History of the 1959 - 1967 Jaguar Mk II
The Jaguar Mark II saloon (also noted as the Jaguar Mk 2) was an elegant update of the company’s first small unibody saloon, the Jaguar Mark I of 1955. The modifications resulted in what is considered to be the best-looking compact Jaguar saloon, and many have been expensively restored.
The Mark II of 1959 modified the Jaguar Mark I design with a larger windscreen, bigger side and rear windows, a wider rear track, which did away with the full-wing skirts, new grille, fitted fog lamps and standard 4-wheel disc brakes. The interior was still a thing of beauty, with a walnut veneer dash, multiple gauges (now moved in front of the driver), a row of toggle switches and comfortable leather seats.
Engines remained the DOHC aluminium 6-cylinder, in 2.4-litre, 3.4-litre and 3.8-litre displacement, with horsepower ranging from 120-210 and top speed from 96 mph to 125 mph. The transmission was usually a 4-speed with overdrive, though some dismal Borg-Warner automatics were sold. Most cars had independent suspension all round and many cars were fitted with wire wheels.
Between 1967 and 1969, the entry-level Jaguar 240 and 340 models were sold, just as the XJ6 was being launched. These cars came with ‘Ambla’ vinyl interiors as standard, slim S-type bumpers, and either a 2.4 litre or 3.4 litre engine. Total production for the Mark II was: 25,173 2.4-litres; 28,666 3.4-litres; and 30,141 3.8-litres. There were 4,446 240s and 2,796 340s.
In parallel with the Jaguar Mark II, Daimler built a 2.5-litre saloon from 1962 to 1969 -- the Daimler 250 V8. It was powered by Edward Turner’s superb V-8 engine, and is cosmetically very similar to the Jaguar. Many are automatics but a 4-speed manual and overdrive option was added for 1967, also the last year of the larger bumpers. In all 17,620 were built.
The Jaguar Mark II first entered the public consciousness when the London underworld realised their size, speed and handling gave them an edge over Police cars of the time. Soon the Met Police cottoned-on, and ordered the Mark II themselves. The Jaguar Mark II is now seen in pretty much every police drama, and is famously driven by John Thaw’s Inspector Morse.
The Jaguar Mark II also had a very successful competition history, racing as a saloon car. The most well-known were the Coombs Jaguars, built by John Coombs, a Jaguar dealer from Guildford who race-prepared his own cars and sold modifications to the public.
Owning a Mark II Jaguar is relatively straightforward due to the huge supply of parts, interchangeability with other models and performance upgrades available. Rust is an ever-present problem, especially at the bottom of the A-pillar, door bottoms, floors, valances and boot floors. Interior wood veneer can de-laminate and is susceptible to both sun and dampness. Ambla vinyl will reduce the value, as would an automatic transmission or steel wheels.
The most desirable Jaguar Mark IIs are original Coombs specification cars (many others having been built to ‘Coombs’ spec later). The 340s and 240s are the least desirable cars, and their values lag some way behind their 3.8 litre brothers.
Other contemporary alternatives include the Daimler V8 2.5 and 250, the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint, the Bristol 405 and the Wolseley 6/110.