The Jaguar Mark 2 classic car rolled off the factory floor at Brown's Lane in Coventry for eleven years; eight as the Mk II, younger sister to the barnstorming Mk I Jag, and a following three years as the re-badged 240/340. Nearly 85,000 units were assembled and sold on garage forecourts across England as well as being shipped into Europe and to the States. But mere numbers cannot explain the legacy of this wonderful automobile.
The Jaguar Mark 2 was quintessentially Jaguar. Slender curves, elegant lines, a wonderful finish and the all-important beast under the hood made it a car to be reckoned with in its day. Available in 2.4, 3.4 and 3.8 litre offerings, the Mk II's demure looks hid a monstrous 120 to 220 brake horse power inline-6 engine, resulting in a top speed well in excess of 100 mph. Cruising was a comfort, too; the walnut dash - expected of Jaguar - as well as the leather seats (on the earlier models) and wire wheels on certain models lent the car its timeless classic finesse.
The car was well-received by both critics and the public alike, although its high price meant it was firmly pitched well beyond the grasp of the typical working man in Sixties' England and was more likely to be purchased by the patrician elite. Most famously, the car caught the eye of the gangster figures of the British underworld, who were drawn to the status it brought - not to mention its aptness as a getaway car! Hence the Jaguar Mark 2 gained a reputation for being just as much a car for bank robbers as it was for bankers themselves. This reputation was reflected - and further reinforced - by the Mk II's frequent portrayal in British detective/crime/action TV series, such as The Professionals and The Avengers.
By the time the Coventry-based car firm had rebadged the car as the 240 (or 340), the Jaguar Mark 2 was looking (not to mention handling and performing) rather dated, and in 1969 it was ushered out to pasture to be replaced by the more modern-looking, more pointed XJ6 model, the line of which would run til the present day. The poor old Mk II was sadly neglected in the Seventies, as a number of its kind were sold on, run into the ground and scrapped. These days, however, the car has undergone a much-needed revitalisation, as its timeless elegance is appreciated by a new generation of enthusiasts and collectors.
Valuations of MkII's have dropped in recent years, with the market thankfully no longer being the exclusive domain of the rich investor-collector. A runnable, not-perfect-but-fine-to-look-at Jaguar Mark 2 can be had for the princely sum of Â£10,000 - certainly within the reach of many - whilst a car in need of restoration can usually be sourced for half that amount.
With the MkII reaching the ripe young age of fifty this year, and with plenty of international Jaguar Car Clubs thriving these days, offering support, camaraderie and advice for owners of Mk.II's, as well as all other models of Jaguars, older and newer, it looks as if there is still plenty of life left in the old cat yet.