History of the 1963 - 1968 Jaguar S-type
The Jaguar S-Type made its bow on the 30th September 1963 and was intended by Jaguar to combine the virtues of the Mk X and the Mk 2. It had the independent rear suspension of the former and the front coil spring with dual wishbones of the former. Its body looked similar to the Mk 2 but the boot was longer, the roof line was flatter so as to give more headroom for rear seat passengers, and there were peaks over the headlamps. There were also Mk X style front indicators. Engine choices were the familiar 3.4-litre and 3.8-litre I-6 DHOC units driving the rear wheels, with the same Dunlop braking system as fitted to the Mk 2.
Production of the 3.8S, as the new car was officially badged, commenced first, followed by the 3.4S in early 1964; this was always the rarer of the two Jaguar S-Types. The transmission choices were a Moss 4-speed manual box, overdrive and 3-speed automatic. The 3.4-litre model was capable of a top speed around 115mph while the 3.8 automatic could reach 116mph and the 3.8S manual a highly respectable 125mph.
Jaguar intended the S-Type to offer more space and comfort than its cheaper stablemate, and so there was a more elaborate heating system and reclining backrests for the front occupants. There was also an under-fascia picnic table in place of those for the back seat passengers. A Powr-Lok limited-slip differential and PAS were extras, with the latter being a higher geared Burman system than the power steering that was available on the Mk 2. Browns Lane did not offer a 3.4S road test car but the gentlemen of the motoring press found a 1965 3.8S in manual overdrive form to be a splendid value at £1,814 1s 3d.
The 1965 model year saw a new manual gearbox, and in the autumn of the following year the S-Type’s specification was reduced; no fog lamps or picnic table, Ambla instead of leather trim, and a cheaper carpet were all concessions. The 3.4S lost the option of the Powr-Lok differential at this time and some late model cars were fitted with Marles Varamatic PAS. At this time the London Metropolitan Police ordered the first of their 240 S-Type squad cars – these had 150 differences from a civilian model.
Both versions of the Jaguar S-Type were replaced by the new XJ-6 in September 1968. The S-Type engine choices were the famed 3442cc and 3781cc XK units; as the S-Type was around 335lbs heavier than the Mk 2, it was never available with the 2.4-litre power plant. The Moss box had synchromesh on the top three gears and the later, Jaguar-designed, transmission was all synchro. The overdrive was from Laycock de Normanville and the automatic box was a Borg Warner DG on the early cars and a Borg Warner Model 35 from June 1965 onwards.
Many an S-Type owner will tell you that their Jaguar of choice combines the best of the Mk 2 and the Mk X. In the 1960s the S-Type was regarded as the best handling Browns Lane saloon (a point subsequently appreciated by many a Sweeney villain) and each variant has a very individual charm. An early 3.4S manual sans power steering has genuine vintage charm while a 3.8S automatic can cruise almost as well as a Mk X – and is considerably easier to park.
The S-Type shares many a corrosion issue with the Jaguar Mk 1 and the Mk 2, so investigate the front cross member, the chassis box sections, sills, door bottoms, floorplan and under the boot carpet. Worn suspension bushes badly affect handling and on manual models, a problematic clutch can result in major mechanical upheavals. Beware poorly resprayed examples as the consequent effect on your wallet will be anything but cheap and cheerful.
For too many years the S-Type was seen as a compromise Jaguar saloon, but now it is appreciated for its very individual set of virtues. Whether you wish to attend a show in style, press on down the M1, or dream of the famous chase scene in the 1967 crime drama "Robbery", a well-sorted S-Type will be more than capable.
Rivals to the Jaguar S-Type included the Rover P5 3-Litre coupe, the Citroen DS19 and DS21, and the Alfa Romeo 2600 Berlina.