Road test: the Jaguar Mark 10

A 120 m.p.h. very spacious, fully-equipped luxury saloon in the best tradition of the famous make.

Followring value-for-money perfection in terms of the twin-cam 3.8-litre saloon which it seemed almost impossible to better, the famous Coventry Company brought out the more portly Mk. 10 as a new car at the 1961 London Motor Show. It was fairly universally accepted as the Star Of the Exhibition, the “Lyon of Earls Court.”

Naturally the critics were avid to write about it but the first road-test reports did not appear until some twelve months later. However, the testers were unanimous that here was another Jaguar “winner,” a car well worth waiting for.

Motor Sport likes to form its own conclusions and make its own comments, uninfluenced by the findings of other journals. This became possible in the case of the Mk. 10 after I had driven two different examples of the automatic gearbox saloon a total of nearly 600 miles in a relatively short space of time, during the month of May. I can say right away that for restful long-distance travel at very high speeds this biggest of the Jaguar range is as impressive and effective as one would expect a car watched over by Sir William Lyons’ team to be, and that it enhances the already all-but-mystical ability of this Coventry manufacturer to offer a quite outstanding return, in terms of comfort, equipment and very high-performance for a comparatively extremely modest outlay.

For sporting occasions, however, I would prefer to be 3.8 mounted; a friend expressed this succinctly by remarking that no-one in his right mind would race a Mk. 10—which is not to say that someone won’t try. The object of the Jaguar Mk. 10 is obviously V.I.P. and business executive fast travel in terms of great comfort, but its bulk, weight and somewhat soft suspension has destroyed to some degree the predictability of handling of the slimmer-bodied car using the same twin o.h.c. 3,781-c.c. 6-cylinder engine.

To leave one’s summary of the Mk. 10 there would be to do a very fine motor car a grave injustice. It is not merely a 3.8-litre endowed with a more commodious body shell. It has, in fact, many, and very significant, technical innovations over the older Jaguars, such as independent rear suspension and inboard disc brakes, as introduced for the E-type, Burman power-assisted steering, the Jaguar twin side-located fuel tanks, separate master cylinders and pipe-lines to front and rear braking systems, vacuum-control of heating and ventilatory arrangements, dual headlamps in a rather special Lucas combination. These, together with a self-adjusting hand-brake, offer subtle improvements in performance, convenience and security.

Nor must it be thought that the Mk. 10 relies on the older Mk. 2 power unit, for the urge is derived not from this but from the E-type engine which develops a cool 250 b.h.p., or 265 b.h.p. if the 9.0-to-1 c.r. head is specified. This well-established and powerful twin overhead camshaft engine combines well with a Borg-Warner fully automatic transmission, and whether, like Ken Purdy, you root for such automation, or, like myself, prefer to select your own gears, it has to be admitted that this form of gearbox neither impairs the traditional Jaguar (very high) performance nor entirely spoils the skill of driving, for apart from the usual “P, N, D, L, R” selector lever, there is a flick-switch on the facia, convenient to the right hand, for instantly selecting intermediate gear hold, this being a feature of the Daimler Majestic Major but with the switch better-located on the Jaguar.

Indeed, the facia layout and control arrangements bear some resemblance to those of this big V8 Daimler although, in the case of the Mk. 10, tachometer and speedometer are on the right, in front of the driver. The central panel carries the ammeter, fuel gauge, oil-pressure gauge and thermometer, with the lamps switch between these small dials, and, below them, flick switches controlling the interior lighting, panel lights (bright and dim), heater fan, change-over of the twin fuel tanks, wipers and screenwashers. This line of switches is most imposing and each is neatly labelled in white lettering, but as International symbols are not used an Overseas Visitor might take time before playing the correct keys.

The heater controls of the Jaguar Mk. 10 are arranged sensibly for a fast car, inasmuch as three press-buttons below the central drawer-type ash-tray and radio panel select heat, open by vacuum the scuttle ventilator flap, or turn everything off, without the driver having to look down and fumble with quadrant levers. This does mean, however, that there is no progressive control of temperature; the 2-speed fan has to be relied on to vary the quantity of hot air. Separate controls beneath the scuttle select individual ventilation and control the volume of fresh air admitted.

There is a rather mean-sized, but lockable, wooden-lidded cubby-hole, supplemented by a shallow under-facia shelf, but otherwise no stowage for oddments or objects large and small, apart, of course, from the usual rear shelf. There is a large dipping mirror, and I was amused to find that although the anti-dazzle vizors are no longer those remarkable flat boards that were so awkward to use, Jaguar still prefer substantial flaps to soft vizors and provide no vanity mirror for Mrs. Jaguar-Owner. The usual Jaguar handbrake-on warning light that serves also as a warning if brake fluid requires replenishing is retained, and the aforesaid independent brake circuits show a commendable appreciation of the need for safety in these matters in what is a very fast, heavy car existing in the Motorway Age.

A l.h. steering-column stalk controls the direction flashers and headlamp signaller, and the handbrake is well-located below the facia. The steering wheel is unexpectedly small and set sensibly low for good visibility, but the thick side pillars of the windscreen do not carry out this good vision aspect of the big Jaguar. The steering column is adjustable for length but I found the steering wheel, with its thick single spoke and half horn-ring, rather uncomfortable to hold.

Apart from such refinements as an accurate speedometer, steady-reading fuel-gauge and thermometer, and high-class switches, the Jaguar has such items as a cigar-lighter, a clock incorporated in the tachometer dial, a wind-out radio aerial and a knob for selecting whichever radio loudspeaker is preferred.

The separate front seats are of luxurious dimensions, high of back-rest and provided with individual arm-rests, but they are singularly badly shaped in respect of providing the occupants with lateral support on fast corners.

The Jaguar’s interior is a refined affair of highly polished veneered woodwork and good leather, such as is found only in high-quality cars of British manufacture, and not at all in automobiles hailing from America.

It is, however, when stepping into the back of a Mk. 10 that the reason for its introduction two and a half years ago, when the 3.8-litre Mk. 2 Jaguar was the epitome of high-speed luxury motoring in the “possible” price-class, becomes apparent. For it offers a very wide back seat and an exceptional amount of legroom, with unusually wide doors that are entirely in keeping. The squabs of the front seats can be lowered to an almost horizontal position when required as relaxation couches, and their backs contain fold-up wooden shelves, or picnic tables, complete with mirrors—so perhaps, after all, Mrs. and Miss Jaguar-Owner are catered for but are expected to occupy the rear compartment, after their menfolk have retired to a more responsible position in front. I should expect to see plenty of Jaguar Mk. 10s at Ascot, if I were to go there instead of frequenting Goodwood or Aintree!

All doors have ventilator panes as well as the main windows, and electric window lifts are an optional extra. So, in spite of the fashionable low roof line, the Jaguar Mk. 10 is intended as a really spacious luxury motor carriage. How does it perform on the road?

Driving the Jaguar

The main impression on taking the wheel of the Jaguar Mk. 10 is of impressively quiet running allied to the tremendous Jaguar performance, accomplished in two-pedal simplicity. The engine is so silent, if a little lumpy at idling speed, that it might well have no valves at all, instead of being an efficient, twin overhead camshaft power unit. The engine peaks at 5,500 r.p.m. but will go to 6,000 r.p.m. without concern. Going to the peak-speed maximum, 50 m.p.h. is available in Low-hold, 80 m.p.h. in middles-peed hold, these being genuine, not speedometer, maxima. In fact, at 2,000 r.p.m. in Low gear the car does 18 m.p.h., the speedometer then reading 1 m.p.h. fast, the same crankshaft speed in middle gear representing 28 m.p.h. (the indicated speed then 2 m.p.h. higher), and in top gear this engine speed equals 42 m.p.h. (the speedometer still 2 m.p.h. optimistic).

Driving normally on the Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic gearbox with torque convertor, upward changes occur from low to middle speed at 4.800 r.p.m. (40 m.p.h.) and from middle to top gear at 5,200 r.p.m. (74 m.p.h.), which, using the accelerator kick-down, provides very impressive acceleration; restarts on 1-in-3 gradients are also very easily accomplished. Indeed, using kick-down but not the holds, zero to 60 m.p.h. occupies 11.4 sec., to 70 m.p.h. a matter of 14.6 sec., and to 80 m.p.h. the time required is but 19.0 sec. The following mean acceleration figures (best times within parentheses), after speedometer correction, can be compared with these times, for they were obtained using low-and middle-speed holds, and show how closely the automation has been arranged to correspond with manual gear-changing—the lever on the right of the steering column, illuminated at night, functions with moderate precision for changing out of Low, but is too short for convenient handling:

Acceleration: 0-30 m.p.h. – 4.3 sec. (4.1 sec.)
0-40 m.p.h. – 6.0 sec. (6.0 sec.)
0-50 m.p.h – 8.5 sec. (8.5 sec.)
0-70 m.p.h – 14.3 sec. (14.2 sec.)
0-80 m.p.h – 17.8 sec. (17.6 sec.)
0-90 m.p.h – 23.7 sec. (23.4 sec.)
0-100 m.p.h – 30.0 sec. (29.0 sec.)
s.s. 1/4-mile – 17.5 sec. (17.4 sec.)

Speed: Low gear = 50 m.p.h
Middle gear = 80 m.p.h
Top gear = 120 m.p.h

While these are satisfactory, indeed, extremely, impressive figures for so roomy and large a motor car, the splendid V8 Daimler Majestic Major saloon (see last month’s issue of Motor Sport) is fractionally faster; it also contrives to accelerate considerably better and gave a rather more economical petrol consumption! Admittedly the Mk. 10 is available with 9-to-1 c.r., when it develops 265 (gross) b.h.p., but we tested it in the form in which it is normally supplied.

The Jaguar rides very comfortably, with only moderate roll on fast corners, which it takes with understeer, and on wet roads the tenacious road-clinging is highly commendable and fully justifies the incorporation of the E-type independent rear suspension, which also, no doubt, is responsible for the good ride of this large car. But the outstanding comfort has to be paid for in a suspension system so soft that there is considerable dive on entering fast corners and this spoils the precision with which an experienced driver would otherwise be able to “place ” the car. Moreover, the Burman power-assisted steering, while being very light even at a crawl, is insensitive, and unacceptable to fast drivers, especially as the 17-in, steering wheel needs nearly four turns, from lock-to-lock. The turning circle of approximately 40 feet is very useful in a car of this size, however. The Dunlop disc brakes, inboard at the rear, work impeccably, and the Kelsey-Hayes vacuum-servo makes retardation of this 2-ton automobile from three-figure speeds merely a matter of gently resting a foot (left or right, depending on personal two-pedal technique—the enormous brake pedal encourages either) on the appropriate pedal. The automatic transmission cannot be said to be free from jerks.

Change of Jaguars in mid-test prevented any worthwhile check of oil consumption, but fuel consumption of 97-octane petrol on the older car came out at 14.4 m.p.g. The provision of dual 10-gallon fuel tanks offers a 50% reserve supply, and a total range of over 280 miles—the change-over works quickly after one tank has been allowed to run dry, but it is annoying to have to unlock the separate filler flaps.

The Mk. 10 has a simply enormous luggage boot, the upright spare wheel wrapped up in deference to expensive suit-cases. There is an interior lamp.

As typically Jaguar as the “console” bisecting the front compartment is the fine twin o.h.c. power unit with its triple 2-in. S.U. type HD8 carburetters, gold-painted light-alloy cylinder head, and highly-polished valve covers that fill the under-bonnet area. The Lucas battery, in spite of an asbestos shield, and the dip-stick, receive a lot of heat from the dual 3-branch exhaust manifolds.

Equipment includes two automatic reversing lamps, a pile floor carpet, a set of good tools and Jaguar’s usual well-written instruction book. There are a dozen chassis points to grease every 2,500 miles, a further half-dozen needing lubrication at 5,000-mile intervals; there is no starting handle.

That, then, is the Jaguar Mk. 10, a very fine, typically British, 120-m.p.h. executive’s luxury motor carriage of very modern conception. After having waited far too long to try it, I must confess to a slight sense of disappointment, not because there is anything basically unacceptable about this newest of Jaguars but because other cars of this illustrious make have set such very lofty standards that there seems just a shade too much of a concession to comfort and ease-of-parking about the Girling-damped coil-spring suspension of the Mk. 10, although I concede the excellence of its complex i.r.s. For those patient in their cornering, however, it is a superb motor car, modestly priced at £2,157 8s. 9d. in automatic-transmission form. I look forward to gaining longer experience of the normal gearbox model, which costs £2,022 2s. 1d., or £2,082 10s. 5d. with overdrive.—W.B.

The Jaguar Mk. 10 saloon (automatic gearbox model)

Engine: Six cylinders, 87 x 106mm. (3,781 c.c.). Overhead valves actuated by twin overhead camshafts. 8.0-to-1 compression-ratio. 250 (gross) b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m.

Gear ratios: Automatic gearbox. Low, 17.6-8.16 to 1; Intermediate, 10.95-5.08 to 1; Top, 3.54 to 1.

Tyres: 7.50 x 14 Dunlop RS5 on bolt-on steel disc wheels.

Weight: Not weighed. Maker’s figrue: 37.3 cwt. (kerb weight).

Steering ratio: 3.7 turns, lock-to-lock.

Fuel capacity: 20 gallons (in two separate 10-gallon tanks).

Wheelbase: 10 ft. 0 in.

Track: 4 ft. 10 in.

Dimensions: 16 ft. 10 in. x 6 ft. 4 in. x 4 ft. 6 3/4 in. (high).

Price: £1,785 (£2,157 8s. 9d., inclusive of purchase tax).

Makers: Jaguar Cars Ltd., Browns Lane, Allesley, Coventry, England.