Jaguar has always been a world-class car known for their postwar sports cars, XK 120-140-150 (1948-1960) followed by the '60's XKE Series 1-2-3, along with the classic big sedans, the Mark 7, 8 & 9 (1948-1961). There was a need for a mid-sized sedan--something with classic Jag styling and sports car handling and performance. In 1955, that need was filled with the new Mark I Saloon.
The 1955 featured a dual cam 2.4 Litre Six with a sexy new body--a 5-seater with the classic XK140 oval grill in a unibody with independent front suspension, coil springs, anti-roll bar rear end, live axle*, elliptic leaf springs with tracking arms and panhard rod. Inside was Jag classic, similar to the large sedans with burled walnut dash with Smith gauges surrounded by toggle switches, burled window mouldings and lots of leather. It's an automotive work of art!
The new Mark I was an instant success, and by 1957 a 3.4 Litre Six was offered, along with the 2.4. These were true drivers' cars, and drivers' suggestions were made to the company resulting in a new Mark II which debuted in 1959. Similar in styling, the Mark II featured 2.4, 3.4 or 3.8 dual overhead cam Sixes. Built in Coventry, England from 1959-1967, they featured an 18% increase over the Mark I's in the greenhouse area, larger grills for better cooling, a center dash, black leather panel that included round Smith gauges, toggle switches and ignition switch, and for easy access, two screws could be removed from the top and the hinged panel folded down for servicing. Mechanically, the Mark IIs front suspension geometry was revised to raise the roll centre. The rear track was widened and 4-wheel disk brakes were added. Power steering (run off the generator) manual overdrive and automatic transmission (Borg-Warner) were optional. The 3.8 featured a limited slip differential. New rubber bushings were added throughout the car to eliminate vibration and noise. SU carburetors replaced the Mark Is Solex on the 3.4 and 3.8, and dual exhausts.
I have always wanted a Mark II, but had just about given up the chase because the price keeps going up and I had no experience working on them. However, part of the passion of old cars is meeting new people and learning something new every day. I ordered a factory motors manual, road test portfolio and checked on the price and availability of parts. I was surprised at how nice and accommodating the people were here and in the UK, and the parts were less than parts for my Packards! So. . . over the holidays I went Jag shopping and found a 1967 Mark II right-hand drive 3.4 automatic with new dark blue paint, red leather interior and nearly-perfect wood dash and mouldings. It had spent its early days in London, then Canada, then Michigan and on to Lima, Ohio where a super nice Jag guy sold it to me on eBay. The Jag had sat for a few years and runs and drives, but needs a complete servicing and brake work. While I was waiting for the car to be delivered, I read the manuals and ordered caliper kits, master cylinder kits, brake hoses, filters, etc. These cars, as all British cars, are not happy unless they get the right fluids. It must have Dot 3-4 LMA (low moisture activity) brake fluid. Anything else will swell the caliper rubber. I found some Castrol GT LMA brake fluid and the above parts from Walt at Vintage Jag Works.*
The first thing we had to do was to get the correct electrical system polarity. Positive ground is correct. My car was set up for negative ground. There is an antenna, and aftermarket (new) radio speaker but no radio in the car. Adding up the clues, the previous owner probably put in a modern radio and it was removed when the car was sold. New radios require negative ground. To reverse polarity, I turned the battery around so that the (+) was ground. The generator field wire had been disconnected (a good thing!) and I plugged it back in and polarized the generator by removing the field wire from the voltage regulator and momentarily touching the voltage regulators field terminal and battery terminals with the key off. I got a flashand the system was set for positive ground. The gauges, electric fuel pump, etc., will work with negative or positive polarity, so they weren't hurt.
Now I was ready to get the car to start easily. The choke wasn't hooked up. The choke is comprised of a thermo switch located in the inlet manifold water jacket, and a choke switch mounted between the carburetors on the intake. The SU carbs are constructed in such a way that with the air cleaner off you cant see the choke, so there is a needle that moves up and down next to the choke switch. When the choke is OFF the needle is UP, and when the choke is ON the needle is DOWN.
Checking my wiring diagram, I saw that the choke switch had a wire from the negative side of the coil (hot side--this is a positive ground car) to the outside terminal on the choke and a wire going from the inside (closest to the engine) terminal to the terminal on the thermo switch. My thermo switch terminal was broken off. They were not connected! Using a multimeter set to check continuity (20-ohms), I tested my hot wire to the choke switch. It was not wired to the coil and had 12 volts to it with the key off. I replaced the thermo switch and re-wired the choke and thermo switch correctly. When I turned on the ignition switch and pushed the starter button, the engine started instantly! When I checked the choke needle (engine cold), it was IN--problem solved! In future articles, we will rework the brakes along with complete servicing. These articles will include how-to's and hands-on details.
For our readers who are following our Packard projects, the '48 Custom 8 2-Door Club Sedan has just been painted and is being color-sanded and buffed. We will cover this in future issues.
Keep the hobby real and alive, and always keep 'em driving!