Friday 2nd October 1959
The Jaguar Mark 2 saloon was introduced. The Mk2 of 1959 was a logical development to the original sports saloon, which then became known as the Mk1. While the shell was basically the same, clever refreshing by William Lyons with a broader grille, re-contoured rear end and more glass area modernised the looks, which still delight to this day. Inside the instruments were sited in front of the driver, there were new seats (with those famous picnic tables), a better heater (well, sort of) and a raft of other improvements. Mechanically, the biggest change was to the rear suspension where a wider track went a long way to counter the skittish behaviour of the original while it’s often forgotten that the front end used re-angled wishbones at the same time to further tighten handling. The 2.4 and 3.4 models were quickly joined in 1960 with the now iconic 3.8-litre model, using the legendary engine that was to soon feature in the E-Type, albeit in lower 220bhp tune for the saloon. But the car did have a limited slip diff plus the option of a higher-geared power steering system.The Mark 2 gained a reputation as a capable car among criminals and law enforcement alike; the 3.8 Litre model being particularly fast with its 220 bhp (164 kW) engine driving the car from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.5 seconds and to a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) with enough room for five adults. Popular as getaway cars, they were also employed by the police to patrol British motorways.The Mark 2 is also well known as the car driven by fictional TV detective Inspector Morse played by John Thaw; Morse’s car was the version with 2.4 L engine, steel wheels and Everflex vinyl roof. In November 2005, the car used in the television series sold for more than £100,000 following a total ground-up rebuild (prior to this, in its recommissioned state in 2002 after coming out of storage, it had made £53,000 at auction – £45,000 more than an equivalent without the history). In the original novels by Colin Dexter, Morse had driven a Lancia but Thaw insisted on his character driving a British car in the television series.