Jaguar Mk. V

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Jaguar Mk. V

1948 - 1951
United Kingdom
6 cyl. OHV
2664 cc
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
87 mph
Number Built:
5 star
Jaguar Mk. V
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5


At the 1948 Motor Show, Jaguar was to unveil both the Mk. V and XK 120 – the first new design post war Jaguars. The Mk. V was available with either a 2.5 litre or 3.5 litre engine, the smaller capacity 2.5 being the "entry" model for the Mk V range. Although pre-war “SS” cars were renamed Jaguar, the entry level 1.5 litre model was hideously underpowered, particularly in light of the fact that Jaguar quality inevitably resulted in sizeable weight!

Jaguar engineers knew the 1.5 would not be able to haul the new Mk. V, and so thankfully decided on using the Standard Motors 2664cc engine instead. It is reported that the Jaguar engineers wanted to use the same engine as was being fitted to the XK 120, however the production line for the engine was still being geared up and could barely cope with the output required to fit to the XK.

As could be expected, the added power offered by the 3.5 litre made the Mk. V a much better drive. The 3485cc power plant was also derived from Standard Motors, and had already proved itself in earlier "SS" models. Despite now being quite long in the tooth, the engine offered the 3.5 litre versions of the Mk. V good, though not breathtaking performance.

The 3.5 was also available in either a choice of four door saloon or elegant drop head coupe coachwork - and amazingly the drop head being priced identically to the four door. The styling was an intriguing blend of old and modern, its lines being traditional and yet incorporating modern features such as faired-in headlamps and mudguards (wings/fenders). It is interesting to note that the Mk. V and XK were the first cars to be designed and manufactured solely under the “Jaguar” brand.

Prior to the war, SS cars had developed a solid reputation for building high quality and desirable motor cars – however in post war Europe the company was obviously aware that trading under the name “SS Cars” was no longer possible. The well built, traditionally styled Mk V sold well until being replaced by the more modern Mk VII in 1951. Today it is considered one of the most sought after Wedding cars.

Traditional Character - Modern Design

When a firm such as the Jaguar Company announced that there was a new model on the way everyone became apprehensive. Would they retain their characteristic styling which has become a traditional feature of the car, or would they depart into some futuristic field in which the character of the car was entirely lost? Jaguar, however, succeeded where others had failed in a post-war environment, producing a design that retained traditional character yet embraced all the modern developments necessary for fine appearance and performance. The design of the Mark V Jaguar, however, was not only interesting from an aesthetic point of view but extremely functional, as it incorporated a number of practical features that proved to be extremely useful on previous Jaguar models.

In the graceful flowing lines of the Mark V no startling departure was made from the dignity and good taste which were inherent characteristics of Jaguar design. The radiator design remained unchanged and the headlights were now built into the wings, there was slightly more rake on the windscreen, pillars were narrower and the rear wheels were now totally enclosed. The well known Rudge type wire wheels were gone and were replaced by steel disc wheels with 6.70 x 16 tyres. The interior of the car was gloriously appointed. Both doors were hinged invisibly to a central pillar and they featured press-button locks instead of handles. The front seats were adjustable for height as well as for length and the luxurious rear seat had a folding central arm rest while the thickly carpeted, flat floor added to the space and made ingress and egress easy.

The body was upholstered in the best quality hide with Dunlopillo cushions and the instrument panel, as well as window frames, were made of polished figured walnut. Draft-free ventilation was fitted on both front and rear windows and in addition to this an air-conditioning unit is standard. The instruments left nothing to be desired and consisted of a 5 in. diameter, 120 m.p.h. speedometer, 5 in. diameter rev. counter, ammeter, oil gauge, petrol gauge and, something rarely seen before 1960, a water temperature gauge. A large luggage compartment, which was automatically illuminated at night, had a drop-down lid which could be used as an additional luggage platform as well as providing a convenient locker for tools. The spare wheel was housed in a separate locker beneath the luggage compartment.

A Magnificent Piece Of Engineering

The chassis design of the Jaguar Mark V could only be referred to as a magnificent piece of engineering. It consisted of box section side members and a heavy cruciform bracing built to give the utmost rigidity on all occasions. On this was mounted the new type of independent front suspension. This was of the torsion bar type coupled with hydraulic shock absorbers. Suspension at the rear was by very long semi-elliptic springs, the whole system designed primarily to provide a soft ride with a minimum of pitch or bounce and at the same time to maintain the road holding and cornering stability which were features of Jaguar cars - then as now. The brakes were the then latest type Girling hydraulic with two leading shoe equipment on all four wheels. The handbrake was mechanically operated. The Mark V was fitted with either a 2.5 litre or 3.5 litre power unit. These engines were basically the same as previous Jaguars and were both overhead valve units with push rod operated overhead valves and counter weighted 7 bearing crankshafts.

Both engines were 6 cylinder units noted for their high performance. The larger engine had a capacity of 3,485 c.c., the smaller unit 2,663 c.c. The larger engine developed 125 bhp at 4,250 rpm and the output of the 2.5 litre engine is 102 bhp at 4,600 rpm. The 4-speed synchromesh gearbox contained a number of detail modifications and a two-piece propeller shaft had been adopted in conjunction with a hypoid bevel rear axle. This lower transmission line enabled a flat floor to be used in the rear compartment. Road testers and motoring journalists alike were unanimous in claiming that the Mark V was an even better Jaguar than previous models, capable of turning in an even better performance, but a car that was still unmistakably a Jaguar and it was "...more than ever before the finest car of its class in the world."
Jaguar MkV

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Also see:

Jaguar History
Swallow Sidecars - The William Lyons Story
Jaguar - A Racing Pedigree
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