Jaguar MK2 3.8 Manual Driven

The Jaguar MK2 3.8 dominated our television screens in the 1970’s as the getaway car of choice. It is easy to understand why, powerful with reasonable handling and enough space inside for four burly adults wearing masks and carrying guns of the sawn-off variety.

Although you have to suspect Sir William Lyons had a different outcome in mind in wanting Jaguar cars to deliver to its customers grace, pace and space. This particular Jaguar MK2 3.8 is fitted with the, easier to use, later four speed manual gearbox with overdrive and is a car that oozes class from every angle inside and out. Exterior wise there is the distinctive nose, rear and side profile which combine together to deliver a period look that really is quite timeless. Features that were copied rather clumsily on the more recent and much bigger retro styled S-Type.  Inside the interior literally takes your breath away. The walnut and light tan leather combine to provide a truly excellent backdrop to the distinctive Jaguar dials for road speed and engine rpm, as well as the array of secondary dials and switches mounted centrally on the dashboard directly between driver and passenger.

Included within them is the ignition key and starter motor button that when pressed brings into life the Jaguar straight six double overhead cam engine and excellent sporty exhaust note. Select first gear, bring up the clutch and you realise quite how special Jaguar’s from this era are. Whether E-Type or saloon they seem to manage to feel both old and new at the same time. In this car there is nothing untoward about the primary controls which require very little adjustment. The pedal feel, steering and gearbox are all on a par with modern day machinery, quite uncanny.

In fact it is only when you first approach a bend that there is any indication that the Jaguar MK2 3.8 isn’t a retro-styled modern car itself. Whether it is the weight, power assisted steering or just how the car is designed is not clear. This car just wants to under-steer and push wide at every bend, which is quite a surprise given how tight and tidy everything else feels. Back off slightly and apply more lock, in a sort of classic swinging style, and thankfully everything settles back down. Slow-in and fast-out could not be more appropriate with the Jaguar MK2 3.8 in navigating our green and pleasant land.

Jaguar Mk2 3.8
Inside there is as much comfort and space in the rear as there is up front

This is also by far and away the most enjoyable way to appreciate the car’s performance. Tickle the throttle pedal and the car accelerates strongly whilst producing a distinctive and intoxicating exhaust note. A noise best appreciated with the driver’s window half way down. If you watched the video you may have noticed a definite increase in background noise about half way through which, although not shown, coincides with closing said window. Therefore unless the microphone is playing tricks, a Jaguar MK2 3.8 is actually quieter with the side window lowered than it is raised. You heard it here first remember. Audio clip below illustrates what a Jaguar MK2 3.8 sounds like when driving past, listen out for the overrun at the end.

Jaguar Mk2 3.8
Jaguar MK2 3.8 epitomises Sir William Lyons vision of grace, pace and space

Travelling fast in a road car designed in the 50’s is perhaps not entirely appropriate and you will get plenty of indications from this particular Jaguar MK2 3.8 when pushed too hard. The first is the engine note, becoming alarmingly loud at around 3,500rpm indicating it is time for an up-change. Now this may sound premature, but like an E-Type it is in fact all that is required for quick-enough progress. Anyway loud noises are not what you want whilst purring along in your thoroughbred cat of choice. The second is the squeal from the deliberately loosened power assisted steering belt when on full lock. A lesson learned from experience of hiring out Jaguar MK2’s that end up travelling 10,000–15,000 miles per year, too tight and they break.

Overall the Jaguar MK2 is the perfect car to take your friends or your family out for a trip to lunch, Le Mans or the Goodwood Revival, we’ll let you decide where.

Jaguar MK2 3.8 ticks all the boxes in meeting Sir William Lyons’ ultimate vision of grace, pace and space.

How does this car make you feel?

In one word: Morse (Inspector)

As a favourite meal: Sunday roast, pork this time, with apple sauce and crackling

Anything Else: The opposite of selfish, you can involve family and friends this time

Key Ingredients: Walnut dashboard, leather, charismatic looks inside and out, pace, exhaust note and the fact it will seat four in comfort


With thanks to Great Escape Classic Car Hire


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  1. Having both a 67 MkII and a 67 E-type, I must say that I enjoy driving the MkII possibly a little more! Power and response are adequate for the car, handling equally reasonable. The MkII actually attracts more attention because they are rarely seen on the street in the US!

  2. Interesting that isn’t it, I wonder if it is because the MKII is a slightly rarer beasty these days, nice also that you have both to enjoy as well. Matt.

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