Jaguar Mk2 at 60… 1 Night mission by 3.8 manual to test its underworld reputation. 2 Luxury road trip by 3.4 auto. 3 Race driver confessions. 4 Stunt driver revelations. The Jaguar Mk2 defines what the term classic car means, so for its 60th birthday we decided to celebrate in style Buckle your belts for a (chrome) bumper tribute to the original automotive polymath.
When someone hears what I do for a living, it’s usually not too long before they ask me what makes a classic. My pragmatic answer is that it should be old, distinctive-looking and something that people still care about no matter how challenging it is to own. The purist version lists things like technical and styling innovation, motor sport success and cultural significance. My audience is usually still nodding at this point. Cars like the Lancia Stratos, I’ll add, or the Cosworth RS Sierra. Now their furrowed brows will be asking why my examples aren’t symphonies in curves, chrome, wood and leather because the photofit artist in their heads was sketching a Jaguar Mk2. Even as new generations form bonds with cars from later periods, the Mk2 persists as the definitive classic from the popularly adored period that blossomed in the Twenties and stopped around 1972.
It deserves to, boasting world-beating performance and price-defying desirability in its day, and as the cliché goes, was coveted by bank managers and robbers, cops and racers. As this cultural icon hits 60, we felt it was time to explore the truths and maybe explode a few myths. Our special 22-page section takes quite different examples of these machines from gritty urban scenes to idyllic country touring, and we hear firsthand from a cop, a racing driver and two motion picture stuntmen about what these cars were really like to use and misuse back then.
Ignore its portly 1544kg and maybe the compact, powerful Mk2 could turn the head of our minimalist columnist Gordon Murray, who was made CBE for his services to motoring in the New Year’s Honours. Another of our columnists will be enjoying the capital’s spotlight when Quentin Willson takes to the stage at February’s London Classic Car show, armed with his sage and enthusiastic advice about classic cars to buy now.
In the meantime, enjoy the test-drive.
1966 Jaguar Mk2 3.8
Low life in high places. Sir William Lyons never intended it, but the Jaguar Mk2 3.8 became an underworld favourite. We take one for a nocturnal London drive to explore the darkest secrets it harboured. Words Sam Dawson. Photography Charlie Magee. We test the extremes of the Jag Mk2’s law-polarising split personality ‘This audacious crime secured the reputation of the Mk2 3.8 as the underworld’s car of choice’
Low Life in High Places Our Jaguar Mk2 60th anniversary celebration begins with an East London drive to discover the truth behind its criminal reputation.
JAG MK2 LEGEND EXPLORED AT 60
It’s a cold October night in Greenwich. Down a backstreet not far from the Naval dockyards, the driver of a Jaguar Mk2 sits behind its wheel, waiting. He’s nervous. Idle gloved fingers drum on the wooden door capping. His eyes flick in a triangular pattern between rear-view mirror, wing mirror and the road ahead. He took care to park the Jag equidistant between two streetlights, to keep it in as much shadow as possible, but the sodium haze still picks up telltale signs of the night’s activities, and he feels self-conscious. Tiny grains of broken glass from his door window glint in the lambswool carpet, and the same ambient light picks out the butt of the Webley pistol in the door pocket. The streetlamp to the rear turns the steady stream of exhaust fumes into a muggy orange-tinged cloud. The engine idles a little too loudly for comfort, with a deep, steady tempo, but he’s got to be ready. First gear’s selected and the clutch is down, in preparation. That gearbox doesn’t like to be rushed. Every second counts.
‘One gang simultaneously executed three bank robberies using Mk2s all wearing the same numberplates’
He thinks through tonight’s plan of action. Once the lads and the loot from the safe deposit warehouse are on board, he needs to get them through Blackheath and the Blackwall Tunnel to the Isle of Dogs. Then shut off the headlights and rendezvous with Big Harry who’ll be waiting with the Transit. Then he’ll put on his collar and tie and take the Jag – slowly, carefully – through Whitechapel to Terry the Fence on Warren Street to shift it onto the trade with a hooky logbook. It was fitted with plates taken from a rolled 3.4 in a scrapyard before that doctor in Esher even knew it was gone. The driver checks his watch, takes his balaclava from the glovebox and pulls it over his head.
His left foot starts to quiver on the clutch pedal as a muffled sound of aggressive shouting breaks out. The conversation ends abruptly with a dull, crunching thud. Then the door bursts open, accompanied by the clamour of an alarm-bell. Three men, each wearing a brown store-coat and cut-down stocking over their head, and carrying sawn-off shotguns and sports bags, charge from the door and pile into the Jag, growling ‘Go Go Go!’
‘The criminals would sell the cars on as ringers – I bet there are still Mk2s around with fake early histories’
The driver drops the clutch and squeals the tyres up the Blackwall Lane. He wears a defiant smirk beneath his mask as he hears that Le Mans-bred 3.8-litre twin-cam XK straight-six emit a deep, sonorous warble, feels its 240lb ft of torque haul the gang past twice the urban speed limit. He eyes the blackened hulks of dockyard cranes on the other side of the river. Not far to go now. He visualises the police response to the safe deposit warehouse’s burglar alarm, probably some hopeless Wolseley 6/90 understeering into the kerb on Camac crossplies. He has the upper hand. Thanks to the Jag, they’re getting away with it.
Or so myth would have it. Believe a combination of The Sweeney, The Professionals and films like Robbery, Performance and Get Carter and it’s easy to imagine that every East End gangster drove a Jaguar Mk2, with the 3.8 manual-overdrive model being the only one worth stealing, a fast yet relatively inconspicuous way of transporting four robbers and their ill-gotten gains away from a crime scene with a compact chassis crucially capable of channelling its 220bhp through tight urban streets.
Then there’s the other half of the myth – that the police followed suit. That a Mk2 3.8 full of robbers would inevitably be hotly pursued by another one full of coppers. Television perpetuates the myth, even down to the implication that Inspector Morse chose his red one to remind himself of his uniformed days 20 years earlier. But the truth is often stranger, and in the case of the colour of Morse’s Mk2, much grimmer than mere entertainment.
‘The Jaguar Mk2 was as fast as any sports car but could also fit four men plus guns and stolen goods’
‘The Jaguar Mk2 was as fast as any sports car but could also fit four men plus guns and stolen goods’ As I power this Jaguar Mk2 3.8 manual into the grimy Blackwall Tunnel, its easy surging torque making me worried about transgressing the law myself because of a combination of speed cameras and a typically bouncy Sixties speedometer needle, I recall a conversation with Dr Ken German, vehicle crime consultant and former Metropolitan Police officer, about the underworld reign of the Jaguar Mk2.
‘If you drove a Jaguar Mk2 3.8 in the Sixties, you were a somebody,’ Ken said. ‘You had stringback driving gloves, you thought you were Jackie Stewart and your car was bloody quick. With the XK engine’s racing history, every young man wanted one. This racy image made Jaguars macho cars, and they had appealed to criminals for a long time because of this. Even the Krays – who were chauffeur-driven around – had MkXs as well as their usual Rolls-Royces in the Sixties.
‘There’s a confusion as to whether the police or villains got them first, but there was a time in the early Sixties when bank robberies would end in a Jag versus Jag chase. They’d choose the Mk2 because it was as fast as any sports car but could fit four men plus guns and stolen goods. The four doors were important too, not something you’d get with, say, a Lotus Cortina.
‘The car would be stolen, fitted with plates from something else – another Mk2 if they could find one, if not something totally different like a tractor from Dorset – then after the getaway they’d transfer to a link vehicle, usually a Ford Transit, because that could then blend in with urban traffic aswell as, again, fitting everyone in.
‘But criminals didn’t burn cars out back then. Forensic science wasn’t what it is today – no DNA, just dusting for fingerprints and picking up discarded guns with a pencil through the finger-guard – so they’d use gloves, then sell the car on as a ringer with a fake logbook. Warren Street was the centre of these criminal operations, and I bet there are still a lot of Mk2s, now classics, around today with completely fake early histories because of this. Their owners won’t have a clue!’
The first Mk2s entered police use in 1959, but these were 2.4 and 3.4-litre cars mainly used for motorway patrol work. But then, in 1962, long before any hard-boiled police procedurals hit the small screen, an audacious crime secured not only the reputation of the Mk2 3.8 as the underworld’s car of choice, but also the aesthetic look of crime in London in a way that TV studios and anti- Establishment photographers like David Bailey sent mainstream.
A former single-seater racing driver, Roy ‘The Weasel’ James, leading a gang of three dressed in sharp black business suits, arrived at Heathrow Airport with a pair of 3.8-litre Mk2s, each car with two men sitting in the front, looking like a chauffeur delegation. A cargo plane landed carrying payroll cash for several large firms. With coshes hidden within rolled black umbrellas, the gang knocked the cargo plane’s security guards unconscious, loaded £68,000 (more than £1.4m in today’s money) into their Jaguars and escaped before anyone realised what was going on.
The bigger haul of the Great Train Robbery – £2.6m – just one year later has helped retrospectively obscure the Heathrow raid from popular consciousness, but at the time it helped cement an image in the newspapers that soon filtered into fictional portrayals of criminals too – gangsters were no longer hulking broken-nosed, stubble-chinned types in woolly hats driving old Ford Pilots, but sharp-suited, well-groomed gentleman thugs living lives that ran the risk of looking aspirational, complete with luxury saloons. Boxer Henry Cooper had a Mk2 3.8, and was often stopped and questioned by police who hadn’t recognised him because the image said bank robber, not sports star.
But that’s not to say that the law didn’t enjoy the Jag era too. As I emerge from the Blackwall Tunnel and head through London’s Docklands area, a combination of the old East India docks and rubble-strewn wasteland when this Mk2 was new, I think about what might have happened had our imaginary getaway driver glanced in his rear-view mirror and caught sight of another Mk2 closing fast, the streetlights scudding overhead rhythmically illuminating an equally determined police driver and, alongside him, his sergeant urgently reporting back to Area HQ on a dashboard-mounted radio – possibly among the first to be used by the police.
‘Both uniform and covert officers loved their Jaguars,’ said Ken. ‘Going out on an operation was exciting, especially when you heard the radio call “have we got a Q-car?” – it would signify a trained pursuit driver, a sergeant and one of the best detectives in a fast, unmarked car. These could be all sorts of things – in the late Sixties they were usually Triumph 2000s, especially in the Flying Squad – but Jags were always favourites, partly because they were powerful, but frankly for the same reasons the criminals liked them – they were desirable, and driving one felt like a perk of the job.’
That said, the Jag-versus-Jag era – prolonged deep into the Seventies in popular imagination by The Sweeney as a result of a readily-available pool of cheaply available Mk2s dragged from breakers’ yards to use in stunts – was relatively short-lived. But it was the police who ran into difficulty with them first.
They were expensive cars to run – official records reveal that just two 3.8s were operated by the entire Metropolitan Police, both as unmarked Flying Squad cars, one bought 1963, a second added in 1965, both phased out in 1968. That said, 2.4 and 3.4 Mk2s and the S-type, with better handling on its independent rear suspension and more room in the boot and rear seats, were commonplace on police forces.
There was another issue too, as Ken explained, ‘Most police cars were automatics, because it suits the stop-start nature of urban police work, plus the Moss manual gearboxes didn’t shift smoothly. I seem to recall at least one of those 3.8s was an automatic, and it had a problem – with no engine braking and all that torque, if you were chasing some villains down a hill, it was easy to lock the brakes and lose control of it.’
I draw the Jaguar up on an old dockside opposite Canary Wharf, the kind of place that, back in the autumn years of the Sixties as industry declined, long before the yuppies moved in, would have been an ideal, desolate place to switch getaway cars. It’s been fun, enjoying this taut-feeling, responsive, urgent, elegant classic saloon on relatively deserted city streets. But it’s easy to forget, in a sanitised world of big-screen car chases where no-one gets hurt and robberies where everything’s insured and the worst injury is a bump on the head, how frightening this criminal underworld was.
On August 25, 1966, PC Tony Gledhill pursued bank-robber John McVicar and his gang from Creekside in Deptford – where our cover image was photographed – to Rotherhithe, where we’ve parked up. During the course of the chase, McVicar fired 15 shotgun blasts from the back of his Transit van at the unarmed Gledhill who, windscreen shattered, relentlessly kept up the chase, ultimately apprehending McVicar, by which point there was no paint left on his Mk2’s front panels. Gledhill was awarded the George Cross for his bravery. ‘It was a game between the police and the criminals,’ said Ken. ‘On one occasion, for example, a gang masterminded three bank robberies at the same time using identical Mk2s all with the same numberplates, to confuse the police. But it was a game that ended when the shotguns came out.’
I stand back to admire the Jaguar’s lines, gleaming in the neon glow cast by Canary Wharf’s towers, musing on the changing nature of bank robbery. But beyond the parapet, beneath the deathly grey waterline, lurks an even darker secret. In the Eighties, when East India Dock was developed into the financial centre we recognise today, the stagnant riverbed was cleared by surveyors. Amid centuries of shipping debris, dozens of Fifties and Sixties cars including several Mk2s were found, many full of concrete, usually painted red.
‘It was how East End gangsters got rid of informers,’ said Ken, whose former police duties included time as a diver. ‘Red cars, the colour of blood, were how villains made an example of someone. Everyone had access to builder’s yards, the likes of the Krays and Richardsons would get their minions to steal a red car, put the informer in it, fill it with concrete and push it into the Thames. No one cared back then so long as the ships could come in and out – it was an out of sight, out of mind society in the Sixties.’ Morse’s Mk2 would have been a prime candidate for this grisly practice. We’re a long way away from the cosy world of Heartbeat and Dixon of Dock Green now.
As a distant bell strikes midnight, I turn to the Jaguar, about to drive back to the Mk2’s heartlands of the Surrey stockbroker belt, when I catch sight of a modern car engineered in the Mk2 3.8 mould parking up on the quayside. It’s an AMG-Mercedes E-class with two men on board, and it sits waiting, engine running. It’s joined later by a similarly crewed VW Golf R. The Merc’s driver gets out, surveys the Jaguar, then gets back in, sends a text, and the two cars move to the next wharf, where a bag and suitcase are exchanged before they drive off in opposite directions.
No doubt they weren’t expecting us, but I can’t help but think that the drivers were momentarily spooked by the malevolent sight of a 3.8-litre steel ghost from East London’s dark past.
Roy ‘The Weasel’ James allegedly burgled the Jaguar works department for race-spec Mk2 parts during the arms race with police. This particular 3.8 is a later Mk2, with Jaguar’s own synchromesh box in place of the tricky Moss unit.
Manual 3.8s were the criminal choice, but the law preferred smaller engines and auto ’boxes. Le Mans triumphs gave Jaguar macho credibility inadvertently embraced by the underworld. Responsive chassis, abundant power and room for four – along with their weapons and swag – made the Mk2 an ideal criminal steed. Sam ‘The Steer’ reels in the torquey straight-six as the Mk2 surges through Blackwall Tunnel.
Owning a manual Jaguar Mk2 3.8
‘Before buying this Mk2 I was actually looking for an E-type, but all the good ones were out of my price range,’ says Simon Edwards. ‘I have an Austin-Healey 3000 that’s needed restoration for a long time now, and wanted another classic sports car while I worked on it.
‘This does everything I’d want of an E-type – it has the same engine and the shape is just as iconic, but with more room. It’s been retrospectively fitted with power steering, as many were in period, and being a late one it has the slicker Jaguar-made gearbox. It all makes it more usable while retaining its Sixties character. I still haven’t got round to restoring the ’Healey!’
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 1966 Jaguar Mk2 3.8
Engine 3781cc in-line six-cylinder, dohc, two SU HS8 carburettors
Max power 220bhp @ 5500rpm
Max torque 240lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Four-speed manual with Laycock de Normanville overdrive, rear-wheel drive
Steering Recirculating ball, optional power assistance
Suspension Front: independent, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar. Rear: live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs, radius arms, Panhard rod, telescopic dampers
Brakes Servo-assisted discs front and rear
Weight 1519kg (3350lb)
Performance Top speed: 126mph; 0-60mph: 8.5sec
Fuel consumption 18mpg
Cost new £1842
Classic Cars Price Guide £12,500-£37,500
THE POLICE DRIVER ‘ALL FOUR WHEELS LEFT THE ROAD’
William John Smith drove a 2.4-litre Mk2 when on duty as a West Sussex Police traffic officer. Here he remembers racing Prince Philip, chasing planes and getting airborne. Words Sam Dawson.
William John Smith A former Police driver on life on the beat with the Mk2, including racing Prince Philip, chasing planes and redlining on public roads
‘I liked fast cars and enjoyed driving, so I volunteered for the Traffic Department,’ says William John Smith as he recalls his early days thundering around the roads of West Sussex. ‘I’d joined the West Sussex Constabulary on 6 October 1956, first as a beat officer at Horsham, then Crawley, when the first personal radios were introduced. When I was at Horsham I had a temporary post as a driver where the liveried options were a Riley Pathfinder and a Jaguar MkI, and the plain car – used for monitoring criminal activity at night – was a Morris Oxford, just one car with a traffic officer and someone from CID covering the county from 6pm until 2am.
‘All traffic officers had to qualify as a Police Class One driver in order to serve, which entailed a month-long course.’ This included learning high-speed pursuit driving and handling the car in extreme circumstances. In order to induce oversteer on a watered skidpan, the Police maintained a fleet of cars, including 2.4-litre Jaguars, on slick tyres and with the bootlid replaced with a canvas tonneau in order to lighten the rear end.
‘We would keep an alarm clock and relay the sound of its bell through the loud-hailer’
Once he’d completed the course, Smith became a fully-fledged traffic officer, in time for Jaguar to release the Mk2.
‘The traffic cars had a roof-mounted blue light and stop sign, but at the time no bell or sirens were permitted though there was a loud-hailer. So to overcome this, traffic officers would keep an alarm clock in the car and relay the sound of its bell through the loud-hailer!
‘I received a posting to Shoreham-by-Sea, where my patrol car was a brand-new Jaguar Mk2 2.4, registration 40 ABP. We were very proud of our traffic cars, which we were responsible for cleaning and maintaining. Four hours per week were allocated to maintenance, when cars would be greased and oil changes carried out. More complicated repairs were carried out at Chichester Headquarters, but the mechanics were a sergeant and a constable of limited experience!
‘The Shoreham Mk2 was much better to drive than the Horsham MkI. It had very good roadholding, but the brakes could have been better. The 2.4’s acceleration was quite good, it was faster than most cars at the time and wasn’t as slow as people thought it would be – supposedly it couldn’t do 100mph – but I managed 112mph in the days before there were motorway speed limits.
‘Before radar speed traps, traffic officers would have to speed-test culprits, speed-matching and following a culprit for fourtenths of a mile. Our Jaguars’ speedometers had to be completely accurate for this, so we’d test them over a measured mile on the Sompting bypass. A problem arose with new radial tyres, which made speedometers inaccurate due to the gearing-up effect. ‘Police drivers also had to do ambulance work, because there was little ambulance availability in the area – just one St John’s Ambulance, manned by a husband-and-wife team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Wide loads also had to be escorted, which included local farmers with their combine harvesters.’
Having Arundel Castle within Smith’s beat meant he often had Royal duties. ‘One time, my Jaguar was unexpectedly tested,’ Smith recalls. ‘I was escorting the Duke of Edinburgh, who was driving his Lagonda Three Litre, but he put his foot down and got in front, so I had to regain my position!’
Smith’s charges weren’t alwasys as endearing. ‘Dangerous criminals were taken to prison in Police cars not vans,’ says Smith. ‘We had to take a female to London’s Holloway and had to be on our guard. I was unfamiliar with London, got lost and, with the prisoner in the back, had to stop for directions to the jail!’
Fifties London was rapidly expanding, as witnessed by the redevelopment of Gatwick. The Mk2’s 1959 release coincided with the closure of Croydon Airport, which saw airlines rush to establish their new jets at Gatwick, and this resulted in unusual work for Smith and his colleagues.
‘If an aircraft needed to make an emergency landing, we had to be there. We kept keys to Gatwick’s perimeter fence, and we’d race to the airport, get through the outer gate and sit at the end of the runway, ready to respond.
Gatwick was a long way, so it was good fun getting there before the plane landed! By contrast, we didn’t end up doing many chases. There were some pursuits, and one time we did a chase over a bridge and the Jaguar’s wheels left the road on the way over!’ The West Sussex force chose a very different car to replace its 2.4s. ‘We lost our Jaguars as soon as the Lotus Cortina was introduced,’ Smith recalls. ‘Although I moved from Traffic, having been promoted. I still look back fondly on those years with the Jaguar though – and I only wish I had that driving ability today.’
Robbery the ultimate Jaguar Mk2 film?
The Jaguar Mk2’s ubiquity and handling poise won it countless screen roles. But its protagonism in one 1967 flick was so dramatic it fast-tracked the director to Hollywood. Words Andrew Roberts. Photography Shutterstock/Network DVD.
Robbery Film crew members recall the Mk2’s greatest on-screen moments – and the hair-raising truths behind the action
By 1963 the Jaguar Mk2 was seen in crime dramas as the car of choice for both the guardians of law and order, such as Ian Hendry’s in The Girl in The Picture, and hoods like the eponymous gang in The Hi-Jackers. As for major productions, some will remember the early model in the engrossing 1968 drama Nobody Runs Forever; others will instantly recall the 3.4-litre driven by Bob Hoskins in Mona Lisa. Then there was the infamous ‘ITC White Jaguar’ that became a running joke; a MkI was used when the original ‘off the cliff’ footage was shot at Box Hill in 1965 for The Baron, but a few years later extra sequences were shot using a Mk2. And, of course, there was the world’s most derelict 2.4 that went on holiday by mistake in Withnail & I. Whether the film in question was obscure, such as the utterly forgotten racing drama Dead Cert, or a cult classic like Performance, the Mk2 was guaranteed to deliver drama.
But for screen fame, there’s a Mk2 that ranks above even above the vinyl-roofed 2.4 piloted by Inspector Morse and the red example that lost its door during Get Carter. It’s the 1964 3.8 that starred in 1967’s Robbery, with a plot based on the London- Glasgow train heist of 1963 and starring Stanley Baker. The director was Peter Yates, a former assistant works manager at HW Motors, whose racing team was led by Stirling Moss. ‘In the beginning you establish anticipation,’ said Yates of his crime feature formula.
‘The middle should confuse people, so you’re not sure where everyone is going. The end is where the good guys come out best’. Yates showcased his recipe in the first reel of Robbery with a six-minute chase between the gang’s 3.8 Mk2 and the Met’s black S-type. It took eight days to film and remains one of the finest motoring sequences in the history of British cinema. Few will forget the sound of the Jaguar making its escape along Harbridge Avenue, Moss ’box whining, and how it powered through a very run-down W11 past Victor 101 estates and Ford Consul MkIs.
At the wheel was Frank Henson, whose CV includes Monte Carlo or Bust, Brannigan, The Sweeney and The Professionals. He was cast in the picture after impressing stunt coordinator Peter Brayham with his work on Casino Royale. After 52 years Henson still has vivid memories of filming the 007 spoof, ‘I had to crash an early flat-floor E-type into a gate; I dread to think how much such a car would be worth today! I managed the stunt on the sixth take, which fortunately was witnessed by Peter.’
For Robbery, Frank doubled for Clinton Greyn, who played getaway driver Jack. ‘I was paid £40 to have my hair dyed blonde to match Clinton’s look,’ he chuckles. ‘I remember my concern on reading the script and learning that the Mk2 would have to avoid a school crossing patrol by a very narrow margin. But the way it was shot there was no danger. On location, I halted the Jaguar, and the children were then cued to scatter across the road. The way it was put together in the editing was brilliant.’ Mk2s were also involved off-camera – Leicester Constabulary Jaguars were in attendance for the scenes near Market Harborough.
‘The budget was limited and one occasion we had to frantically look for a replacement tyre before Stanley arrived on set! It was the Robbery chase that led to Steve McQueen asking Peter Yates to direct Bullitt which, of course, had a Hollywood budget’.
This lack of surface glamour is a key element of the British film. Even if the narrative’s geography is somewhat confused at times, the pursuit takes place in a very real capital city of grim Victorian terraced streets populated by rusting Fifties cars. There were all the attendant risks of urban location work; early in the chase, the S-type narrowly avoids being hit by a Viva HB. The Vauxhall was a civilian vehicle that inadvertently gained screen immortality.
The moustachioed police driver was played by Joe Wadham, who provided the S-type for the production. He was a ubiquitous presence in British film and TV, and you would often see him wrestling with the steering wheel of a black Wolseley or piloting an underworld Jag MkVII. He also drove the Ford Consul GT in the opening credits of The Sweeney. In the early Fifties he co-founded Nine Nine Cars, and countless film producers would book his expertise and his fleet of mocked-up squad cars.
‘I joined Nine Nine in the early Seventies,’ says Richard Hammatt, whose five decades of precision driving saw him work on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Coronation Street, Doctor Who and Harry Potter. ‘The company was registered at Scotland Yard as a supplier of emergency vehicles for film and TV productions. ‘In the early days I remember Joe saying to me, “We don’t have any roll cages or any of that sort of stuff” – there just wasn’t the experience about. We had a list of favourite street locations, the humpback bridge in Uxbridge was one. Back then, we would set up at four o’clock on a Sunday morning, and commence shooting at five. Nowadays everything has to be locked off.’
When the Robbery Mk2 reached Latimer Road, the windscreen is hit by a police truncheon. For this scene, Nine Nine devised a ‘punch hole’ that was operated by a button on the dashboard. The company preferred Jaguars fitted with manual transmissions, and the noise from the Moss gearbox in Robbery is an essential aspect of the soundtrack. They would also ideally opt for cars without power steering, but this was not always available within budget.
‘The stunt fraternity didn’t have the finances, engineers or technicians that we have today,’ continues Hammatt. ‘To protect the driver, we would weld foot and knee covers to the front of the cabin, and brace the front of the car. Sometimes we installed stabilisers but time was usually limited. The handbrake ratchet would be altered so it could be used hard without it locking. If the script required a crash, this meant removing the front seats and mounting handrails in the roof so the driver could lift him/herself out of the way of the engine crashing through the bulkhead.’
Hammatt notes one particularly gamechanging safety advancement in his field – the switch from crossply tyres to radials. For an illustration watch the 1967 horror film The Sorcerers, in which his old colleague Jack Silk pilots a crossply-shod Wolseley 6/99 that skids out of control and nearly hits a lamppost. ‘It was common practice to stage an automotive battle in a dirty yard or outside a warehouse to create extra tension. You could really throw the Jags around in the dirt and the dust rising made the sequence look brilliant. We rarely rehearsed in case the handbrake wore out – we often needed it to make a dramatic turn.’
Hammatt also has some advice for anyone watching a typical British screen car chase of the Sixties and the Seventies. ‘Listen the sound of the engine – we were always opening up the jets. We would drive in second gear and basically rev the nuts off it, so it looked like we were doing a hundred everywhere! The valve bounce in those days sounded very impressive.’
For me, the reason Robbery is the greatest-ever Jaguar film is that it makes the viewer appreciate the dedication and professionalism of the flesh-and-blood stunt crew in the days long before CGI. ‘I found working with the Mk2 really enjoyable and I wish I had owned one myself,’ says Henson. Adds Hammatt, ‘The aerodynamic shape was why Mk2s were so good to drive. Another reason was that it would do all of the things we needed it to. We required a car that lived up to its stunts.’ In doing so in Robbery, the Jaguar Mk2 achieved deserved cinematic immortality.
Robbery is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from networkonair.com
‘We would film at 5am on a Sunday morning. Nowadays everything has to be locked off’ RICHARD HAMMATT, ROBBERY STUNT DRIVER
1967 Jaguar Mk2 3.4 Auto BIG CAT ON the PROWL
A road trip beckons in the ultimate getaway car for the Sixties corporate raider. Words Dale Drinnon. Photography Martyn Goddard.
Big Cat on the Prowl Welsh road trip recalls the Mk2’s natural role – as the businessman’s cross-country grand tourer.
Contrary to popular myth, the typical Jaguar Mk2 owner was far more likely to be a successful businessman than a cop, robber or hero racer. So, when relating the Mk2 driving experience, it really has be done on its qualities as a luxury executive express. Assigned with this plum job, and with one of the great all-time business hot-rods at beck and call, a dash through the lovely Warwickshire countryside for a visit to the stunning former residence of former top Jag exec SirWilliam Lyons seems entirely appropriate. And after that, some motoring R&R in typical red-blooded, Jag-owning Sixties honcho style – hit the road west before settling in beside the Welsh coast for a quiet weekend, giving the Jag a hard, healthy run along the way.
Mk2s are best suited to a mixed-touring style of driving – admiring country estates and twee villages while blasting down safe straights and flicking through the odd open S-bend. Our car loves this; borrowed from Jaguar specialist Classic Motor Cars, which is selling it fettled and preened on the owner’s behalf, it’s an outstanding town and country package, an auto 3.4 from 1967.
The Borg-Warner unit isn’t history’s smoothest-shifting under heavy load, and is easily confused by jumping on/off/on throttle, but in normal operation it’s fine. Even during rather spirited driving the shifting quality isn’t what’s noticeable, it’s the infrequency; sheer Jaguar mid-range grunt alone takes care of most road-based situations. Besides, my own ancient Stateside management career taught me that a manual-shift daily business car simply isn’t worth the aggro. Trust me.
After briefly experiencing the splendour of Sir William’s old 329-acre Wappenbury Hall estate, we make a ‘getaway’ assisted by the wonderfully helpful Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, which has supplied a rundown of former works test roads nearby, plus historic Jag locations. We elect to pick up the B4113 that runs through Stoneleigh village, where every marque’s test drivers leaving Coventry (when there were multitudes) took Stoneleigh as their tea stop. It seems somehow fitting for us to stop there, too.
But not for long. Time has flown and miles must be made, and we’ll have to use the car for the purpose it was intended – as an executive express. Our target is Snowdonia and the Welsh coast, meaning that the modern motorway and modern traffic going around greater Birmingham is inevitable – and sooner better than later. Some of it is stop and go (thank heavens for that automatic transmission), some is a sprint between the stop and goes, some of it is nose-to-tail in a jostling pack at speed.
‘Parked along the Porthmadog seafront, the Mk2 still looks fabulous’
The Jaguar handles all of it like a champ. There’s ample acceleration to take advantage of sudden openings in the traffic stream – don’t diss the 3.4, dear reader – and good visibility all around to spot those openings. That’s something I rate highly indeed; how can you go quickly if you can’t see? Braking performance is just as you’d expect from the disc-brake pioneer; pedal feel is probably the best of any Sixties all-disc system, and when making way for an emergency vehicle forces me to unwillingly bother the national limit, the chassis feels planted and safe as houses. Bring on your Audis; we are not afraid.
Of course lots of qualities besides speed go into a proper CEO’s ride, and one of them is much in evidence on this run. The Mk2 Passing Sir William’s old pad Stoneleigh village: road tester’s tea stop is quiet, blissfully quiet, no matter the velocity or the road, and generations of bosses should thank Norman Dewis (see his accompanying comments on the following pages) for ensuring them a place of blessed peace to get some thinking done on the three-hour trip to deal with that screw-up plant manager.
It’s a comfortable place, the driving position is decent and ingress/egress in appropriate office attire and topcoat would be a breeze. Or if dressed for dinner, the driver’s footwell would have room to manoeuvre my favourite pair of Northampton plain-toe Derbies without getting tangled up amongst the pedals. Cargo space is equally impressive, easily swallowing a foursome of golf bags; sometimes a little client golf is a wretched inevitability. The interior accommodates those clients in style, amid subtly ‘see how successful I am’ fittings of polished wood and lustrous chrome.
Fuel economy, on the other hand, well, suffice to say that running costs look to be something else that’s on the CEO level – our first fill-up comes after barely 150 miles. Granted, there’s plenty of country lanes and tailbacks in that, but tonight I’ll be parked up in the neon glow of a faux-Fifties diner in Oswestry on the phone trying to get my credit card limit extended.
Morning comes unexpectedly damp and chilly, with mist in the air and rain threatening, and I hold my breath, turn the key and listen for the fuel pump to tick down before pressing the starter button. The engine fires seemingly on the first crankshaft revolution, however, and takes up the most gorgeous tickover you’ve ever heard; apologies, ol’ Jag, I’ll never doubt you again, and kudos to CMC for its prep standards. Remarkably, owner Grant Dudley-Toole says it’s never been fully restored, only mechanically overhauled and resprayed. Furthermore, the 39k on the odo is correct, and from 2001 it actually was the car of an accomplished senior executive.
That would be his mother, Jill Dudley-Toole, co-founder and chairwoman of Frank Dudley, Birmingham, manufacturer of steel stampings for the car industry including Jaguar Land Rover. Son Grant, himself having three E-types under the care of CMC, is selling the Mk2 following her sad passing last spring.
Meanwhile, the rain is starting in earnest and this is our driving glove day, so with engine warmed and boot reloaded – I have no intention of using my grandfather-in-law’s old clubs, by the way, but they sure look cool in there – we’re onto the A5. The plan is to follow that west to the A494, then the B4396, and hence to Bala, along the Welsh Marshes and into Snowdonia National Park, where we’ll join the A4212 and see what kind of interesting B-roads we find. Eventually we’ll work across to the Glaslyn Estuary and the final destination, Porthmadog.
It’s a great plan; the opening leg is beautiful country and sweet, winding A-road – once past the tractors, logging trailers and farming muck covering the lower A494 – and as we climb, the weather breaks and the views back down the valleys are magnificent. This is good territory for the Mk2; like the roads around Wappenbury Hall, the running is mostly in top gear, on moderate throttle and thorough turns of medium radius, if considerably narrower in places, and with no hairpins to crowd the long wheelbase. If we were out on a rally, this would be a semi-quick transition stage.
Albeit a thirsty transition stage, and Bala brings another fill-up; fortunately that credit extension was approved. While stretching my legs I admire the Jag, as you do, and a flood of memories from my long-ago corporate days yields a home truth: this is the perfect exec-car colour, bar none – it doesn’t show dirt. Called ‘Golden Sand’ by Jaguar, many premium car manufacturers have employed similar rich metallic shades; you can visit a dusty building site and go on to the country club with no wash necessary in between. Today it still looks as fresh as yesterday morning. Consider that my insider tip for this month’s issue.
From Bala the A4212 winds and rises into Snowdonia, smooth, and well-sighted for several miles, and to me, it’s the most enjoyable drive of the journey. Turn-in is surprisingly crisp for such a tall and relatively heavy saloon, and once you get the hang of managing the weight transfer, it scats along rather well. You’re gonna hate this, but it reminds me of a ’1968 Ford Fairlane 390 I had, with the heavy-duty suspension – be steady and patient while it rotates and stabilises, feed power progressively all through the exit phase. Bags of fun, without the patent stupidity of chasing the grip limits on a public thoroughfare.
And after that I frankly have no idea about the route numbers and directions; it’s the driving itself that grips me. We take B-roads, going up and over the ridgelines, sometimes so narrow even the sheep can’t travel them two abreast; rain starts, stops, starts, often pouring, and fog slows us to a crawl and I’m sounding the horn on blind corners, Alpine style. We descend onto sparsely trafficked A-roads, then cruise for a while like respectable gentlemen before finding another mountain trail, heading upward and bashing around like hooligans.
Until we hit the A487 leading toward the coast, then cut over past Portmeirion and the A497 across ‘The Cob’ causeway and bang into the centre of Porthmadog. Teeming with shops, traffic and people, it wouldn’t seem ideal for stress relief from the last board meeting; loop around the back side of the harbour, though, and you’ll discover Borth-y-Gest village. It’s exactly the ticket: small, secluded, with big Victorian guest houses, little B&Bs in soothing Art Deco pastels, charming views across the water, and lots and lots of quiet. Job done.
Parked along the seafront, the Mk2 still looks fabulous, and after two days of serious driving the only thing I would change is, aaaahh… nothing, really. Maybe interval wipers; the toggle switch is sort of awkward in a long drizzle. Maybe a tape player; eight-track, naturally. As for more horsepower or a four-speed, this car does almost everything very capably without those, and more than a few things quite splendidly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend some time with the maps and see how many nice winding A-roads we can pack into the trip home.
Thanks to Classic Motor Cars (classic-motor-cars.co.uk), the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club (jec.org.uk), and Tony O’Keeffe of Jaguar Classic.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 1967 Jaguar Mk2 3.4 Auto
Engine 3442cc straight-six, dohc, two SU HD6 side-draught carburettors
Max Power 210bhp @ 5500rpm
Max Torque 216lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Borg- Warner three-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Brakes Discs front and rear
Suspension Front: independent, double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar. Rear: live axle, leaf springs, Panhard rod, telescopic dampers
Steering Recirculating ball
Weight 1501kg (3304lb)
Performance Top speed: 120mph; 0-60mph: 11.9sec
Fuel consumption 16mpg
Cost new £1951 (UK 1961 price, with automatic)
Classic Cars Price Guide £10,000-£32,000
Mk2 had more glass area than MkI Cosseting quiet at the wheel, but grunt to push on when required
Mk2 offers fine visibility to take in rural idylls.
Passing Sir William’s old pad Stoneleigh village: road tester’s tea stop
‘Admiring twee villages while blasting down straights and flicking through open S-bends. Our car loves this’
Cavernous boot will happily take golf clubs for four ‘Fuel economy is at CEO level… our first fill-up comes after barely 150 miles’ The 3.4 is responsive even paired with the auto ’box Midrange poke makes easy meat of Welsh hill climbs.
Lusty driving makes a Mk2 thirsty.
Scratch and sniff for probable cigar-smoke aroma.
BUYING A JAGUAR MK2: THE STATE OF THE MARKET IN 2019
Graham Searle of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club fills us in on a confusing Mk2 market.
‘They’re not shooting ahead, they’re not dropping back. They jumped a bit – but not much – in the recent boom, but they haven’t slumped much since either.
They’re not in the doldrums, but rather they’ve found their place and they’re staying there.
‘There’s a very different market for each model. Good, restored 3.8s are commanding in excess of £40k with dealerships, but a full ground-up restoration isn’t actually viable, given that it would cost the same as an E-type – £70k-£80k – if carried out professionally. All parts are readily available but it’s a tricky car to restore. Interiors are more complex than an E-type’s, what with woodwork as well as the leather, chrome and cloth.
Viable restoration projects mainly involve just one major job – a respray, say, or a top-end engine rebuild. A good 3.8 sold privately will make £20k-£30k. The 3.4s and 2.4s are real bargains – I recently saw a fully-restored 3.4 sell for £15k, and very nice 2.4s routinely go for less than £10k. For decades no one wanted 2.4s, but they’ve tended to live gentler lives looked after by older enthusiasts and can make great buys nowadays.
‘The anniversary will no doubt lift values, but they’re not hyped like E-types were in 2011. All things considered, a good Mk2 is a very safe place for your money.’
If you’re looking to buy, ensure 40psi oil pressure under load, and a lack of oil leaks – a failed rear crankshaft seal can prompt a rebuild. Rust hides in longitudinal chassis legs, especially from the front crossmember back to the A-posts. Poorly-fitting panels point to rotten sills and a need for an expensive full-body restoration.
Norman Dewis: how to build a better Jaguar
‘To any student of the Jaguar brand, or of British automotive history in general, Norman Dewis, OBE, is the proverbial man who needs no introduction. During his career as a test driver, development engineer and racer, he influenced every piece of machinery the company even dreamed of, and at age 98 he continues to represent Jaguar as an immensely popular brand ambassador. Norman is particularly fond of the Mk2, although the relationship got off to a rocky start.
‘There never would have been a Mk2 if we’d done the right thing with the MkI,’ he told me in a recent interview. ‘Sir William designed the pear-shaped MkI body, and that forced us to give the rear suspension a narrow track. We told him from the start the handling would suffer, the car would crab-track, but he insisted on going ahead with it; in the end he finally realised he should have listened to us in the first place.
‘We widened the body and made the tracks similar front and back, and that’s the only difference, otherwise the MkI and Mk2 are identical. It was a lovely car to drive; compact, good handling, quiet…’ Noise, vibration and harshness (now called NVH) were major concerns with Norman from the earliest design and testing phases, much of that conducted on the roads around Wappenbury Hall.
‘Because these were unibody cars, with no separate chassis, it took us a lot of time to learn how to isolate the suspension from the bodywork and keep out the road noise. That’s always the problem – road and tyre noise – but when we got the sound dampening right, it was a really lovely car.
‘Modern cars certainly have tighter bodywork and much better stiffness and materials, but I think there still aren’t many that are quieter than the Mk2 – regardless of the price.’ He’s absolutely right about that, too.
‘IT WAS INFINITELY BETTER THAN THE COMPETITION’
Christopher Kerrison’s sole British Saloon Car Championship year saw him triumph in a works Mk2 – but it was an insurance policy in the face of fierce competition. Words Sam Dawson. Photography Jaguar Classic.
Christopher Kerrison The racing driver recalls the 1961 BSCC season, a year he spent behind the wheel of a very unlikely works-prepared Mk2
I really didn’t shine,’ confesses former Jaguar Mk2 racer Christopher Kerrison as he thinks back to the 1961 British Saloon Car Championship. It seems an odd statement to make – after all, Kerrison ended his sole season in the BSCC as Class C Champion without even contesting all of the races, surely the sign of an assured, calculating performance in the manner of Niki Lauda or Alain Prost? But Kerrison – better known for his sports-racing exploits in Lolas and Ferraris, including sending his crashed 250GT to be rebodied by Piero Drogo as a unique berlinetta – devised his drive as a ploy to exploit the rules after a torrid 1960 season that saw the mighty 3.8 Mk2 excluded from points-scoring eligibility. The BSCC was only three years old by that point, and its rules had changed every season as the organising BRSCC and FIA committees searched for the best formula. Initially displacement-based categories had made the big-engined Jaguars competitive, if not victorious. The most class wins rather than outright victories, awarded only to drivers rather than manufacturers, secured championship spoils. Intra-Jaguar scrapping between the likes of Jack Sears, Gawaine Baillie and Roy Salvadori actually counted against the Coventry firm in the points.
But in 1960 the BRSCC casually tossed a spanner into Jaguar’s works. It stipulated that the only cars eligible for points would be built to the ‘Supa Tura’ formula. Not to be confused with the Super Tourers of 30 years later, but not dissimilar in spirit, these were silhouette-bodied cars where almost any modification was permitted, but the engine’s displacement could not exceed 1000cc. The initiative was handed to cars like Speedwell Minis, Weslake Austin A40s and Broadspeed Ford Anglias – lightened small cars with Formula Junior engines under their bonnets.
Jaguar had nothing in this class, so its participation was tokenistic. However, for 1961 the FIA introduced its new Group 2 regulations, effectively applying the Supa Tura principle across four displacement classes staircased in 1000cc increments.
This brought the 3.8-litre Mk2 into play, but the Jaguar-supplied teams had a problem – ‘over 3000cc’ meant American muscle cars were now eligible to contest the BSCC, a threat embodied by none other than Dan Gurney piloting a 6.7-litre Chevrolet Impala.
‘I remember standing on the corner, in the rain, sharing Stirling’s umbrella, not speaking to each other’
‘My Mk2 was a 2.4, built to exploit the 2000-3000cc Class C,’ explains Kerrison, who entered the car in the BSCC under the guise of the independent Gerrard’s Cross Motor Company. ‘But it was a works-prepared car in reality. It had been a works hack for a while, used for practice laps, among other things. Before I raced the car, Graham Hill took me round the Nürburgring in it. He wasn’t a friend as such, but we frequently bumped into each other socially – he was with a Jaguar team racing sports cars at the Nürburgring on this occasion. I’d decided to run the Mk2 in the BSCC, and he just said, “Come on then, let’s go!”
‘He demonstrated how to get the best out of it, but it was an easy car to exploit, what with Jaguar’s modifications to the suspension and so on allowing it to corner faster. It was underpowered, but better than the other cars contesting Class C, like Wolseleys and Ford Zephyrs. I could drive it pretty-much flat-out all the way round most circuits, usually with only the 3.8s ahead of me.’
Kerrison’s Mk2 didn’t enter the first race of the championship at Snetterton, although it was a 3.8 clean-sweep, with Gawaine Baillie, John Surtees and Dennis Taylor locking out the podium. It could have been a Jaguar top six had Mike Parkes’ and Jack Sears’ 3.8s not run out of fuel. Kerrison’s Jaguar made its first appearance in the second meeting, at Goodwood, although mechanical issues prevented him from starting the race. With Gurney’s Chevrolet not yet present, Jaguar had a strong lead, but the back-up plan to dominate Class C looked like it might backfire because Ellis Cuff-Miller took an early lead in his Zephyr.
The weather, as well as Kerrison’s driving skills, put his 2.4 back ahead of Cuff-Miller in the following race, the Aintree International 200 meeting. ‘It was absolutely soaking wet for the whole weekend,’ recalls Kerrison. ‘I was racing my 1100cc Lola in the sports car races too, and had qualified very well – second on the grid – and on the way back to the pits I asked mechanic Peter Ling how well he thought I’d do in the race. “Oh, you’ll walk it,” he replied. Problem was, the man on pole was Stirling Moss, and he proceeded to walk all over me! But then we both spun off on the same corner and ended up out of the race. I remember standing on the corner, in the rain, sharing Stirling’s umbrella, not saying anything to each other, waiting for the race to end.’
Kerrison slithered his 2.4 to 13th amid an accident-depleted field in the BSCC race, maintaining his Class C lead. ‘Stirling Moss didn’t race touring cars back then, but most of the other Formula One drivers did, including Jim Clark who won the championship in 1964 in a Lotus Cortina.’
The first Silverstone meeting proved most controversial. Gurney finally arrived in his Impala, dominated qualifying and prompted complaints to the BRSCC from Jaguar, which felt its 6.7 litres lent it an unfair advantage over the 3.8 Mk2s. The race looked certain to confirm their suspicions, until a wheel fell off the huge Chevrolet, leading to a Jaguar Mk2 one-two-three-four with Graham Hill beating Mike Parkes, Bruce McLaren and Dennis Taylor. Kerrison endured a race-long battle with Alan Hutcheson’s Riley, eventually losing ground to it – but maintained his Class C lead because the lighter Riley One Point Five contested the lower-league Class B. Two races later, the second Silverstone meeting – the Empire Trophy – saw Jaguar’s protests against the American entrants upheld. Gurney’s Chevrolet wasn’t allowed to start, and neither was a new challenger – Chuck Daigh in a Lance Reventlowprepared 7.0-litre Ford Galaxie. In the event, Daigh couldn’t take to the grid anyway after he was injured in an accident while driving Reventlow’s Scarab in a supporting sports car race.
But it was the Empire Trophy that saw Kerrison’s best drive of the season. ‘The Mk2 had great traction, even in the wet, so you could just keep it planted so long as you kept the right line,’ he says. And it was very wet – a thunderstorm hit the track just after the BSCC race began, sending Salvadori, McLaren, Hutcheson, Bill Blydenstein, and Peter Harper into race-ending crashes. Kerrison didn’t just fight off the Ford Zephyrs of David Haynes and Jeff Uren, he managed to lap the Mk2 3.8 of Albert Powell twice. Kerrison’s final Touring Car race, the Redex Trophy at Brands Hatch, also saw one of his closest battles, because qualifying saw him seventh on the grid, attempting to keep ahead of John Whitmore’s Mini and Bill Blydenstein’s Borgward Isabella TS, and the Ford Zephyr of fellow Class C contender David Haynes.
Whitmore retired with gearbox trouble just two laps into the race, releasing Blydenstein and Haynes into a three-way battle with Kerrison, snapping at the back of a five-car pack of Mk2 3.8s for the full 20 laps. Kerrison managed a fastest class lap of 2min, 11.4sec, just ten seconds off the fastest Coombs-tuned 3.8 of Roy Salvadori. Kerrison had secured his class win, and could sit out the following races at Oulton Park and Snetterton.
‘I absolutely walked it,’ says Kerrison, but he isn’t triumphalist about it. ‘It was unexciting, not least because my car was infinitely better than the competition.’
Contrary to popular assumption, Jaguar has never actually won the BSCC or BTCC outright. But by cleverly exploiting the BSCC’s class system with the less-celebrated end of the Mk2 range, and thanks to the driving of Kerrison as much as Parkes, Salvadori and Hill, 1961 was the closest Jaguar came to winning a series with which the Mk2 has become eternally associated.