Sir William Lyons wanted his cars to enter the Sixties with strikingly modern styling and innovative technical features. And he achieved both in one fell swoop with the magnificent E-Type in the very first year of that decade. However, not one to sit on his laurels, Lyons was determined to similarly refresh his saloon line-up too, and directed his engineers to introduce sweeping changes beginning with the Mk IX replacement, which was codenamed Zenith.
What technical director William Heynes and his team came back with was the Mk X, which proved a solid base for Jaguar's most successful flagship saloon, the XJ6, and set new standards in many areas. It boasted a much sleeker design compared to the Mk IX, with a radiator grille that sloped in towards the bumper, giving it the look of an animal ready to pounce, a styling cue used by many later Jaguar models. The Mk X was also the first Jaguar to use quad headlights, another design feature that was used for many decades after.
For the new car, Jaguar ditched the MK IX's separate chassis in favour of unitary construction, first used in the 2.4-litre saloon of 1955. Although the idea behind this was to save some weight, the Mk X surprisingly weighed more than its predecessor. But this problem of added bulk was tackled by throwing in a sophisticated independent rear suspension similar to that found on the E-Type. This helped disguise the sheer heft and girth of the MK X, and gave the car exemplary road manners. Add to this the same 3.8-litre, triple-carburettor engine from the E-Type under its bonnet, and the Mark X had everything going for it to be a hugely successful model. But it wasn't.
Despite its looks, great handling and ride quality, the Mk X never matched sales projections. This was partly due to the company's initial failure to meet demand caused by worker strikes, and the fact that most potential buyers in the US market thought the car's styling was too old-world. Even the torquier 4.2-litre engine that was introduced three years later or the new 420G name couldn't do much to better this record, which was eventually set straight by the XJ6 of 1968.
This lack of sheen during its day has translated into the Mk X's modest current prices, which average Dh60,000.
Expect a few mechanical gremlins that would need looking into, in addition to the more obvious and pervasive malaise of rust.