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Engine Donor? 1952 Jaguar Mk. VII


One of the sad things when a “regular” car’s mechanical components are used in what is considered a more desirable version is that the “regular” cars frequently get used as parts donors rather than being maintained or refurbished themselves. That may well be the end result for this submission from Barn Finds reader Charles H., which is located in Mount Holly, New Jersey and is listed for sale here on craigslist for $6,000.


“Featuring an aftermarket exhaust mounting, this classic…” Sorry, I couldn’t resist that after looking at this picture! When I first saw the pictures of this car and the ad’s caption about it being an engine and gearbox donor for an XK120/140/150, I almost dismissed this old Jaguar. But after looking closer, this is a really solid example of Jaguar’s sporting saloon of the 50’s. Yes, there is some surface rust, and an unfortunate dent in the left front fender. But it’s not rusted out like most of these cars, nor does it show the signs of having been poorly repaired in the past; what you see is apparently what you get.


There’s a series of under car pictures included in the listing, and they all look basically like this one; very minor surface rust but nothing to really worry about. As someone who’s been looking at the Mk. VII – Mk. IX saloons for a while (my wife really wants one) this looks a lot better than most I’ve seen for sale.


There are two things that are really expensive about restoring one of these; the upholstery and the wood. Surprisingly, while it certainly needs refinishing, the wood really looks great (that upper dash surface in this picture is wood, not upholstery). The Brooklands-style steering wheel is a period accessory; the seller is willing to take $500 off the price of the car if the wheel is not included. If you didn’t mind some patina and wrinkles, the majority of both front and rear seats might be able to be saved if you could replace a few panels on each seat and used a lot of leather conditioner. My wife wants a “driver” car, so that would be the route I would choose. I wonder what the small brass plaque on the dash says; a clue to the car’s prior history? The seller says the car was purchased used in California in 1958 and brought to New Jersey at that time; the clear New Jersey title dates from that time.


Here’s the XK engine, the heart of any Jaguar from this period. This is a 3.4 liter version. The seller is attempting to free up the engine and will be trying to get it started off a bottle. I really hope this car is saved as a Mk. VII rather than becoming a heart transplant for an XK. What do you think? Is this a project worth saving? What other cars do you frequently see cannibalized for their more desirable siblings?


  1. Avatar photo 64 bonneville

    Buy it for your wife and make a daily driver out it. Find a wrecked S-10 or GMC S-15 and grab the 4.3 liter V-6 and overdrive automatic and drop it in. Rebuild the Jaguar motor and tranny and sell it to put you in a “break even” sort of position. you may be able to pull the dent out of the LF fender with a slide hammer, and finish off. Or if you have good hammer and dolly experience, work it out and finish it off. Scuff and shoot a couple of coats of primer/sealer and refinish in the original color. Since it is for your wife it would be a “labor of love”. Brass plaque could be the original owner, but I doubt it would be from a rally or gymkhana race.

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    • Avatar photo Jamie Staff

      She’s set on the XK engine…I am too, after a lifetime of MG/Triumph/Austin-Healey with a little Jag thrown in. The rational side of me totally agrees with you, however :-)

      On the other hand, there are enough projects in the barn already that any Jag I pick up will have to be largely done…which means it will be a while. She has other car projects she wants completed first (I LOVE my wife :-))

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    • Avatar photo Wayne Thomas

      Perfect fora restomod with classic looks but newer (and more reliable) running gear. One could use a newer Jaguar engine as well to keep it family as well as using Jag parts to update the interior.

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  2. Avatar photo James

    I owned a Mark V briefly years ago and I was impressed by how quick and powerful this BIG car felt to drive. I loved the violet indirect dash lighting too.

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  3. Avatar photo Rancho Bella

    Sadly these cars are just something that was built in the past. The money it will take is only a love of the Marque, nothing more.

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  4. Avatar photo bcavileer

    Looks like a solid example, could be a great start. The steering wheel is the bomb. Love it. That is worth more than the 500 offered. Take the wheel with the deal.!!

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  5. Avatar photo Rob

    Personally I’ve always been partial to the MKV Saloon.. here’s a pic of my ’49 I owned 20 yrs ago; their sweeping style was imao, far better than the later Marks, and it was an absolute dream to drive, not to mention the ‘looks’ it got.

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  6. Avatar photo John H.

    I own a 1960 Mark IX ( same car as this but upgraded) and an XK150S. This car appears to be missing carb linkages, air cleaner, interior parts,and what else? I caution you that fuel tanks tend to rot out before body and are nearly impossible to source. Leather is worse than it looks at a glance. Buy a much better one for $15 – $20k and save yourself much grief. This one is good for parts only.

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    • Avatar photo charlie Member

      I sold my XK 150 S in ’72 or ’73. fixed head automatic, blue from the factory, kind of a metallic pink/purple when I bought it for $300 in l968, turned over but eventually would not run. Got married, kids, no place to store it, bought station wagon and sold Jag for $300. Have always wondered where it went.

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  7. Avatar photo brakeservo

    This car has been pretty thoroughly trashed by the Bring A Trailer web fans in the past day or so . . . I hope it survives in one form or another, even if it is as a Chevy powered hot rod.

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  8. Avatar photo Mark S

    Here’s a question for you jag guys out there, how heavy is the jag engine in this car?

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  9. Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell


    Mark S, the engine is a cast iron block with an aluminum head weighing around 600 plus or so lbs.

    Rancho Bella, not sure why you!re here. We tend to like old cars. It would be boring if the only cars restored were convertibles that bring the most money. Ask someone with an XK coupe. Not always about the $$$$$$!

    MK VII,VIII, IX are great riding cars. Full frame and truly engineered for a good ride. The engine’s biggest drawbacks are the accessories and their mounting. Power steering pump has a remote reservoir and the whole thing leaks. No easy way to mount an air conditioner compressor. MKVII,s had drums later ones had discs.
    Sunroof well built, wish they came with power windows originally.

    The only thing where that is worrisome is lack of overdrive. That and it appears to have come in suede green a pastel that was popular, this color never looks better buffed out. If this color retained, lights out make it look best. Can you say Kermit.

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    • Avatar photo Mark S

      Thanks Ross I thought it would be heavier the engine that I think would be a good fit to pull this big salon along is a dodge cumins turbo diesel with an auto overdrive transmission. Unfortunately they weigh 1150 lbs and the trans are about another 600 lbs. I just figured that if this car is losing its power plant and trans anyway why not give it a First or second generation two wheel drive truck trans plant you would have power to spare reasonable economy and it would solve your attachments issues. The other plus would be that you could obtain a older truck with plenty of miles left in it for cheep, as these engine go 500K miles before needing a rebuild. The weight would be the issue. You may need the front suspension out of the truck too. In my mind this would be better than scrapping out this old beauty.

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  10. Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings Mark S,

    Wow, surprised at the weight of the Cummins! Never realized, even more surprised at the tranny.
    I’m familiar with these as a MKVIIM and a MKIX occupy my workshop.
    Honestly, if you were going to drive this one I’d do what you outlined earlier, but set the original engine aside. Grab a runner from an XJ6 and the tranny, unless you really like to shift, seems odd to me with a car like this. The carb/intake won’t fit on a 4.2, so either bone up on FI or check EBay for an intake.
    John’s Cars makes an excellent kit for putting in a V8 if you worship at the Blue Bowtie. AC is easy with his kit. BowTie Overdrives has R7004 GM Overdrives ready to go, John also has a hybrid that puts an R7004 mated to the XK original engine.
    The original tranny is a Detroit Gear 250, an older Studebaker and Chevrolet unit, while nice, they were an old design when Jaguar bought them. Personally, not crazy about the lack of a transmission cooler for the fluid in a car this big.
    These cars had no rustproofing and lots of boxed sections but I agree this one looks good structurally, the leather serviceable along with the veneers.
    Think the price is high, in as much as engine doesn’t run or possibly spin, even with the lack of perforated panels.
    Anybody still reading this, I’m looking for an engine for a ’34 SS1/Jaguar, it’s a flathead six made by Standard or for that matter any interesting parts for this car.

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    • Avatar photo Mark S

      Thanks Ross not a blue bow tie guy. I’m more a Mopar guy restoring a 1951 dodge MAYFAIR 2 door hard top (model exclusive to Canada). But I’m especially a fan of gen.1 and 2 Cumins engines with mechanical injection. I drive a 94 3/4 ton 4×4. With a Cumins and I absolutely love it. This big Jag to me is just begging for a big in line stroker engine. The nose is so narrow that a v block would not fit well and would not look right. This car is not in my cards but it sure would be fun to fit that diesel. Cheers

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      • Avatar photo Norm Wrensch

        Instead of that heavy Cummins how about a Mercedes 5 cyl turbo diesel. They weight about 525. May not have the power of the Cummins but I’m sure it is more then the Jag engine. And they are abundant and cheap

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      • Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Mark S. It’s a pretty big space. Jag’s V12 fits. The inner fender wall can also be notched, or moved to fit a wider unit.

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  11. Avatar photo charlie Member

    Had a ’39 MG SA, big car for the Brits at the time, pushrod 6 when built, guy brought it back after WWII, I bought it in ’66, had a Hudson 6, being the best in line 6 of the late 40’s, and transmission, thought was MG had built only 500 of them between ’37 and ’39 and engines were not available. Turns out, 50 years later, that tens of thousands of the engines were built, it was the standard Woolsley Police Car engine of the 30’s. But, the Hudson mostly fit – firewall had to be pushed back and transmission hump enlarged (had Hudson OD), and radiator was not big enough, so overheated in the summer, and being RHD an exhaust manifold had to be fabricated to fit around the steering column. The Railton, and the Brough Superior, Brit cars of the 30’s both used Hudson drivetrains, so maybe that was the inspiration. Car nut friend in the late 60’s thought a Chrysler Corp slant 6 would be the transplant of choice, lighter than the Hudson, parts easy to get, less demand on the cooling system, and narrow. Car had been so bastardized that “restoration” was not feasible anyway – right fenders did not match the left – rear deck home made, Ford truck taillights, Buick headlights, White truck 12 v starter and generator. SO, if the Jag is solid, make a driver out of it and enjoy it

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