Manual Saloon: 1966 Jaguar 3.8 S-Type

This 1966 Jaguar 3.8 S-Type is a desirable manual transmission example, making it a rare bird among the legions of S-Types saddled by an automatic transmission. While it’s a bit of a project, the seller doesn’t reveal any major rust issues, and pictures indicate minimal rot visible on the body. The interior and engine will need some work and there are parts missing that will need to be replaced, but overall, it looks like a fast sedan worthy of restoration. Find it here on craigslist for $2,250.

Oregon is one of those places where old cars seemingly survive way longer than anywhere else, so I’m not surprised to see this one still wearing its old-school dealer plate frame and vintage state license plates. The weather enables long-term preservation of classics, even of those that aren’t particularly loved. The chrome still looks sharp on the bumpers and trunk lid trim, taillight lenses show no signs of damage, and while I can’t tell if the paint is original, it at least appears to be one consistent shade.

The interior is a bit of a mess, with some indications that an initial attempt at restoration has been made. The seller notes the dash top is missing, and it looks like some of the gauges have been yanked as well. The front buckets and door panels seem to be surviving OK with some signs of warpage to the latter, but the rear seat back is missing – and the seller casually admits that finding out could be quite the endeavor. Now, this next statement depends on your appetite for a project, but I don’t see anything in here that’s too intimidating, as it looks like someone simply began disassembly before losing interest.

The good news is that such halted progress didn’t occur under the hood. Now, the radiator did get yanked, but those are widely available as new parts (unlike my junkyard find Mercedes 190E 2.3-16, which required some extensive sleuthing to find the correct unit). The seller claims over 80% of these stately sedans were equipped with an automatic transmission, and if that claim is true, this is indeed a rare bird to find in restorable condition for reasonable money. Is it worth bringing this manual sedan back to life or is it a potential pit of Lucas hell?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Jeff, I’m pretty sure this is an S-Type, not a 3.8 Mk. II. The Mark IIs had a round tail, while the S had the blockier rear — somewhat like the larger Mk. 10 — to cover the independent rear suspension.

    For aesthetic reasons alone, I prefer the shape of the Mk. II. The later cars were said to handle better and supposedly had improved brakes, but the Mk. II was such a lovely design.

    I’ve wanted one ever since I saw them being raced at Riverside Raceway by Augie Pabst and Walt Hansgen back in (I think) 1960. No doubt they had some major modifications, at least to the engines, but they acquitted themselves very well against the Corvettes. I still want one.

    The $2250 will be the tip of the iceberg for this one. At least it will only be staggeringly expensive if the new owner does his own labor. Send it out for all the necessary work, and it’s going to cost a packet more.

    Still, this is one of those cars where that doesn’t matter so much, at least to me. They are wonderful, fast touring cars. And, in the case of the earlier examples, drop-dead gorgeous. Hard work will have its rewards!

    5
    • ken tillyUK

      The write-up states that it is a 3.8 “S” Type and not a Mk 2. IMHO the S Type is fugly whereas the Mk 2 was gorgeous. The only advantage the S had over the Mk 2 was the independent rear suspension that was also used on the E Type.

      3
      • SMS

        Nah there are lots more. As an example, if I put my surfboard on top of a Mk2 it would be blasphemous. A rack and board on top of an S-Type looks great.

        You can drive them every day and park them anywhere and not worry. I love that about mine.

      • luke arnott

        It’s an S Type.Personally thought the 420 was better,the MK 11’s were junk.

  2. SMS

    My fun car right now is the same ’66 3.8 S-Type with a manual. Agree that the MK2 looks a bit better. The driving is the reason I went to the S-Type. If, and that is a big if, there is no rot then this is a good buy. Rebuilding the motor is very expensive and the leather interior is likewise, but replacement parts can be found and if you do much of the work yourself it can go from insane to simply a bad decision.

    All that said I love taking the Jag out and driving it. Many is the time we have parked the car and had people stop and admire the car. My kids will go up to the people and open the car for them to jump in and have a good look around. The kids love sharing the car.

    What may not be obvious is the size. I parked next to a new Camry. The Toyota was longer, wider, and taller than the S-Type.

    6
  3. Classic Steel

    Um. What good news under hood as if you expand the picture the middle of the engine is missing pieces .

    I like the car but it needs help and cash infusion..

    2
  4. Bultaco

    It’s a really cool car, but not worth restoring from a cost standpoint. If the missing parts could be replaced to make it a driver, it might clean up nicely. If the engine is locked or something else catastrophic is wrong, it’s a donor car for the manual trans and associated conversion parts.

  5. Mark Evans

    Can’t say I’ve seen this colour before on a Jag sedan. Is it original? Like the combo with red interior. This seems like a candidate for a Resto-mod with a SBC or 5.0.

    • SMS

      Can’t tell for sure but I think this is Bronze, could also be the color they called Golden Sand. They had some very nice colors to choose from, unfortunately mine is white over black.

      Like the idea of updating the motor. Rebuilding these is quite expensive. Know a fellow with a SBC in his. Very nice. If it were me I would use an inline 6. Love the sound and smoothness.

      The engine swap would pay for itself in less than 5k miles. The 3.8 is a lovely lump and very thirsty.

      1
  6. Caddy-chris

    Budget 10k for interior alone. Ask me how I know.

    1
    • Kurt

      Wow. Real leather and wood throughout, adds up quick. But worth it.

      1
  7. Kurt

    What is that thing that looks like an ear trumpet with a shop rag in it?

    • SMS

      It connects the air cleaner to the carbs

  8. GeneB

    I had one of these…3.8S Mine was green/tan with the auto tranni. Tranni had a broken intermediary shaft and could only run in low gear, and it puked out the tranni fluid in about 5 miles.
    I paid $1800 for mine in 1991

  9. waynard

    Almost certainly an Ivory car originally. Too many important parts missing that, yes, can be found, but you’ll be soon underwater on this if you’re going for a full, even Driver quality restoration. Decent price if you have the time, money and patience and don’t care about resale value.

    1
  10. Richard V

    I believe some of these, or perhaps all of them, with manual transmissions, also had overdrive. At least the ’66 3.8 MKll I used to work on at my shop had the OD. It makes an amazing cruiser at freeway speeds! Beautiful cars.

    1
  11. Gary Riesing

    I had one, and I loved the stick trans with overdrive, in the mountains you could touch the overdrive instead of downshift, and zoom uphill. I wish I still had it. The 2 gas tanks was a little weird.In 1991 I bought mine for $2500 in San Diego, and drove it cross country. Plenty of room for kids in the back.

    1

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