Nothing evokes the essence of British sporting motoring than Jaguar’s classic sports saloon of the 1960s, the Mark 2.
On the road it was elegance personified, its lines taking cues from the athletic and muscular XK 120 and 150 roadsters and moulding them into a design that 40 years later looks just as good as it did when new.
With the 3.8-litre motor, it had stunning performance for its day – 100km/h came up from standstill in a little more than nine seconds and top speed was a stirring 200km/h, all achieved in a car that seated four and offered 20mpg fuel economy.
The motor was Jaguar’s proven and classic twin cam inline six-cylinder, driving the rear wheels through a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearbox.
In 3.8-litre form – there were also 3.4-litre and 2.4-litre Mark 2s – the big six developed 156kW and a healthy 325Nm of peak torque.
The 3.4 was good for 193km/h but the 2.4 struggled to do much more than 160km/h.
As well as being a superb road car with refined handling and excellent roadholding, the Mark 2 also distinguished itself on the racetrack and in rally stages – rallies at the time were more endurance events than today’s short-sharp sprints and were contested by modified road cars rather than purpose-built rally specials.
The Mark 2 debuted in 1959 and continued in production until 1969 – in that time Jaguar built more than 80,000.It had evolved from the broadly similar 2.4-litre Mark 1 which went into production in 1955.
The Mark 2 was a popular mount for sporting drivers including Formula 1 world champion Graham Hill and Lotus cars founder Colin Chapman.
The Mark 2 also had a cinematic career that included Michael Caine’s British gangster film, Get Carter, and more recently as the late John Thaw’s character Chief Inspector Morse’s transport in the television series of the same name. Morse’s Jaguar was bright red with a black vinyl roof.
The Mark 2 body was pressed into service with a Daimler badge as the 250 saloon, fitted with the SP250 Daimler Dart V8 motor.
The Mark 2 also evolved into the longer-wheelbase Jaguar S-Type which became a favourite mount of British criminal wheelmen. In fact, in his earlier guise as Flying Squad cop Jack Regan, Thaw frequently chased villains driving S-Type Jaguars in the iconic 1960s TV show, The Sweeney.
But the S-Type lacked the clean, balanced harmonious lines of the Mark 2 whose appeal will never fade.