After the Second World War, Jaguar faced a booming car market with its tried and true 1 ½, 2 ½, and 3 ½-litre Mk IV saloons, which traced their roots back to 1935. Postwar Britain lived by the “export or die” business model, which mainly aimed at selling cars in the United States. Jaguar’s three-position drophead coupe gained quite a following here, especially after a left-hand drive version arrived in 1947.
The 3 ½-liter version with 126 bhp and a 95 mph top speed was enough for American roads, and the enormous Lucas P100 headlights flanking a classic upright grille harkened back to a more gracious past. Inside the Jag were leather armchairs surrounded by walnut trim and a dozen instruments that told occupants speed, rpm, oil pressure, water temp, amps, fuel and even when time it was. Fitted luggage was available.
Then, for 1948, the Jaguar MK IV got an upgrade in the form of the interim Jaguar Mk V model. The 1 ½-liter engine had been dropped, and only the two sixes continued forward. Bodywork now featured faired-in headlamps and full fender skirts in the back. Underneath the body were torsion bar front suspension, rear leaf springs and hydraulic drum brakes. This basic chassis would go on to carry the Jaguar Mk VII, Mk VIII and Mk IX.
In typical Jaguar fashion, the Mk V was a bargain that cost about half as much as the equivalent Daimler and Alvis convertibles. About 1,700 2 ½-liter Mk Vs were built along with about 8,800 3 ½-liter models, and only about 1,000 total were drop head modes.
Today, the drop head tends to be the most desirable, especially with the bigger engine. As with most any British car of this vintage, rust and deferred maintenance are the big enemy. In the long run, the most prudent thing to do from a value perspective is to buy one that has already had the expensive restoration work done.
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