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    / #1959-Ferrari-250-TR-Tribute / #1959-Ferrari-250-TR / #1959-Ferrari-250-Testa-Rossa / #1959 / #Ferrari-250-TR-Tribute / #Ferrari-250-Testa-Rossa / #Ferrari-250 / #Ferrari

    The sound is simply intoxicating. Crazy that it was in a wreck before it was first going to be on the show. He pretty much built his own Ferrari and you have to love a guy that will go to those lengths to drive his dream car.
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    Classic choice 190SL

    HAVE IT YOUR WAY

    With a rare factory hardtop, this 190SL can be transformed from a traditional roadster into a headturning coupe, only adding to its appeal. Words Richard Truesdell. Images Richard Truesdell/Daimler AG.

    When #Mercedes-Benz unveiled the SLK I and SLK II concepts in 1994, it wasn’t lost on marque enthusiasts that the manufacturer was reviving an idea from its illustrious past, that of the smaller, more lightweight, grand touring cars that lacked the power and pace of the maker’s most expensive two seaters, but were less hard on the wallet and still had the good looks and elegance of their bigger siblings. When the production ready R170 SLK was introduced in 1996, complete with its clever vario-roof, it ushered in the modern era of more affordable sports cars and two seaters with retractable hardtops.

    Of course, Mercedes’ original compact roadster was the W121 190SL , which made its debut at the New York International Motor Sports Show in February 1954 alongside its 300SL Gullwing stablemate, from which its enviable looks derived. It was presented as a prototype and after further testing and refinement, the final production version premiered at the Geneva show in March 1955. Yet while the 190SL shares styling elements with the 300SL , structurally it has much more in common with the Ponton saloons.

    The 190SL ’s chassis is a shortened version of the Ponton’s, its more modest performance meaning the 300SL ’s tubular space frame chassis was not necessary. Instead of the 2,996cc, 212bhp/203lb ft torque six that the powers the 300SL , under the 190’s bonnet is a 1,897cc, four-cylinder unit developing 104bhp and 105lb ft torque. Paired with an all syncromesh, four-speed manual transmission using a floor mounted shifter, the oversquare unit’s pace was leisurely but adequate, giving a 0-62mph time of 14.5 seconds with a top speed in excess of 100mph. Its as delivered price in the US (New York) at its 1955 introduction was $3,998, the optional hardtop a $300 extra. The 190SL enjoyed a long production run until February 1963 with 25,881 units produced before it was replaced by the W113 230SL Pagoda. This figure includes the coupe version built alongside the roadster.

    SHOW AND TELL

    All of this serves as background for this feature car, a #1959 / #1959-Mercedes-Benz-190SL owned by Nelson Jones of San Marino, California. After viewing this pretty, silver roadster at the 2012 San Marino Motor Classic, we pursued it because of its most distinctive feature: the rare, removable hardtop that has a wrap-around rear window. Looking closer, we noticed ‘190SL’ script adorning each side. In researching this feature we discovered that cars built before 1959 lacked the wrap-around glass. And all of the factory photographs, including one dated 1959, show the roof without the distinctive 190SL script found on this example. In fact, extensive research did not turn up a single 190SL with a removable roof featuring this 190SL script, which left us wondering if it was something added at some point in the car’s life, maybe during the roof ’s restoration.

    Nelson Jones and his wife Mimi are now retired, but in his working years, Jones was a developer of commercial retail properties and his automotive passions are eclectic. He owns several pre-war Packards, an exact duplicate of his first car which was a 1950 Chevrolet convertible, a fully restored, heavy duty Chevrolet truck from 1940, an original 1993 military Humvee and several tractors, but Jones is also drawn to cars bearing the three-pointed star. In addition to the 190SL featured here, he also owns a flawless 1956 300Sc Coupe, similar to friend Vin Di Bona’s (Mercedes Enthusiast February 2012) except that it lacks a sunroof. He certainly has a diverse collection!

    Jones acquired this 190SL after seeing it in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA’s Pebble Beach display in 2009. After Pebble Beach, he visited Mercedes’ classic showroom in Irvine and began negotiations to buy the 190SL and at the same time asked if it would be possible to locate the rare matching hardtop. With its worldwide resources, the Classic Center was indeed able to source a hardtop, albeit one that was in need of total restoration.

    A NATURAL LOOKER

    “I wanted a car that had a matching coloured hardtop,” begins Jones. “It’s my opinion that with the factory removable hardtop, the automobile does not look like a convertible but instead looks like a coupe from its inception, a very handsome thing to view, in my opinion. But, the car under consideration did not have a hardtop available. No problem, the Classic Center went out into the marketplace and acquired a hardtop for my future car. It was necessary to do a full restoration on the hardtop including new headlining. After some discussion with the staff at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, I acquired this automobile from them. The odometer reading was approximately 46,000 miles which is believed to be the original mileage.” And does he know anything about the origins of the script on the hardtop? “During the restoration process of the roof, in talking with the Classic Center they asked me if I wanted to retain the 190SL script on the hardtop,” he tells us. “As I liked the look, I asked them to attach the script using double-sided tape instead of permanently attaching the trim to the hardtop.”


    So while this 190SL’s rare hardtop was purchased for purely aesthetic reasons – and it looks very handsome and has great presence with its hardtop in place – it is wonderful to learn that this Mercedes-Benz wasn’t just bought to be looked at and polished. “I attempt to drive all of my automobiles on a monthly basis as it is my opinion that this procedure keeps them limbered up, which is very desirable,” Jones tells us. “While I have not yet taken the Mercedes on any extended trips, I don’t hesitate to drive perhaps 100 miles or so to a meet or show. I belong to the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, the International 190SL Group, Gull Wing Group International and the Classic Car Club of America.”


    When photographing the car at Jones’ ranch two hours north of Los Angeles where he stores his collection, we were struck by the fact that the car lacked carpets. He explained that the rubber floor mats in front of the seats were period correct, something that was verified by looking at factory photographs of the interior, as all the 190SLs pictured lacked carpet as well.

    AN EYE FOR DETAIL

    With its modest performance compared to its bigger engined brother, the 300SL, the 190SL was always much more a grand touring car than an out and out sports car, something apparent in reading contemporary roadtests from both sides of the Atlantic. Yet 49 years after it went out of production, the 190SL still has that special appeal that made it the darling of enthusiasts when new. Its charm captivated many and famous 190SL owners included Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra, Sandra Dee, Tuesday Weld and Grace Kelly. And we can’t forget that singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow auctioned her personal 190SL last year at Pebble Beach for a charity that benefited tornado relief in Joplin, Missouri. It sold for a then record $143,000 (around £90,000), exceeding the pre auction estimate of $100,000, setting a new benchmark for 190SLs.

    Looking at this gorgeous, compact, classic roadster, it seems unfair that the 190SL has been in the shadow of its 300SL sibling for so long. With its neatly proportioned body that oozes 1950s glamour, cool and suave, any 190SL that has survived the ravages of time (and rust) will surely be a delightful motorcar to be enjoyed and cherished for decades to come. The enthusiastic owners of the many surviving 190SLs are very lucky indeed.

    This roadster has the rare, removable hardtop that features a wrap-around rear window.

    I don’t hesitate to drive perhaps 100 miles or so to a meet or show in my 190SL.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-190SL-Roadster-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-190SL / #Mercedes-Benz-190SL-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-M121 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes /

    Engine #M121 1,897cc 4-cyl
    Power 104bhp @ 5,700rpm
    Torque 105lb ft @ 3,200rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,140kg
    0-62mph 14.5sec
    Top speed 106-112mph
    Fuel consumption 32.8mpg
    Years produced 1955-1963

    Overview

    Today this pretty, diminutive, classic SL is still as charming as ever Figures for a 1959 190SL as pictured; the weight quoted is without the hardtop fitted; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    Removing the heavy top is a two-man job.
    Do Mercedes dials get any prettier than these?
    The SL’s two-valve, 104bhp M121 motor.
    The attractive, original radio remains.
    The origin of the roof’s script is unknown.
    Only from 1959 did hardtops have this elegant, curved glass.
    The sleek, low roof gives the 190SL a racy, seductive, coupe look.
    Mimi and Nelson Jones enjoy their SL.
    The cabin is in fantastic condition.
    The 190SL and 300SL debuted in New York in February 1954.
    A spare wheel and a decent sized boot come with this handsome, classic SL.
    The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA sourced and restored the rare hardtop.
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    ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT CONTINUATION

    The original #Aston-Martin-DB4-GT was built between #1959 and #1963 / with eight of the original 75 in special lightweight form. Aston Martin has now announced it will build a further 25 lightweight cars, to original specification, each with 340bhp from their twin-spark straight-six engines. Production will commence in late 2017. It’s clearly the latest fashion: Jaguar, Lister and Shelby have all created continuation cars in recent years. McLaren F1 continuation model, anyone? #Aston-Martin-DB4 / #Aston-Martin / #Aston-Martin-DB4-GT-Lightweight /
    • No spurious 'lost' chassis numbers or factory fire mythology then. Just a pure profit motive. Ferrari must be looking at the auction prices of their bNo spurious 'lost' chassis numbers or factory fire mythology then. Just a pure profit motive. Ferrari must be looking at the auction prices of their back catalogue and considering the same thing. 250 'continuation' 250 GTOs anyone? And sod the authenticity.  More ...
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    ART’S ART / Pontiac’s in-house artist made the cars coolly covetable / Words Giles Chapman / #Pontiac-Firebird / #Pontiac / Catalina / #Arthur-Fitzpatrick / #Art-Fitzpatrick / #Van-Kaufman / #Pontiac-Catalina-Safari / #Pontiac-Catalina /


    There’s plenty to remember about Pontiac. The GTO that fashioned the muscle car fad, or the early Firebirds taking the battle to the Ford Mustang. ‘We Build Excitement’, went the Pontiac jingle, and car buyers felt it with every advert featuring the work of Art Fitzpatrick. The crisp, clear, rich West Coast ambience, and the low, wide stance of the cars he depicted in his illustrations, subconsciously swayed millions into becoming Pontiac owners.

    Fitzpatrick died last year, aged 96, shortly after opening a major exhibition of his work at the Gilmore Museum in Michigan. Onlookers got up close to 70 originals previously seen only in National Geographic or Life magazines, and Bill Krzastek, a 64-year-old classic car collector, was in a total reverie.

    ‘It was highly influential to many a young automotive enthusiast such as myself,’ he says. Not only did he draw the cars superbly but just look at the settings he surrounded them in: beaches, surfboards, dune buggies, beautiful women. It was a fiction you could be part of if only you owned one of these fine automobiles!’

    ‘Fitz’ was only part of the story. He was the ‘car guy’ in a legendary advertising industry duo, for it was former Disney animator Van Kaufman who created the backgrounds. The two painters’ work became so intertwined that once they even composed an advert over the phone, sight unseen. ‘I did the car and it fitted on Van’s background perfectly. We were that much in tune with each other,’ Fitzpatrick recalled in a 2012 interview.

    After attending the lofty Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts in 1936, aged 18, Fitzpatrick’s working life began as an apprentice designer at Briggs Body Co. Within four years he’d styled a complete car, the 1940 Packard 180.

    By 1959 Fitzpatrick and Kaufman were contracted to General Motors’ Pontiac division. Pontiac was about to embark on a decade-long image overhaul with its ‘wide track’ styling. In truth, the cars’ dimensions differed little from the Detroit norm, but Fitzpatrick’s renditions put clever emphasis on their width, shallow height and tapering length so that, to the public, Pontiacs were just a touch slicker than rivals. His work was key to changing perceptions.
    While other advertising campaigns shifted to photography, Pontiac stuck with illustration, exploiting Fitz’s subtle exaggerations and Van’s imaginative, aspirational settings. Pontiac general manager John De Lorean was so alert to their power that he personally banned all photos from the marque’s advertising.

    ‘A picture of a car moving doesn’t mean a thing,’ Fitzpatrick declared in a 2007 Motor Trend interview. ‘They all move. You have to convey something about the car psychologically. ‘The Pontiac front end was the greatest thing they ever did. It was so different and distinctive.

    It allowed me to push the visual to the limits, making seven-eighth front views instead of seven-eighth side views, the old standard. That enlarged the image of the car to 60% of the page.’ The side view had only taken 15%.

    The campaign lasted until 1972. After 285 images it had run out of finely air-brushed road. Legislation to ensure ‘truth in advertising’ was closing in. And wide though Pontiacs of the era were, Fitz had made them appear wider still. The pair then had a stint working their craft for Opel, so we Europeans could enjoy Fitz’s style too. Later on, Fitzpatrick interrupted his retirement (Kaufman passed away in 1995) to produce two sets of commemorative postage stamps for the US Mail in 2005 and 2008, featuring 1950s American classics. He was also a revered consultant to Pixar’s worldwide animated hit movie Cars.

    In that 2012 interview, 94-year old Fitz laughed when he recalled that photographers told him they’d tried to copy his style. ‘In 1968, our ads were the only art in magazines for automobile advertising. Every other campaign was done in photography.’

    He had plenty of favourites. One featured a green ’1969 GTO convertible near a cove, with a just-emerged masked diver. Another showed a Catalina in the moonlight, with a couple enjoying themselves out on a raft. ‘At the time, you couldn’t find a Pontiac in a yacht club or golf club parking lot anywhere. Just a year later, you could find them everywhere. That was the point.’

    Left and below. You could ache for a Firebird that looks like this, imagining après-ski powerslides in the snow; poolside Catalina wagon looks even longer, wider and lower than the real one. #1971 / #1959
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    Ben Barry
    CAR MGA / #MG / #MGA-1600-MK1-Roadster , Alamo Beige / #MGA-1600-Roadster / #MGA-MK1-Roadster / #MGA-1600 / #MGA-MK1

    Year of manufacture #1959
    Recorded mileage 516
    Asking price £26,950
    Vendor Former Glory, Postcombe, Oxfordshire; tel: 01844 281700; www. classicmg. co. uk

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £940
    Max power 78bhp
    Max torque 87lb ft
    0-60mph 14.2 secs
    Top speed 100mph
    Mpg 27

    This is a home-market right-hand-drive car in its original Alamo Beige with the Heritage Certificate to prove it, though it has spent time in California. It was restored 10 years ago and looks to have done little since, though the chrome wires are fairly recent; it was supplied on steels. The engine was exchanged for a new correct-type 1600 unit (prefixed GA/U: 1588cc for the Mk1) with unleaded head in ’03 when the mileage was 29,522.

    The paintwork is still pretty good, with one chip to the right of the bootlid and an area of crazing on the nearside front wing that will be dealt with before sale. Much of the chrome is repro, the windscreen frame replated, and it’s all smart. The tyres are 2004-dated Camacs, with the same but older on the painted-wire spare. The chassis is straight and solid except for the gearbox crossmember, which is a bit bashed (normal), the floors straight and clean and the underside of the sump is dry.

    Inside, there are a few paint microblisters on the dashboard but the instruments are all nice, and the leather is just taking on a bit of character. The carpets, hood and tonneau are as new, and the sidescreens should be by the time the car is sold. The motor is tidy, standard and correct, though with a braided flexy hose to the oil gauge and an electric fan. Its oil is golden, while the coolant is to the right level and vaguely blue.

    It starts easily with that typical BMC farty exhaust and it’s willing enough but not that quick. These don’t have synchro on first and second is going the same way, which isn’t a problem, just forcing a slower upchange and a double-declutch down. The brakes pull up well, the firm pedal confirming no servo, with a hint of pull to the right. Oil pressure is at least 60psi, with temperature steady at 80ºC.The mileometer reads, we suspect, the mileage since it was put back on the road in 2006 but the tripmeter doesn’t register. The last MoT expired in 2013, since when it hasn’t needed one, but it comes with a couple of more recent local concours awards.


    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Two blemishes in the paint, though these will be fixed
    INTERIOR Newish and just settling in
    MECHANICALS Quiet in operation; strong oil pressure; drives sweetly
    VALUE 4

    For Mk1 is most elegant; still in its rare original colour
    Against Second-gear synchro

    SHOULD I BUY IT?

    Minor, easily sortable or livable with issues, and £1000 less than FG’s Mk2. Plus, we like the colour.
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    1959 / #Aston-Martin-DB4-DP2155 / #1959 #Aston-Martin-DB4-Works-Prototype-DP2155 / #Aston-Martin-DB4-Works-Prototype / #Aston-Martin

    We’ve been asked to point out that the value of the unique, #Works-developed DB4, designated DP2155, as featured in the last issue of Vantage, is currently estimated at £2.2 million, not £1.2 million as was printed erroneously in the specification table. We apologise for the error. The car is currently for sale. For more information, please contact: am.dp2155@gmail.com
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    The streets of #Frankfurt #1956 / #1957 / #1958 / #1959 / #1960 / #1961 / #Porsche / #VW

    Greg Cagle was a little boy when his parents lived in Frankfurt, Germany, from 1956-1961, but he was already “a certifiable car nut,” and shot several hundred photos of road and race cars he encountered. He’s working on compiling some of those photos into a book, to be called Stop the Car! Included will be not just commentary about the cars, “but about what it was like at such a young age on a continent still struggling to recover from war, and the means of transportation most people resorted to: mopeds, motorcycles, microcars (which I fell in love with because they were just my size!) and so on.”

    Greg kept good notes, and has been able to identify all but a few of the cars in his photographs. One of the mysteries is this black coupe, shot in September 1957. “It looks to be a conglomeration of body parts from a #Porsche-356 (rear decklid and front hood, anyway) and other cars,” he writes.

    “It is clearly badged as a VW, and the metal script below the rear decklid says ‘Vallore.’ I can find no reference to it in VW history, so I assume it must be somebody’s backyard creation on a VW chassis? The tall roofline, split windshield, and crude bumpers make for a pretty ugly duckling. Does anybody know its history or whatever became of it?” We’ll bring you more of Greg’s mystery cars next month. ‏ — at Frankfurt, Germany
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    The #1959 #Jaguar-Mk1-saloon / #Jaguar-Mk1 / #Jaguar /

    The car that begat the cops ’n’ robbers Mk2 is surely undervalued by comparison the mark 1 is a genuine landmark in Jaguar’s history, yet it remains undervalued and overlooked. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s no such thing as a Mk1. Jaguar never called it that, yet without the Mk1 there would have been no Mk2. Even more important is the part it played in boosting the company’s fortunes.

    So what is a Mk1? Well, first you take a Mk2, then apply custom street-rod aesthetics, remove the garnish, enclose the rear wheelarches and fill in the glass area. Basically the Mk1 is altogether less visually polite, and that’s a good thing – though that’s not quite how it happened. Back in 1955 Jaguar broke new ground with its new 2.4 saloon. It was the company’s first monocoque road car. As a result, it was tough, stiff and over-engineered.

    The addition of a ‘compact’ saloon (that’s compact in American terms) meant that Jaguar had its most comprehensive line-up to date, introducing a new group of motorists to Jaguar ownership. Key to that was price (see right) and performance. Today, no-one thinks of a 2.4-litre Jag as sporting, but it was. US mag Road and Track enthused: ‘We think it is a best buy if you are looking for a compact, safe-handling family car with a durable engine and sturdy chassis. The sports car performance is a bonus feature – always there, ready to be used, if you require it.’

    That comment was made about the initial offering with its downsized 112bhp 2.4-litre version of the famed XK twin-cam six. Indeed, road test cars managed 102mph. And here’s something that needs explaining: Jaguar never released the later 2.4-litre Mk2 for road tests until the introduction of the run-out 240, because it couldn’t make the ton.

    Even in initial form the drum-braked Mk1 hit the mark. But the market, particularly the USA, wanted more, and in early 1957 the 3.4 arrived, boasting 210bhp. Though you shouldn’t always believe Jaguar’s historic horsepower figures, the 3.4 hit 60mph in 9.1 seconds and topped out at 120. Disc brakes became a much-needed option and, in the hands of the likes of Tommy Sopwith, Roy Salvadori and Stirling Moss, as well as ordinary mortals, the 3.4 saloon was a potent force in saloon car racing. Yet the Mk1’s reputation has forever been haunted by the spectre of Mike Hawthorn’s fatal accident in his much uprated car on the Guildford by-pass in early 1959. If people know anything about the Mk1 it’s that its rear track was four inches narrower than the front, which made handling ‘tricky in extremis’, as the potted model guides say. That was, of course, rectified with the Mk2 (introduced as its replacement late that same year, after which the original saloon was retrospectively known as the Mk1).

    As for the Mk1, it sold 36,740 copies, more than any Jaguar before. For that alone you could consider it more important than the relatively low-volume XK sports cars, particularly as the Mk1 contributed to Jaguar’s decision to buy neighbouring #Daimler for extra production capacity and to raise the stakes again in the 1960s with the E-type and the XJ6. Come to think of it, if early E-types are worth more than later ones, shouldn’t the Mk1 saloon be worth more than the Mk2?

    Price Points

    1955 There’s no doubt the Jaguar 2.4 was a compelling package, aggressively priced at just £1343. The Rover P4 90 was £1418, the Daimler Conquest 2½ cost £1600 and a Humber Super Snipe would set you back £1643 – and none could match the Jag for vigour. Meanwhile the 3-litre Alvis TC21/100 cost £1928, the Bristol 405 £3189, and the Lagonda 3-litre saloon, with its marginally sporting character, was a hefty £3901. For context, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud was £5708. The £968 MG ZA Magnette was considered sporting, if not in the Jag’s league.

    1957 The arrival of the 3.4-litre Mk1 renders obsolete any comparison with Humber, Daimler or Rover. Priced at £1672 (with the 2.4-litre version pitched at £1495), it outpaced and hugely undercut the £2993 Lagonda 3-litre, the £3451 Alvis TD21 and the £3586 Bristol 405. today Mk1s have always been cheaper than Mk2s, in fact considerably so, but the figures don’t tell the whole story. Within the last few months a 1959 Mk1 3.4, the 46th from last built, set an auction record of £66,000: this was a special-case exceptional car treated to a £60,000-plus restoration. Likewise another 1959 3.4, which made £51,750 at auction: this had been specialist-restored as a Hawthorn replica. Other than race cars, and ones with proper period competition history, most Mk1s are selling at auction below £20,000 and for not much more in the trade. This reflects condition more than true worth, as owners of really good ones hold on to them; there aren’t many around. Pay two-thirds for a 2.4, avoid the 2.4 auto.
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    The #Jaguar Mk2 / The very epitome of the stylish and sophisticated classic saloon, we advise on buying the best... WORDS Chris Randall /// PHOTOGRAPHY Magic Car Pics / #1959 / #1962 / #Jaguar-Mk2 / #Jaguar-Mk2-2.4 / #Jaguar-Mk2-3.4 / #Jaguar-Mk2-3.8 / #Daimler-250-V8 / #Daimler-250



    There are some classics that are a case of style over substance, and while it’s a very good looking thing indeed, that’s not an accusation that can be levelled at the Mk2. In fact, it’s the very essence of the capable sporting saloon and boasts the sort of driving manners that has you searching out the longest route just so you can enjoy everything this lithesome big cat has to offer.

    And it all starts with the straightsix XK engines that are bursting with character, and that prove a joy to extend with a smooth-revving and responsive nature. This is all backed by a stirring soundtrack that encourages you to extend them whenever possible. Some people find the 2.4-litre model a little under-nourished in the power department but it proves brisk enough for most and there’s always the lure of the lustier 3.4- and 3.8-litre units, the latter ensuring the Mk2 is a genuine 120mph car with acceleration to match. Snicking through the gears is a pleasure too, and while the Moss ‘box needs acclimatisation and a short pause between selecting ratios, the Jaguar four-speeder or the threespeed automatic prove easy going companions. And this is a car that can handle too, blending an impressively composed and confidence-inspiring feel when pressed with a relaxed ride that’s perfect for tackling a trans-continental blast. The Mk2 steers and stops well, too, although the unassisted steering is heavy at parking speeds and certainly benefits from the optional power assistance.

    So it’s good to drive, but what’s it like to travel in? In short, delightful. The cabin is a cocoon of the sort of old-school luxury at which Jaguar excels, with rich leathers and beautifully matched woods, and all assembled with superb attention to detail.

    The sumptuous seats are comfortable for miles on end, and the clearly laid out dashboard with its array of white-on-black dials is fronted by an elegantly thin-rimmed steering wheel that’s a pleasure to hold. The upshot, then, is a very special experience indeed with the sort of feel-good factor that makes every journey one to relish.

    OUR VERDICT

    A superb blend of performance, entertaining handling, sheer class and luxury ensure that Mk2s always remain in demand. And there’s the added bonus of a great club and specialist support, plentiful parts supply, and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to fixing them. A neglected one will be an utter money pit, but avoid those and you’ll own a fine sporting saloon.

    Wire wheels were a popular addition and suit the sporting Jaguar to a tee.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR

    Bodyshell issues

    The complex monocoque bodyshell is well known for being a complete rust trap, so it pays to be super-careful when looking. Examine the front and rear valances, floorpan, inner/outer sills, wheel-arches, the bottom of the doors, and the wings. And never dismiss seemingly minor bubbling. Poor door alignment could signal serious problems with the bodyshell, and remember to examine the box sections and chassis legs, the front crossmember (particularly the ‘crow’s feet’ at either end), the suspension mountings and jacking points, and the boot floor. Replacing chrome or Mazak exterior trim can be pricey, while righting poor restorations or bodgery can mean a world of financial pain.

    Engine checks

    Excessive smoke from the exhaust could mean an expensive rebuild, although don’t rule out blockages in the breather system. A leaking crankshaft oil seal is a common problem, while rattles from the front of the engine can signal impending timing chain replacement, an expensive job. That said, low oil pressure affects the operation of the hydraulic tensioner leading to poor adjustment – expect at least 40 psi when hot. Irregular oil changes will accelerate camshaft wear so listen out for rattles from the top of the engine.

    Carbs and cooling

    Leaking or blocked radiators risk head gasket failure and damage to the alloy head so ensure the cooling system has been properly maintained: an electric cooling fan upgrade is popular. And check for poor running caused by worn or poorly adjusted carburettors – Solex items can be more troublesome than SUs. Engine swaps are common, too, so check the chassis number stamped above the grille, beside the bonnet catch. If you’re looking at a 3.8 with a choke control on the dash, it will have started life as a 2.4.

    Transmission

    The Moss manual gearbox can be slow in operation, but apart from worn synchromesh and selectors is otherwise reliable; the later full-synchro Jaguar ‘box is smoother. The overdrive unit itself is generally trouble-free and can be replaced without removing the gearbox but replacing a worn clutch means the engine has to come out so check it carefully on the test drive. A failed master or slave cylinder could be the cause of clutch problems but you’ll want to be sure. The Borg Warner Type 35 automatic lasts well with regular fluid changes but beware of a whining back axle and check it for oil leaks. Conversion from manual to automatic, or vice versa, isn’t uncommon, so ensure the work has been done properly.

    Springs and dampers

    The Mk2’s suspension isn’t known to be problematic but a knocking from the front of the car can indicate broken coil springs while a change to coil springs at the rear is a popular upgrade so see if this has been done on the car you are looking at. Replacing the springs, dampers, or bushes isn’t particular y difficult but the costs will soon mount so budget accordingly, and watch for rot around the Panhard Rod mounting at the rear.

    Brakes and steering

    Dunlop disc brakes were standard but can seize on little-used examples while a weak handbrake is normal. Replacement parts are reasonably priced, though, so a system in need of overhaul shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Movement in the steering column means bushes need replacing, while the fitment of power steering (a period option) is a popular modification and worth seeking out. If wire wheels are fitted check for wear in the spokes and splines as professional refurbishment can be costly.

    Leather an wood

    Major cabin refurbishment can cost the thick end of four figures so check the leather and wood carefully as even minor damage can be a wallet-bashing experience. Secondhand parts can reduce costs – a complete set of wood trim can be had for around £2000 or so – but could involve a lengthy search for the right bits. A damp interior not only damages trim but can play havoc with the electrics so check for wet carpets and ensure everything’s working, including the dials. And many cars have been converted to an alternator set-up so worth checking for this.

    Kissing cousin

    DAIMLER 250 V8 A big seller for Daimler, and the Edward Turner-designed V8 was a gem

    Comfortable and sporting with plenty of wood ‘n’ leather in the fi nest Jaguar tradition. It’s costly to refurbish, though, so be wary.

    Straight-sixes offer plenty of character, although neglect will result in a hefty bill for re-building.

    OWNER’S VIEW SIMON CRONIN

    ‘I’ve owned my #1965 3.8 model for 36 years now, having loved Jaguars since boyhood. And as a marshal at Silverstone I saw the Mk2 racing in the 1960 International Trophy meeting with drivers such as Stirling Moss and Colin Chapman at the wheel, so I had to have one. After looking for a while I bought mine privately, and although the automatic gearbox wasn’t ideal it was in the perfect colour of opalescent maroon and came with wire wheels. It’s had plenty of work done over the years, including a swap to an overdrive manual transmission and the fitting of a limited-slip differential, and the engine has been rebuilt to racing spec. The brakes have been uprated, and the bodywork has received attention as well.

    So far, my 3.8 has covered 250,000 miles and still gets plenty of use, including trips across America and Africa, and touring around Europe. As well as using it to tow a caravan, I also enjoy taking it on circuits. It’s been round Le Mans and various British tracks and its great fun to really use all of its performance. It’s certainly not a car that I could ever imagine parting with.’

    Simon Cronin (right) with John Sergeant during filming for a new TV programme about Inspector Morse.

    WHAT TO PAY (JAGUAR MK2 3.8)

    Concours £50,000
    Excellent £30,000
    Usable £10,000
    Project £2000+

    Values here are for a Mk2 3.8, but you’ll pay a few thousand less for a 3.4 in excellent condition and around £5000-10,000 less again for a 2.4-litre engined example. Condition is the most important factor with the Mk2 rather than age, and it’s vital to bear in mind the potentially eye-watering restoration costs. Still, according to the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, values have been relatively static of late, so now is a good time to get behind the wheel of this desirable Jaguar. If you’re thinking of taking on a project you’ll need a strong constitution as well as restoration skills – or at least the means to pay for them.

    PARTS PRICES

    Front wing £2552.00
    Outer rear wheel arch £239.29
    Head gasket set £71.66
    Timing chain kit £278.39
    Front coil spring £33.71
    Front brake discs (pair) £85.04 (Prices for a 3.4/3.8 from SNG Barratt and including VAT)

    INSURANCE QUOTE

    1963 JAGUAR MK2 3.8 – VALUE £29,000

    45-year-old male living in Cambs, club member, car garaged and used as second vehicle, 3000 miles pa £80.42 or £97.42 inc Agreed Value.

    SPECIFICATIONS
    ENGINE 3781cc/6-cyl/DOHC
    POWER 220bhp@5500rpm
    TORQUE 240lb ft@3000rpm
    MAXIMUM SPEED 125mph
    0-60MPH 8.5sec
    FUEL CONSUMPTION 15-17mpg
    TRANSMISSION RWD, four-spd manual, plus opt. overdrive/three-speed automatic
    LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 180.8in x 66.6in x 57.5in

    CLUBS & SPECIALISTS
    Jaguar Enthusiasts Club www.jec.org.uk
    Jaguar Drivers’ Club www.jaguardriver.co.uk
    JD Classics www.jdclassics.co.uk
    SNG Barratt www.sngbarratt.com
    David Manners www.jagspares.co.uk
    West Riding Ind www.westridingjaguar.co.uk
    Heritage Car Co www.heritage-car.co.uk
    XK Classics www.xkclassics.uk
    MV Classics 01489 878059
    Past Parts www.pastparts.co.uk
    Aldridge Trimming www.aldridge.co.uk

    JAGUAR MK2s FOR SALE

    1968 Jaguar Mk2, £3500 – Good bodywork and chassis but some re-commissioning needed.

    1969 Jaguar Mk2 3.4, £9450 – Very original and a good example according to the vendor.

    1966 Jaguar Mk2, £35,000 – A 3.4 with manual overdrive gearbox. Super condition and lots of recent work.
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