The 1955 Jaguar 2.4 litre, which retrospectively came to be known as the Mk1, was the British carmaker's first small saloon since the short wheelbase Mk IV 1½ litre of the Forties. Jaguar, which was testing the waters with this small saloon, was surprised by the sales success it proved to be. Seeing that it was outselling the marque's traditionally larger models, William Lyons set about restyling the car so that it appealed to a wider customer base. While retaining the unibody construction debuted in the Mk1, the new saloon boasted an evolutionary yet more sophisticated design, a larger glass area, a better appointed cabin and wider track.
The 2.4-litre and 3.4-litre XK six-cylinder engines were carried over with slight increase in power, but were deemed by many as underpowered for the Mk2, which was now heavier. This was addressed by the addition of the range-topping 3.8-litre engine, the same twin-cam XK six that eventually powered the legendary E-Type. With a 0-100kph run in less than 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 200kph -- figures that are decent even by today's standards -- the 3.8-litre Mk 2 was one of the fastest production saloons of the era. The Mk2's remarkable straight-line pace was complemented by its road manners, which although not prodigious, were acceptable for a car this heavy, thanks to the wider track and live-axle rear suspension.
With its sporty, elegant styling and remarkable performance, the Mk2 became a huge sales success for Jaguar and the saloon of choice for keen drivers in European and US markets. It also marked a shift in the carmaker's saloon portfolio, with more compact unibody models following it.
The best bit? You can get hold of a 3.8-litre version today for as little as Dh120,000. And if you shop around, you could find a 3.4-litre model for less. Considering the difference in power and performance isn't much in today's terms, it is a good-value proposition.