Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
Sometimes to find the really nice cars, I mean the really nice cars, you need to head to the suburbs. By "really nice" I don't mean your average Porsche or Ferrari, as anyone with the proper amount of money can afford one of those. Yes, I suppose those are nice in their own way with their conveyance of power and speed, but to truly reflect the vague concept of taste you often need to head back a few decades. And to go back those few decades, you have to go where owners don't fear the random fender bender and hit-and-run. That's right, you have to go to the suburbs, where I found this car just north of New York City in Rockland County.
The Jaguar Mark II is one of those cars that reflects taste, that demonstrates what it was like to live in an era not when cars were designed, but styled.
I've often heard the lament that the reason family sedans by and large don't look as good as they used to is because they're constrained by safety restrictions and emissions, that pressures of modern life and the modern consumer have left designers unafraid to design anything outside of the beige box. That's not universally true, occasionally you may get the wild four-door. But by and large, it is.
But I don't think it's for that oft-stated reason.
I think it's because designers are constrained by themselves and those that came before them. When looking for inspiration, they end up aping. And the cover is never as good as the original. A prime example of that is this, the Jaguar Mk. II, and it's descendant, the Jaguar S-Type.
Though it may look like it's from a bygone era today, the Mk. I, which the Mark II derived from, was a completely clean-sheet re-design over its Jaguar small-sedan predecessor, the Jaguar Mark IV, whose production run was interrupted due to World War II (we're using a lot of Roman numerals today). The Mark I was the first Jaguar with a unitary design of the body and chassis, and in an unusual move by today's standards, the rear track was actually narrower than the front.
Other gorgeous styling details abound, continuing into the interior.
Red leather everywhere, a big wooden dash conceived in a time when "imitation wood" was not a thing, even those dials are simply perfect. Unfortunately the leather does seem to be ripping up a bit in this example, but at worst it simply adds a bit of character, to show that this 1959 Jaguar Mark II hasn't spent the past 54 years marooned in a garage somewhere.
Those knock-0ff wire wheels are perfect as well. They remind me of a conversation I once had with someone, where they argued that NASCAR was better than Formula One because no car only has one lug nut to attach the wheel to the car, thus NASCAR was more realistic and blah blah blah who cares because it's not even true. I do care about these wheels here though, and that old conversation brings up a good point. Why don't they just throw these on F1 cars? These days their beauty is through technology, but why not beauty for beauty's sake on a race car?
After all, the British invented the concept of "whimsy."