Sad Cat: 1949 Jaguar Mark V


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At first glance, this Jag listed on craigslist looks really nice, or at least hopeful. The $8,000 asking price certainly gets your attention. It runs and drives but things go downhill from there. It’s right hand drive, but that’s not so bad. Then there’s the Buick V6 and automatic transmission. It’s said to run and drive, “but needs restoration”. Could this be a viable project?


Something seems to be missing here and then there are all those wires. The interior is mostly missing except for the seats and perhaps carpet. The wood work seems to be completely missing.


The seats aren’t fancy, but those are the originals. There seems to be matching carpet, but again, there is no wood trim.


The big question,of course, is how well was the engine and transmission installation done? It appears they didn’t even clean up the engine before installing it. I would look no further after seeing this picture of the engine. It appears they stuffed a junkyard engine in without even bothering to clean the old grease off and they don’t appear to have even centered it!  I might wonder what they did to the inner fender to make room for the power steering pump and the fan hung directly on the radiator, but mostly I’d walk away.


And then there’s the rest of the paint and the rusty bumper. It’s a sad thought, but is there really any hope here without starting over? Would this be worth buying for any price? This Jag isn’t even worth a great restored. For example, there was a beautiful left hand drive Mark V for sale recently on eBay. The seller was asking $30,000 and then lowered his price to $25,000. It would seem likely it would take more than $25,000 to get this Mark V to even a presentable driver and it would still be right hand drive without an original engine.

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  1. Mark S

    I’d get a 1960’s gm 250cid or even 292cid in line six cylinder engine have it rebuilt and put a Muncie 5 speed behind it I’d drop a 1970’s Chevy Nova front subframe and steering column. Now it’s left hand drive and everything just bolts up engine, trans, steering, rad support, and front disc brakes. I’d custom make all the wood interior trim and being a pretty good wood carver I’d add some roses to the wood work. I’d then install a gm rear axle out of a nova or camero, the rest of the body work and interior would be kept stock looking right down to the correct colours. Yes this would be a labour of love but what a cool car it would be. Oh did I mention 12 volt system and A/C. What a great car if I had the means to do it I’d be all over this car.

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    • Frenchy

      If an engine swap is called for why not a Jaguar? The DOHC 3.4/ 3.8/ 4.2 have been successfully swapped in several times.
      The V12 is only 22 inches wide and comes in either carbs or Fuel injection plus it’s 30 pounds lighter than the earlier 6.
      If ultimate reliability is called for the 3.6/4.0 all aluminum 4 valve 6 is both light and powerful (also extremely reliable since GM bought it and put it in the Trail Blazer and other GM SUVs)
      Missing wood is a piece of cake for any decent cabinet maker. Or a fun task for a DIY with a minimum of skill working with wood

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      • Zaphod

        The 3.6 is a 2 valve, 4.0 was the frst 4 valve. Both are super engines.

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      • Mark S

        #1 reason for doing the car up way I suggested is it would be cheep to build. As was said by many people on here this car isn’t worth much. It would also be a fun build to do. #2 reason you can get parts for it at your local parts store. #3 reason it would be dirt simple to work on for who ever you passed it onto. #4 reason it just might make it easier to sell, especially if your build quality is high. Look the car is not ever going to get a jag engine put back in it and my idea would rescue it from being a parts car and ultimately crushed and scrapped.

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      • Alan Brase

        I agree about not going crazy about the drive train. It might be good with an inline US engine, bit I’d concentrate on the interior and the body first. There are many engines more exciting and prettier than the Buick, but the Buick will get it down the road. Change it out later.

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  2. Dave Wright

    Pretty car…………too bad it has been all but destroyed.

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  3. ccrvtt

    I agree with Mark on what to do. And also that it would be a (huge) labor of love. I’m totally smitten with the fender line. No one ever did them any better than Jag-You-Are. As well, maybe, but none better.

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  4. Rob

    It’ll NEVER be like this.. so yeah, I agree with Mark S, just HotRod it!!

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  5. Alan Brase

    The wood missing is the deal breaker. The Buick, and automatic? Maybe. Not sure how you can possibly tell it’s not centered. The body lines and wood and leather interior are what is important here. The Buick is a step up from the Jag Mk5 and clunky gearbox. Now a Buick GN Turbo and a 5 speed, that would be fun. RHD is very fun in the US. Surprisingly easy to get used to. Just a bit of trouble passing. And everybody will ask about it. I have a 1996 Jeep Cherokee RHD from England.

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  6. Zaphod

    The wood is no biggie, patterns are available and a complete set can be made or had for well under a grand. Buick transplants were common, I am surprised whoever did this this didn’t change the seats as well. The engine bay was modified to take the motor, but it isn’t a big job to fashion/find a new inner wing. Most people swap a 3.8 liter Jag 6 for the ooomph. The rear end is bog standard And was used up to the xk150 variants and even some Maseratis. Seems like a lot of money when a Cloud 1 RHD can be had for 25-30k still for Grace, Pace and Space a nice looking car

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  7. A.J.

    RHD is a killer in the U.S.A. All the other issues are just icing on the no sale cake.

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    • TC.

      AJ, does that mean that a LHD is a killer in the UK and all other RHD countries?
      Have you ever driven a RHD in the US ?
      If not I dare you to at least try it and then get back to us!

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      • A.J.

        My point was simply that this is a hard car to sell. It varies from model to model but anytime you can buy a LHD version of a car in the U.S.A the RHD sells at a big discount. Look at RR and Bentley for good examples. Usually 25% or more. Cars that were never offered in LHD, such as Isotta F. & Hispano S. it doesn’t matter.

        There are much better examples of Mark V Jags to spend your time and money on than this one.

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      • waynard

        AJ: Not necessarily. I sold a ’59 Silver Cloud for $30,000., the going rate, a couple years ago, with RHD. Previous to that, I drove it extensively with no issues.

        I just don’t think you can make blanket claims like that.

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      • A.J.

        Yes, but how much would you have got for the same Silver Cloud if it was LHD? I would guess a decent amount more.

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      • waynard

        The market did not support more than that price. It was sold for Fair Market value despite the RHD.

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      • Brian MMember

        I drove a LHD US spec Fiat 128 in the UK for three years (also had a RHD Mini Estate). The biggest problem was overtaking a lorry or bus without a front seat passenger to look around the vehicle in front of me. Once you get past the screaming “navigator” in the right seat, passing can be done. You just ask “Is it OK?” and move to the right. If their voice goes to a high pitched scream and their eyes get really big, you assume that the answer is no. Passing smaller vehicles that you can see through is not as much of a problem. I did prefer the “home market” vehicle for most jaunts, especially on the narrow country roads. I did tow a caravan (camper) two summers with the Fiat. Now THAT was an experience!

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  8. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Pushrods Jag engine are not that hard to come by, or find a MKII with OD and grab engine and tranny as these do well with an overdrive.

    Be mindful, Jaguar had a 2.5 and a 3.5 liter six available at the time. The 2.5 may be a little overworked if doing long highway jaunts of 70 plus speeds.

    Mounting an engine is not done by centering the block. You can mount the engine off the centerline but details to driveshaft alignment need to be watched.

    Johnex Cobra out of Canada has made a kit for years that has the engine mounted two inches off the centerline toward the passenger to give the driver more room in the pedal box area. It’s a sweet ride.

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  9. JagManBill

    as Zaphod said, the wood is the least of the issues. Depending on the engine situation, I’d guess this could be up to drive-able status for about $5k. Biggest issue is that a Mk5 used a “Standard” 2.5 liter engine and not the 3.4 (or larger variants) Jag engine.
    This is a very small engine (small engine bay). Easier to source one out of a Triumph GT 6 or TR6. Or just make a runner out of the installed V6 (or similar) if possible and done right. Jaguar built 2 or 3 (I don’t remember which) Mk5’s with a 3.4 to test the other components (brakes, etc) then decided it was not worth it to rebuild the forward sheet metal to fit the 3.4 as a model continuation. I always had dreams of building one on a Mk7-9 chassis and extend the front sheet metal to fit.

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    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Hey JagManBill, Jaguar had two displacements in the OHV, not talking about the XK’s. I know I have one of each sitting in my shop. The US usually received, but not always the 3.5, the UK, because of petrol prices liked the 2.5.

      The engines were not Standard. Standard sold the tooling for this engine to Jaguar back in the 30’s. This was the same basic block design as the flathead.

      Sir John Black, head of Standard thought that six cylinders were superfluous and was thinking of discontinuing their manufacture. William Lyons had been pushing him to offer an OHV version based on that block. Black offered to sell the tooling and Lyons jumped at the chance. That OHV engine had its designing done with Jaguar. There was never a Standard with that power plant in that form that I know of.

      Jaguar must have liked the crank spacing as the flathead that appeared in the SS and later MKIV and V variants all had the same spacing.

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  10. bcavileer

    Great cars, easily rebuilt to correct standards… raped by amateurs. Enough said. Do them right or go home. Cannot and will not ever justify cutting up and jamming in incorrect components. If you cannot enjoy the vehicle for what it was, what gain is it to shoehorn an incorrect motor. More power?? Buy something with more power…
    Restoration is an art, hot rodding is not my cup of tea. They never handle right and are just an exercise in futility. Yuk.

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  11. charlieMember

    I drove a right hand drive MG for 4 years (on nice days) in the late ’60’s and with rear view mirror mounted on the left fender it was not difficult or unsafe. Then drove a left hand drive Toyota in the Bahamas (where they were driving on the left at the time, and may still be) and that was even easier given the mirrors. A beautiful car, never will be numbers matching, so no reason to spent a ton of money on it, put in a drivetrain that fits and fix it up and drive it.

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    • Tony C.

      Charlie, I’m with you on RHD versus LHD, a lot of people have their opinions on the subject but until they drive an opposite drive vehicle they wouldn’t have a clue what it’s like, they PRESUME it’s awkward — and it is for the first 10 minutes. If they were dangerous we wouldn’t be allowed to own or drive them let alone register them, the Motor Accident Commission would have them banned from the roads!
      I drive my LHD El Camino every day in Australia and the single biggest problem is getting your ticket out of the machine when you drive into a parking station, other than that there’s no difference, put it on your ‘bucket list’.
      To all the nay sayers, before you ‘can’ the RHD’s I dare you to try it, you don’t know what you’re missing, it certainly keeps you on your toes, you really feel like you’re driving the car and it’s fun as well, instead of just pointing it to where you want to go, you also get a lot of ‘thumbs up’ — and smiles.

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  12. JagManBill

    True Ross, but in “basic” form, it was a Standard engine by original design. (we’re on the same page, just different paragraphs…)

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  13. scott

    There are a lot of good pieces to the car, but I don’t think it is a very attractive automobile. I also think that 8k is a little rich. I would entertain something like 3-4k to make this a viable project. Just because it’s old doesn’t make it valuable.

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  14. Jubjub

    Seems a Ford Cologne 4.0 L would be a classier and spicier swap. And keep it injected. Bummer about the missing front bumper and the rust on that beautiful rear bumper. But the rest of the body looks decent as is and I wouldn’t be ashamed of it for it’s worn paint. However, I would at least buff and polish it and try to clean up the rear bumper.

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  15. Peter Pentz

    This is a total disgrace ! Find who ever did it tar and feather him and run him out of town on a pole – in true English tradition.
    With a careful search I am sure the original engine and ancillaries, (crappy) original transmission can be found, all at reasonable prices, as these early Jag mechanicals don’t carry the same value premium as say a series 1 E type 3.8 bits.
    Probably the most expensive investment is the burr wood dash panel, but again, there are specialists in the UK that re-manufacture them.
    Of all the 7 classics I own 2 of them are LHD, and I never find it a problem driving the RHD cars in the US, you just have to learn how to hang back if you want to see past somebody in front of you when you want to overtake. But then in this old girl, I doubt that opportunity will happen too often !
    I’ve driven one of these cars in restored form, and they have this wonderful way of transporting you back to the period in the way they waft you down the road in true period – and that’s the point of period car ownership folks – the period experience.
    I say buy it, do a sympathetic restoration, take time to find the bits, and get it back to close as standard as possible.
    Just my 2 cents …..

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