Junkyard Gem: 1965 Jaguar S-Type

The first Jaguar XJs appeared on American roads in late 1968, and decades of production made it the iconic Jaguar sedan most familiar to us today. Before the XJ, however, there was the Mark 2, and that powerful and stylish midsize saloon sold fairly well here during the 1960s. The S-Type (yes, the Leaper-badged Lincoln LS sibling built by Ford around the turn of the century took its name from this car) was an upgraded version of the original Mark 2, sold here for the 1964 through 1968 model years. Here’s a rough but recognizable ’65 S-Type 3.8, found in a Denver-area wrecking yard recently.

The feature that set the S-Type apart from the ordinary Mk2 was this independent rear suspension, based on the one used in the bigger and costlier Jaguar Mark X. The base Mk2 and its old-timey solid rear axle remained available in 1965, with a sticker price of $5,419 (about $51,460 in 2022 dollars), while the S-Type cost $5,933 (around $56,340 now). Yes, those inboard disc brakes were just as much a nightmare to work on as you’d think, but they reduced unsprung weight and improved the handling and ride.

This car was about the same size as a typical Detroit midsize sedan of the day, but far more expensive and much more prestigious. GM’s swankiest S-Type-sized offering, the Buick Skylark, cost a mere $2,552 ($24,235 today) and had a notable lack of real wood inside.

Actually, that Skylark with the optional 300-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) “Wildcat 355” V8 would have been a lot quicker than the S-Type, at least in a straight line, and your friendly Buick dealer probably could have arranged to have the hot-rod 401 (and its 325 horses) out of the Gran Sport coupe stuffed into a new Skylark sedan. The S-Type of 1965 got this sophisticated DOHC straight-six of 3.8 liters’ displacement, rated at 220 horsepower.

As you’d expect, someone grabbed the pair of SU sidedraft carburettors before I got here, perhaps before the car even arrived at this place. The 4.2-liter version of this engine used in the Mark X got three carbs.

I suspect that this car was bought by a Denver-area Jaguar enthusiast for parts, decades back, and then was used for outdoor storage of components for future projects. 

These cars are worth decent money in good condition, but this one would need the application of tens of thousands of dollars to be worth … tens of thousands of dollars.

As someone who daily-drove an MGB for a few years, the sight of all this Lucas electrical hardware makes me sweat a little. Get home before dark!

You can see a bit of this face in the more recent S-Type (not to mention the Jagcedes-snouted Kia Amanti).

And now we must admire the most famous hooptie Jaguar in film history, the gloriously dilapidated Mk2 in Withnail and I.

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