The continuing story of a Jaguar Mark 2 3.8 MOD, registration 5949 DD
Why a Jaguar Mark 2?
Ever since I was a boy I have been car mad. During my later career from 1991, I have been lucky enough to have two XJ6’s, an XJ8, six Jaguar Sovereigns and three Daimler Super V8’s as company vehicles. But, from as far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to own a red Jaguar Mark 2. The Mark 2 is an iconic shape which has stood the test of time. The best endorsement of this, that I can think of, is the fact that Ian Callum, the Chief Designer at Jaguar, has recently taken delivery of a specially made, modern version of a Mark 2 that retains the original shape. My Mark 2 had to be the ultimate 3.8 model in Carmen red with MOD and a red leather interior.
In 1997, I found myself in the fortunate position of being able to buy one. I first saw the car featured in the Classic and Sports Car magazine in June 1997 and in July 1997 it was advertised for sale in the same magazine. So I went to London; although it needed some work to bring it up to ‘off concourse’ condition, I liked what I saw and bought it.
The car is an original 3.8 MOD, as indicated by the number 205-475-DN. The Heritage Trust Certificate indicates that the car was originally opalescent dark green with suede green interior when it was manufactured on 19 June 1961 and left the factory on 3 July 1961 for Henlys in London. The vehicle had one owner from when it was first registered, on 1 March 1962, until 1984, although the registration document was only changed in 1994 to the last recorded owner. In 1972, frost cracked the engine block and this was subsequently replaced.
The car was sold in 1984 and the new owner began restoration by stripping the car completely to carry out a bare metal re-spray. Some metal replacement also took place, finished to a very high standard. The car was then sold and the new owner transported the car to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where it remained in dry storage until 1994. During this period, the owner transferred ownership to himself, although he never used the car. The car was sold again in 1994 and the new owner confirmed that the body shell was in superb condition, with the exception of the rear doors and boot lid which were replaced. The body and engine restoration of the car were completed in July 1995. However this owner did not register the car in his own name during his ownership and sold it on in July 1996.
The Initial Driving Experience
When I first drove the Mark 2 home I was very nervous as, straight away, you realise the difference between 1961 and modern technology and must adapt your driving to suit. I will always remember the wonderful smell of leather and wood as I got into the car, which is still there to this day. Two things became apparent from the outset, one being how hard it was to park the car due to the absence of power steering, and the other being the way you had to double de-clutch to work the Moss gearbox. As first and reverse are very close together, I kept putting her in reverse at the traffic lights; not the thing to do!
Works carried out by Jaguar
In order that I might really enjoy the car, I decided to sort out the steering and gearbox issues whilst retaining the original features of the car. Extensive work was carried out by Jaguar in my first 2 years of ownership, including conversion of the car to unleaded petrol, replacement of the original Moss gearbox with a late 1960’s, re-conditioned, synchromesh Mark 2 Jaguar gearbox, and Jaguar power steering. In addition, an electric fan and motorway tyres (with tubes inside) were fitted. The vehicle was then wax injected and under-sealed, and was raring to go.
Since that time the car has been M.O.T. tested and fully serviced in April of each year, whether or not the car has covered many miles, by Mercury Executive Cars Limited of Hutton, Essex. The car’s bodywork has also been kept in pristine condition since 1997 with all necessary works carried out to the highest standards by M&R Body Shop of Hutton, Essex.
Her own Garage
We moved house 18 months ago to a ‘new build’; one of the criteria was to have a large enough garage suitable for both storage and use as a home for the car. I arranged for the car to go into container storage for 3 months, with a company that was expert at exporting/importing classic cars, while I had the garage converted into a ‘room’ before she arrived. This included putting a ceiling in with proper insulation, laying a rubber floor over the concrete to stop any cement dust covering the car and a foam protector on the wall. The garage is kept at a constant temperature of 20 degrees centigrade by the installation of 3 thermostatically controlled radiators and she sits under a special Jaguar ‘breathing cover’.
Driving the car
The car had done 80,050 miles when I purchased her in 1997. The current mileage is 90,104 so I have driven 10,054 miles in 17 years or 591 miles a year.
The car is used on a regular basis at least once a month, but I never start her up unless I go out for a drive of at least 50 miles. I only go out in dry weather and in, the 17 years that I have had the car, I have never been caught out in heavy rain.
Every time I get into the car I get that wonderful smell of leather and wood, and when you start her up you always get that distinct ‘burble’ sound from the exhaust that only Mark 2 3.8’s make; I wonder if that is where they got the idea for the new Jaguar F-type’s ‘burble’ switch! When driving her I never idle along, as I believe that the 3.8 engine should be used, and fellow drivers are always surprised when I overtake them on dual carriageways. Using the MOD is great, as you reach 50 mph, slip her into overdrive and watch the rev counter go down by 1500 rpm. But you must always remember that, to get her out of overdrive, you need to slow the car down on the brakes to around 40 mph before changing down, otherwise she jolts instead of making a smooth transition.
The 1960’s synchromesh gearbox, together with the power steering and the modern tyres, makes her feel and drive like any modern car. However, despite being one of the first cars to have disc brakes – there is a warning emblem moulded into the chrome rear bumper to warn 1960’s drivers that the car might stop quickly – you have to remember that, compared to modern cars, it still takes longer to stop.
Keeping an eye on the engine’s oil pressure, which in my car is always a constant 40 psi, and ensuring that the water temperature gauge does not creep up much beyond 75 degrees centigrade are part of the driving experience, and far more enjoyable than being told by a computer there is a problem. It keeps you on your toes and you become one with the car, something that you can only experience with a classic car.
As a member of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club (JEC) Essex Thameside Region, I regularly attend events, the most recent being in Battlesbridge on Sunday 28 September 2014, a very sunny day with a record turnout of classic cars and motor bikes. However the Chairman knows that, if there is going to be any threat of rain, my car remains in the garage. A day or two before the event, the club Chairman sends me the most up to date weather forecasts and, if it is going to be sunny, adds a message: “see you at the weekend as it is going to be dry and sunny”. I only attend local events so that, if there is any sign of rain, I can leave and get home in a hurry.
The only exception to this was when I took my Mark 2 to a furniture clinic at the Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich, to have the interior of my car professionally cleaned. I even purchased new wiper arms and blades from Martin Robey, as mine hadn’t been used for 13 years. It only rained lightly, just as we entered the outskirts of Birmingham on the Friday night. I travelled up between a X-type Jaguar in front and an XKR Jaguar behind for the whole journey, driving at speeds of up to 70 mph; I enjoyed every minute of it, as the car felt safe, behaved itself and was a pleasure to drive. Jaguar arranged for me to put my Mark 2 under cover in their factory the night before, as we were staying overnight to ensure that we got there in plenty of time on the day. With an old car you constantly have to check the gauges, but I was very proud of the fact that my car was so reliable over the distance of 260 miles – magic! The next day was spent washing, waxing and chroming my beloved Mark 2 before giving her a well earned rest in the garage for a while, ready for the next adventure.
This article was featured in the February edition of “Classic & Sports Car” magazine.