ADS ON TEST: 1951 Jaguar MkV DHC

1951 Jaguar MkV drophead coupe

by Sam Dawson |
Published on

This £79,995 Jaguar is one of the best-documented examples of one of Jaguar’s most elegant yet underrated cars, finds tester Sam Dawson

1951 Jaguar MkV drophead coupe
Lavish restoration and 3.5-litre straight-six are a powerful and stylish combination

This Jaguar Mark V three-position drophead coupé is the car that transported Dame Arlene Phillips at HM the Queen’s recent Platinum Jubilee parade. But it’s also well-known in Jaguar circles.

The history files accompanying this car don’t stretch all the way back to its 1951 build date, but its life as a classic has been exhaustively chronicled. The earliest receipts include a letter from Circuit Motors of Silverstone detailing a woodwork refresh, upholstery work and a mechanical restoration carried out between 1973 and 1982.Bodywork restoration by Colin Knight followed in 1983-4.

Interior has been fully retrimmed

The restoration was serialised in Jaguar Driver as far back as 1976 when it was a small black-and-white club magazine, copies of which are included in the file, and the car was finally put back on the road in 1990. Another file contains every bill, receipt and MoT certificate continuously from 1990 to the present.

Since 1990, the vehicle has been fastidiously maintained by a Mark V model expert. It’s been used sparingly but regularly. There’s a record of every show it’s been seen at – and it’s been taken as far afield as Norway. It hasn’t received a comprehensive off-the-road restoration since, but while most of the car wears its older, beautifully-preserved restoration elegantly, the interior trim is brand new and completely unpatinated, unmarked and uncreased, the recent work of Suffolk & Turley. The trim work includes a pair of bespoke bags for the door tops, and a pair of plastic covers – plus, incredibly, spares – devised to protect the hood from the metal hooks that latch it to the header rail, when the canvas top is folded back.

The care lavished on the car is clear to see. The paint finish is consistent, glassy and smooth with no defects or cracks to be seen anywhere, but not dazzlingly overpresented either. The tyres are new, and while the bumpers have recently been rechromed, the grille surround is original and lightly pitted – the only bit of trim on this car that is.

Largest engine option available

Under the bonnet, the engine bay is spotless, with only the slightly dull sheen of the rocker cover and the heat-patinated exhaust manifolds betraying the restoration’s age.

The 3.5-litre straight-six – the largest available on the Mark V – takes a lot of choke to get it started, and needs it open until up to temperature to get it running smoothly. The Moss manual gearbox will be familiar to E-type drivers, and needs carefully-paced shifting to make unruffled progress. It gets up to cruising speed with ease, and once the engine is warmed-through and the choke closed, the temperature hovers around a healthy 75 degrees, with oil pressure at an equally pleasing 50psi under load.

The brakes are effective, drawing the car up straight without fading, but they lack feel. Steering is smooth, the suspension and wheel bearings quiet, and the car is surprisingly wieldy for a traditional luxury tourer with its roots in the Forties. At just under £80k it’s not cheap, but nor is it absolutely top money for a Mark V dhc – and it’s a bargain compared to the SS100 with which it shares an engine.

Engine 3485cc in-line six-cylinder, ohv, two carburettors Power 125bhp @ 4500rpm Torque 180lb ft @ 2300rpm Top speed 91mph 0-60mph 18.9sec Length 4762mm Width 1765mm

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