By: Jason Fong
Not many other cars can claim to have built a reputation in as many ways as the Mark 2 Jag has. From stints as a star car of television, a race car driven by the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, to an infamous bank robber’s getaway vehicle of choice, it is perhaps one of the most iconic British cars of the 1960’s and is remembered fondly by many. Though a lot of Mk2s have fallen into disrepair, its lasting influence on enthusiasts has kept its fans at the front lines of preserving this bastion of British culture, keeping the remaining good ones from going extinct.
Adhering to Jaguar founder William Lyons’ maxim of “Grace, pace and space”, the Mk2 was refined with adjustments to suspension geometry, a widened rear track, larger windscreens, and it would take a step into the future as one of the world’s first sports saloon cars to utilize disk brakes on all four wheels as standard.
With polished timber throughout the cabin, the Mk2 is spaciously comfortable, and with the optional 3.8 engine from the XKs all of this decadence could move pretty quickly, even by today’s standards—all four doors could make it to 60mph in 8.5 seconds before going onto a top speed of 125mph. Not a bad proposition for a family car, especially when at the time the Aston Martin DB4 also took 8.5 seconds to reach 60, and cost twice as much as the Jag.
As a result, the Mk2 naturally became the sports saloon of choice for all kinds of disparate people, claiming victories in European and Australian touring car championships on the track while its street models were becoming a highly effective tool for both criminals and law enforcement alike; no matter who out-accelerated their rival, a Jaguar won.
With its dignified appearance, the Mk2 would also star in multiple television shows, sealing its place as a symbol of British culture that would go on to influence the design of the 1999 Jaguar S-Type. The car was held in such high regard by Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum, that in 2014 he recreated his personal Mk2 with a combination of engineering and design from the past with modern additions.
The Jaguar Mk2 managed to create an impressive list of achievements over its 8 years of production, and with such variety amongst the fans, it’s no wonder that it remains as a quintessential image of the 1960s’ Britain. Thankfully then, for lovers of classic cars, there is a loyal battalion of enthusiasts who remain captivated by the Mk2, and are willing to save the remaining machines, preserving their cultural significance and giving them the life to continue onwards.