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Buying: Buying Guide

Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967)

A doyen of the classic car scene, the Jaguar Mk2 is a very satisfactory buy – just as long as you buy wisely

Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967) in workshop

The problem with most sports cars is that they usually offer transport for just two, along with limited practicality. But buy a Jaguar Mk2 and a whole new world of enjoyment opens up – the entire family can come along for a sporting ride, for a start.

While the Mk2 may not be quite as good to drive as an E-type, it’s still a hoot on the right road, and provides much of the fun and far more usability for around half of the financial outlay. Buy a Mk2 that has been sympathetically upgraded – and there are plenty around – and you’ll have something that’s even more usable, although purchase costs of cars like these are invariably high as a result. 

On that note, the current economic downturn hasn’t so far impacted on Mk2 values. But because they’ve never been priced especially highly, these cars aren’t likely to get much cheaper in the short or long term.

With straightforward mechanicals that can be maintained on a DIY basis, whether you’re looking to use the car occasionally or regularly, to service yourself or professionally, the Mk2 is a truly dependable companion that has plenty of timeless elegance into the bargain. Your kids will love it, too.


Nick Goldthorp, pictured above, set up Shropshire-based Vicarage Cars in 1982, out of which came Classic Motor Cars (CMC) in 1993. 
‘It’s crucial to buy the best Mk2 you can,’ he says. ‘Restoration costs exceed values, so you must get a feel for the market because some people have an inflated idea of what their car is worth.’ 

He reckons even an aficionado would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a 3.4 and a 3.8, but it’s the latter that’s in demand. Values are close, while the 2.4 lags behind. You can buy a good 2.4 from £14,000, while an equivalent 3.4 or 3.8 is £20,000. At the top end you can pay up to £60,000 for something special.


Don’t buy a restoration project unless you can afford a professional rebuild or can undertake your own. The Mk1 was Jaguar’s first monocoque car; rot-prevention measures were barely applied, so it’s full of rust traps. 

If you have time, skills and patience, you can effect a full bodyshell rebuild at home, but if you don’t have these you’ll need to budget up to £30,000 to get a specialist to restore a tatty Mk2. A really ropey car could eat up a lot more cash. 

Predictably, mechanical overhauls are more straightforward so, even if the brakes, steering or suspension are past their best, it’s all easy enough to put right or upgrade on a DIY basis. There’s no need to be daunted by the prospect of reviving an XK engine yourself either, but there’s no shortage of companies able to do the work for you. CMC replaces everything as a matter of course and charges around £7500 for a complete XK overhaul with all-new components and ancillaries, whereas VSE (for example) charges £3400 for a rebuild of the engine alone, reusing some original parts.

The other potentially large cost is for a complete retrim: replace the lot professionally and you’re staring down the barrel of a £6000 bill by the time the leather, timber and carpets have all been renewed. If you’re buying a car that needs work, bear in mind that, while parts availability is excellent, the quality is variable, so you should budget for ‘original equipment’ specification.


Few luxury saloons have the same presence as the Mk2, but excellent examples are scarce. That’s despite superb parts availability, as 
well as top-notch club and specialist support; restoration costs are too high in relation to the value. And even though retrims and engine rebuilds are costly, most of the value of a Mk2 is in its bodyshell, so thoroughly check the structure’s integrity.

The running costs will probably average out at around £1500 per year, so don’t buy a shed and expect to be able to keep it going on a shoestring. If all this sounds appealing but you can’t quite stretch to a Mk2, don’t discount the Mk1 or 240 and 340, which all share the Mk2’s structure and mechanicals but have a lower specification. As a result they’re all cheaper, and almost as desirable. Just not quite.

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Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967) in workshop
Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967) interior
Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967) engine
Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967) front and rear
Jaguar Mk2 (1959-1967) side
Extra info

Oct 1959 The Mk2 debuts with a choice of 2.4-, 3.4- or 3.8-litre XK engines. The 2.4-litre motor is a modified edition of the unit fitted to the Mk1, while there are also disc brakes, a wider rear track and front suspension upgrades. Sep 1960 Power steering becomes optional.
Sep 1967 The 240 and 340 supersede the Mk2, with thinner bumpers and Ambla trim, while there are now no longer any picnic tables and the fog/spot lights are merely optional.
Production figures for the Mk2 2.4 ran to 21,768 and 3405 (RHD and LHD respectively), while for the 3.4 they were 22,095 RHD and 6571 LHD. There were 15,383 RHD 3.8 models made along with 14,758 LHD examples.


Engine 3781cc straight-six, DOHC, twin SU carbs
Power 220bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 240lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Four-speed manual, optional overdrive, rear-wheel drive
Front suspension Independent via coil and wishbone
Rear suspension Live axle, semi-elliptic springs
Brakes Discs all-round
Weight 1499kg
Top speed 125mph
0-60mph 8.5sec


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