Quite a few sports car makers rely on the images of wild animals as their mascots: Ferrari has the prancing horse, Lamborghini employs the raging bull. Jaguar Ltd. was christened with the name of the irresistible feline, and perhaps no other manufacturer's products are quite so aptly named. A Jaguar is quick and nimble, sounds ferocious, and surprises with dizzying speed, always keeping an elegant composure.
Jaguar's sporting sedans established quite a reputation in the late 1950s and early 1960s, culminating in the fabulous 3.8-liter S-Type shown here. A sensible, virtual extension of the MKI/MKII line, the S-Type sedan synthesizes the best of both worlds. It's the proverbial 1960s British sports car for the family man. This distinguished-looking, British Racing Green example would be the preferred motorcar of a successful servant of Her Majesty--like famous spy Johnny English, for example--were he married, with children!
Though in production until 1969, only S-Types built before 1967 feature the classic MKII-style front end, the Cat's dominant horseshoe radiator grille evoking the great XK120/140/150 sports cars of the 1950s.
The 1966 S-Type presented here, VIN *P1B79642BW*, is a genuine black license plate Jag, having resided in the Golden State for the past 42 years.
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Its original owner, Mr. R.O. Dundas from South Laguna, California, picked up the car on April 25th, 1966 directly at the factory during his European vacation and subsequently had the car shipped to Long Beach.
Original Jaguar vinyl pouch accompanies the car to this day, containing the Manufacturer's Warranty booklet, the Operating Handbook, Overseas Distributor book, and Lubrication & Maintenance chart.
Propelled by Jaguar's incredible DOHC 3.8 liter engine (famous for powering the sports and racing cars of the marque, like XK120-150, XK-SS, C,D and E-Type), the S-Type is transformed into a serious contender. A top speed of over 120mph was advertised by the Coventry men, with five occupants aboard.
This particular example runs excellent: it has benefited tremendously from two decades of continuous maintenance at British Sports Cars in San Luis Obispo, the California Central Coast's best garage to have your English automobile receive the level of care if deserves.
Car's superbly straight, rust and accident free body was re-sprayed in the traditional British Racing Green livery--the most appropriate color for a fast S-Type--with a little added iridescence to make it sparkle and shine even more in the California sun.
Lavishly applied chrome trim is in superb condition throughout; except for slight pitting on the rear bumper, there is no sign of the 40-plus years of service this car has delivered.
Fully loaded, this S-Type not only features the high performance engine, but also the very desirable chrome wire wheel option. These true center-lock knock-off wheels are in excellent condition and come with genuine MICHELIN X redline tyres of the dimension 185R15 all around.
Unrivalled in their market segment, in fact squarely in Rolls Royce territory, are Sir William Lyons' posh sedan interiors.
Wonderfully equipped with countless amenities, this fine sports sedan still features its original door panels with the large, integral map pockets.
Acres of burled wood not only enhance, they actually create the dashboard. Even in 1966, the amount of wood used inside every 'S' was a most pleasant anachronism; today, an old-fashioned interior such as this one is another highly desirable trait of this wonderful automobile. The copious wood presents itself in excellent condition, without any sun or water damage, mute witness to the fact that this cat was always garaged.
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The six round dials and centrally located row of toggle switches were lifted straight from Jaguar's sports racers. You do not find a burlwood picnic tray in an E-Type, though!
Leather front seats are in excellent condition, free of rips or tears, wearing just a slight patina only time can create. The irresistible fragrance of leather, wood, and wool emanating from the Jag's plush cabin can only be called intoxicating; it is an important aspect of the fascination this car holds for many aficionados.
Rear accoutrements include chrome ash trays in both doors, a wide center arm rest, and more than enough space for three full-figured adults. The British created the saying "my car is my castle;" sitting in this Jag will make you a firm believer. It feels utterly safe and protected, almost like an armored car with most comfortable sofas inside. It's Heaven on Earth!
Ready for a test drive?
Right away, Mylord, but shouldn't we inspect trunk and undercarriage before we depart?
Large trunk sports original paint, is free of rust or damage. Trunk mat is MIA.
Below a partition rests the matching spare wheel. Note the original tire jack.
Yes, you've guessed it, the belly of the Jag's corrosion-sensitive unibody looks virginal; even the thin, factory-applied undercoating is still intact. What a relief, for every Jaguar restorer knows of the pain and suffering experienced when attempting to bring back a less-than-perfect example to rust free glory. Our advice: don't even try it; start with this dry, rust free, California Jaguar instead!
We took these pictures on May 21st, 2008, another fine, sunny day in San Buenaventura. The 'S' fired up easily, thanks to its electric choke, idled smoothly, and off we went in search of a quiet backcountry road where this protean sports sedan could show its true spirit.
With VARAMATIC power-assisted steering, telescoping steering column, GIRLING 4-wheel power disc brakes, fully independent suspension all around (unlike the MKII that has to make do with an ancient "banjo" rear), and the American automatic transmission, the sedan is a wonderful driver's car. It wraps old-world style and vintage sporting excitement into one very attractive package. Of course, even an S-Type doesn't handle like a Porsche or BMW, but it doesn't strive to be driven like one of those. Rather, it allows for relaxing long-distance travel with class.
Thanks to the superb care this car has always received, we are happy to report that it runs, drives, steers, brakes, and handles very well, indeed. Except for clock and radio, all gauges, lamps, and switches work, including the interior lights and the switchable dual petrol tanks.
Not very often will you encounter a classic car that combines so many desirable traits. The S-Type is part of a great heritage; it possesses superb looks, a lavishly equipped interior, and sufficient power to be a contender in today's fast-flowing traffic.
Don't let this Jaguar 3.8 'S' get away; it's one of the last California black license plate survivors of its kind that has not disappeared forever in a collector's garage or collection. You might not find another one quite like it in a long time!
We SOLD this Jaguar in July 2008 to a customer in Brazil.