; less than three years later, McQueen died from a heart attack aged 50 after undergoing surgery for cancer.

The XKSS was sold in 1984 to McQueen’s former neighbour Richard Freshman, who had it restored by Lynx; in 2000 Freshman sold it to the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA, where it’s been ever since, run regularly and occasionally let out for – as here – a return to McQueen’s ‘Castle’ house in Brentwood, or for Jay Leno to drive – as you’ll see after the break.

Jaguar XKSS: How do you top this?

4) Jay Leno drives McQueen’s XKSS

‘I’ll never be Steve McQueen but for one brief moment I can pretend…’

Well how exciting is this! Not only is this one of the most legendary cars of all time, but it belonged to Steve McQueen. When I first came to Hollywood in the ’70s I would see this car occasionally around town, and it was really exciting even then. It was an old race car but it wasn’t just any old race car, it was an XKSS, with all the stories, the legend, the fire, the whole deal, and only 16 of them in the world.

The first impression is it’s so much lighter than an XK120. The aluminium skin and all the aluminium in the motor means it’s very light, and it’s incredibly powerful and long-legged. When I pulled away I thought, ‘Oh, am I in third?’ But oh, no no, this thing is just geared for top speed. At 60 you’re barely over 2000rpm. This thing’s got a really high top speed, and it’s so stable at speed I’m stunned.

This is a car you could get in and drive to San Francisco and it wouldn’t be temperamental at all. Yet it’s a race car! It feels like a modern car… No, modern cars don’t even feel this good! It handles, and I’m astounded at how light the steering is and how light the front end is compared with XKEs and 120s and 140s and 150s. Back in the day you’d think they could have sold a million of these things. When you compare it with the other cars of the ’50s, sure Ferrari had the V12, but Porsche had, what, 90bhp? This has 250. It would give the Gullwing a run for its money.

This is one of those cars that you wait your whole life to drive and never think you can. Go and see this car in person; it will blow you away. It will be smaller than you thought, more compact than you thought, sexier than you thought. This has been the thrill of a lifetime. How do you top this?

Finally, if you really must know more about the re-creations, check this video. Set aside 47 minutes to view it.



E2A was entered in the 1960 LeMans 24 Hours race by the Cunningham Team

Jaguar E2A (1960)

By Daniel Vaughan,, Dec 2008

Pics supplied.

Specifications courtesy of

The 24 Hours of LeMans endurance sports car race has been held annually since 1923 in the town of LeMans, France. It is a race that tests reliability, stamina, speed and determination. Jaguar had competed at this arena on many occasions and, by the 1960s, had won top honours five times. Their gorgeous C-Type had won twice and the dynamic D-Type had won three times for the British company.

The factory team withdrew from racing at the close of the 1956 season. Within a six-year period, Jaguar had proven they were the best in four out of six attempts. For 1957, a privateer added another victory to the D-Type's resume. By 1958, rule changes for racing were imposed which included a displacement limit of three-litres. This immediately made the Jaguar D-Type unable to compete for the 1958 season. To qualify, several D-Types were given engines that complied with the new regulations, but the decrease in power failed to produce winning results for the legendary sports car.

With the factory team withdrawn from racing, the marque focused on turning their LeMans winning designs into road going vehicles to serve as replacements for the XK-series. The prototypes that followed borrowed heavily from the racing machines that had proven their worths on the race tracks.

The first attempt was dubbed the E1A. It was similar to its racing sibling but given a fully independent rear suspension instead of the live-axle setup. Mounted under the long and flowing bonnet was a straight-six version from the XK-Series. It had an aluminium monocoque chassis that was lightweight and strong, but expensive. A realistic road-going version, it was decided, would be constructed from steel.

It took an additional three years to create the next prototype, dubbed E2A after its chassis number. By February of 1960, the experimental department at Brown's Lane, Coventry, had completed the car. This future 'E-Type' had an independent rear suspension, contemporary tail-finned rear bodywork similar to the D-Type, and a one-piece bodywork.

Power was from an aluminium-block, fuel-injected, 3-litre six-cylinder engine. With the help of the Lucas fuel injection system, the engine produced nearly 300 horsepower. The aluminium body was painted in the Cunningham team racing colours of white with two parallel centreline stripes in dark blue.

E2A was entered in the 1960 LeMans 24 Hours race by the Cunningham Team. Its drivers were BRM Formula 1 team's ex-Ferrari star Dan Gurney and veteran multiple SCCA Champion Walt Hansgen. As the race began, E2A quickly proved it was fast, despite its heavy steel chassis. The car's attempts at glory were slowed when an injector pipe split. Repairs were made and the car returned to racing. The return was temporary; after six hours, E2A was retired from racing when its engine seized due to a failed head seal and burned piston.

After the race, E2A was given the D-Type 3.8-litre engine and sent to America for SCCA Competition. Its first North American race was at a minor event at Bridgehampton, Long Island. Fitted with narrow section Firestone tires, Walt Hansgen drove E2A to a convincing victory. Next on the racing schedule was the Road America '500' at Elkhart Lake road circuit in Wisconsin.

The car was not the fastest in the race. Dick Thompson, in his General Motors Stingray, lapped E2A on lap number 30. The Stingray later spun due to failed brakes and it was sidelined for the day. A Maserati had also lapped E2A, but the Jaguar had been given an advantage. An additional gas tank had been fitted in the trunk behind the spare wheel. It was now able to carry 46 gallons and required fewer fuel stops than most other cars.

As the sun began to set, only a 3-litre Ferrari driven by Augie Pabst was ahead of E2A. Rain began to fall and accidents began occurring. The distance between the Ferrari and the Jaguar began to close, but as the checkered flag fell, it was the Ferrari as the victor. Just twenty-one seconds behind was E2A, with six gallons of fuel remaining.

The next race on E2A's schedule was at the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside. The Cunningham team enlisted the services of the Formula 1 World Champion Jack Brabham.

Battling the finely tuned and lightweight specials, Brabham brought E2A to the finish line in 10th place. The next race, Laguna Seca Pacific Grand Prix, the Jaguar was given to Bruce McLaren to pilot. The car endured several small problems to finish in 12 place in one Heat and 17th in the other.

At the close of the season, E2A was sent back to the British Factory. The car's next task was to test the Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock braking system, or 'WSP' meaning 'Wheel Slide Protector.' This system could also be found on the 4WD Ferguson P99 Formula 1 car and the InterContinental single-seater.

The car was retired from racing and testing and a few months later, the production version of the E-Type was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show. E2A was put into storage. Several years later, its headrest fin was removed and it was painted in British Racing green paintwork. It was brought to the MIRA test track at Lindley where it did laps for no other purpose than to divert attention away from the XJ-13 mid-engined prototype.

After playing the role of decoy, the duties of the Jaguar E2A were done. Orders were given to scrap the car - to cut it up and dispose of it. This would have been the car's fate had it not been for Roger Woodley. His wife, Penny Griffiths, along with her father Guy, had assembled a collection of important Jaguars. Roger persuaded 'Lofty' England, then CEO of Jaguar Cars Ltd., to sell the car. An agreement was reached which included a strict understanding that it was not to be used competitively.

The car was repainted in its original Cunningham livery, its engine removed and sent to Roger. Later, a wide-angle head 3.8-litre engine with plate number 'E5028-10' was fitted. Subsequently, a correct all-aluminium fuel-injection 3.0-litre engine (no. EE1309-10) was obtained.

The car remained in single ownership for over four decades. In 2008, it was brought to the 'Quail Lodge, A Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia' presented by Bonham's Auctions. As would be expected, it was one of the highlights of the event. It is one of the most important Jaguars ever produced and it was piloted by four such all-time greats as Sir Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney and the SCCA's revered Walt Hansgen.

It was believed that bidding could plateau as high as $7 million for this magnificent car, but as the gavel fell for the third and final time, the lot had been sold for $4,957,000 inclusive of buyer's premium. Still a very impressive sale, E2A set a world record with the highest sale ever achieved by a Jaguar at auction.

More pics and specs in the slideshow that follows...

E1A: The E-type you probably never heard about

Jaguar E1A prototype

Introduction: This was the first of a few transitional prototypes between XK 150 and E-Type. Not many people actually saw it and it never reached production, with the result that very few photographs still exist. We did the best we could, but these are all we could find.

After the company's successes at Le Mans 24 Hours through the 1950s, Jaguar's defunct racing department was given the brief to use D-Type style construction to build a road-going sports car, replacing the XK150.

The first prototype (E1A) featured a monocoque design, Jaguar's fully independent rear suspension and the well proven "XK" engine. The car was used solely for factory testing and was never formally released to the public. The car was eventually scrapped by the factory. We gathered information from three sources, so there is some duplication. Please bear with us.

1) From Fandom: The Jaguar E1A is a concept car from 1957.

Following many of the same design principles as the D-Type, the E1A was Jaguar's first move towards the iconic E-Type. Devoid of headlights it was built using proven race car engineering which included an aluminium monocoque chassis and a shape that paid close attention to aerodynamics.

With this car, Jaguar was testing and implementing an independent rear suspension. Their hope was to have a competitive package available in 1959, but Sir William Lyons wanted to ensure superiority over all the competitors before Jaguar officially re-entered racing.

The E1A was primarily conceived under the direction of Bill Heynes and envisioned by Malcom Sayer who did preliminary calculations and drawings from models. The overall shape of E1A came from the D-Type, but it was nearly two feet longer. The hood didn't need a power bulge as seen on later cars because the 2.4-litre engine was quite compact. The car was very low and it had a rear tail that was wholly different from the production cars. The design wasn't too dissimilar from the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante which inspired Malcom Sayer.

Much of the body was riveted together from aluminium panels, with divot holes, that were crafted by Abbey Panels. While lightweight and rigid, this technique was typical of race cars and deemed too expensive for later production. Built for testing, the car was only fitted an XK-SS windscreen, no headlights and no soft-top.

Almost a year after the project began, E1A was tested by Peter Jennings of The Motor in May of 1958. During his test run, through 48 miles of country road, the car beat his record of 50 seconds with an Aston Martin. He later described it as a “potential world beater.” Not long after this report, Sir William Lyons approved production of the E-Type.

More after pic

2) From by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

Jaguar E1A XKE Prototype

Thus came step two toward the eventual Jaguar XKE. It was taken late that same year, 1957, when Jaguar's engineering department laid down an experimental chassis for a genuine road-going sports car, a project designated E1A.

Whether the "E" simply stood for "experimental" or had already been chosen for a new production model is not clear. The meaning of the "1" is clear, of course. The "A" signified "aluminium," or perhaps "alloy," the material of which both body and chassis were made. That implies Jaguar was already envisioning a later version of steel, which was more suitable for volume production.

Outwardly, the E1A prototype bore a strong resemblance both to the D-Type/XK-SS and to the clay-model roadster that Sayer had carved back in 1954. Structurally, it was very much a D-Type derivation, with a similar ovoid-section central monocoque tub and space-frame front structure.

As on the earliest D-Types, tub and tubing were welded together, with the front frame again being light alloy. But there were two departures from D-Type convention. Instead of a 3.4/3.8 engine, E1A carried the short-stroke XK six of Jaguar's then-new 2.4-litre compact sedan.

This was because the prototype was physically small; being shorter, narrower, lower and probably also lighter than the race cars that came before and the road model that was to come. Also, ElA had an experimental independent rear suspension instead of the D's live rear axle.

It's worth remembering that Jaguar engineers had been working with independent suspension since before World War II, beginning with William Heynes' early investigations. During the war years, the company had built two different prototypes for a lightweight military vehicle, both with independent suspension of all four wheels.

The XK 120 and Mark V sedan emerged in 1948 as the first production Jaguars with separately sprung front wheels. Later, during the D-Type program, some testing had been done with a de Dion rear end, which has some of the advantages of full independence. So the thought had long been in mind to bring Jaguar's road cars, both sports models and sedans, into the modern all-independent world.

Late 1957 was the time and E1A was the development vehicle. It was running by early 1958. And run it did, logging many thousands of hard miles on test tracks, race tracks, even public highways.

In fact, on one extraordinary occasion, Sir William Lyons handed the keys of the top-secret prototype over to a member of the automotive press - the editor of Motor, no less - who was to take the little light-green roadster along some favoured back-country roads in Wales and report back. He returned with words like "astonishing," "sensational," and "world-beater."

The scribe kept faith with Lyons and kept quiet about the car in public, but sent a "secret and confidential" memorandum to his boss in May 1958. Published many years later by Paul Skilleter in Jaguar Sports Cars, the note revealed this editor's understanding that the production sports car to come would be a 3.0-litre with an amazing output of 286 horsepower and a projected top speed "not very far short of 150 mph, which is going to make us think."

Jaguar was thinking of making 100 per week, he added, and said that the new model, which people around the factory were already referring to as "the XKE," was to go on sale in the autumn of 1958.

More after pic

3) From 1957 Jaguar E1A

Following many of the same design principles as the D-Type, E1A was Jaguar’s first move towards the iconic E-Type. Devoid of headlights it was built using proven race car engineering which included an aluminium monocoque and a shape that paid close attention to aerodynamics. Shop superintendent Phil Weaver said it was “a lovely little car, about a two-thirds scale model of the eventual E-Type with a 2.4-litre engine.”

In 1956 the Competition Department at Jaguar was renamed into the Prototype shop for the explicit purpose of developing the D-Type into a usable production and race car. Their first product known as E1A stood for E-Type car number 1 and the A reffered to its aluminium monocoque body.

With this car, Jaguar was testing and implementing an independent rear suspension. Their hope was to have a competitive package available in 1959, but Sir William Lyons wanted to ensure superiority over all the competitors before Jaguar officially re-entered racing. E1A was primarily conceived under the direction of Bill Heynes and envisioned by Malcom Sayer who did preliminary calculations and drawings from models. Cyril Crouch, Jaguar’s chief body engineer, said the C, D and E Types “were what we call fag packet jobs in that they were done in the shop and drawn afterward.”

The overall shape of E1A came from the D-Type, but it was nearly two feet longer. The hood didn’t need a power bulge as seen on later cars because the 2.4-litre engine was quite compact. The car was very low and it had a rear tail that wholly different from the production cars. The design wasn’t too dissimilar from the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante which inspired Malcom Sayer in a good way.

Much of the body was put together with rivets and aluminium panels, with divot holes, that were crafted by Abbey Panels. While lightweight and rigid, this technique was typical of race cars and deemed too expensive for later production. Built for testing, the car was only fitted an XK-SS windscreen, no headlights and no soft-top.

Almost a year after the project began, E1A was tested by Peter Jennings of The Motor in May of 1958. During his test run, through 48 miles of country road, the car beat his record of 50 seconds with an Aston Martin. He later described it as a “potential world beater.” Not long after this report, Sir William Lyons approved production of the E-Type.

In total three E-Type pop-rivet prototypes were manufactured before Cyril Crouch was given the task of drawing up the final shape in steel. One of these, E2A, was later converted into a full race car and taken to Le Mans.


1934 SS1 saloon: Equal parts sinister, sexy and sublime

Genesis of Jaguar - 1934 SS1 Saloon

We get behind the wheel of a restored gem of a 1934 SS1 Saloon

By Terry Shea from April 2013 issue of Hemmings Sports and Exotics

What is it about a long hood, low roof and a short trunk that just looks good in a car? Have we been trained to appreciate its proportions after witnessing an unending string of performance and GT cars for close to a century now, or is the human brain hardwired at conception with a hidden, third type of chromosome that just tells us so?

Whatever the case, the form makes for a visual delight. The 1934 SS1 Saloon pictured here represents the archetype, a cream and tan treasure that is equal parts sinister, sexy and sublime, a machine that is adorned with just enough panache without seeming even remotely overwrought. Startlingly low for a 1930s car that had to deal with the likes of, well, 1930s roads, the SS1 looks the part of a coachbuilt saloon, but it was an everyday offering from S.S. Cars Limited, the Foleshill, Coventry, concern of William Lyons and William Walmsley that would one day become Jaguar.

Although not blazingly fast, the SS1 debuted in 1932 as the car to have from the upstart maker with a history that started with building sidecars in the early 1920s before moving to coachbuilt car bodies later in the decade. Though the chassis was manufactured by the Standard Motor Company, it was custom designed for S.S.

Allegedly inspired by the rakish Cord L-29, Lyons penned the SS1 himself, but a lengthy hospital stay kept him away from the drawing board when the final design came down, a compromise that saw Walmsley call for a raised roof, which affected the car's proportions. Simple bicycle fenders adorned the front wheels. Beauty rarely emerges from compromise, and the 1932 SS1 was, at the very least, an ungainly compromise with its high roof, and not entirely the striking car Lyons had in mind.

None too happy at the changes, but resigned to the fact that the car needed to be finished, Lyons waited a year, until 1933, to make the car he wanted in the first place. He called for a new chassis--again supplied by Standard--that was wider and much lower than the first-year car. With an underslung rear axle, the car looked like it could scrape the pavement at any point. This allowed for the passengers to be seated much closer to the ground.

Lyons got his lower roof and added more sweeping front fenders that ran the length of the body to complete a look that still excites. The longer wheelbase gave rear-seat passengers some of the legroom they needed. In 1933, to go along with the Coupé, an open-top Tourer was added and, in 1934, the four-light Saloon, a machine that shared almost everything with the Coupé, instead with new glass rear windows in lieu of the Coupe's carriage top with false irons.

Under the hood, buyers had two options from Standard in 1934: the base 2,143cc straight-six, known by its government horsepower rating and called the 16hp; or, for a mere £5 extra, a larger, stroked 2,663cc 20hp version of the smaller mill. In reality, these engines made 53hp or 68hp, the latter enough to propel the 2,853-pound car to 75 MPH. An aluminum cylinder head was also new for 1934, though the block remained cast iron.

But if you are looking for some heritage with that engine, try this on for size: Both engines featured a 106mm stroke, a dimension that all subsequent SS and nearly all future Jaguar six-cylinder cars would use well into the 1980s. Most buyers were still financially cautious in the early 1930s, and more 16hp engines left the factory than did 20hp versions. Still, S.S. Cars Limited was selling a lot of car for the £340 they were asking for the fixed-roof Saloon. The SS1 was a runaway success.

One thing you did not get for your £340, though, was hydraulic brakes. Braking, thus, was one weak point in an otherwise strong package. Frequent adjustments to the mechanical brakes were--and still are--a regular part of SS1 ownership. Hector Castro, whose Denver, North Carolina-based company, HRC Jaguars, restored the example shown here, remarks, "They go out of adjustment real quick. They are the old mechanical brakes. In normal conditions, if you drive the car every day, you have to adjust the brakes every week. That was the standard, and typical of those cars."

Hector's restoration was as thorough as it gets, including removing all of the bodywork from its wooden frame and restoring both wood and metal as necessary. "The car was brought to the country in original condition in the 1960s," he says, "and then it got donated to a museum, so it remained pretty much original until this guy from Colorado bought the car. He had it partially restored, which kind of destroyed a little bit of the originality on the wood frame, the body and stuff like that. We had to completely redo that. It was complete, but the fenders, bumpers and stuff like that were modified, so we had to search for and redo those things.

"These cars were basically made by hand. There are a lot of wood pieces, so it's not really difficult to duplicate. Most of the panels are nailed to the wood. They're pretty much flat, so there are not too many stamped pieces. It makes it a little bit easier to do the work, but it still needs a tremendous amount of skill to figure it out. In this car, we replaced about 50 percent of the wood. The original metal panels were in good shape, so we were able to reuse them, clean them up, and nail them back to the body."

In addition to the structural woodwork, which Hector did himself, the restoration of the ornamental woodwork was sent to a specialist in England, who re-veneered and refinished it, delivering not only that spectacular dashboard, but also the signature sunburst patterns on the door that were part of the SS1. The flourish of these patterns is yet another example of the panache that the proto-Jaguar delivers.

Hector's restoration, which has garnered awards since debuting at Pebble Beach in 2011, included a complete overhaul of the mechanicals as well. Although the car remains largely original, a few liberties were taken with an eye toward reliability and usability. In lieu of the aluminum connecting rods, Hector chose steel units. The single-row timing chain was modified to a double-row system. New pistons came from a specialist in South Africa and the compression was set at around 7.0:1 on the 2,143cc engine, bumping power a bit to perhaps 60hp.

"They lost the original transmission," says Hector, "and they put in what was maybe a Mark VII or an XK120 Jaguar box, which are basically the same dimensions, but it wasn't original any more. So, we decided to put in a Toyota five-speed because it is a full synchro and you have overdrive on fifth gear, so it makes it a lot more driveable. And it's really not a butchered modification because everything fit real well. We still have the original clutch, pedals and linkage."

Sourced from a 1980s Toyota truck, the five-speed transmission fits well, meeting an original bell housing with an adapter and utilizing a driveshaft modified to fit the longer tail of the Japanese gearbox. "Since these cars never had a transmission support," Hector points out, "everything was just hanging from the engine. We didn't need to worry about the crossmembers or anything like that."

The rich and creamy Old English White paint, deep chrome and the smattering of fabricated-from-scratch parts like the door handles and the "S.S. One" grille badge all smack of a quality restoration. Given an opportunity to drive this restored gem, we jumped at the chance.


A dashing dose of style

We just didn't jump right into the car, though, because the big steering wheel is essentially vertical and very close to the seat, requiring you to figure out a way to slide under it to get into your seat. Contortions contorted, we noticed right away that the long, low and lithe SS1 seems improbably small on the inside compared to the length outside. That long hood does a remarkable job of hiding that seven-main-bearing engine, but there is additional length in the car that allows for an extra-long footwell that swallows up your legs and feet and narrows as you get closer to the pedals.

The steering wheel, complete with spark advance controls on the centre, is your connection to a nearly 80-year-old steering box, sloppy not because the steering was sloppy, but because it's 80 years old. The effort is relatively high, but not all that tough, as the relatively light SS1 with its skinny tires does not require it.

Fortunately, the Toyota gearbox shifts as you would expect a modern transmission to do. Essentially faultless, the transmission's role seems hidden from the other mechanical happenings, though the Bakelite knob on the long shift lever feels delicate to the touch.

Seeking a sweet spot in the engine, we find second and third gear the most reasonable to play with as we take to the streets of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, dodging gawkers downtown on our way to Old Salem for our early evening photo shoot. The car accelerates just fine with traffic in the somewhat urban stoplight-to-stoplight game, never hesitating to keep up, so long as you remember to get into the throttle a bit. That 60-horsepower engine makes you work for any speed you want out of it.

The mechanical brakes require effort. A hard push from your right leg and foot and they don't exactly bite, making it essential to plan far ahead for when you intend to stop. The brakes are a reminder that this car is a mechanical device. No one--or no assistive device, for that matter--is there to help you. Every effort of your input is yours and yours alone.

In addition to that mechanical honesty, the SS1 delivers a dashing dose of style that, say, an Austin Seven never can. They may call that Austin "cute," but they will never utter such a word about the SS1. There is a sense that you have arrived when you are behind the wheel of an SS1. And considering that the car also marked the arrival of the company that built it on a bigger stage, that feeling seems just about right.

1934 SS1 Viewpoint

To me, the special thing is that typically they are not a very good car to drive because they were pretty slow and underpowered, but with the modifications that we have done, the car really became a little bit more driveable. The whole project was just to be able to drive, to do a car that performs that well.

One of the things we did at Pebble Beach was to drive it on the tour they offer before the show. We entered the tour and drove the car along the Pacific Coast in California and that was probably the thrill of my life; it was wonderful. Just to be able to work on things like this and to be able to see them back on the road--that is a thrill for me, more than just putting it in a museum. I enjoy the way those cars drive and the way you feel when you drive them. --Hector Castro

What to Pay

1934 SS1 Saloon

Low - $60,000 Average - $90,000 High - $110,000

Pros & Cons

Pros - Sinister and sexy style - Runs and drives possibly better than new - Concours-quality restoration

Cons - Non-original transmission - Improved power, but still no speed demon - Needs better brakes

S.S. Cars 1934 SS1 Saloon Specifications


Type: Straight-six, cast-iron block, aluminum cylinder head

Displacement: 2,143cc (

Bore x stroke: 65.5mm x 106mm (2.58 in. x 4.17 in.)

Compression ratio: 6.2:1 (original; now: 7.0:1)

Horsepower @ RPM: 53 @ 3,800 (original; now: approx. 60hp)

Valvetrain: Side valves (L-head)

Main bearings: 7

Fuel system: Dual Solex single-barrel carburettors

Lubrication system: Full pressure with gear-driven pump

Electrical system: 12-volt

Exhaust system: Single


Type: Four-speed manual with synchromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th (original; now: Toyota five-speed manual with full synchromesh)

Ratios: 1st: 17.1 (overall) 2nd: 10.04 (overall) 3rd: 6.52 (overall) 4th: 4.75 (overall) Reverse: 17.1 (overall)


Type: Spiral bevel, banjo-type casing


Type: Marles Weller cam and lever

Turning circle: 38 feet


Type: Bendix Duo-Servo four-wheel, cable-operated, mechanical Front: 11-in. drums Rear: 11-in. drums


Construction: Steel frame with steel-on-wood body

Body style: Four-seat, two-door sedan

Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive


Front: Semi-elliptic springs 34.38 x 1.75 inches; Andre Hartford friction double scissor type shock absorbers

Rear: Semi-elliptic springs 42.13 x 1.75 inches; Andre Hartford friction double scissor type shock absorbers


Wheels: Rudge Whitworth centre-lock, wire-spoke wheels Front/Rear: 5 x 18 inches

Tyres: Dunlop bias-ply Front/Rear: 5.50 x 18 inches


Wheelbase: 119 inches

Overall length: 186 inches

Overall width: 65.5 inches

Overall height: 55 inches

Front track: 53 inches

Rear track: 53.6 inches

Curb weight: 2,853 pounds


Crankcase: 8 quarts

Cooling system: 16 quarts

Fuel tank: 12 gallons

Transmission: 2 pints

Rear axle: 3.5 pints


Hp per litre: 24.7

Weight per hp: 53.8 lbs.

Weight per cc: 1.33 lbs.


0-60 mph: 28 seconds 1/4 mile ET: 22.5 seconds @ 45 mph


Cost new: £340 (base MSRP)

PRODUCTION S.S. Cars built approximately 846 SS1 Saloons in 1934.

The E-Type was competitively priced

Mercedes SL R107

Maserati Ghibli

Alvis TE 21

Jensen Interceptor


Posted by Matt Bell, Classics World, on 23rd September 2019

The E-Type may have been a huge success for Jaguar, but when this iconic sports car was in its first flush of youth there were several alternatives to consider. We look at a selection of the E-Type’s major competitors then and now.

You’d need a decent win on the lottery these days to be able to afford a pristine E-Type, but when Jaguar took the covers off the nation’s most instantly recognisable sports car back in 1961 on March 15, a brand new 3.8 Series 1 fresh off the Brown’s Lane production line would have cost its first owner just over what now seems a ridiculously reasonable £2250.

This figure may seem like small beer today, but put into context the average house price back in 1961 was £2400, an office worker earned around £650 per annum and £800 would have been enough to put a brand new mass-produced saloon on the road. Over the years inflation has pushed these figures ever skywards and two and half grand at the start of the 1960s would now translate to a fraction over £32,500 in today’s money, enough to land a two-year old F-Type V6 coupé.

Not only was the E-Type probably one of best looking cars ever to emerge from Jaguar’s Brown’s Lane factory, the car was competitively priced when compared to the competition and cost just over half the price of a fully loaded and hand built Aston Martin DB4. Two years after the launch of the E-Type, Mercedes-Benz turned the screws on Jaguar with the introduction of the W113 Series SL. Now referred to as the Pagoda SL, the W113 may have been a little bit more affordable than a DB4 but it still cost a fist full of cash more to put on the road than a Series One E-Type.

Even more competition was to come from Stuttgart in 1963 when Porsche took the covers off the now legendary 911. Like the SL, the Porsche was another expensive alternative but reports of the 911’s wayward handling due to its flat six overhanging the rear wheels tended to put off conservative buyers preferring a traditional engine up front layout.

Mercedes kept the pressure on Jaguar throughout the 1960s with upgrades to the SL range and went on to challenge the launch of the V12 powered Series 3 E-Type in 1971 with the introduction of the 3.5 litre V8 equipped R107 SL350.

Offerings from Ferrari during the early 1960s, such as the 275GTB/GTS, along with the Maserati Quattroporte (1963) and Ghibli (1966), were only produced in relatively low numbers when compared to the E-Type’s impressive production run.

Many owners regarded a Ferrari as a temperamental road going racing car and like many of the E-Type’s expensive contemporaries, these Italian Stallions were hovering on the edge of super car territory along with even more costly Continental motoring exotica produced by the likes of Facel Vega, Lamborghini and Iso.

Back on home turf, in 1964 a coach-built Alvis TE21 was priced at a very reasonable £2775 but this long established marque lacked Jaguar’s impressive sporting pedigree. And when compared to the E-Type’s flowing lines the TE21’s upright styling and country house interior appeared dated. One home-grown marque that did manage to give the E-Type a good run for its money throughout the model’s 15 year production were two low volume coupés produced by Jensen, Jaguar’s close neighbour; the V8 powered CV8 (1963) and the 6.2 litre Interceptor (1966).

Once again, the E-Type scored top marks when it came to how much these two West Bromwich produced cars sold for and it was the same when the Jaguar was compared against the equally capable but very expensive Gordon Keeble GK1.

During the 1960’s TVR offered a couple of decent E-Type alternatives in the shape of the Grantura III (1962) and the V8 powered Griffith (1964). Although these two sports coupés were keenly priced, many buyers associated the marque with kit cars and opted for either a new or second-hand E-Type.

Jaguar’s policy of building highly desirable performance cars at affordable prices certainly paid off when it came to the E-Type. Jaguar produced three series of the E-Type over the model’s 15-year production run and the numbers were impressive: Series 1 (1961-68) 33,205; Series 2 (1968-70) 18,808; Series 3 1971-75 (15,287).

Over the years, dozens of famous owners, including actors Peter Sellers and Tony Curtis, footballer George Best and pop stars Roy Orbison and George Harrison, have all looked down an E-Type’s long fluted bonnet and today, when compared to the competition, this instantly recognisable Jaguar remains one of the world’s most desirable premier division classics.

Mercedes Benz R107 (1971-89)

Time can be a wonderful leveller when it comes to the cost and desirability of a classic car and one of the E-Type’s current major competitors is the Mercedes Benz R107 series SL. Introduced in 1971, the same year the V12 Series 3 E-Type broke cover, European versions of what is now regarded as the Panzerwagen were powered by a 3.5 litre V8 (4.5 litres in the US) driving the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic gearbox.

The new SL carried very little over from the outgoing W113 and the R107’s bulbous bonnet ended at a pair of thick A-pillars designed to provide passengers with an impressive amount of roll over protection. In 1973, Mercedes released a European version of the 4.5 litre V8 for the new 225bhp 450SL and a year later the more economical 2.8 litre inline-six powered 280SL took the SL into a new market sector.

Despite the rising cost of fuel, V8 power was still a popular option with SL fans and the 3.8 litre 380SL arrived in 1980 along with the now highly desirable and very expensive 5.0 litre 500SL. Today, a professionally restored high spec W107 500SL will cost about the same as a Series 2 E-Type, while an earlier Pagoda SL, especially one with an interesting history, will cost a lot more.

Jensen Interceptor (1966-73)

While the low-production glass fibre bodied CV8 may have diverted a few sales away from the E-Type, the third generation of the Chrysler 6276cc V8 powered Jensen Interceptor provided a more credible option, especially when compared with a Series 3 V12 E-Type. This was despite the more complex and expensive West Bromwich built grand tourer only being produced in limited numbers.

Introduced in 1966, the steel bodied, Vignale styled Interceptor took executive motoring to a new level of sophistication. By the time the Mk3 came on the scene in 1972, production of the technically advanced all-wheel drive Interceptor FF had unfortunately come to an end. However, despite the demise of the four-wheel drive FF, the 330bhp, 7.2 litre SP boasting a ‘Six Pack’ of triple twin-choke carburettors immediately filled the gap as Jensen’s range-topping model.

From 1973, a convertible version was available and today a well-presented Interceptor will cost somewhere in the region of £60,000. Parts supply is surprisingly good and Banbury-based Jensen International Automotive are currently producing completely refurbished Interceptors, with prices starting at a cool £180,000.

The E-Type is regarded as a national treasure


Posted by Matt Bell in Classics World on 11th September 2019

Although the E-Type is now regarded as a national treasure, there are plenty of points to check before signing away a large chunk of your lottery winnings if you fancy investing in one of these six-cylinder powered works of art.

Mention you’re seriously thinking about becoming closely acquainted with an E-Type Jaguar to a group of automotive sages at a local classic pub meet and odds on the discussion will first thrash out which version of this national icon would be the better investment – a coupé or a roadster?

A few of your new best mates will favour the coupé’s stylish roofline and swoon over this sporting Jaguar’s drop dead gorgeous profile. Others will rant on about how the only E-Type worth bothering about would be a wind in the hair Series One roadster; despite the raised hood looking like something that would be more at home on a MGB or Triumph Herald. That’s probably being a bit harsh; so best ignore those comments and make up your own mind.

By the time the conversation gets around to battling out the merits of a flat floor Series One 3.8 roadster over the delights of piloting a Series One 4.2 fixed head coupé, it's definitely time to call last orders and head for home. Try and escape before the conversation touches onto how the US safety regulations spoilt the look of the Series Two and definitely head for home before anyone starts commenting on how the 2+2’s tall windscreen and longer wheelbase spoiled the E-Type’s fine lines.

The E-Type Jaguar is one of those rare cars that will always get hearts pumping about which version would be the most desirable. This iconic Jaguar is still igniting passions today, just as it did when first revealed to the public back in 1961. Early E-types were fitted with a triple SU carburetted 3.8-litre straight-six XK engine and these first generation ‘flat floor’ coupés and roadsters are easily identified by their external bonnet latches located behind the front wheels, These desirable versions are now very rare and expensive, with restored examples currently changing hands for telephone numbers at auction.

Jaguar introduced the torquier 4.2-litre powered E-Type in 1964 and two years later the covers came off the ungainly looking long wheelbase 2+2. In 1967 Jaguar unveiled the tweaked Series 1.5 to comply with US emissions regulations and a year later the E-Type morphed into the heavily revised Series 2.

It was all change again in 1971 when the 5.3-litre V12 powered Series 3 E-Type took over from the straight six equipped 4.2. Series 3 E-Types shared the same high windscreen and long wheelbase as the 2+2 but many enthusiasts thought the car’s profile had strayed away from the iconic design of the early six-cylinder version of what is now known as the world’s most instantly recognised sports car.



A large percentage of an E-Type’s bodywork is made up of a one-piece forward hinged bonnet, which is easily damaged on the leading edge if raised on uneven ground. The bonnet is constructed from several sections bolted together and rust can start in the seams behind the chrome trim.

Other areas to check for rot on an E-Type are both floor pans – these are especially vulnerable on the roadster – sills, door bottoms, around the rear arches, rear suspension mountings and the boot floor. The tailgate on a coupé corrodes around the seams, bottom edges and the screen aperture and on both versions it’s important to check all the panel gaps are equal, as lead loading is used to form some of these.

One of the most important areas to check when viewing an E-Type is the condition of the front bulkhead, especially around the mountings for the engine rails. These rails form an aircraft power plant-style cradle for the XK straight six and are made from Reynolds 541 square section tubing. Corroded rails should be replaced rather than repaired, so be suspicious about the overall condition of the car if any welded repairs are detected.

More after the pic


Although the E-Type’s straight six is a tough unit if serviced correctly, these engines can suffer from head gasket failure. Try and inspect the sides of the block for any recent coolant stains and signs of any mayonnaise-type gloop lurking underneath the oil filler cap, which could indicate coolant has mixed with the engine oil.

Any light rattling from the front of the engine will indicate worn timing chains and tensioners. It’s a big job to replace these items on an XK engine, so don’t dismiss this as a cheap repair – there’s no such thing on an E-Type. Rumbling from deep down in the engine will point to worn bearings – oil pressure on a healthy XK engine should be around 40-45 psi at 3000 rpm. A worn engine will obviously require rebuilding and a specialist repairer will charge a minimum of £6000 to overhaul a rattling XK unit.

Any lumpy running could be down to worn diaphragms in one of the engine’s three SU carburettors. These can be a nightmare to adjust at home and any fettling in this department is a job best left to the professionals. Check the engine for oil leaks but don’t be put off by minor ones, especially from the front and rear crankcase seals. When starting the engine, a slight puff of blue smoke out of the exhaust is quite normal but once warmed up the engine should be smoke-free.


Early E-Types are fitted with a four-speed Moss manual gearbox with no synchro on first gear. These ‘boxes are notoriously ‘notchy’ when swapping ratios and finding reverse can be a two-handed affair. Later cars have the smoother Jaguar all-synchro gearbox; transmission checks on these should include watching out for the lever jumping out of gear, especially on the overrun, whining gears and rumbling bearings. The good news is that all E-Type manual gearboxes are as tough as old boots and a noisy ‘box will continue to perform for years before an overhaul becomes necessary.

Check the biting point on the clutch and if the pedal comes up a long way before it bites, suspect a worn clutch assembly. Replacing a worn clutch in an E-Type is a big job, as the engine and gearbox have to be removed as a single unit and to do this the bonnet will have to come off. Auto boxes should be checked for any erratic or clunky changes and when inspecting the fluid it should be bright red, not dark brown or burnt-smelling.


The E-Type's double-wishbone front suspension and rack and pinion steering are mounted on the lower longitudinal rails supporting the engine, while the car’s complex independent rear suspension setup is contained in a pressed steel cage bolted to the floor pan. If it’s possible, jack up each wheel in turn and the first items to check are all the bushes and bearings in the rear suspension.

Worn rear radius arms will make themselves heard when the car travels over rough ground while clunks and whines will indicate wear in the rear drive shafts and differential –budget for around £1000 to silence a noisy diff on an E-Type. At the front, check for worn steering joints and rock a raised wheel to feel for any excessive play in the lower wishbone joints and hubs.

Worn wishbone ball joints can be shimmied out and a specialist will usually charge around £150 per side for this operation. Checks should also include inspecting the anti-roll bar bushes for wear and the steering rack gaiters for any splits. If excess play is found in the steering column, this will be down to worn bearings and is a reasonably easy repair. Suspension checks should also include inspecting all the dampers for leaks – there are four at the rear – and snapped coil springs.

The E-Type has all-round disc brakes and should all be checked, including the pads, for wear. Also watch for callipers and lines that might be leaking fluid. Rear brakes are inboard and the discs are located next to the differential, which makes maintenance very difficult. To change the rear discs, the rear suspension cage has to be dropped. This is a huge job and to replace the rear brakes on an E-Type, an invoice of over £1200 will be the norm. When checking the brakes, don’t forget to try the handbrake. It’s self-adjusting on this sporting Jaguar and will seize if not lubricated properly.


A lot of E-Types will be sitting on a gleaming set of chrome wire wheels. Each spoke should be checked and any damaged or loose ones replaced as soon as possible. Check the centre spinners haven’t been cross-threaded or badly damaged after being walloped by the wrong type of hammer and that the hub splines aren’t worn.

When inspecting the condition of the tyres, try and locate the date code moulded into the sidewall and budget to replace any rubber that’s knocking on for ten years old.

More after the next pic


The good news is that every bit of hard and soft trim inside an E-Type’s cabin is available from specialist suppliers. The bad news is that a full interior re-trim for either a roadster or coupé will be a wallet bustlingly expensive exercise. Don’t dismiss a sound imported car with a tatty cabin though, as E-Type prices know no bounds and any expense refitting of the cockpit, even it makes your eyes water at the time, should be easily recouped when it comes time to sell the car.

While inspecting the condition of the interior, don’t forget to check that all the switchgear works correctly.


This is the point where any prospective purchaser should sit down and pour themselves a stiff drink, as E-Type values have rocketed over the past few years. As we said earlier, prices for the most desirable E-Types really do resemble telephone numbers and a recently restored Series One 3.8 roadster will cost anywhere between £155,000 and £175,000.

Coupé prices aren’t that far behind but the big money goes to the Series One 4.2 and the very best examples of this desirable model often exceed £200,000 at auction.

Series 2 E-Types are a little bit more affordable, with roadsters fetching up to £80,000 and smart coupés £60,000 – even a straw covered rotten barn-find will sell for £25,000-plus. Roadworthy examples, such as a US import, requiring a fair bit of TLC will obviously cost less, but repairing a rusty or smoking E-Type will be a very expensive exercise, so check any shabby examples very carefully.

The cheapest Series One and Two E-Types are the gawky looking 2+2s and prices for good condition examples start at around £35,000 and go up to around £50,000-plus for exceptional cars.


Since prices for Series One E-Types are now out of most buyers’ budgets, a Series Two is probably the best buy. These models offer the same glorious view down that long, louvered bonnet and drive the same way as a tidy Series One. Later E-Types enjoy improved seating and ventilation, which makes them more comfortable and useable but a decent one will still cost a king’s ransom.

We certainly wouldn’t recommend converting your pension pot into an E-Type, as values can obviously fluctuate, but if those elusive six lottery numbers ever come up, investing in a professionally restored Series Two E-Type Jaguar should be as safe as keeping the money in the building society – and who knows how that might fluctuate…

1996 Jaguar XJS 4.0 Auto Celebration

Classics World’s Chris Stacey test drives and reviews an excellent used example.

Posted:  October, 2018

The E-Type was always going to be a very tough act to follow and Jaguar chose to replace the icon with a grand tourer rather than another sports car. Wise move some might say, but when the XJS was launched in 1975, the press saw it as something of a disappointment. This grossly underrates the XJS, a handsome car that delivers extremely well in its intended role of grand tourer cum boulevard cruiser.

In truth, the E-Type had been fattened and softened over the years, with final V12 versions bearing little more than a passing resemblance to the gorgeously rorty Series 1.

The XJS weighs in at nearly two tons and has no sports car pretensions whatsoever. Developed on a short wheelbase XJ6 platform, the two-door body was penned by Jaguar’s in-house styling team, and borrowed much of the XJ saloon’s running gear. Judged impartially, The XJS is a good car in either six or twelve cylinder format, though early examples were let down by poor quality control and rapid corrosion.

By the Nineties, Jaguar had sorted their quality problems, the new AJ6 six cylinder engine had arrived and from 1994 all cars were galvanised. This adds up to make a late XJS 4.0 one of the most desirable specifications. Typical Jaguar upmarket style, sufficient power and built to last, with enough boot space for the golf clubs. What more could a well-heeled buyer want?

Released in 1996, the final year of XJS production, the Celebration special edition featured several upgrades including diamond-turned alloy wheels, embossed seats and a wood-rimmed steering wheel. No matter these toys were largely cosmetic, the final XJS was already an accomplished, thoroughly developed automobile. Out-dated or even old-fashioned alongside contemporary offerings from Mercedes, the XJS was halfway to being a classic when new and is surely worthy of classic car status today.

However, the classic car market currently seems a little conflicted by the XJS. Is it a bona-fide, bankable classic or is it just another old Jag? As a result, asking prices can vary widely but good cars are beginning to move upwards. From a price ceiling of £5,000 just a few years ago, the best cars can now make well over £10,000.

This 4.0 Auto Celebration has had only four owners and, over its 78,000 recorded miles, has been fully serviced; first by main agents and later by respected Jaguar specialists. The current MoT test certificate shows no advisory warnings. Priced at £13,500, it certainly isn’t cheap, but can this car’s quality justify the premium price tag?

The Sherwood Green paint suits the car well, being reminiscent of traditional British Racing Green. The finish is in excellent condition with a deep shine and few age-related marks. The bodywork appears straight with good shut lines, no obvious signs of accident repairs and no visible corrosion. The alloy wheels appear to have been refurbished recently and as a result, all four are free from blemishes.

The interior also presents well and the parchment leather complements the dark green exterior. The deep pile carpets are free from wear and the leather is as new, save for a little marking on the driver’s seat bolster. The wood veneer of the dashboard remains in pristine condition and the curved centre console veneer hasn’t lifted or cracked; a common fault with Jaguars of this era.

The engine bay is similarly clean, without signs of fluid leakage.

The AJ6 starts immediately and idles with a faint mechanical rustle, sounding in perfect health. Engage drive and the four speed auto doesn’t clonk, though the car is keen to creep forwards. Release the brake, apply a whiff of accelerator and the big car purrs down the road. The ‘box changes up and down without fuss; both engine and transmission are smooth and quiet at normal road speeds.

Some may feel the need for the ultimate powerplant, the six-litre V12, but in the real world, the four-litre six is impeccably smooth and delivers more than enough power for this heavy car. Add to that the smaller engine’s greater fuel economy and the AJ6 would be our choice for the XJS.

The steering is light but still communicates some feel. Ride is superb, with imperfections in the road surface almost undetectable within the cabin. It’s a big car, not suited to hustling through B-road bends but as a long distance tourer, it is magnificent. Jaguar designed the XJS for such a role and this particular example feels fresh and ready to carry its cossetted occupants from one end of the country to the other. The Jag’s sumptuous interior is a very relaxing environment in which to travel.


The Celebration special edition is one of the most desirable specifications for the XJS and this one’s superb inside and out. The Sherwood Green paint and parchment leather suit the car perfectly. Being a later car, it benefits from a galvanised body so should remain rust-free. It drives exactly as it should and comes with a full service history.

Jaguar XJS prices are hard to predict currently but the £13,500 asking price seems fair considering this car’s undoubted quality.


Jaguar XJS 4.0 Auto Celebration

Engine 3,980 cc Straight 6

Power 223 bhp

Top Speed 142 mph

0-60mph 7.4 secs

Economy 29 mpg

E-Type: Best of British

By George! Classic Car Owners Name Jaguar E-Type Best British Car For St George’s Day

· Iconic Jaguar leads list of 10 celebrated British cars

· Shortlist, selected by leading motoring journalists, included Aston Martin DB5, Series 1 Land Rover, Jaguar XK120 and Mini

· Voting undertaken by thousands of classic car enthusiasts via Hagerty UK

· Dragon-slaying St George, the patron saint of England, is celebrated every year on 23rd April

Northamptonshire: 23/04/2020

As national debates go, naming the best British-built car is right up there with whether it’s better to make tea with milk or water first, is it acceptable to mention the war to a German and should we apologise for getting into a lift when it’s not on the ground floor.

So, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that for St George’s Day, Hagerty, the insurer for people who love cars, asked the nation to vote for the best British classic car of all time.

After more than one thousand votes were cast, the honour went to the Jaguar E-Type. Famous for being described by Enzo Ferrari as the most beautiful car in the world, the E-Type beat the second-placed Austin-Healey 3000 and, in third place, the original Mini.

Hagerty tasked a panel of motoring journalists to create a shortlist of the best British-built classic cars of all time, then put the vote to thousands of owners of classic cars, asking them to name their top three classics. More than 1150 votes were cast, and after the final count the Jaguar proved almost twice as popular as any other car – even the Aston Martin DB5 that was popularised by the James Bond blockbuster, Goldfinger.

St George’s Day Top 10:

Britain’s best classic car

1. Jaguar E-Type

2. Austin-Healey 3000

3. Mini

4. Aston Martin DB5

5. Aston Martin DB4 GT

6. Jaguar XK120

7. Ford GT40

8. Lotus Elan (MkI)

9. Land Rover (Series I)

10. Jaguar D-Type

Marcus Atkinson, Managing Director of Hagerty UK, commented, “The Mini often cleans up in popularity contests but this time it was shown a clean pair of heels. As a Mini driver, I don’t begrudge the result because it was beaten by two of Britain’s most charismatic sports cars.

The Jaguar E-Type is a timeless piece of design that has rightly been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, while the Austin-Healey 3000 is a quintessential British roadster that is perfect for blowing away the cobwebs on a sunny Sunday morning. But I just know that the debate over the best British classic car will continue to rage on amongst car enthusiasts.”

The Jaguar E-Type was launched in 1961 and such was its popularity that it remained in production for more than a decade, until 1975.

When the car made its debut in the Spring of ’61, at the Geneva Motor Show, only one E-Type was planned to be displayed. But on the orders of William Lyons, Jaguar’s founder, another car was dispatched from Britain at short notice and driven through the night, by chief test driver Norman Dewis, to reach Switzerland in time to wow the world. Dewis then spent time taking VIPs and journalists for passenger rides, and the car left showgoers speechless.

To find out about the history of the Jaguar E-Type through its life, discover what one might cost you to buy today, or get a value or insurance quote for your own classic car, visit

Daimler Sovereign: It didn’t come without a price


From Classics World, posted on 17 February 2017

It didn’t come without a price; massive development costs led Jaguar founder William Lyons to merge his company with BMH in order to get access to the funds necessary to put the XJ into production. Ironically, he was later said to have admitted that he would have reconsidered the move had he known how precarious BMH’s own finances were.

Jaguar had swallowed up the Daimler company in 1960 and although the firm’s car range had been discontinued, the name was still used for range-topping Jaguar models like this Daimler Sovereign – which, in all but name, is a short-wheelbase Series I Jaguar XJ 4.2.

Our test car was a pretty special example; bearing an amazingly low 30,000 miles it gives a taste of how a new XJ6 would have felt back in the day, fresh from Browns Lane. In fact, we arrived at Spinning Wheel in a more modern XJ saloon – the so-called X300 model, which was in practice a major revamp of the XJ40 – and having driven the two back-to-back it’s incredible how the Series I Daimler doesn’t feel too far removed from its ’Nineties cousin. All of which neatly explains why it took Jaguar so long to replace the XJ, since the series two was a facelift of the original car and even the series three still retained a large proportion of its structure.

The interior ambience of the Series I is something Jaguar never bettered and indeed the firm stuck with the same theme through the XJ40, the X300/X308 generation of the ’Nineties and even the aluminium X350. The snug ‘cockpit’ driving position and traditional round instruments were something that gave the Jaguar a luxury feel that was very distinct from the sometimes spartan and plasticky European opposition and it was something the firm only abandoned with the launch of the very self-consciously modern current XF and XJ ranges.


Settle into the Daimler and it feels modern, with a high-set central console and a key/starter on the column rather than a separate push button, which many makers were still using. Firing up the XK engine it sounds crisp and eager, Jaguar’s twin-cam design being a world away from the plodding pushrod straight-six engines used by its competitors. The unit may have been designed in the ’Forties but two decades on was still well up to the task of powering Jaguar’s flagship model and in 4.2-litre form, as in this car, is good for some 245bhp.

Although the V12 cars are more powerful, the 4.2-litre XK-engined cars often seem more sporting in character and even in automatic form are pretty spritely. Jaguar quoted a top speed of 124mph and 0-60mph time of 8.8 seconds, which means they’re more than capable of keeping up with modern traffic and will cruise on the motorway all day.

Slipping the elegant shifter into drive the XJ oozes away with superb refinement yet feels remarkably brisk for its age when asked to hustle. The suspension can get expensive on these cars when it ages but this one gave no cause for concern. A common test is to drive slowly over a rough surface, at which point perished bushes and general ageing will reveal itself, but this Daimler was nicely composed and silent from underneath.


It’s a beautifully original car and drives well, with an interior that offers just the right blend of patina and originality. As Spinning Wheel’s Adrian Walker added; “Just try finding another”.


Engine: 4235cc

Power: 245bhp

Top speed: 124mph

0-60 mph: 8.8 secs

Economy: 21mpg

Gearbox: 3-sp auto

On the road in the Jaguar that once transported rock stars around London

1969 Jaguar 240 Automatic

2019 retro road test-review by Sam Dawson and Drive-My EN/UK

Pics by Jonathan Jacob

On the road in the Jaguar that once transported rock stars around London. This Jaguar 240 ferried pop royalty around London and bore witness to the birth of glam rock. Four decades on, we relive its glittery past.

On a Thursday evening early in March 1971, a young woman in a beige raincoat emerges from Oxford Circus tube station into the drizzle and gloom. She’s about to make a dash across Regent Street when, amid the four-star smog and fluttering stray envelopes left undelivered by the recent postal strike, a Regency Red Jaguar 240 lurches up between the lights, gleaming in the raindrops. Cars like this aren’t an uncommon sight in this part of London. They’re the natural choice of moneyed professionals, police officers and establishment types.

But this 240 isn’t. A box trailer hangs from a towbar, jiggling over ruts in the road behind it, a strangely mundane task for such a prestigious car. Then the pencil-thin chromed wipers sweep the windscreen, revealing the front-seat occupants. She double-takes. The driver’s seat is taken by a towering Edwardian-styled dandy, well over six feet tall, sporting a ginger beard, elaborate moustache and monocle along with his elegantly tailored pinstriped three-piece suit with tailcoat, cravat and silk handkerchief.

The wipers judder their way across the ’screen again, and she eyes the figure reclining languidly in the passenger seat this time. Male, she assumes, but with long dark hair in extravagant ringlets, and wearing a black satin blouse of a kind that can’t be bought in high-street shops.

She meets his gaze briefly through the side window as the traffic lights go green and the Jaguar slides away down Oxford Street with a lounge-lizard purr. The image of heavy eyeliner, glitter-glue smeared beneath, sticks in her mind as within moments, the aliens are gone, back into the string of dull-hued BL, GM and Ford fodder shuffling its way out towards Bayswater.

A couple of hours later, it all makes sense. Even though she’s watching in black and white, Marc Bolan is unmistakeable on Top of the Pops that night, studio lights turning his face and clothes into sweeping lighthouse-beam reflectors. The music press quickly labels this new style Glam Rock, and Bolan’s band, T-Rex, enjoys a six-week reign at the top of the charts with Hot Love.

Today, I’m driving that very Jaguar 240 passers-by might have glimpsed Marc Bolan riding in. Its owner, that tall, bearded dandy, was Colin Wild. He loved this car, keeping it from 1970 until his death in 1988, but he must have struggled to get in and out of it.

Negotiating the big steering wheel takes practice. I have to twist my left leg and slide it across the smooth Ambla leatherette seat in order to get in. Once ensconced, my knees are splayed around the wheel, but it’s not uncomfortable. The fact that it’s an automatic helps, because my feet fall naturally in front of a pedal each.

More after the pic

I soon become grateful for that big wheel though. There’s no power assistance and the steering’s heavy at low speeds, making me grateful for the leverage the big wheel provides. Once the 2.4-litre XK straight-six has pulled noisily away and settles to a deep, sonorous thrum at urban-crawl speeds, the steering lightens up and it becomes possible to guide the car with my fingertips. There’s a dead-zone when tracking straight, but it’s perfect for urban use.

Wild might not be the household name that Bolan became, but without him – and the efforts of this car – the music culture of the early Seventies would not have been as we remembered it. This Jaguar served as Wild’s personal runabout, but also – hence the towbar – an extraordinary company car and delivery van.

Since 1964, together with business partner Danny Benjamin, he’d run the Carnaby Cavern. Originally a window-dresser by trade, albeit with a sideline in dancing on Top of the Pops and a contact book full of rock stars and actors, Wild branched out into alternative, unusual fashion design, tailoring and retail.

Before long Benjamin and Wild’s boutique, its Ganton Street location originally chosen on account of being cheaper than leasing a premises on nearby Carnaby Street, was the regular haunt of the likes of The Kinks, Shirley Bassey, Desmond Dekker, Alvin Stardust, Status Quo and Jimi Hendrix.

They’d come to hang out in the shop’s stairwell – which soon became a rendezvous point for stars looking to avoid getting noticed on Carnaby Street, thankful for Benjamin having banned cameras from the shop – and get fitted for items like enormous detachable collars, ruffles, Cossack shirts, Nehru jackets and satin flares.

Then as evening approached, they’d jump in Colin’s car, hitch up the trailer if costume changes were needed, and dash across London to concert venues, TV studios and photographers’ workshops.

The car was usually kept outside Wild’s flat on nearby Poland Street most of the time. Amazingly, the Jaguar was Wild’s idea of downsizing. ‘He wasn’t really into cars,’ says owner James Utting, former historic touring-car racer and chairman of the Norfolk-region Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club.

Utting bought the car from the Wild family in 2012. ‘But in 1970, someone connected to Henly’s, the London Jaguar dealership, asked him whether he’d be interested in a 240, and he said yes.’ It was sourced via Abbott’s of Southend, where it had been registered on 29th January 1969.

Utting explains, ‘Wild had made a lot of money in a relatively short amount of time, and had a large house in the South London suburbs as well as the Poland Street flat, and a stable of five racehorses too. In the late Sixties he ran a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud that he used for his daily commute, as well as celebrity-taxi and sample-delivery duties, but its size made it impractical.

He kept the Rolls, but the 240 was the best compromise for him as a town car. He may not have been a car enthusiast, but he liked flash, and at that time celebrities wanted either a Silver Cloud or, if they liked driving themselves, a Jaguar E-type.

‘The E-type wouldn’t have worked as a trailer-hauler and Colin would have struggled to fit himself in it, let alone pop-star friends, so the 240 was the best of both worlds, especially as an automatic. It was a noticeable sight around Carnaby Street back then. Colin put whitewall tyres on it, and would take it to music and fashion events to promote the Carnaby Cavern. When I found it, the boot was still full of old flyers, fabric swatches and sample clothes.’

The Carnaby Cavern’s adverts are a delirious timewarp that established the themes around Sixties pop-culture in a manner that looks and reads like pastiche today. Hand-drawn pen-and-ink images of a shaggy-haired character described as ‘the Carnaby Cavern Man’, variously sporting a heavily ruffled shirt and flares in mod-club guise, at other times a long, collarless jacket, sunglasses and a handlebar moustache in man-about-town mode, strikes pre-ironic poses alongside a bob-cut, rollneck-wearing mod girl.

He’s accompanied by proclamations like ‘At Last! He’s discovered where the Groups get their way-out gear!’ and ‘Kinky Kaftans, a must for all you ravers – multi-floral patterns for gals and guys.’

In between taking the likes of Diana Ross and Shirley Bassey out to lunch or ferrying guests to Benjamin and Wild’s Thames-moored luxury motor-cruiser for parties, the Jaguar’s usual activities involved dashing around town between shop and venues. With so many rock stars filing in and out of the Carnaby Cavern, things could get chaotic.

The Jaguar, trailer attached, was sometimes involved in cross-town dashes to facilitate last-minute costume-changes, as Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt recalled in the band’s 2005 autobiography XS All Areas, ‘He rigged everybody out in those days. However, there could be pros and cons to this. On the plus side you got to wear some of the newest, most fashionable threads in the world.

On the downside, you’d go to a photo session and put on a bright yellow shirt you’d bought from Colin at the Cavern the day before, and the photographer would go, “No, you can’t wear that, Jimi Hendrix was in here last week wearing the same thing.” You’d sigh and put on another one and he’d go, “No, I did that with Andy Fairweather Low yesterday.”’

But Wild’s most enduring partnership was with Bolan and T-Rex. Although the Glam aesthetic first hit TV screens in 1970, a key aspect of its look may well have its origins in a trick pulled at the Carnaby Cavern itself, back in 1964.

Faced with a bare wall in need of decoration but with no ready budget for wallpaper and paste, Wild remembered a technique he’d used creating a department-store Santa’s Grotto some years earlier; crinkling up silver foil and stapling it to the wall, creating a cheap yet effective glittery edifice. It soon became an intrinsic part of the Cavern’s design, and went on to influence Wild’s clothing designs.

More after  the next pic

While it’s no Mini Cooper, the 240 works well in Wild’s metropolitan nip-and-tuck role. A 2483cc displacement sounds extravagant nowadays when executive-class luxury saloons can get away with turbocharged four-pots, but the 2.4 was the baby of Jaguar’s XK engine range in the Sixties. In a pre-oil-crisis mindset, it acts a lot like a modern turbodiesel, with a modest slug of torque instantly available when hitting the throttle to glide away from the lights.

It might have seemed uncouth compared to Wild’s whispering Silver Cloud; the lethargic Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic gearbox holds onto first gear a little too long for comfort, whining up beyond 4000rpm and sounding like a Fifties delivery truck before its perceptible shunt into second.

Once in second gear it’s remarkably tractable, my right foot surging the car along with the traffic, the engine eagerly pulling through its midrange. But two factors that make the 240 ideal for town use – its brakes and its physical dimensions. The standard racing-developed four-wheel disc brakes might have seemed like overkill in an entry-level car priced to compete with rear-drummed Vauxhall Viscounts, but in the city crawl they’re invaluable, drawing the Jaguar up sharply in response to the typical sudden halts caused by unfriendly traffic light phasings.

The 240 was a hefty car when new – nearly a ton and a half – but Jaguar made a virtue of its compactness. At 1689mm, it was closer to a BMC 1300 in width than an aircraft-carrier Ford Zodiac. Nowadays, although it’s a comfortable four-seater saloon, it has the dimensions of a modern supermini. A gap emerges in traffic, opening up a side-street, and I respond quickly and grasp the opportunity to escape the jam in the way I might in a Vauxhall Corsa.

London may not have been the seized-traffic sclerosis it is today when Wild was cruising its streets in the Jaguar, but as an area that crystallised in its current layout during a povertystricken, densely-developed Victorian phase, Soho has never suited large cars. Go there today and it’s full of motorbikes. This Jaguar is one of the few cars of the Sixties that still retains a real sense of luxury-saloon decadence while remaining compatible with the confining realities of urban use.

And yet, today, the response you get driving this car is a world apart from the one it would have generated when it was new. Granted, I’m not ferrying a rock star around, but the image of Jaguar has changed. Today, if you didn’t know this 240’s story, it’s just a lovely, shiny example of old-world curves and chrome, to be adored by passers-by at twee village-green classic-car shows stuck eternally in a world of trad-jazz, big-band swing and striped picnic blankets.

But  that isn’t the world it was born into. It hails from an era when Jags were part of the counter-culture as much as the establishment, and it bore witness to the outrageous clothes, distorted amps and sneering innuendo that confined that old England to the past. It’s now fooling the children of the revolution.

The 240’s relatively modest footprint by today’s standards means it’s just as rat-run friendly as it ever was. The Jaguar’s Ambla leatherette could surely tell some tales.

First registered in Southend in January 1969 2.4-litre six-cylinder makes 133bhp, plenty for urban dashes. Wild’s 240 became a preferred mode of daily transport to his Silver Cloud. This 240 would’ve been quite a sight amongst drab BL and Ford saloons – especially with a ginger-bearded dandy at the helm. An entrepreneur’s alternative to the E-stereotype Evidence it was a regular parking bay fixture outside Wild’s Poland Street flat.


Says present owner Harry Rhodes, ‘I was searching for a Jaguar Mk2 online seven years ago and saw the headline “celebrity car for sale”. It had been found in Norfolk and recommissioned by James Utting of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, but still needed plenty of work to get it up to scratch. It was wearing very old cracked-sidewall whitewall tyres – Colin was a fan of whitewalls so he probably fitted them, but it needed new tyres.

‘I wanted to keep everything as original as possible, rechroming the bumpers rather than replacing them. The interior has been sympathetically reconditioned – the leatherette you sit on is the same that Marc Bolan and Jimi Hendrix would’ve sat on. Sadly, one front wing needed replacing because it was too far gone, but all other metal was rescued before a respray. With the exception of carburettor tuning each year, no mechanical work has been needed.’

In conjunction with Harry’s professional photography work, he also uses the car for weddings – see

Specs follow:


• E-Type UK has completed a thorough restoration of a 1964 Series 1 3.8 FHC Jaguar E-Type – finished and delivered before the nationwide lockdown

• Found in a garage where it had been sitting since 1979, this E-Type has now been transformed into a perfect classic with an array of modern upgrades

• The owner commissioned a number of personal touches, including a red vinyl ‘bonnet mouth’ in a nod to the rare and race-ready E-type Lightweight

Kent, 6 April 2020: One of Britain’s leading E-type specialists, E-Type UK, has completed a transformative restoration on a barn-find 1964 Jaguar E-type Series I 3.8 FHC. Found in the previous owner’s unused garage in southeast England, this particular car had been left sitting since 1979, but has now been given a new lease of life by E-Type UK.

Finished in period with an Opalescent Silver Blue exterior and matching blue interior, the new owner opted for a striking new combination retaining the exterior colour but with a new Oxblood Red leather interior and a number of other choice upgrades.

Upon its discovery, this E-type looked as though it was well preserved and rot-free, protected from the worst of the weather by four walls and a roof. However, after extensive sandblasting and a three-day strip-down, the extent of the damage caused by 40 years of neglect, coupled with previous cheap repairs and the usual British dampness, revealed the real challenge ahead.

The E-Type UK team set about making sure this E-type would be safe and durable in years to come by identifying and replacing sections that were too rotten to save. The workshop team found that many areas of the floor and the inner and outer sills were beyond saving, opting to replace them completely while also strengthening the body elsewhere. Every suspect piece of metal was eliminated to ensure the structure is even stiffer than the day it left the factory.

After the metalwork was completed, the E-type was introduced to the filler room where E-Type UK’s specialist bodywork technicians set out to restore those seamless ‘60s lines. The entire car was cleaned and skimmed, then block sanded to obtain the perfect straightness and contours, with long hours of fine-tuning the perfect gaps and apertures.

To achieve the original Jaguar colour of Opalescent Silver Blue the car underwent a long process of painstaking preparation. Due to the silver pigments in the paint, errors are often unavoidable, often leading to a cloudy finish, but with the team's expert skills the final result was a sparkling and even finish.

Reassembly started with fitting this E-type’s uprated Independent Rear Suspension, which also included improved brake calipers and brake pads. At this stage, the front suspension was also fitted to create a rolling shell, making the car easier to manoeuvre around E-Type UK’s busy workshop.

The E-Type UK team then turned its attention to a number of performance and usability upgrades. The original 3.8-litre XK6 engine was fitted with high-lift cams, a balanced and lightened crank and new seals, all of which will help with drive-ability and reliability. Also fitted were a new five-speed gearbox for tighter shifts and more refined cruising, a new full stainless-steel sports exhaust and an aluminium radiator and header tank for enhanced cooling.

With much of the work complete, the finishing touches were applied, including the newly trimmed Oxblood Red leather interior, along with fresh chrome-work and headlight surrounds. In a nod to examples of the rare E-type Lightweight (of which only 12 were originally completed) the new owner requested the addition of a new red vinyl bonnet mouth, setting off the look perfectly.

E-Type UK Founder, Marcus Holland said: “A restoration like this is a real challenge for our team; 40 years of inactivity takes an enormous toll on every single part of a vehicle. But customers come to us to make their dream car a reality, so we will take it apart piece-by-piece, clean and improve everything we can save and replace everything that we can’t with better-than-original quality. Not only are we delighted to have delivered our client a car they’ve always wanted, but we’re honoured to have played a part in keeping this piece of British motoring history on the road, and being used regularly, for many years to come.”

Finally, a Series-1 comment from Jay Leno:

Looking back, with heartbreak, I see the final year (1967) of design and performance purity for the Jaguar XKE.

The Series I E-type, with its Mona Lisa pout grille, long-legged hood and “Sophia Loren in sunglasses” covered headlamps, was the prettiest thing that anyone who wasn’t a millionaire could buy. Sporting big triple SUs and 265 horsepower, it could reach a top speed of 150 mph.

For one last time, Americans—admittedly Americans who had more in their pockets than I did—could savor the best British vehicle since Boudicca’s chariot mowed down occupying Roman legions in 60 AD.

The Jaguar SS1 second series sold even better than the original

Jaguar SS1 Second Series

by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

The Jaguar SS1 second series sold even better than the original had, prompting the eventual development of three additional body styles, all two-doors.

The initial second-series Jaguar SS1 Coupe, which kept its back-seaters pretty much in the dark, was joined by a "four-light" Saloon that gave them their own side windows.

There was also a more faddish "Airline" version of this body, a square-roofed fastback whose window line drooped down to a rounded tail. Customers who craved fully topless motoring could opt for a convertible, which bowed as the Open Four-Seater Sports. Later sold simply as the Tourer, it was the genesis of the Jaguar SS sports car.

Although the company didn't really intend the convertible for serious sporting use, it became quite popular with customers who enjoyed "driving tests," something like modern gymkhanas, and long-distance "trials," or rallies.

Perhaps to the annoyance of some critics, who never could understand "how they do it at the price" and assumed shoddy materials and workmanship under the surface gloss, the SS1 proved itself sturdy and reliable over the often atrocious European road surfaces of the 1930s.

Keeping faith with its fans, SS Cars further upgraded the basic Jaguar SS1 for the 1934 season. The body stayed substantially the same, but the chassis' central X-member was, moved forward slightly for more rear foot room, and the track was widened by another two inches, to 53.

The biggest news was up front, where engines were larger, though not by much. The smaller unit grew by a mere 89 cc (5.4 cubic inches) to 2,143 (130.7 cubic inches); the more historically important 2,551.4 expanded to 2,661.9 cc (162.4 cubic inches) via a longer stroke (106 mm versus 101.6) on an unchanged bore (73 mm). Breathing was again improved.

Previously, a single carburettor on the right side fed intake valves on the left through a block passage between the middle cylinders; now, the carb was more efficiently mounted on the valves-side. With all this, the new 2.7 delivered about 75 horsepower, enough to push the SS1 to over 80 mph.

Additional improvements included adding a water pump, to circulate coolant more positively than was possible with the old thermo-syphon system, and sweeping the exhaust manifold forward on its way down from the engine, to keep heat from the cabin.

That engine work was carried out by Standard, but clearly Lyons was serious about making a good car. His SS1 was a definite success. During five years of production, 1932 through 1936, sales of all three series and all four body styles totalled more than 4,200.

More after the pic

And then there was the Walmsley Roadster

1934 SS1 Walmsley Roadster

From Vintage Automobile blog dd 23 October, 2016 

The Birth of the Jaguar Sports Car.

The significance of the Walmsley Roadster is not to be underestimated; it was the first sports car built by the company and its style set the standard for gracefully powerful sports cars for years to come. It also ushered in the beginning of aluminium bodied sports car production for SS Cars Ltd, later renamed Jaguar Cars, and established the company as an industry leader in the use of the material.

This beautiful car was likely among Walmsley’s last designs under the SS roof. He retired as Chairman and Managing Director in 1935, leaving William Lyons in charge. The car essentially vanished for a number of years until Walmsley sold it to a US Army officer who brought it to America in 1956.


Series 1: In some people's opinions, the handsomest XJ of all

XJ Saloon Shoppers Guide

Series I-II-III Variants

By Doug Dwyer,

There’s so much to say about these wonderful cars that I am hard pressed to find a good beginning. Sporting, luxurious, handsome and very ruggedly built, the XJ Saloons set world standards for many years.

Be aware, however, that purchasing a used example requires careful consideration. Although some technical discussion will follow, the principal idea behind this article is to discuss purchasing philosophy and strategy. Let’s start, though, with a very brief description of the various models.

The Series I production includes the 1968 through 1973 model years. It wasn’t until about 1970 that production was really in full swing and presentable Series I cars are becoming somewhat scarce. All USA variants had the 4.2L engine but a 2.8L version was offered in other markets. Starting in 1972 the V12 engine was also offered and these models are highly coveted and rather rare.

The Series I cars come with tons of olde-world charm, a short wheelbase, and that beautifully Jaguar-esque instrument panel with switches and meters spread far and wide. This was the car that had the saloon-car world on its ear for some time.

The Series II production ran from model years 1974 to 1979 (or 1980, if you include the South African built models). These cars are loved by many and yet cast off as an unfortunate stepchild by others. The North American models bore the burden of none-too-attractive rubber bumpers (the chrome “Euro” bumpers, very attractive, can be fitted) and the “federalised” interior, by most eyes, lost much of it’s classic appeal. Quality control problems, perhaps hyperbolised, and of less importance now than then, dogged the model.

Notable Series II features include the longer wheelbase, modernised instrument panel and controls, and, for the ‘78-79 USA models, fuel injection. The V12 engine was once again offered but the 2.8L six-cylinder was dropped after a year or so.

The creme de la creme of the Series II models was certainly the XJ6/12C Coupes. These handsome, vinyl-roofed two door models were manufactured for 1975-76-77 only and, despite some unique quirks, are very desirable and premium-grade examples are getting expensive.

Most potential XJ buyers, though, are probably considering the Series III model. This handsome version was produced from 1979 to 1992. Don’t confuse the later years (‘86 to ‘92) of Series III production with the “XJ40” type saloons, an entirely different car. These later XJ6s (“XJ40” was the factory designation) were produced concurrently with the Series III beginning in 1986. The USA was introduced to the XJ40 car in the spring of 1987, as a 1988 model.

All of the USA Series III cars (1980 through 1987) were 4.2 equipped. Rest-of-world models could have a 3.4L six cylinder or the much-desired V12, as well as a wide variety of trim levels and model designations. All North American models were sold “fully optioned”. The US market saw only two models, the standard-issue XJ6 and the upscale Vanden-Plas. The “VDP” was mechanically unchanged from the standard model but featured many interior refinements.

The twelve-cylinder production carried on through the end of 1992, with many enhancements. The V12 Series III model was never brought into the USA officially but a stray cat or two has mysteriously found its way past the federal gendarmes. Some sources say a small number of V12s came to the USA very early on, before Jaguar or the EPA pulled the plug. A mint condition Series III V12 will command a very high price, far higher than standard issue XJs.

The Series III cars are splendid and make wonderful daily-drivers. This model, other than the very earliest examples, was very reliable and was therefore responsible for a greatly improved image for Jaguar, with correspondingly high sales statistics. By many accounts it was the car that saved Jaguar.

More after next pic

Series 2: Undoubtedly the handsomest XJ. (Me? Biased? Never! - Ed)

Okay, but what about buying one? Soon enough we’ll discuss some “what to look for” particulars but, first, give some thought to your buying strategy.

Are you looking for a Jaguar that you can immediately be proud of or a fixer-upper? What is your tolerance for expenditure and aggravation? Will you be working on the car yourself or be having all work done by a professional?

These are vitally important questions. These cars, considering their provenance, and with the previously mentioned exceptions, are surprisingly inexpensive and in some cases, downright cheap. Don’t be fooled, though. Unless you are actually looking for a project car it is much more practical to buy a premium example. Although inexpensive to buy, an XJ can be every bit as costly as other Jaguar models to resurrect, and it would be very easy to find yourself hopelessly “upside down”.

Consider this. Much of the Jaguar appeal comes from the gorgeous paintwork and “gentleman’s club” interiors. A premium re-spray may well top $3000, and new leather, wood, headliner and carpets will certainly be $4000 or more. Assuming you want a Jag to be proud of, it would be very easy to spend $7000 on cosmetics alone yet the difference in buying a lovely example versus a “tatty” specimen may be only half that amount.

Of course, many Jag-lovers are already familiar with such scenarios and remain unfazed at the thought, and I certainly do not disparage them. However, since the market on these cars is so low, and increasing only very slowly, extreme caution is required. A well-versed XJ buyer may find that one of the best buys, in fact, can be the slightly tatty car which has had the major work already done, it’s discouraged owner simply “wanting out”, wishing he had originally bought at the higher end of the market and avoided the expense and frustration. Resurrecting a Jaguar, any Jaguar, is not for the faint-of-heart.

The Series III was built in large numbers and the survival rate has been good. I urge that any prospective buyer spend plenty of time shopping and wait for the “right” car. I assure you, they are out there.

Series I and II cars, however, are a different story. The normal rate of attrition has, of course, reduced the supply. Remember, too, that the resale value on Jaguars was notoriously low, leaving many cars unloved and neglected at a relatively early age. Subsequent owners of the inexpensive Jaguars often didn’t have the resources or, considering the value, the desire, to look after them properly.

Some restored, or at least well-freshened, Series I cars are out there, thanks to the obvious character and appeal of that model. Personally, I hope more of these cars are saved but, with values still low, it would clearly have to be an emotional decision to bring one back from the ashes. Of course the same could be said for just about any Jaguar model but, again, the narrow margin on these cars is tricky business.

Some of the best bargains may be the Series II cars. Although the Series II’s enjoy a certain loyal following, these cars are generally (and needlessly) unloved. On one hand this means that finding a well-kept example may be difficult yet, on the other, some good buys may be lurking. The previously mentioned caveats apply, though.

While discussing the Series II’s, it should be mentioned that the Coupes really fall into their own niche. This model is very desirable and is appreciating more rapidly than the sedan versions. I won’t go as far as saying any Coupe is worth buying but a less conservative approach may be justified, providing, of course, you don’t let your emotions run totally unchecked.

One of the advantages of the XJ saloons, despite urban legend, is their relative simplicity. A great many repair and routine servicing operations are well within the realm of the average do-it-yourselfer. In fact, this is one of those cars where, contrary to convention, a prospective buyer may do well to consider cosmetics over mechanicals. As mentioned previously, body, paint and interior refurbishment can be very costly but many mechanical repairs are surprisingly inexpensive for a home mechanic. Of course, a major engine or drivetrain failure would not fall into this category but, after some homework, an XJ buyer can readily identify which faults appear expensive but, in fact, are very easy to fix.

More after next pic

Series 3: The car that many believe saved Jaguar

Any discussion of used Jaguars must eventually turn to the subject of rust. These cars are as rust prone as any other Jaguar and, unless you are actually looking for a restoration project, I would avoid a rusted car. Remember, these are not particularly rare automobiles. Rust free examples can be found. Once you start shopping you find plenty of examples to choose from. Naturally, if you are specifically looking for an older model, you may have to broaden your search grid to find a rust free car and, of course, your own geographic location has a very strong bearing on your results.

Look for rust in all the usual places such as floors, sills, and lower doors. Also check around the headlamp openings and, oddly, the floorpan area where the rear suspension trailing arms attach.

Now comes the exception which proves the rule. A great many XJ’s, especially the Series III examples, are known for developing rust at the base or lower corners of the front windscreen. As rust repairs go, rectifying this problem is not too difficult or costly. Some extreme cases, though, have perforated clear through and let water leak inside the car. This, obviously, is not a good thing. However, my point here is that if the car is excellent in all other respects do not let some minor rusting in this area eliminate the car as a candidate.

The six-cylinder XK engine, as we all know, is a paragon of ruggedness. With good care, 100,000 miles is a doddle for these engines and 150,000 miles is not unheard of. Head gaskets are considered a routine replacement item at 100,000 miles and, in the Series III cars, the tappet guides were known to work themselves free from the head and contact the camshaft, with catastrophic results. A “hold-down” kit can prevent this mishap.

The V12 engines were also very robust but, generally speaking, simply do not tolerate overheating at all. It is doubly critical, therefore, that the cooling system on a V12 car be kept absolutely up-to-snuff and be wary of an example which does not show evidence of proper upkeep. Engine repairs on the V12’s are notoriously expensive.

The transmissions, Borg-Warner designs on the six cylinder cars and earlier V12’s, and the GM TH400 on later V12’s, present no serious problems. The Borg-Warner types were not very sophisticated but seemed to work well enough. Some overhaul parts for these are becoming a bit scarce. The TH400 transmission is world renowned for it’ reliability and smooth operation. Remember, though, that many of these cars are becoming rather elderly and, even if well-kept, the transmissions may be at the end of their normal expected life. Manual transmissions were offered in 6-cylinder variants for some markets but only a very small percentage of the cars were so equipped.

There are a couple of mechanical areas to be mindful of, though. First, the rear brakes and differential seals. Some explanation is due here. Replacing the rear brake pads is simplicity itself but replacing the rear rotors, or the differential seals behind them, is very labour intensive. Likewise for repairs to the parking brake callipers. These repairs must eventually be carried out on all models but, obviously, it is a real “plus” if service records show that such repairs have recently been done by the present owner. Ideally, the owner will have had callipers, rotors, seals, bearings, etc. all replaced at the same time, a real bonus for you.

I might add, at this point, that the differentials are nearly indestructible. The rare failure usually occurs when the owner postponed the above-mentioned seal replacement and allowed the unit to run dry of fluid.

The other difficult area is the climate control systems. Repairs such as a heater core or evaporator core replacement are very difficult and labor intensive. The Climate Control systems on the Series II and III cars are quite tricky with some rather expensive servos and amplifiers. The best advice for the uninitiated would be to make sure that all heating and air conditioning modes function correctly or consider avoiding the car. Don’t ever believe a claim of “it just needs a recharge” when questioning an inoperative air conditioner. If that was the entire problem the owner certainly would have had it recharged himself. While a handful of climate control problems are easy to fix, it is hard to tell from a simple inspection and if a total system overhaul is ultimately needed the bill could easily top $2000.

Returning to the positive, I’ll reiterate that many repairs (steering, suspension, cooling system, etc) are no more difficult or costly than on an “ordinary” automobile and most mechanical parts are readily available and, in many cases, surprisingly inexpensive. Notice I referred to mechanical parts here. Trim and body parts can be very costly and in some cases (such as Series I items) becoming scarce.

A complete and documented service history is another real advantage. Let’s face it, a well- kept Jaguar is a purring kitten but an ill-kept Jaguar is an unforgiving wretch. Naturally, you’d prefer the pampered example and service records will prove an owner’s claims. Additionally, service documentation will tell you if some of the above mentioned major repairs have already been tackled. The owner’s loss may well be your gain.

If you are not mechanically minded it is imperative that you have the car examined by a mechanic. Not just any mechanic, a bona-fide Jaguar mechanic. He will know exactly what to look for and can give you a report on the severity of sub-par items. Here again some minor flaws may work to your advantage. The owner may be disgusted with the car yet the faulty items may well fall into the very-easy-to-fix category. A true Jag-man will know!

Lastly, please remember that we are talking about cars that are anywhere from 11 to 33 years old (when this was written - Ed). Even if you find a wonderful example, it would be unrealistic to buy any used car with an expectation that nothing will have to be repaired or serviced.

C-X75 was spun off Jaguar's Limo-Green hybrid saloon project as a kind of skunk-works job

Jaguar C-X75; the first impression

Stunning concept speaks volumes for the cars Jaguar will make in the future

Steve Cropley, Autocar 14 November 2010

What is it?

The Jaguar C-X75 concept rocked the recent Paris motor show. According to Nigel Taylor, the concept's lead engineer, C-X75 was spun off Jaguar's Limo-Green hybrid saloon project, as a kind of skunk-works job.

The result was C-X75, a car with a remarkably low weight of 1350 kg and consequent spectacular performance: 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 5.5 seconds, 0-300 km/h (186 mph) in 15.7 seconds, and a top speed of 330 km/h (205 mph).

Apart from its wonderful shape – which brilliantly combines 2015 modernity with surfaces and proportions that could only be from Jaguar – the C-X75's twin showpieces are tiny turbines, made in Worcestershire by Bladon Jets, but unlike jet cars of the past they don't drive the wheels. Instead, they run tiny, fist-sized generators to make electrical power for what is actually a four-motor, four-wheel drive electric car.

The car has an electric-only range just short of 70 miles. With this and the 60-litre diesel fuel tank, it has a 560-mile range – an average of under 30 mpg. These are extraordinary, rule-changing figures for a car with 778 bhp and 1180 lb ft of torque on tap.

What’s it like?

For all its exotic nature, the C-X75 is relatively simple in concept. It is smaller and lower than most supercars of its awesome potential, yet it has generous conventionally hinged doors, sensibly sized windows, reasonable rear vision and a roomy cabin.

Driving is simple, yet as you slip behind the wheel and into the hard seats (understandably shaped for show appearance, not long distance comfort) it's hard not to lose yourself in admiration for the profusion of entirely fresh ideas in this car. There's a beautiful one-piece 'sculpture' of panel-beaten aluminium, lining the whole door aperture.

Ian Callum says Jaguar's major suppliers were encouraged to “get crazy” with concepts, so the doors and bulkhead are covered with upwards of 250 tiny Bowers & Wilkins directional speakers, the size of those in mobile phones, for a completely new quality of sound.

The twin-dial instrument layout is actually a TFT screen, with gimbal-style readouts for speed and power consumption (the dream ticket is to be charge neutral and the right-hand dial shows you how to do it) while LED bars around the outside show you how far – or whether – each turbine is in action. They take about 15 seconds to spool up, and according to Nigel Taylor, are very quiet when you're in the car.

There's another screen between the dials for iPhone-style pages for other functions, plus a circular display on the console to show the functions of the elegant fore-aft 'gear' selector. Actually, the 8000rpm electric motors are simply geared to the wheels at a 3.1 to one reduction ratio, and need no clutch, but there are Normal, EV and Track modes which alter the instrumentation.

In Track, for instance, you can pull up a timing screen, set the suspension for a stiffer, lowered set-up, and even pull up a map of the circuit you might be driving on – complete with real-time advice about cornering lines and braking points. It would take quite a pessimist to say this electric car was less than inviting and exciting.

The C-X75 drives at present like a concept car, with heavy steering, a restricted lock and less performance than its exotic specification implies. Neither is it ever likely to be made for production, though designers and engineers insist that – like Limo Green – it has taught them a tremendous amount, and its shapes and ideas will survive.

Should I buy one?

Despite its one-off nature there are important and enticing facets for the supercar driver, including good visibility and an airy cabin, a driving position exactly between the front and rear wheel pairs that – for once – is entirely uncompromised by the mechanical layout.

This car, designed in Whitley and made entirely in Gaydon speaks volumes for the capabilities of those who made it, and for the fine new Jaguars they are preparing for us to buy.

The Bond car from Spectre? Yes, it is

Jaguar C-X75 2013-2015 review; a later "First Look"

From Matt Saunders, Road test editor, Autocar

The Jaguar C-X75 supercar. Which won’t be finished and won’t be sold. And yet in 2013, the year of the supercar, it was all set to turn the triumvirate confluence of LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder into the most awesome foursome that the car world has ever known.

The Jaguar now looks destined to become the forgotten giant, after a decision taken by the company in December 2012 not to put the extended-range petrol-electric two-seater into production after all.

"Even in the rain, the C-X75 feels every bit as fast as they say it is – up to a point. Up to about 120mph, to be precise - to the top of fourth gear, until which point it could probably run with a Veyron. At least very close to one.

The irony is that it might have signalled much more than a million-pound Ferrari or McLaren: newfound ambition for a once world-beating British marque again willing to compete right at the top of the food chain. A marque once again looking to take a guiding hand in the development of the state of the automotive art. Something of a renaissance, in other words.

More’s the pity. As things stand, Gaydon’s supercar experiment is over. Five working prototypes exist, and there are no plans to make more. Whispers persist that a few of them may be auctioned, but nothing’s confirmed. Strange circumstances for a first drive – but, in this case, we’ll take ‘em.

In supercar terms, the C-X75 moved from apparently fanciful show car to fully operational validation prototype very quickly – and changed quite a lot on route.

Those who last read about this car after its unveiling as a concept at the Paris motor show of 2010 will be wondering where its tiny jet turbine power generators have gone. Somewhere along the line, Jaguar concluded – just as Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche did – that the supercar isn’t quite ready to part with reciprocating pistons just yet.

What was decided, in May 2011, was that the buzz surrounding the C-X75 concept car was too great to ignore. The car would go forwards, engineered in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering.

But, like the show car, it couldn’t be just another supercar. It had to be as fast as a Bugatti Veyron. It had to emit less carbon than a Toyota Prius - sub-90g/km - as things stood back then. It needed a zero-emissions range as good as a Chevrolet Volt. And it needed to look like the original show car.

It wouldn’t be enough for this car to breach the bounds of possibility in just one direction – the familiar direction - speed. The C-X75 had to push the envelope in opposing directions simultaneously, on performance and fuel efficiency.

In place of the Bladon Jets omnivore turbines came a primary powerplant that would set Jaguar’s engineers a similar challenge on cooling and allow it similar freedoms on packaging. Developed in-house by Jaguar, the C-X75’s 1.6-litre petrol four-pot is all-aluminium, and is like no small-capacity engine ever intended for the road.

Fitted with both a supercharger and a turbocharger, it produces unbelievable power for its size: an astounding peak 502 bhp at 10,000rpm. And because the C-X75 is a plug-in hybrid, that engine’s only half the story.

And this is what it looks like, inside

Immediately behind the driver – who’s positioned almost perfectly between the front and rear axles – there’s a 19 kWh lithium-ion battery pack capable of supplying a continuous 300 kW of power.

The car’s electric motors are Jaguar’s own. They’re the size of cake tins, there’s one for each axle, and they produce 194 bhp and 295 lb ft each. They also only weigh 20 kg, making them more efficient, judged on output per kg, than any electric motor Jaguar could buy in.

The one up front drives the wheels directly through reduction gearing; the one at the rear runs in parallel with the engine, sending power through a seven-speed automated manual gearbox to the rear wheels.

And so, running at full chat, the C-X75 produces in excess of 850 bhp, and has 738 lb ft of torque. It’ll accelerate to 60 mph in less than 3.0sec, to 100 mph in less than 6.0sec, and go on way beyond 200 mph.

Scarcely believably, it also produces less than 89 g/km on an NEDC emissions test, and drives for 40 miles on battery power alone. And it looks incredible – more like the rightful heir to Malcolm Sayer’s C- and D-types, and the elegant XJ13, than either the XJ220 or the XJR-15 ever seemed.

You could fill textbooks explaining the innovative engineering in this car. The all-carbon fibre construction makes for torsional rigidity of 60,000 Nm per degree – three times greater than a Lamborghini Murciélago.

Every major mechanical and electrical component is positioned within the wheelbase, with the exception of the seven-speed gearbox, which goes in sideways to minimise the overhang behind the rear axle.

The thermal management systems are ridiculously complicated, as they’d have to be in order to make happy bedfellows of a large battery (which operates best at 31 degrees) and a 502 bhp, 10,000 rpm engine (which exhausts at up to 900 degrees). Both, by the way, are surrounded by a carbon fibre engine bay that, in places, would begin to unbake itself at 200 degrees or so.

In the pouring rain at its Gaydon UK headquarters, Jaguar gave us limited opportunity to get familiar with its technical prodigy. Some passenger laps on the twisty inner handling circuit suggested the C-X75 has supremely manageable limit handling for a supercar. “We went to a lot of trouble to give the car Jaguar feel,” says driver and Williams chassis chief Simon Newton. And you know what he means.

The car does skids. “The normal power split in EV mode is 70 percent biased for the rear wheels, and we limit power at the front wheels when cornering because it tends to bring on understeer. We’ve also worked out a few tricks with the E-Diff to add some throttle-steer, and – when it’s on – the ESP functions similarly to McLaren’s ‘brake-steer’ to keep the nose tucked in on corner entry."

In electric mode, the performance level feels strong – if limited. Instant, torque-dominated: a bit like a turbo hot hatch but entirely without the lag. I can’t tell you what the electric motors sound like, because they’re drowned out by the C-X75’s sound synthesiser, which fills the cabin with an electronic noise somewhere between a whistle and a loud whine. It’s not unpleasant, and maybe it does make the electric mode feel more dramatic. You’d never mistake it for ‘real’ noise, though.

My turn at the wheel. Engaging full-fat hybrid mode and moving off, that inline four suddenly announces itself. It’s all chattering gear-driven cams and bad-tempered low-rpm grumble to begin with, but the accelerator pedal’s tamely progressive thanks to that supercharger.

Might as well flatten it then. We’re in third gear, on the high-speed circuit of Jaguar’s Gaydon HQ, where mile-long straights allow some close inspection of the C-X75’s outright speed – specifically, of the potency of that powertrain. At 3500 rpm the barp of exhaust begins to emerge over all that chatter.

At 6500 rpm, the engine finally seems fully awake and starts to really howl. There’s no lump of mid-range torque, no breathless top-end – laudable flexibility, in fact. And there’s an incredible red zone where, at 8000 rpm, the engine hits a show-stopping full stride. At which point you’ll forget all about the electric motors, carbon-fibre and engineering genius, and find yourself totally caught up in a sense of pure mechanical interaction. Perhaps this Jaguar is an old-school supercar after all.

After several full-power blasts, a picture emerges. Even in the rain, the C-X75 feels every bit as fast as they say it is; up to a point. Up to about 120 mph, to be precise - to the top of fourth gear, until which point it could probably run with a Veyron. At least very close to one.

But beyond 150mph, the C-X75 doesn’t surge onwards with quite the same urgency. It’s effortlessly fast but, in the highest range, doesn’t keep going like the very fastest in the world. It doesn’t need to be travelling well into three figures before it really opens up, like a Veyron.

All I can put it down to, is that the electric motors don’t seem to give their best at big speeds. And that 503 bhp isn’t quite enough – however spectacularly it’s made – to make up the shortfall.

Driving the car leaves you with the impression that the C-X75 project has probably ended up exactly where it should be, because would supercar owners understand that, to appreciate their new million-pound car, they have to stand back and see the bigger picture?

Would they be able to understand that it may not quite be the ultimate machine in the most vivid sense, but that there’s more to it than sheer speed? How many Veyron owners know how much CO2 their car emits? Don’t they just want the fastest car in the world?

Maybe. In order to create the supercar that does it all, perhaps Jaguar had to take the customer out of the equation. The company might have been braver. But equally, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that it wasn't.

Because, while it may not quite be the fastest car in the world, the C-X75 is still a modern, daring kind of machine. A hypercar, really – if such a term were ever truly justified by a supercar that does more.

It acknowledges that, in the 21st century, there is no part of the car market untouched by the need for environmental responsibility – nor can there be. And, like the Porsche 918 Spyder, it proves there’s a genuine zero-emissions solution than can still produce absolutely first order speed and excitement.

The last of the E-Type line is largely shunned

Jaguar E-Type V12

Published in Classic Motoring: 6th Nov 2014

Best model: Manual Roadster

Worst model: LHD autos

Budget buy: As above

OK for unleaded?: Yes

Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4686 x W1676 mm

Spares situation: Excellent

DIY ease?: Generally pretty good

Club support: Typical Jaguar

Appreciating asset?: Yes, S3’s time has come

Good buy or good-bye?: It’s a top cat with a V in its bonnet

Last of the E-type line that was discontinued 40 years ago, and remains largely shunned over earlier XK models. However recently renewed interest in the V12 has caused values of this unfairly slated cruiser to rocket.

Happy birthday E-type! We use the word ‘happy’ advisedly because this December, 40 years ago (in 2014), saw the final cars roll off the famous Browns Lane production line. The Series 3, or V12 was never the most iconic E-type and remains overlooked by many – despite being more usable thanks to its longer, wider bodyshell and superior engineering. These later cats may not be as sleek as the Series 1, or even the S2, but the S3 now has value and that lovely V12 engine on its side.


1961: The Series 1 E-type is unveiled at the 1961 Geneva motor show but after a decade this Coventry Cat is now no longer the sex kitten it once was. It was all due to US demands to make the car safe and more refined, while at the same time the competition had hotted up during the 1960s. Also, people’s tastes were starting to significantly change.

1965: Unlike the XK engine, which was a road-going engine that was forced into motorsport, the V12 was designed originally with racing in mind. Costing some £3m, initially the engine was a quad cam, before a simpler ‘top end’ was designed. It was first run that May, installed in a MK 10 and the final development saw 272 bhp.

1971: March sees the S3 introduced with the engine and while the added power is welcomed, the entire character of the car changed. Using the 2+2’s platform, with a massive 10-inches-added wheelbase this time, plus anti-dive suspension, wider wheel arches and cooling ducts for the inboard rear brakes, the S3 was no longer mean and lean; an increase in weight of 270 kg over the original sees to that.

1972: A steering lock was fitted and in January 1973 a cleaner twin-branch exhaust replaced the previous far too boy racer-like four-pipe system.

1974: In February the fixedhead model is discontinued, leaving the roadster to soldier on alone. It did that all right thanks to the fuel crisis of that year, which saw shortages and massive petrol price hikes and as a result sales dwindled to double figures.

1975: In December 1974, the final cars were built.  Just 50 of these, known as Commemorative editions, were made and these eased their way to customers during the early quarter of 1975. Some 15,000 S3s were made, with slightly more roadsters, during the car’s four year production, although remember that the vast majority went abroad. The S3’s best year in the UK was, ironically, 1973, just before the Middle East turned the fuel taps off; 872 roadsters and 489 2+2s were delivered in the UK. In 1975 it dried up to just four cars!


Compared to the earlier six-cylinder E-types, the V12-powered replacement is a completely different animal and definitely more a softer-handling tourer than an out-and-out sports car. That’s not to say the S3 E is a soft touch. The V12 certainly scalded this cat and gave it back the urge that had been lost over the years.

There’s no shortage of grunt; it’s just that it’s now provided in a different manner. With 304 lb.ft of torque on offer (that’s what many modern diesels kick out), there’s no need to stir the gearstick, so the E-type is a two-gear (and once rolling, one gear) car. The V12’s party trick remains the ability to start from walking pace in top and power all the way to just over 140 mph (no road-tune E-type really hit a true 150!), passing 110 mph in just over 36 seconds according to one road test.

Small wonder that the Borg Warner Model 12 automatic was fitted to the majority of S3s. While the V12 is usefully high geared (23mph/1000rpm), economy will never be a strong point; expect 16-18mpg even when fairly pussy-footing around. Overdrive was never available, even as an option and today some enthusiasts fit a five-speed manual gearbox to make the car even more long- legged and slightly more frugal.

Handling had softened with age and compared to, say, a 911 of that era, the E-type was always a lot soggier. The XK E-types feel tauter although it’s all relative to the car’s age.  As a GT the S3 is deceptively easy to drive fast. Thankfully the brakes, once an E-type concern, cited Autocar, “were now beyond criticism”.

While that longer wheelbase body did the S3 no favours style-wise, it certainly helped in the cockpit which is usefully roomier as well as being far more civilised than any previous sports Jag. As Autocar remarked in a road test: “There are some people no doubt who feel that sports cars should have a bone-hard ride, glorious exhaust note and a draughty hood. To them the V12 Roadster would be a terrible disappointment, for in all these departments the car is highly refined, and in no way can using the car be considered an adventure in the traditional sports car idiom”.

In general, the initial enthusiasm for the S3 waned quite quickly as rivals matched and sometimes beat the plump, middle-age-spread, E-type which was always praised more for its V12 engine than anything else.

Car headlined it “BLMC’s middle class Ferrari” on its April 1971 cover and was slightly disappointed to discover the E-type wasn’t really the racey Ferrari-eater it could have been, while in 1973 the same monthly now considered the S3 “... a bulky and outdated package” that was “awkwardly sybaritic” concluding it was, “A great engine in search of a more suitable car” (Like the XJ-S? ed). The same year a milder Autocar, as it was back then, summed up the general consensus by labelling the S3, “More new wine in an old bottle”.

More after the break




As the V12 is hardly slow our first step would be to ensure that the car is up to spec before starting any mods. It’s possible to fit electronic fuel injection (a later XJ-S unit can be fitted, try AJ6 Engineering for details), and a ‘high torque’ starter to improve reliability and usability and the latter is a particularly good idea. Decent electronic ignition to replace the original Lucas Opus set up (" 'opeless" in the trade) is mandatory while going a stage further, a modern mapping system for the ignition with a quite simple ECU, greatly improves economy and flexibility.

What To Look For


* Look for poor panel fit, corrosion and kinked chassis tubes from low-speed knocks. Check for even panel gaps and make sure the bonnet isn’t distorted.

* Lift bonnet and check for bulkhead corrosion, especially around the battery. The scuttle sides contain box sections, which rot from the inside out. By the time corrosion is visible outside, the inside is rotten, with repairs very involved, thanks to the complex structure.

* The rear rots; especially the B-posts and chassis strengthening rails. Sills are durable but check for filler. Get underneath and look for corrosion around the rear radius arm and anti-roll bar mountings. Finish by checking the double-skinned rear wings for rust, along with the wheelarch lips, and the top and bottom of each door.

Just for a change, we're looking at the cheapest model of Mark 2

Jaguar Mark 2, Purring Along

Published in Classic Motoring on 6th May 2011

For too long the Mk2 2.4 has been regarded as the poor relation to this cat’s family. But in these credit crunching times a purr rather than a growl makes perfect sense.

Pros & Cons

Mk2 style and reputation, value for money, smooth engine

Performance, many half-hearted 3.4/3.8 conversions, sluggish auto versions


It’s a fact – two out of three cats could be costing you dearly! When it comes to Jaguar Mk2s, the general consensus is that only the 3.4 and the 3.8 models are worth giving garage space to. And yet for many, the runt of the litter, the humble 2.4, has everything they want from this classic saloon plus this version is far cheaper to buy into the bargain. Why the 2.4 (and the later 240) is so put down is all down to performance – or lack of it.

Jags are supposed to be scalded cats and the 2.4 never was. In fact, the car was decreed so sluggish by Bill Lyons himself that he refused to allow a car out for the press to test – and that’s after crafty but unsuccessful tweaks by the factory on a test car to crack the magic ton, the benchmark that separated the sporty from the sedate back then.

But with the Mk2 marking its 50th this year, 2011, in these tough times the 2.4/240 makes more sense than ever. Okay, so this cat is more a suited for loping than growling… but who drives their classic that hard that often anyway? And given the cost of fuel (and gatsos on every corner), most of us are perhaps more content these days to cruise quietly along and simply enjoy the experience of a classic; and a Mk2 at 70mph on a whiff of throttle is the same – whatever engine is under the bonnet! So let’s give the 2.4 Mk2 its due.


The Mk2 replaced the original 2.4 saloon in 1959 and was a clever update by ace stylist Lyons, keeping the basic hull shape but giving it a lighter more airy look and a sleeker face. Although the cars looked similar there was very little carried over from the Mk1 and the same went for the interior. Mechanically, the rear track was widened to counter the Mk1s tail happy nature while the front suspension benefitted from a revised roll centre.

The engine still breathed through Solex carbs but the adoption of a B-type cylinder head along with larger valves raised the 2483cc’s game from 112bhp to 120bhp, although due to the added 50kg weight and larger frontal area, the Mk2 was slower than the original, which incidentally remained in production until 1960.

The most significant changes occurred after 1962 when a Police-spec dynamo, Mk10 style steering wheel and a larger 3in prop shaft were universally fitted. For ‘64 a better oil filter and a thicker S-Type front anti roll bar were employed (not many know this). But the biggest change was in ‘65 when the Mk2 benefitted from the new Jag gearbox, first seen on the E-type, which was easier, lighter to use than the old Moss design; the clutch actuating system was also improved at the same time. Mk2s fitted with the Jag ’box are denoted by a round polished gear knob.

Launched in 1959 to much acclaim, but by the mid 1960s, this great sports saloon was coming under increasing attack from newer upstarts such as the Triumph 2000, Rover 2000TC and the plush Vauxhall Viscount (the latter voted British Car of 1966 by the Sunday Times) and with Jaguar now coming under control of BLMC after merging in July 1966, rationalisation quickly took place to cut costs, and the Mk2 suffered.

For the Mk2 this meant replacing the standard leather with Ambla (an upper crust pvc!), making the flush-mounted fog lamps optional (replaced by ugly mesh grilles) and dumping the old traditional Windtone horns. During 1966 sales of the 3.8 Mk2 had dwindled to just 689 that year. In contrast almost 1600 2.4s were sold although all Mk2 sales dramatically tailed off the following year. To bolster the range until the XJ6 was launched in September 1968, Jaguar took the step of down-marketing the Mk2 and saw the entry model 2.4 as the key-to car.

Introduced in September 1967 the 240 (and the 340) were identified by their slimmer S-Type bumpers and 420-style hubcaps along with modernised badging. Inside the already budgeted interior was further cost cut by deleting those legendary picnic tables fitted to the front seat backs. The famous wood trim remained thankfully, but not so high a quality many believe.

But the 240 in particular was amply compensated for such undignified belt tightening because it was given the sort of power it should have enjoyed years ago. Out went the old restrictive B-Type cylinder head and Solex carbs, replaced by a straight-ported E-Type-style top end with twin 1.75 SUs plus a new distributor, improved cooling system and twin exhausts (so it looked sportier too).

All this raised power of the 2483cc engine a healthy 11 per cent, from 120bhp to a healthier 133bhp, with torque slightly improved, now up to 146 lbft albeit produced at a heady 3700rpm, against the earlier tune’s lustier 3000rpm.

The 240 was pitched at £1364 – just £20 more than the original 2.4 of 1956. The Mk2’s stay of execution didn’t last long however. The 340 was dropped almost as soon as the XJ6 arrived while the 240 bowed out the following April. In terms of sales figures the 2.4/240 always trailed its bigger brothers, except during the start of production in ‘59/60 where the 2.4 sold almost 2000 more units.

During the mid 1960s the tables were turned and the 3.4 ruled the showroom, narrowly piping the 3.8. However the real sales stealer was the often overlooked Daimler that comprehensively outsold the 2.4 Jaguar (by double in 1965) and even comfortably outsold the 3.4 and 3.8s too! Not as well built as its long reputation suggests, the last of the line Mk2s were much better screwed together than the earlier mounts. Autocar in particular praised the new 240 for its smoothness and said it was “better than most Jaguars tested over the years.” Praise indeed!


So how bad is the 2.4? Actually it’s quite okay for most of us. That engine may be slower but it’s by far the sweetest XK unit of them all. Stopwatch figures for the 2.4 seem grim – road tests of the time had the car well short of 100mph while the 0-60mph time was a lazy 17.3 seconds – but in today’s real world driving conditions the sweetness and smoothness of the small block XK goes a long way to compensate for the Growler’s lack of bite as does its outstanding flexibility where ambling at 10mph in top is easy.

Interestingly, another road test of the 2.4, in automatic guise, saw the car appreciably livelier. Much of the criticisms levelled at the 2.4 were cured with the uprated engine found in the post September ‘67 240s where the added pep gives the engine much more respectable performance over the original plus even makes you have second thoughts over a more expensive 3.4!

Contemporary road tests by Autocar and Motor had the 240 post a respectable 0-60mph time of 12.5 seconds and truck on to 106mph, making the Jag much more competitive against the likes of in house British Leyland rivals such as the Rover 2000 TC and the Triumph 2.5PI, as well as the surprisingly good truck-engined Vauxhall Ventora.

Handling of the 2.4 is slightly better over its more powerful stablemates due to the fact that the engine is lighter so the car isn’t so nose-heavy and under steer-prone, although with its heavy tiller requiring close to five turns lock-to-lock, a cross country dash is a bit of handful and power steering was never an option on the entry-model Mk2.

But as we said at the start, the 2.4/240 is more about cultured cruising, albeit not exactly a frugal one. Yes, a 2.4 is usefully more economical than the 3.4 or 3.8 but only if you pussy foot around. Use the limited power to the full and expect no better than 20mpg in general although a really gently amble using overdrive as much as possible may yield 25mpg.

More after the pic...


These cut-price cats lag behind the more fashionable Mk2s, sometimes by 40-50 per cent depending upon year, condition and spec! Typically a 2.4 could be around £4-5000 less than an equivalent 3.4 and perhaps £7-8000 over the iconic MoD 3.8.

You have to ask the question, is all that extra power worth the extra outlay? The run-out 240 is priced much the same as the 2.4 (not so the 3.4/340) and this may be due to its superior performance. Basket cases are around £1500, good cars in the region of £6-7000 while unless it’s something really special, even the best cars should still leave change out of £12,000.


There’s only a limited amount you can do to the 2.4 engine, as logically, serious power gains are best served by the bigger engines. The most natural upgrade on pre ’68 models is to upgrade to 240 spec, which along with electronic ignition will be more than adequate for most. Jaguar used to offer various states of tune to the 2.4; a myriad of camshaft and cylinder head mods saw power hiked up to 131bhp and 150bhp although again simply fitting a 240 ‘top end’ seems a cheaper method.

The rest of the mods depend what you want from your Mk2, although uprated dampers and springs with new harder suspension bushes will tighten the handling but given the power of the car, a just thorough overhaul of the all disc set up with performance front pads will more than suffice. For the more cruising type, overdrive is a really worthwhile fitment as it raises the gearing from a fussy 17.8mph/1000 rpm to a more relaxed 22.4mph. Stick with the non overdrive rear axle ratio and it’ll be even higher geared but at the expense of performance.

Decide on a Daimler?

If you’re after the best ‘2.4 Mk2’ then go for the great V8! Launched in 1962 using the excellent Daimler 2.5-litre V8, this is the most underrated Mk2 of them all. With its silky smooth 140bhp power, usually allied to standard automatic transmission, the Daimler is a much quicker and even smoother alternative to a 2.4/240 and yet just as cheap.

It’s all due to the Daimler’s duller image which has always hindered interest as a classic while the popularity of Mk2s soared. But in return you’ll own something that’s rarer, more dignifi ed and – thanks to its MK10-like furnishing – certainly more plush. Whisper it, but some even rate the Daimler the better handler than any Mk2 due to its lighter compact alloy engine…

What To Look For

Although the 240 performed much better than the old sluggish Mk2 2.4, many have been upgraded to 3.4 spec, Check to see which engine is fi tted. They look the same but the smaller engine sits much lower in the engine bay.

Look for half-hearted conversions; the heavier XK engines needed their own dedicated suspension set up while chances are the lower-ratio 2.4 rear axle may still be fitted.

Naturally rust is the biggest problem with any Mk2. The main areas for rot are the chassis box sections, front cross-member (particularly at its ‘crow’s feet’ which are welded to the valance and cross-member), inner sills, floorpan, outer sills, door bottoms, wings and the car’s ‘nose’, which rots badly around the fog lamp region.

At the rear check the floor (including the boot) rear axle and leaf spring hangers. Scrutinise the doors for alignment and the panel gaps. A small magnet is invaluable for detecting crafty fibreglass repairs – which many Mk2s are stuffed with!

The 240s feature S-Type slim-line bumpers, which some prefer. However you can substitute the original chunkier fenders fairly easily although the bracketing and valances are different. It’s similar to converting an MGB from rubber to chrome, but this time the conversion is not so involved or costly.

The XK engine is well known and usually durable. Wear points are rattly timing chains (a tough DIY job to replace), over silent tappets that have closed up in service (requiring expert re-shimming and usually carried out alongside a decoke) and oil leaks from the cam covers and that notorious rear crank oil seal. Oil pressure should be around 45lbft @ 3000 rpm if okay. Expect to pay around £4000 for a well built reconditioned unit.

But really, the biggest fear with an old XK engine these days concerns overheating due to furred up waterways owing to second rate or spent anti-freeze being used. Has the engine been replaced with an older unit? All 1968 Jags featured the new style finned cam covers.

On all cars, the four-speed with optional overdrive is characteristically heavy and slow to use. Watch for weak synchromesh and noise, especially on the Moss unit.

Clutch replacements are a major job on all and beyond the realms of many home mechanics but can be done without dropping the front suspension if you have a super strong hoist.

Overdrive should kick in smoothly and speedily, if not oil level may be low, which will damage unit. Factory spec gearboxes with overdrive have a slightly lower fi rst gear ratio but the difference is okay to live with.

The Borg Warner Type 35 three-speed auto box is a lazy affair but very smooth (unlike the old DG ‘box fi tted to earlier cars) and long-lived. Inspect the fluid: it should be clean and not smell ‘burnt’. If it does then it suggests wear.

Rear axles are usually robust although the driveshaft oil seal is known to weep. Incidentally axle ratios were; 4.27:1 or 4.55:1 with o/d. 3.4 cars were 3.54:1/3.77:1 respectively.

Worn springs and dampers are common to all Mk2s so check and bear in mind that the Daimler and 2.4 ones differ to other Mk2s due to the lighter engines (ensure the correct replacement have been used). See that the car sits straight and true; a nose up stance suggests 3.4 springs may have been used .

Check the suspension for worn bushes, shot front wishbones and clapped out swivels, which be adjustable with shims.

Seized/clapped out disc brakes are a bit of a Mk2 way of life. Handbrakes are notoriously ineffective and frequently play up – modified in ‘66 to provide improved alignment of the pad carriers supposedly.

Like other MK2s, a combination of either steel rims with hub caps or wire wheels may be used. Check the latter for broken or loose spindles. A fully refurbished wire rim costs over £200 a go and bear in mind that the 240 used plainer S-Type/420 tin lids and not the ‘eared’ earlier Jaguar types.

The plainer trim found on post-’66 Mk2s has its compensations. The Ambla trim is a lot hardier than leather although that said don’t underestimate the cost of a ground up interior restoration. A new dash can cost thousands for example while a full refit can run to £10,000. If the trim needs recovering then consider leather as the upgrade isn’t that costly due to cheaper hides now available.

Don’t dismiss the Daimler V8 as merely a Daimler-engined Mk2. There are subtle differences in the trim and fitting, while the front seats are more akin to miniature Mk X bench-style perches and if you’re after total originality then you’re in for a hard time. For example, the Daimler has its own dedicated took kit even featuring ‘Daimler’ embossed spanners.

Let our verdict come from that late, great weekly Motor who reckoned: ‘It’s a pity that the praises of the 2.4/240 have been a trifle neglected in the past because the car has so much to offer’’.

We couldn’t agree more… so let those after speed rather than style pay more for their Mk2s!

Kim Horton's Jaguar was once owned by Hacienda boss Tony Wilson

Me and my classic motor: 1962 Jaguar Mark 2 2.4-litre

By Emma Smith, Times Motoring on 21 September, 2015

THIS STATELY, pale green Jaguar does not scream rock’n’roll, but in the early 1980s it belonged to Tony Wilson, co-founder of the Hacienda nightclub and Factory Records, and its passengers almost certainly included members of bands such as New Order and Happy Mondays.

Wilson, who died in 2007, and his Mk 2, with its distinctive 3 MNP numberplate (a hangover from a previous owner), were a familiar sight on the streets of Manchester, where, as a regional television presenter, he had long been a local celebrity. “Wilson only had the car for five years, but [because of the celebrities who rode in it] that completely overshadows my 30,” concedes Kim Horton, now its owner. He bought the car from Wilson in 1985 for £900 after seeing an advert on the staff noticeboard at Granada TV.

Even today people occasionally stop Horton, 62, in the street and ask him about “Tony’s Jag”. Horton, a film editor and former colleague of Wilson at Granada, says: “Everyone knew Tony. He was such a big character, and he did so much for Manchester.” The car even starred in a 1980s Granada TV series with Wilson. “I think it was called B-Roads,” Horton recalls.

The Mk 2 took Wilson through the release of New Order’s first three albums and he sold it in the year Happy Mondays released their first EP on Factory. Horton found no evidence of sex, drugs or rock’n’roll in the car, although it still had marks from where Wilson had strapped his windsurfing kit to the roof. “He used to do madcap things,” Horton says with a laugh. “He had it out once at Oulton Park racetrack, took it around the circuit and blew the differential.”

In another cartoonish incident the car was once stolen twice in a day. The police found the car in a Liverpool street, but when Wilson went to collect it, the thieves simply followed him and stole it again, returning it to the same street. “It was just someone’s idea of a joke — the car wasn’t damaged,” Horton says. “It may well have been at a time when Tony was mouthing off about Manchester being the centre of the world. He used to like getting up people’s noses.”

Jaguar launched the mid-sized saloon in 1959 and production continued until 1967. Horton’s is the smaller-engined 2.4-litre 120bhp model, like the one driven by John Thaw in Inspector Morse (there were also 3.4-litre and 3.8-litre versions).

Horton has fond memories of driving the youngest of his three daughters home from hospital in his Mk 2 after her birth — cradled in her mother’s arms because the car has never had seatbelts. And they continued to use it for family holidays until it finally became too unsafe and impractical.

Nowadays it is kept in a lock-up, having been restored more than a decade ago. Horton drives a Volkswagen Polo, although the Mk 2, with its green paint and green leather seats, still comes out for special occasions and car shows. Sadly, Wilson’s top-of-the-range Blaupunkt cassette player did not survive the overhaul.

One day, unless his daughters claim it, Horton thinks “Tony’s Jag” may live in a museum. “It’s a little part of the history of this city,” he says. “I could imagine someone doing musical tours of the city in it, although they might have to do the return journey on a flat-bed.”

1962 Jaguar Mk 2 2.4-litre details

Owner: Kim Horton

Occupation: Film editor

Bought for: £900 (in 1985)

Value today: £17,000 (estimated)

To buy a Daimler required less in the way of £sd than the Lagonda

A Lagonda 3-Litre represented the equivalent of five years’ wages for an average Briton

A touch of class - Daimler Regency vs. Lagonda 3-Litre luxury shootout

Andrew Roberts steps back to the pre-Suez Crisis era to find out which luxury saloon did the best job of tempting their chauffeur-driven owners into the captain’s chair. by Andrew Roberts, on 16 August 2017

In the Fifties the Daimler Regency Sportsman and the Lagonda 3-Litre were two prime examples of a car that constantly prompted well-heeled owners to give their chauffeurs the weekend off.

During the week, either might have been used to convey a landowner to a meeting or the managing director of a property development company to the bomb site he planned to transform into a tower block. But come Friday, the urge to take the wheel would be irresistible. And more than six decades later these two cars still quietly exude an atmosphere of a day at the Grand National or maybe a spin to the airfield in order to catch that flight to Le Touquet.

My first impression of these truly magnificent cars is of their natural and effortless sense of presence. Some vehicles attempt to make an impact via the use of excess brightwork or, by the late Seventies, exaggerated spoilers. By contrast, neither the Daimler nor the Lagonda feels the need to indulge in any display of overt ostentation or vulgarity per se. They were made at a time when automotive publicity often appealed to the potential buyers’ social aspirations and to drive either of our test cars would have meant its respective owner really had ‘arrived’.

To buy a Daimler required less in the way of £sd than the Lagonda, although that needs to be placed in a historical context – in 1955 £2600 was twice the cost of a Wolseley 6/90 and somewhat more than the price of a Jaguar Mk VII. But then a Regency Sportsman driver might have dismissed the former as suitable for bank managers and police inspectors while regarding the latter as the province of spivs and counter-jumpers.

That fluted radiator grille clearly denoted old money although, in many respects, the Daimler strikes me as a car of a multi-faceted image. Its model name conjures visions of days of leisure, with fishing rods or golf clubs in the boot – but the brochures stated that it combined ‘power with prestige’ to create ‘The Swift Immaculate Cars for Men of Affairs’, which now sounds rather racey.

The original Regency saloon debuted in 1951 but sales were limited, partially because of a rise in Purchase Tax, and production ceased in 1952. Two years later Daimler re-introduced the Regency in Mk II guise and in addition to the standard saloon there was the alternative of the Sportsman – and for an extra £326 the Daimler motorist gained a motorcar with idiosyncratic four-window coachwork by Mulliners of Birmingham.

The Sportsman was introduced at the tail-end of the extravagant Docker Daimlers commissioned by chairman Sir Bernard Docker. One way of enjoying the Daimler is to lounge on the richly upholstered rear bench, acknowledging the awestruck glances of various Ford Consul and Hillman Minx owners. But this would be a wasted opportunity because the Sportsman was indeed for the enthusiast who might have otherwise considered a Bentley.

Yet this is not a formidable car to drive. Certain products of this era require the motorist to engage in battle with the steering and transmission but the Daimler positively encourages you to delight in its dignified but never staid progress. As many a Regency owner will tell you, a pre-selector gearbox discourages motorists with delusions of becoming the next Stirling Moss, because the raison d’être of a Sportsman is for it to almost glide above the tarmac.

One very positive development during the Regency’s lifespan was the replacement of the hydromechanical braking with a servo-assisted all-hydraulic set-up, allowing the Sportsman to halt with the same degree of grace as it accelerates. This Daimler was fitted with the 3.8 engine from the later Majestic but it was originally powered by a high-efficiency version of the famous 3.5-litre straight six that boasted a higher compression ratio and an aluminium cylinder head. A rarely specified option was the 4.5-litre motor.

Both of our duo were targeted at the owner-driver, and this especially applies to the Lagonda. A British saloon of the Fifties fitted with all-independent suspension was extremely unusual and it does feel slightly more attuned to the demands of a sporting motorist than the Daimler, balancing comfort with entertaining road manners. The rack and pinion steering is heavy but precise and the springs allow for a comfortable ride and, should the mood grab you, spirited cornering.

More after the spec sheets:

And then there is the note of the twin-cam engine that was designed by Willie Watson under WO Bentley – a powerplant so flexible that a Lagonda could perambulate around town at just 10 mph or speed down the A1 with equal élan. The unit is positively silken – I get the impression that that the 3-Litre would be happy to cruise at 80 mph without disturbing the occupants’ sangfroid.

Early 3-Litres have a steering column gear-change but this splendid example is one of the MkII models fitted with a delightfully precise floor lever, while the servo-assisted brakes are not the lightest but are exceptionally reassuring. In terms of appearance, the Lagonda seems a degree more discreet than the Daimler, with lines that combined formality with an authentic sense of dash.

The 3-Litre is only the second Lagonda of the David Brown era, which began in 1946 when the industrialist famously saw an advertisement offering a ‘High-class motor business, established 25 years, 30,000 pounds, net profit last year 4000 pounds. Write Box V. 1362, The Times, EC4.’

In February 1947 Brown bought Aston Martin for £20,500 and that September he spent a further £52,500 acquiring Lagonda – one of the attractions of the latter firm was that twin-cam engine. A disused airbase near Feltham was to become a home for both marques, with the 2.6-litre power plant the cornerstone of the Aston Martin DB2 and Lagonda’s first post-war saloon, launched in 1948. Five years later the unit was bored out to power the 3-Litre; Aston Martin enthusiasts would have to wait another eight months for it to be fitted to the DB 2/4.

The new Lagonda was initially only available in two-door coupé and drophead forms, the four-door saloon being introduced in 1954. The line-up was facelifted as the Mk II in the following year and the final examples listed in 1958.

A Lagonda 3-Litre saloon cost rather more than the Sportsman – indeed, it represented the equivalent of five years’ wages for an average Briton – and it feels more purposeful than the Daimler. The 3-Litre’s Tickford body contains some delightfully anachronistic overtones, such as the centrally hinged front doors, but the lowing wings give it a decisive air.

One of its most high-profile drivers was the Duke of Edinburgh, but the fact that it was never offered in left-hand drive would infer a lack of perceived sales appeal in the USA. On the strength of brief acquaintanceship with this mighty car I would argue that this was a missed opportunity.

An imported Lagonda would have been monumentally pricey but would have had a social cachet for a corporate lawyer above and beyond a Mercedes-Benz 300 ‘Adenauer’ or a Jaguar Mk VIII. Of course, many a British enthusiast of the marque would proudly contend that this is always the case with the Lagonda.

All too soon it’s time to take my leave from two ultra-exclusive motor cars. Lagonda sold just 295 examples of the 3-Litre while just 33 examples of the 3.5-litre Regency Sportsman left Coventry. Their detailing, from the Daimler’s ornate fascia to the Lagonda’s adjustable door armrest, is nothing short of exquisite and should your gentleman’s express suffer the indignity of a puncture there is the useful fitting of integral hydraulic jacks.

The Lagonda 3-Litre ceased production in 1957, the Daimler in 1956 and as a sign of the changing times, the latter marque was acquired by Jaguar in 1960. The heyday of our brace of cars was that of Fifties Britain prior to the Suez Crisis, a world of order and predictability.

They may date from the same period as the first Citroën DS but they occupy a wholly different universe and their appearance makes it almost impossible to believe the Mini was fewer than five years in the future. By that time motorists would have to wait a further two years for the next Lagonda while Daimler was on the verge of being acquired by Browns Lane.

The term ‘quality car’ has been much misused over the years and so I prefer to reserve it for those few vehicles of real integrity such as the Lagonda and the Daimler. The Fifties was a challenging time for the manufacturers of coach-built cars and these two seamlessly blend a pre-war sense of poise while facing the new post-war challenges with verve and aplomb.

So, which of these machines would occupy a place in my fantasy motor house assuming that either of them would be happy with a new owner of a decidedly East Cheam-background?

The answer is simple – I will take both; the Lagonda for the City and the Daimler for high days and holidays. Dreaming of owning such cars does encourage one to raise one’s standards.

The XJ is a big car that will never be cheap to run

Used Jaguar XJ (X351) review

A full used buyer’s guide on the XJ X351 (2010-2019)

Auto Express 23 July 2019


There’s no denying that the XJ is a specialised purchase, because it’s a big car that will never be cheap to run. But it can represent excellent value if you do your homework. Scour the owners’ forums and you’ll soon see that early XJs can be frustrating, with various glitches and usability problems. However, things were clearly much better by the time the 2013 models were on sale.

As a result, you’re probably better off buying one of these with a fairly high mileage than an early car that’s barely been used. Just bear in mind that no two XJs are likely to be the same thanks to an extensive options list. Before buying, do pin down exactly what you’re getting for your money.

When the original Jaguar XJ arrived in 1968, it revolutionised the luxury-car market. The Mercedes S-Class was out of reach for most, and the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS were still in the future – the distant future, in some cases. With its silky-smooth engines, equally smooth ride, luxurious cabin and classic design, the XJ shook things up.

Over the next 41 years Jaguar launched a string of all-new XJs, with looks that echoed the original’s, but in 2010 came a complete departure for the brand – an aluminium luxury saloon with the silhouette of a hatch and a front-end design with no recognisable Jag cues. This car will be killed off shortly, meaning new ones will be unavailable – but does a used example make sense?


The all-new Jaguar XJ (codenamed X351) arrived in spring 2010. There were 3.0 V6 diesel or 5.0 V8 petrol engines, the latter in naturally aspirated or supercharged forms. From summer 2011, electrically reclining and massaging rear seats became optional.

The 542bhp supercharged XJR arrived in spring 2013, then six months later range revisions brought a supercharged 3.0 V6 petrol, range-wide stop/start and DAB, significant infotainment updates and a comfort suspension option. Further major changes came in autumn 2015, with new multimedia, updated lighting, extra driver-assistance systems, new steering, plus R-Sport and Autobiography trim options. On top of this there were numerous model-year tweaks, so the newer the car, the more highly specified and developed it is.

Which one should I buy?

Regular use of a petrol car will cost plenty in fuel and road tax, so a diesel model makes the most sense. But if you’re buying just for occasional drives (or you have deep pockets) a supercharged V8 is the way to go.

All XJs are autos; the box had six ratios until autumn 2013, when an eight-speeder took over. The entry-level Luxury comes with leather, 19-inch wheels, panoramic roof, dual-zone climate, heated windscreen and bi-xenon headlights. LWB models get four-zone climate control and privacy glass.

Premium Luxury adds heated front and rear seats, keyless go and an uprated hi-fi, while the Portfolio also has massaging and ventilated front seats, a rear parking camera and an even better stereo. The Supersport range-topper gets a back-seat entertainment system with TV, plus upgraded leather.

Alternatives to the Jaguar XJ

The only other aluminium-bodied luxury car is the Audi A8. It’s a tough adversary thanks to its hi-tech cabin, standard four-wheel drive and superb engines – most notably the ultra-smooth 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel. Mercedes’ S-Class also gives the Jag a tough time. It’s the best-selling car in the sector, so there are plenty to choose from. Packed with tech, ultra-refined and superbly built, the Mercedes is a class act.

Another alternative is the similarly driver-focused BMW 7 Series, or the left-field Lexus LS, which is uncannily refined, loaded with tech and available in hybrid form.

What to look for

Roof rattles

The panoramic roof can creak, pop and rattle a lot when the car is driven over poor surfaces. Listen for this on test drives.


XJs came with 18, 19 or 20-inch wheels. Tyres for these can cost up to £250 apiece to replace, so check treads and haggle accordingly.


By modern standards, the display on early cars is slow, but a 2012 screen can be retro-fitted.


Some owners report that DAB reception can be lost when the heated rear window is used. Having the screen replaced fixes things.

more after the break

The cabin is an XJ highlight


As you’d expect of such a large and luxurious car, the cabin is an XJ highlight. Swathed in premium materials, the seats are supportive and comfortable, while the dashboard is easy to use, although its technology is bettered by rivals’. Even short-wheelbase XJs have plenty of rear-seat legroom, and boot space is generous, too. It’s not class-leading, but there is room to stow 479 litres.


You can buy a nearly new Jaguar XJ for between £17,299 and £50,780 on our sister site BuyaCar.

Running costs

All XJs need to be serviced every 12 months or 16,000 miles. Services alternate between minor and major for the diesel, at £349 and £526, although these prices drop to £225 and £385 from the car’s third birthday. The 112,000-mile/year-seven visit costs £1,302.

Each service on a V8 will set you back between £399 and £720, with the sixth costing £1,343. Equivalent prices for a supercharged 3.0 are £452-£585 and £967. Fresh brake fluid every two years is £65, and the diesel’s cambelt has to be renewed every seven years or 112k miles for £625, on top of the cost of the seventh service.


The first of 12 recalls came in February 2011, for a wiper arm that could detach. Later recalls concerned possible brake-servo issues, engine cut-outs, suspension failure (XJR) and short circuits. Brake-fluid leaks, steering and instrument-cluster failure plus faulty crankshaft sensors, airbags and crankshaft pulleys were other potential problems. Often only a few cars were affected.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The XJ is too specialised to appear in our Driver Power new or used-car satisfaction surveys, but many owners have written about their experiences on the CarBuyer website. Impressively, virtually all have left four or five-star reviews, with no one or two-star verdicts. The most common issues centre on the electrics and electronics, but value, comfort and refinement get the thumbs-up.

This 1911 Daimler Phaeton is said to have belonged to King George V

1911 Daimler 6-23 Phaeton

From Car and Classic

Vintage and Prestige recently offered this 1911 Daimler 6-23 Phaeton sleeve valve For Sale.

Registration: BF 5777

Chassis no: 8701

Engine no: 9021

Beginning with the production of a two cylinder, four hp car based on the then-existing Panhard in 1897, Daimler of Coventry established a well deserved reputation for quality and reliability. Convincing proof was offered when one such Daimler was the first motor car to traverse the entire length of the British Isles between Land’s End and John O’Groats. King Edward VII purchased a six hp Daimler in 1900, beginning a long association between England’s royalty and Daimler.

A line of two and four cylinder models were produced under J.S. Critchley over the next few years, and then in 1902, a new three car model line, designed by Edmund Lewis was introduced. King Edward again chose a new Daimler, this time a 22 hp model.

Daimler was highly regarded for performance, with a succession of four and six cylinder automobiles, powered by engines ranging from 3.3 litres to a mammoth 10.4 litres. Soon afterward, however, Daimler opted for refinement over raw power with the adoption of the sleeve valve engine designed by American Charles Knight. Following the merger of Daimler with BSA in 190, the Daimler model line up was streamlined in the interest of efficiency.

The handsome 1911 Daimler Phaeton seen here is one of the earliest products of the Daimler-BSA union, and it is said to have once been a personal car of King George V, although no records are available to support this claim.

A meticulous, concours-quality restoration of the body and interior was undertaken in the 90’s with its quality confirmed by concours wins at the Meadow Brook and at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was awarded the coveted Lord Montague of Beaulieu Award for the most significant English car.

The exterior is finished in two beautiful shades of green with fine red coach-lines flowing through the length of the car. Various brass finishing adorn the Daimler, to see the quality in-person truly is remarkable. The interior again meets Concours standards with the unmarked buttoned leather and Wilton carpet to the rear.

Key features of this Daimler are the inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed gearbox, live front and rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, rear coil spring dampers and rear wheel internal expanding brakes and foot-operated transmission brake.

In more recent years an eye-watering amount has been spent at the renowned specialist N P Engineering, where every aspect of the engine and gearbox was stripped and re-assembled to the highest of qualities. The outcome is truly remarkable, with one of the sweetest engines we have heard.