Rare Rides: The Sports-Luxury 1966 Jaguar S-Type 3.8
Long before the Ford-based retro throwback began showing up on dealer lots, Jaguar produced a contemporary and modern sedan called the S-type. Let’s check out a brown example, this one hailing from 1966.
The roots of the original S-Type lie within its predecessor, the Mark 2 (Mk. II). As with many British automakers, under the skin of a new model lay a reworked version of an older vehicle.
Much like the 2000s S-Type, the original was intended as a more affordable luxury alternative to Jaguar’s flagship sedan offering. At the time, the S-Type was the alternative to the large Mark X. Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons realized, after looking at the company’s new and technologically advanced Mark X and E-Type models, that the Mark 2 was in need of a revision. Engineers set to work.
The well-known styling of the Mark 2 saw some rework, resulting in a more modern look. Jaguar elongated the rear of the sweeping sedan for a smoother appearance, with the interior trim seeing its own update. Critically, the live rear axle suspension was replaced with an independent setup. The longer flanks and additional luxury equipment meant a weight gain of 335 pounds over the Mark 2, but Jaguar’s engineers (or accountants) did not feel that any changes to the braking system were necessary. The panned steering of the Mark 2 was replaced with a tighter power steering system promising more driving feel.
S-Types engines were hand-me-downs from other Jaguar vehicles. The S-Type was first introduced with the 3.8-liter engine from the Mark 2, with a lower-end 3.4-liter engine available a bit later. Jaguar was careful with its engine presentation. No 3.4-liter models were sold in the United States, and said engine was omitted from press demonstration cars in the United Kingdom. The 3.8 was the more popular engine choice by a 3 to 2 ratio in the S-Type, even though the 3.4-liter was more popular in the Mark 2. Even though both engines could be had with triple carburetors by that time, the S-Type’s engines only had two. The triple setup would not fit into the dated Mark 2 engine bay of the S-Type. Transmission options included a four-speed manual, four-speed with overdrive, or a three-speed automatic.
Mark 2 revisions complete, the S-Type hit dealer lots in 1963. The brand’s product lineup at the time included the E-Type coupe, as well as the Mark X, Mark 2, and 420 sedans, in addition to the new S-Type. While the Mark X did not grab buyers as well as hoped, the Mark 2 ended up selling better than expected, even at its advanced age. Lyons decided to maximize sales possibilities and sell all four at the same time. Things stayed this way through 1967, with the Mark X renamed as 420G.
The new XJ6 came along in 1968, replacing all of Jaguar’s sedan offerings (with the exception of the 420G).
Today’s Rare Ride is located in central Illinois, and, with 78,000 miles on the clock and excellent patterned fabric seats, asks $6,000.
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