Long term tests

Jaguar S-type 4.2 V8 R

I think I may be turning into my father, which is slightly unsettling, though not as unsettling as turning into my mother. I started thinking about this when I was looking through some old photos and there was dad with the Mk2 Jag he owned for much of the '70s and '80s. It suddenly struck me that my long-term S-type R bore an uncanny resemblance, especially spooky since I'd specced the car myself. Perhaps my subconscious had been trying to recreate a car that had been a big part of my growing up. Anyway, I

I think I may be turning into my father, which is slightly unsettling, though not as unsettling as turning into my mother. I started thinking about this when I was looking through some old photos and there was dad with the Mk2 Jag he owned for much of the '70s and '80s. It suddenly struck me that my long-term S-type R bore an uncanny resemblance, especially spooky since I'd specced the car myself. Perhaps my subconscious had been trying to recreate a car that had been a big part of my growing up. Anyway, I decided to try to track down the Mk2.

Fortunately I didn't have to do too much detective work. Dad sold it to an old colleague of mine, and, 15 years later, he still has it. And so it was that I met up with John Blundell and 5 VPH and we had a great lunchtime, reminiscing and talking about Jaguars. In fact 5 VPH is no stranger to magazines. John used to be art editor at Classic & Sportscar, and the Mk2 has made a number of appearances. Most notably, it starred in a feature with great train robber Bruce Reynolds. Interestingly, Reynolds said robbers rarely used Mk2s. They were too conspicuous. Most of them favoured Ford Zephyrs.

5 VPH still looks terrific. It's a 1961 car, a 3.4 manual with overdrive. Best of all, John has never been afraid to really drive the thing. It's been all over the UK and the continent too.

We swap Jags for the drive to the pub. After the S, the Mk2 feels initially ponderous. Most striking is the huge, thin-rimmed steering wheel and the steering itself, heavy at low speeds and extremely low-geared. The four-speed manual 'box crunches if you try to hurry it. But the straight-six feels strong and sounds fantastic, with a real bark to it where the S's V8 is subdued except for the supercharger whine. The Mk2 has more soul than the S will ever have. But it's just an old crock, right?

I buckle-up in the passenger seat as we head onto a three-mile stretch of dual-carriageway, Andy M following in the S. Which gives him the perfect view when John flattens the throttle in third and the Mk2 hammers forward, straight-six snarling. I glance at the speedo: 60, 70... into fourth... 80, 90... John Keeps it nailed. 100, 110... That's probably enough. There's a roundabout ahead, the Mk2's brakes aren't what they were (and they never were that great). But by gum, this thing still flies. Andy is equally stunned and says the Jag looked superb, flashing past modern Mercedes and BMWs.

John is polite about the S-type. 'You just touch the accelerator and it goes. And the steering's so light and responsive. And with the auto box it practically drives itself...'

He doesn't mention the brakes. These continue to be a cause of anguish round here, the one big dynamic flaw in the S-type's make-up. At low speeds they're snatchy; hauling down from high speed, the pedal feel is spongily inconsistent. I mentioned all this when BG54 DZZ went to Guy Salmon Jaguar of Northampton for its 10,000-mile service and also asked them to check that neither front disc was warped. They could find no faults and, after a road test, reported that this was 'how you'd expect an S-type R to feel'.

It's a pity, because it dents what is otherwise an extremely accomplished chassis. And I'm growing to like the S-type a lot, though I can't as yet say that I love it. Meeting up with 5 VPH again after all these years reminded me what made the Mk2 great: it had a soul, and it was a true original, arguably the definitive sports-saloon. Jaguar needs to rediscover its knack for creating innovative, inspirational, era-defining cars. Somehow I can't imagine my 11-year-old son getting misty-eyed about the S-type R in 20 years' time. Unless, that is, they bring out a Spongebob Squarepants special edition...

Running Costs

Date acquiredDecember 2004
Total mileage13,082
Costs this month£280.82 (service)
Mileage this month1711
MPG this month21.4mpg

Most Popular

New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring revealed – now available in manual and PDK
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring – rear profile
Porsche 911 GT3

New 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring revealed – now available in manual and PDK

The Touring pack has returned, combining the 992 GT3’s set-up with more understated looks
15 Jun 2021
The reluctant LaFerrari driver – evo archive
evo archive – LaFerrari truck extraction – stop!
Ferrari

The reluctant LaFerrari driver – evo archive

How do you get a £1million hypercar out of the back of a delivery truck? Very, very, slowly…
15 Jun 2021
Triumph Lynx – Dead on arrival
Triumph Lynx
Features

Triumph Lynx – Dead on arrival

With a 3.5-litre Rover V8 under the bonnet and TR7 fastback styling, the Lynx could have been British Leyland’s answer to the Ford Capri
18 Jun 2021
MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
17 Jun 2021
Next generation BMW 7-series spied – flagship saloon to once again set the tone for future models
Next generation BMW 7-series spied – front quarter
BMW 7 Series

Next generation BMW 7-series spied – flagship saloon to once again set the tone for future models

All-new saloon to feature IC and EV powertrains, but once again it’ll also lead the way aesthetically
16 Jun 2021
Hyundai i20 N revealed – Ford Fiesta ST rival priced from £24,995
Hyundai i20 N car pictures
Hyundai i20 hatchback

Hyundai i20 N revealed – Ford Fiesta ST rival priced from £24,995

N division's second model set to shake up the junior hot hatch establishment
17 Jun 2021
BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance
BMW M5 CS – front cornering
BMW M5 saloon

BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance

Nonsensical on paper, but sublime in practice. Never has a modern supersaloon been more tactile or more engaging
14 Jun 2021
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition – slide
Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act

Immense performance from about the coolest modern muscle car out there. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing else quite like it
12 Jun 2021
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?
Audi RS3 manufacturer spy 1
Audi RS3

2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?

Audi Sport is putting the final touches on its new RS3 hot hatch and saloon
10 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement to be revealed June 24
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – header
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement to be revealed June 24

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
16 Jun 2021
Updated in-line six Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door revealed – hybrid V8s still to come
Mercedes-AMG GT53 MY22 – front tracking
Mercedes

Updated in-line six Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door revealed – hybrid V8s still to come

GT43 and GT53 4-Doors receive a refresh while we await the arrival of the V8 hybrid GT73
14 Jun 2021
2022 Polestar 3 teased – all-new Audi e-tron rival a stepchange model
Polestar 3
Polestar

2022 Polestar 3 teased – all-new Audi e-tron rival a stepchange model

Yes, it’s another electric SUV, but this one will be the first ‘true’ Polestar
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers

The long-awaited Tesla Model S Plaid has finally come to fruition, with first US examples hitting the road
11 Jun 2021