1960 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 MOD

1960 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 MOD

After 40 years tucked away in a St Louis garage, this 1960 Jaguar Mk 2 3.8 MOD remains in remarkably original condition. Now, repatriated to the UK by its second owner and lightly recommissioned, it is ready to be enjoyed once again. Words & photography Paul Walton.


Hidden gem / classic drive — One owner since 1960 and totally original

UNRESTORED MK2 3.8

Discover the story behind this remarkably original example of Jaguar’s popular small saloon, bought new in 1960, barely used from 1967 and taken off the road for good in the Eighties, tucked away in a St Louis garage


Some cars are destined to be in your garage,” Marcus Jones tells me. “Len is one of those.” Len is a 1960 Mk 2 3.8 with an unusual history, one that has seen it remain in remarkably original condition. And it’s a car that Marcus would never have known about had it not been for another recently exhumed Mk 2 that he had also found for sale in St Louis, a major American city in Missouri along the Mississippi River.


1960 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 MOD

Marcus explains, “In September 2020, after I posted pictures on a Jaguar Facebook group of the car being loaded for transport to the docks, I was contacted by a gentleman called Mike. Mike told me that his father had a car like it that he needed to sell. Pictures were not immediately available because it was at his father’s house in Berwyn, Illinois; plus, it was not easily accessible due to the domestic debris that had accumulated around it over its many years in storage.” Even though Marcus had just bought his First Mk 2, Mike’s description piqued his interest. So, at the risk of what he describes as, “Wrath from my other half,” he asked for pictures. What Marcus saw was even better than he’d imagined. “They appeared to show a complete car that clearly had not moved a wheel for many years. Finally, Mike sent me a picture of the chassis plate, which confirmed that the car was an early 3.8MOD [manual with overdrive], which pretty much sealed my – and the car’s – fate.”

The story behind how it came to be in this condition is heart-warming. Mike told him that in 1960 his father (called Len) had bought a brand-new Pearl Grey Mk 2 3. from his local dealership in St Louis.


1960 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 MOD

“It was his pride and joy,” says a Marcus and Len kept the car for almost his entire life, resisting calls to sell it.”

According to Mike, as Len’s young family outgrew the car, it was used less and less until a van finally replaced it as the family’s main mode of transport. So, the Mk 2 was garaged in 1967, becoming a den for his three kids to play in.

“Len occasionally ran the old Jaguar around the block, his appetite for longer journeys curtailed by the lack of an up-to-date licence for the car,” continues Marcus.

“By the early Eighties, the Jaguar was effectively entombed in the garage, with 35,000 miles on the clock, but retaining happy family memories for him.” By early 2020, though, and in poor health, Len decided it was time to sell his car. After hearing the Mk 2’s story and that it was a rare 3.8, Marcus decided he had to have it, doing the deal with Mike over the internet. Before the grey saloon could be shipped to the UK, however, it had to be exhumed from its garage tomb. “Retrieving the Jaguar took a while as the area first had to be cleared. Then Mike had to coax air into tyres that had been very flat for many years.”


1960 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 MOD

Finally, in early November 2020, the grey Jaguar was ready for transportation to England, which would be its first outing in more than 40 years.

Covid-19 slightly delayed the departure date, but otherwise bringing the Mk 2 back to the UK was relatively straightforward, and it arrived at a snowy Felixstowe port in February 2021.

Marcus had the car taken to P&K Thornton – the classic Jaguar specialist that looks after his collection of cars – for an initial assessment and to eventually be brought back to life. Thankfully, the car was as good as the pictures suggested. Says Marcus, “Initial inspections on the ramp showed it to be sound underneath, but, as you would expect, in dire need of a significant overhaul to remedy the impact of the passage of time."

As with the other unrestored Mk 2 (which Marcus now calls Luigi), plus his low-mileage American-export 1976 Jaguar XJ-S, he has no plans to improve Len cosmetically, preferring originality over perfection — as I saw for myself on a visit to P&K Thornton's premises, just outside Nottingham, in early November. With the body covered in several scratches, a few dents and areas of dark grey primer, it's a long way from the pristine head-turner it must have been when Len the man first bought it. Even the Mk 2 boot badge is broken in two. Yet Len the Jaguar has a more memorable character as a result, because every one of these imperfections is a subplot in the story that makes this car unique.

Part of the car's appeal for Marcus was that, other than a missing headlight (now replaced), it was largely complete, as is the inside, although the blue leather upholstery is badly cracked and the gearlever gaiter is slowly disintegrating. According to Mike, the poor state of the seats is down to wear and tear caused by the exuberant activities of him and his two siblings as they played inside the car. However, all the correct dials are in place — the odometer in the speedo still reading a paltry 35,175 — making it totally original. And that's not all.

«Len had an expensive Becker radio fitted and a full Abarth sports exhaust,» says Marcus. «The latter sadly parted company from the car during the voyage from Linden, New Jersey to Felixstowe.» However, the car still has its original tool kit and all the documentation that Len was given when he bought the car in 1960, including the pamphlet issued by Jaguar Cars Inc inviting the owner to join the Jaguar Drivers' Club, plus a warranty for the Becker radio.

A Chicago licence sticker from 1967 remains on the screen, drawing attention to the car's 40-year slumber, while a petrol receipt dated 25 September 1967, for the princely sum of $3 ($25 in today's money) was found inside. Could it refer to the last time Len filled up before the car was kept in the garage for good? We'll never know, but it all adds to the car's mystique.

Although Marcus gave strict instructions to P&K Thornton not to touch the Mk 2 cosmetically, he does want to drive it — so whatever was needed to make the engine run (and Len the Jaguar become roadworthy once again) has been taken care of.

«This was definitely not a restoration,» says P&K Thornton's Ciprian 'Chip' Nistorica with a laugh. «We just wanted to get it running so Marcus can make good use of it»

Although it hadn't been started for a long time, Chip discovered that the engine still turned. «We didn't take the head off, but took the sump off and checked the bearings, which were okay.»

The carburettors were replaced, while the valve clearances, which were way off, were adjusted. The only modern addition was a brand new 123ignition distributor system. The fuel tank was removed, cleaned and repaired where required.

The only rust that P&K Thornton found was under the radiator grille (a common area for corrosion on these cars), plus there was a hole at the top of the nearside wing around the sidelight, which was soon repaired. Obviously, the area hasn't been painted and has, instead, been left in grey primer.

The original, now-square tyres were replaced; «Still holding air after their trip across the Atlantic,» Marcus excitedly tells me. Finally the car received a full service when, says Marcus, «I asked P&K Thornton to stamp the service record that came with the car.»

Once registered with the UK's DVLA, after almost 40 years since the car was last used in anger, the Mk 2 was back on the road. Its first proper journey was to the July 2021 Jaguar Drivers' Club National Day event at Walton Hall, Warwickshire, a round trip of 300 miles from Marcus' home in Lincolnshire.

Despite the Mk 2's condition, Marcus is proud that it attracted plenty of positive comments, plus many questions about its history. He reckons Len will be perfect for a HERO navigation rally in 2022 and is currently preparing it appropriately.

Because Marcus kindly offers me a drive of Len, I begin to understand why he feels it's suitable for competition. The Mk 2 is a range-topping 3.8-litre, don't forget, that when new would have had 220bhp, so that after I squeeze the throttle, the resultant performance is strong and gutsy, belying both the car's age and its physical appearance. But, apparently, when P&K Thornton coaxed the engine into life, the straight-six still had excellent compression, was not noisy and did not smoke.

The steering is reasonably sharp and accurate, while the new Gaz shock absorbers that Chip fitted all round means there's little body roll. The ride is, perhaps, a little hard, but then, unlike Jaguar's later saloons, the Mk 2 never had Jaguar's groundbreaking independent rear suspension, having instead a live rear axle plus cantilever semi-elliptic springs. Yet, together with excellent stopping power, courtesy of the new brake discs, Len aptly shows why the 3.8 model was the first choice for racing drivers and bank robbers alike during the Sixties.

Len the man sadly passed away in March 2021, but, two weeks prior to his passing, Marcus had sent him and his family a video of the Mk 2's engine running once again. Although the car was a long way from home, I'm sure it gave him comfort to know that his pride and joy was to be used and loved once again.

The dents and scrapes by virtue of lying dormant for 40 years might suggest otherwise, but between Len's 60-year ownership and Marcus' burning desire to have it in his garage, I doubt there's a Mk 2 as well-cared-for as this one.

Thanks to: Marcus Jones and P&K Thornton (www.thomtonrestorations.com)

The Mk 2 still in the garage where it had been stored for 40 years

A Chicago licence sticker from 1967 remains on the screen, drawing attention to the car’s 40-year slumber

Article type:
Review
958
No comments yet. Be the first to add a comment!
Drives TODAY use cookie