The 420 was the end of the road for Jaguar’s “compact” sedan line that started in 1956 with the 2.4, commonly called the Mark 1. One year later, the 3.4 L version appeared, and set the wold on fire. Here was a high performance sedan of a type and caliber never seen before, given its price point. Then in 1959 came the Mark 2, with a revised glassier greenhouse and the 3.8 L version of the XK six, with even more oomph. And in 1964, the 3.8 S arrived, with a longer rear deck and the XK-E’s IRS.
The final evolution was this, the 420. It’s essentially the same as the S from the cowl back, but the front end was now in the style of the Mark X/420G, and of course it also previewed the front end of the XJ6, which was to come along within a year.
R&T felt that this 420 was the most aesthetically successful of this line of compact jag sedans, and I quite agree. It’s a gem
R&T points out that the XK engine is by now old, heavy and expensive to build, and states that a replacement engine is overdue. Well, that would be quite a while yet…
The suspension is up-to-date, anyway, and the structure rigid, the two ingredients for a successful combination of ride and handling. And the Girling disc brakes yielded very good results.
With an eye to its American customer’s, the 420 cooling system was revised and now operated under 13 psi of pressure!
What’s it like to drive? ” quiet, smooth , nimble—an unmitigated pleasure to drive…a cultured automobile”. Even when bombing across the desert at 100mph. And the joy continues when the pavement gets rough, or disappears all together.
Performance is good, but in this age of cheap American cars with strong V8s, that was not its standout quality (0-60 in 11.0 seconds). But it did hit 119 mph and the brakes were up to the task.
Not surprisingly, the controls and such were not up to modern standards in all respects, but the leather seats and wood dash went a long way to make up for that. A Jaguar, through and through.