1960 Jaguar 3.4 MKII

Just about how I found it

The Jag was one of those projects that should probably not have been undertaken but I’m a sucker for something impossible and this certainly fit that description. I don’t have any original pictures of the vehicle but was surprised to find images on the Internet that are amazingly close. I was tipped off to the 3.4 by a friend who said he knew someone who had a Jag to sell…cheap. I’d always wanted to own one of these beasts so I followed up on the lead to see what came of it.

Was I ever surprised with what I found. I lived in Phoenix at the time and there had been one of those legendary gully washers you always hear about. In this case, one of the local rivers had overflowed its banks and sent a torrent of water through a small complex of repair shops. The Jag was sitting outside at the time the deluge came through and ended up being submerged up to the roof. Hence the reason for the price. I’m not sure how much of a ‘find’ it was as it didn’t run (obviously), had about a foot of river silt inside, four flat tires and was generally trashed but I was still attracted (like girls and bad boys, guys and hopeless projects). Turns out the deal was simple, tow it out of where it was and I could have it for $1. Yep, $1. Just get it out of there and save the owner the trouble of disposing of it. Deal done.

Except for the wire wheels, how it looked before getting buffed out

Though the tires were all flat, I found they would still hold air so I was able to at least get it rolling and on a trailer. If you’re squeamish, you may want to pass on reading what happens next. The Jag’s first stop was a self-service car wash wear I opened all four doors and proceeded to hose out what the river left behind. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done and, really, it was going to be hard to make it much worse than it already was. Once everything dried out I started working my way through the drive train and motor. Miraculously, when I drained the oil, I found no water. The distributor had taken in quite a bit but I was able to blow it out, re-set the timing (static), and began to trace down all of the starting circuits to verify they all worked.

Next came purging the fuel system which meant draining the fuel tank, blowing out all of the lines and going through the Jag’s carbs to inspect for water damage. I also removed the cylinder head to make sure it hadn’t ingested anything. All good there but I wished I hadn’t done it when it came to putting it all back together and adjusting the overhead cams. What a bear. Now, the only thing I needed to do to try and fire it  up was install a new battery…and pray.

How it looked after new seats and carpet

It was quite a day when I put the key in, heard the fuel pump start ticking, closed my eyes and turned it to start. The Jag roared to life like it had just been sitting in a garage for a little while. Amazing! The rest of the story is pretty tame. The paint wasn’t great but there wasn’t any body damage so I buffed it out and threw a coat of wax on it. The most involved part was dismantling and replacing the interior which had taken some serious damage from all of the water. Somehow, all of the burl wood made it through unscathed.

After I had it back on the road, I drove the Jag for only a short while when an opportunity came to swap it straight across for a nice prepped H-production “Bugeye” Sprite. I decide not to tempt fate and made the deal. A few years later, I ran into the guy I swapped with and inquired about the old Jag…it was not only still running but he had re-painted it and added wire wheels. You just know if I had kept that car, it would have buried me. Some folks have all the luck.

One of the few times I can claim the common sense and cars came together.