A few clever tweaks can turn the Mk2 into some­thing that can mod­ern cars a run for their money

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - Richard Dredge

‘Im­prove­ments to the brakes, steer­ing and sus­pen­sion can be very de­sir­able if done prop­erly’

Three years ago, Jaguar de­signer Ian Cal­lum un­veiled his rad­i­cally rethought Mk2 cre­ated by Jaguar spe­cial­ist, Clas­sic Mo­tor Cars. Some thought the idea heresy but oth­ers thought this 21st cen­tury rein­car­na­tion was a mas­ter­stroke. Af­ter all, the Mk2 is one of those clas­sics that re­sponds well to up­grades, even if some­times they’re not ex­actly sub­tle.

The Mk2 was a very ca­pa­ble car in its day – so much so that it’s still sur­pris­ingly us­able more than 50 years on. But there are still plenty of up­grades that will make a Mk2 even more us­able and de­sir­able. What mat­ters most is that the ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance isn’t changed, so wheels must be in keep­ing and the body­work shouldn’t be al­tered sig­nif­i­cantly – a lou­vered bon­net is prob­a­bly as far as you should go.

You can re­ally go to town with the me­chan­i­cals and in­te­rior, though. En­gine and trans­mis­sion swaps aren’t un­usual, while im­prove­ments to the brakes, steer­ing and sus­pen­sion can be very de­sir­able if done prop­erly. Fit­ting mod­ern seats with elec­tric ad­just­ment is also a good thing – as long as they’re in keep­ing with the Mk2’s cabin and re­trimmed to match. Mod­ern air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems and hi-fi up­grades are also de­sir­able, but keep­ing things as stealthy as pos­si­ble is al­ways a good idea.

There was a raft of com­pa­nies ready to up­grade Mk2s when they were new and that’s still the case to­day. Beacham cre­ates mas­ter­pieces in New Zealand and Clas­sic Mo­tor Cars and Vicarage do the same in the UK. You’ll need deep pock­ets to shop with ei­ther com­pany and it’s very easy to spend well into six fig­ures if you get car­ried away, but you can spend rel­a­tively lit­tle and still have a far more ca­pa­ble car. You’ll get your money back on some of the smaller up­grades but spend plenty and at re­sale time you’ll have to take quite a hit fi­nan­cially.

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