Buying A Jaguar S Type?

Here are a few things to consider, or look out for when thinking of buying an S Type Jaguar


Weakened body shells are in fact the biggest cause of most Jaguar S-types getting scrapped. The Jaguar Mk1 which actually morphed into the Jaguar Mk2 then into the Jaguar S-type was actually Jaguar’s very first monocoque model that said, its structure does incorporate numerous rust traps, but it doesn’t help at all that Jaguar applied pretty much no rust prevention measures.

Taking on a baggy S-type? You’ll need lots of experience – plus a very well equipped workshop to revive it. If you get it professionally done it’ll cost you potentially £30,000+

If there is visible corrosion, then there’ll be lots more. An S-type looking superficially good could be absolutely rotten underneath, so you need to get the car up on the ramp. Start first with the longitudinal chassis legs that meet a cross member under the nose. Now, although the actual structure is quite unitary, this very integral chassis part adds the essential strength.

But also focus around the area up where the main chassis legs actually join the cross member at the adjacent crows- feet, as they tie the wings to the front cross member. As you`ll see these are in fact the main supports for the large front wings, and along vertical radiator cowls. Expect to see rust here, which allows water in to the chassis legs.

The corrosion moves on down to jacking points below the A-posts, so do look for any distortion of metal and poor quality repairs and plating. This is an area often bodged as it’s very complicated.  Check out the base of the front wings, you`re looking for a cracking paint finish working really downwards and across the door sill from the very bottom front corner section of the doors aperture.

These are key areas, as a proper restoration process will require a jig for lots of strengthening, so all the rotten metal can be cut out.

The giveaway is the un-even door shuts, with the lower front-corner poking out, while the chrome window surround is in close contact at the door jamb. The other corrosion hot spots are;  the rear suspension anti roll bar mounts, the floor pans, wheel arches and towards the back of the door sills.

Don`t forget the spare wheel-well’s centre section as well as the large fuel tanks. But, that’s not all folks; the very outer panels corrode quite spectacularly, most especially the front grille and the headlight surrounds and the area around where the door sill and the front doors meet with the rear doors and the wheel spat. The boot lid trailing edge and bottoms of the doors rust badly too.


Jaguar offered the engine in the 3.4 or the 3.8-litre form for the S-Type or the 4.2-litre 420. The Jaguar XK engine will need regular maintenance, so as not to wear prematurely. You need a service history really, but make sure that the engine isn`t sounding hollow or indeed rattley and check that the oil is nice and clean.

The Jaguar XK power-plant has a cast iron cylinder block and an alloy cylinder head; so keep the anti-freeze level maintained or some internal corrosion will be guaranteed. But even a well maintained engine could use a new radiator every ten years; but new ones are about £500 in exchange form, with the alloy version available for about the same money. Take a close look at oil pressure gauge; is there a healthy 40psi at 2500rpm?

However, the senders and gauges do tend to under read, so you could use a temporary gauge unit for a fairly accurate picture. Some oil usage is quite normal, but excessive smoke on the over run or if the throttle is quickly blipped could mean worn or hardened valve-stem oil seals or even worn guides.

A specialist could charge up to £1500+ to put things right, but any complications down the line such as some corrosion in the water jacket / ports would mean a significantly larger bill. Jaguar XK engines can be oil tight, but a slight weep is quite normal. But if the underside is covered in engine oil, then it’s probably the rear main oil seal has failed, signifying time for an engine rebuild. A specialist could charge £4500+ but it will require special tools plus the knowledge to be able to replace the oil seal.


Until Sept 1965, manual gear boxed Jaguar S-types had the 4 speed Moss transmission without the synchromesh on the first gear. It’s a very strong unit, but on a hard driven and an abused or high mileage car you`d expect quite some wear.

Replacement parts for the gearbox are quite hard to locate, so the rebuilds are pretty costly. However later S-types plus all the 420`s had all-synchro boxes that are strong, but these are harder to locate as used. So what ever is fitted, do make sure it`s not jumping out of any gear and you can select the gears easily.

An overdrive was an option for all Jaguar S-type and all 420 derivatives, most cars were fitted with it. The Laycock system;  you`ll expect it will engage very smoothly and quickly, so any issues will most likely be down to some clogged filter or even a dodgy electrical connection. The rebuilt overdrive units are around £350 exchange.

Replacing the clutch will mean removal of the engine, clutch kit is £200. Most Jaguar S-types and the 420`s have the Borg Warner automatic gearbox. A DG box was fitted up until June 65; then came the Type 35 unit. Both of these are pretty durable, but the 35 is far smoother. A rebuild is rarely needed.

Mr Graham Whitehouse will charge £2675 to over-haul the lot that includes the torque converter, with another £860+ for remove and fit everything. You will expect to pay from £250 for good secondhand auto box; but the DG and the Type 35 units are quite interchangeable.


Neither the Jaguar S-type nor the Jaguar 420 had power steering from the factory, although it was a very popular option, and quite necessary with the massive weight of the big straight six engine sitting upfront. The earlier power-steering featured the Burman recirculating-ball system, which is quite low geared, but very reliable. Much later, there was a much higher-ratio Adwest power- steering system that gave much better feel.

A key characteristic that separated the Jaguar S-type from the old Jaguar Mk2 was the fitting of the independent suspension; it’s exactly the same set up that`s fitted to the Jaguar Mk X and the E-types. It’s reliable but you`ll still need to do your checks for the usual issues like tired dampers, any worn bushes and sagging road springs; all parts are available and the upgrades are an easy fit.


The wire wheels are popular, but make sure that the locating splines are not worn, get somebody sitting in the vehicle with a foot on the foot brake, now try and rock the vehicle top and bottom; if there’s any movement at all, this will indicate worn hub  splines. Also do look for any rusty or even broken spokes. The replacement 72-spoke wheel is £250 in chrome or £150 for a painted item.

The Jaguar Mk2, the Jaguar S-type and the 420 did come with 4 wheel disc brakes, even in very good condition they were only just doing their job. But the 420 had different front up-rights and the larger three pot brake calipers. Problems are usually simply a corroded piston. Everything is readily available, and the up-grades are very straight forward, but the parts costs are very high, even though the braking system is uncomplicated.


A 1960s Jaguar interior is quite something. However, Jaguar believe it or not didn’t take the best available materials, so very tired trim is very common. You can get some quality trim, to make it as good as it once was. But the time and effort you’ve spent, having the replaced the carpets, the seat covers, and all the trim panels, as well as the headlining, you`d easily spend about £4000 for just the parts; best get it done by the specialists. But, it could add £2000-£3000 on top of the bill.