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Jaguar XKE Series 2

Quickest way to spot a Jaguar XKE Series 2 from the front was by its more gaping "mouth" air intake-fully two-thirds larger.

This sad degradation of the sleek, aerodynamically efficient original nose was required because -- hold your heart -- some customers wanted air conditioning. Probably the same people who had demanded the optional power steering that was now available.

1969 Jaguar XKE Series 2 convertible
A larger front air intake, parking lamps below the
bumpers, and side marker lights were all clues
you were looking at a Jaguar XKE Series 2.

Other Jaguar XKE Series 2 clues were larger front and rear parking/turn signal lights mounted below (instead of above) the bumpers. The bumpers themselves were now stouter and thus stronger, per Federal decree.

Washington's mandated marker lights appeared on the sides, while twin backup lamps replaced the previous single unit. A new rear license-plate holder forced separation of the twin exhaust pipes, which moved farther apart and outboard.

Windshields on the 2+2s got taller, so they now could use dual instead of triple wipers, and the glass was angled back an additional seven degrees, a boon to beauty. Cars sentenced to the increasingly restrictive American market also wore new "earless" nuts on their knock-off wire wheels -- unless the customer had ordered the newly optional bolt-on disc wheels.

Alas, English and Continental cars weren't spared these changes, as Lyons had decreed that all Series 2s must conform to U.S. safety and smog specs.

But in many respects, what would be the last of the XK-engine XKEs were the best yet, with better cooling, added comfort, a higher safety factor, and more. Still, their performance was very sad.

A change in quoted horsepower ratings from British standard to European DIN made the new lower figures look worse than they were-down to as low as 171 horsepower at a meager peak rpm of 4,500. Actually, some authorities believe the once-mighty XK engine had been emasculated only 30 or 40 horsepower.

The last cars were evidently so uninteresting to the motoring press that few tests were published. Road & Track and Car and Driver took their last looks in tests of then-new 1969 Series 2 cars.

R&T's was a coupe. It was priced at $6,495 as tested, weighed 3,018 pounds at the curb, and went 0-60 in 8.0 seconds. The quarter-mile clocking was 15.7 at 86 mph. Top speed was given as a mere 119 mph, which meant 5,500 rpm on its 3.54 axle. Fuel mileage was 15.9 mpg.

What did R&T now think of the sporting Jaguar? Much less: "Exciting though the XKE was when it was introduced in 1961, time has made it rather dated, inside and out. The interior, though retaining that wonderful smell of leather and the aura of a cockpit with a million controls and dials, lacks the spaciousness and ergonomics of more recently designed cars. Entry and exit are some-what awkward and restricted ... The XK engine doesn't seem comfortable when it's driven hard."

And so on, all adding up to the impression that the magic that had once excused a multitude of sins had faded. "We hear that a new engine is in the plans for the XKE this fall; probably the basic car will be with us for another year or two. As it stands, it's a pleasant car in normal everyday driving.. . we can't really say we didn't like it. But we do think Jaguar can do better-and will before long."

C/D retested a roadster that cost $5,858, up $333 or nearly 17 percent from the one examined four years earlier. As with the R&T car, horsepower was 246 at 5,500 (the data panel and text disagreed; we cite the data panel, which was confirmed by other sources). Torque was 263 at 3,000.

The car's curb weight was 2,750 pounds (distributed 48.8/51.2), compared to 2,515 for the magazine's 1965 convertible. Running the same 3.54 rear-end gearing, the 1969 XKE Series 2 made it to 60 in 6.7 seconds (versus 6.5 for the 1965 XKE) and through the quarter in 15.3 at 90 mph (15.0 at 98).

Top speed was once again estimated, but agreed with R&T's 119 (versus 130 for the 1965). Gas consumption was 16-19 mpg, compared to 16-22 in 1965.

For more on Jaguar and other great cars, see:

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  • New Jaguars: Reviews, ratings, prices, and specifications on the current Jaguar lineup from the auto editors of Consumer Guide.
  • Used Jaguars: Reviews, recalls, trouble spots, and more on pre-owned Jaguars starting with the 1990 model year. From the auto editors of Consumer Guide