Incredibly Rare 1956 Jaguar MKVIII Seeks New American Home

Apr 29, 2019 2 min read
Incredibly Rare 1956 Jaguar MKVIII Seeks New American Home

Collectors fall over themselves to bag a Jaguar restoration project of merit. So how about this 1956 MKVIII?

Jaguar might have been wooing America’s privileged nonconformists with their XK-series of sports cars throughout the 1950s, but the real backbone to William Lyon’s Coventry-based marque was the MKVIII saloon.

The foundation design taken forward into the ground-breaking XJ6, E-type (XKE) and XJ-S wasn’t formed through Lyon’s svelte saloons of 1960s origin. Rather, it was the often overlooked MKVIII. Big in all senses of the word, the four-door sports sedan shared its platform with the preceding MKVII – yet added further decadent touches to the cabin, alongside softer exterior aesthetics. It was here that the old-school Jag formula was perfected.

More Jaguar Greats!

The five-meter-long sedan was quick, too. Britain’s national speed limit could be breached from a complete standstill in 13 seconds. Not bad for a 1.8-ton leviathan laced with fine leather and wood. More so, with a 3442cc straight-six powerplant, the MKVIII was a solid 100mph proposition. For the gentleman racer, a certain number of vehicles came with 210bhp courtesy of Jaguar’s ‘C’ type head, too.

In production for no less than two years, some 6000 examples left Jaguar’s factory gates. However, per recent figures, time’s onward march has not been kind to the rust-prone MKVIII. Less than 100 specimens are believed to exist in a roadworthy state.

With so few left, it remains difficult to find a worthwhile project. Of the surviving few, most have either been already restored or rest in a destitute state, well beyond the capabilities of most DIY enthusiasts. That’s why we couldn’t help but notice the MKVIII offered by Vintage Car Collector.

Although far from concours condition, the 1956 four-door sports sedan appears to have escaped the wraths of time. The Jag’s interior looks to be complete and, although strewn with heavy ‘patina’, is still perfectly usable. A deep clean and some leather repair would see the cabin revitalized.

Lifting the hood brings no shocks or surprises. From the supplied pictures, the study XK engine seems to have all components present and correct. It would be unwise to try and run the unit without a full inspection, however. The MKVIII’s history isn’t described in the advert listing, but – judging by the car’s condition – we’d say the Jag has been in storage for some time. The drivetrain will therefore require some TLC, and a complete service, before attempting to fire her up.

More important than any of these factors is the bodywork. An infamous aspect when taking on any project Jag is rust – and more abused examples are usually riddled with corrosion. Not this one, though. The paintwork may be laced with blemishes and certain parts of the chrome slightly pitted, but wheel arches and sills appear healthy enough to keep restoration costs down.

Fancy taking on a slice of seldom seen Jaguar history? Get a closer look at the 1956 Jaguar MKVIII here.

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