Complementing the bigger, luxurious Mark VII and sports XK140 models, Jaguar launched a new range of compact sports saloons in 1955, known to enthusiasts today as the Mark I. Sold in both 2.4 and 3.4-litre versions, the new model proved hugely successful for the Coventry marque, combining excellent performance and luxury at a very reasonable price. A revised model was unveiled in October 1959, the Mark II addressing all the shortcomings of the earlier model, particularly criticism of the high speed handling, which Jaguar’s engineers overcame by widening the rear track. With slimmer pillars and greater glass area, the Mark II also had much lighter cabin featuring a redesigned instrument panel, still with a traditional rich timber veneer but a greatly improved layout. Mechanical improvements included disc brakes front and rear as standard equipment and the option of a 3.8-litre variant of the classic straight six turned the Jaguar into a very fast saloon indeed, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 200 km/h. Indeed a Mark II equipped with the 3.8-litre engine was the fastest saloon on the market in the early 1960s and unsurprisingly proved equally popular with both sides of the law. To cope with additional power (the 3.8-litre developed 220 bhp and 240 lb/ft of torque), Jaguar fitted a ‘Powr-Lok’ limited slip diff as standard. Contemporary road testers sang the praises of Coventry’s latest model, commending the effortless performance, sure-footed handling and generous equipment levels. The Jaguar Mark II also enjoyed a long and successful competition career, particularly in touring car races England and Australia and examples can still be found competing in historic events around the world today. A sales success, with nearly 90,000 built in ten years of production (of which just under a third were equipped with 3.8-litre engines), the Mark II is regarded as perhaps the finest saloon ever to wear the leaping cat by many Jaguar enthusiasts. No Jaguar better epitomizes the “Grace, Pace and Space” catchcry used in period advertising and the Mark II remains an eminently usable classic saloon today, with excellent support provided by the many clubs and specialists around Australia.