A Classic Cars Guide: Jaguar MK2 & Jaguar S-Type

There are few British classic cars as iconic as a Jaguar. The name alone evokes images of powerful sports cars dripping in style and elegance. For many classic car lovers, the Jaguar MK2 & Jaguar S-Type represent some of the best in Jaguar design.

Both Jaguar models remain a popular choice for classic car restoration projects. Considering starting your own classic car Jaguar restoration? Our classic car guide will give you all the information you need.

Part of our classic cars guide.

Is a Jaguar a good car?

Jaguar cars are well known for their powerful designs, but how do they actually handle when they’re on the road? At Restoria Classics, our mission is to get as many classic British cars back on the road as possible so performance is important.

Jaguar’s reputation has remained steadfast designing cars that balance performance, style and comfort. This is why Jaguars have remained such a sought after classic car with a timeless appeal.

Jaguar MK 2: 1959-1967

The Jaguar MK2 was first launched in London at the 1959 Earls Court Motor Show. With its graceful design and powerful XK-derived six-cylinder engine, it was an instant hit with the crowds.

The Jaguar MK2 was in production from 1959-1967 and was built in Jaguar’s factory in Coventry, England.

A midsize luxury sports saloon, the Jaguar MK2 remains incredibly popular with classic car lovers. Even now, the car handles extremely well and it’s hard to match the luxury and comfort of a Jaguar MK2.

Jaguar’s director of design, Ian Callum, even carried out his own Jaguar MK2 restoration project.

Photo credit: Autocar

Ian Callum’s take on the Jaguar MK2 offers a much smaller design. In fact, upon unveiling it he stated “Isn’t it small? It looks smaller than the original because it’s lost the chrome and the bumpers.”

The MK2 is most known for its sleek design and its slogan was even ‘Grace . . . Space . . . Pace’. The cars slender front pillars allowed for a wider windscreen. This offers better visibility and a more attractive design. Even the rear window is enlarged, almost wrapping around the back to the side windows!

Another update to the MK2 model, from the Jaguar MK1, was larger, repositioned side, tail and fog lamps. The interior featured a new heating system, for additional comfort. The MK2’s instrument layout remained the standard design for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II.

Who designed the Jaguar Mark 2?

The Mark 2 made use of many of the existing Mark 1 designs which were created by Sir William Lyons and his team

Photo credit: Ethan Sexton

Jaguar S-type 1963-1968

The first Jaguar S-type began production in 1963, long before the MK2 model was discontinued, but it is still often seen as the MK2’s successor. In 1998, there was a new iteration of the Jaguar S-type that debuted at the Birmingham Motor Show.

In 1961, Jaguar launched the Jaguar Mark X which featured brand new Jaguar technology. This included Jaguar’s independent rear suspension and triple SU carburettor version of the 3.8 XK engine. Sir Williams Lyons felt the Mark 2 needed its own refinements to retain popularity and keep up with the Mark X.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

This is where development began on the Jaguar S-Type, which is why it’s often seen as the successor to the Jaguar MK2. They were sold side by side, as the S-type debuted in 1963 and MK2 production continued until 1967. The 1963 Jaguar S-type offered many technical advantages over the Mark 2 and was marketed as a more affordable alternative to the Jaguar Mark X.

The S-type was 335lbs heavier than the Mark 2, but it retained the same Dunlop four-wheel disc braking system. There were major overhauls to the S-type’s steering system though. The S-type used a higher-geared Burman unit of 3.5 turns lock-to-lock which improved the overall ‘feel’ when driving. One criticism of the Mark 2 was that it lacked road feel in comparison to the S-types more sensitive steering.

Who designed the Jaguar S-type?

The Jaguar S-type’s interior was designed by Sir William Lyons to fit the Utah MK3 body.

What’s the difference between a Jaguar MK2 & Jaguar S-Type?

Despite the technical refinements of the S-type, the Jaguar MK2 remained an incredibly popular car. For many drivers, they simply preferred the overall design of the Jaguar MK2. It was an overall slimmer car with a slightly sleeker design. The S-type, while it did handle better, was seen as a bulkier design and couldn’t offer the same speed as the MK2.

The S-type style has endured though, with the bumper design still being seen in modern Jaguar cars.

Personally, we love the design of both and think they embody the bold style so characteristic of Jaguar. It is a good reminder that when you’re deciding on a classic car restoration project, performance is only one element!

How many classic Jaguar cars are still around?

It’s impossible to know exactly how many Jaguars are still around. After all, if a Jaguar is sitting in a garage waiting for someone to come along and restore it – there’s no real way to track this.

But thanks to the Car Log Book we can see how many are on the road in the UK.

How many Jaguar MK2 are left?

In the UK, there are 41 Jaguar MK2’s with an MOT making them 0.0001% of all UK vehicles with an MOT.

How many Jaguar S Types are left?

There are quite a few more Jaguar S-type models left on the road with a total of 19,300 Jaguar S-types with an MOT. However, this also includes the 90s Jaguar S-type so it’s difficult to know how many of the 1963 models are still around. The Jaguar S type makes up 0.0590% of UK vehicles with an MOT.

If you’re lucky enough to own one of these cars and aren’t sure where to get your car serviced, we offer specialist classic car servicing and MOT.

Ready to start your own Jaguar restoration project?

Whether it’s a Jaguar MK2 restoration or Jaguar S-type restoration, or a completely different classic car, our team is here to help.

We’re a team of passionate, experienced mechanics and classic car specialists who provide everything from bare shell restoration to restomods.

Our garage is based in beautiful, rural Norfolk. If your car isn’t roadworthy, or you’re further afield, we offer a collect and drop off service for your car.

We even keep a stock of classic cars that are ready to begin work on immediately as part of our classic car build to order service.

Check out our case studies page to see some of the classic car restoration work we’ve done including a Jaguar XJC resto-mod and 

Get in touch today and start your classic car restoration journey.

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