Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Jaguar Mark 2

When it came time to sell my old Vauxhall Cavalier, two options presented themselves - do I play safe with a modern vehicle (or certainly newer than my X registration Cavalier with 150,000 miles in the clock), or get something a bit older, but more interesting.  A Triumph Spitfire was considered, and then discounted, a Ford RS2000 looked at, and again discounted due to asking price and potential insurance.  I came close to buying an MGB GT - the price was right, insurance do-able, but on closer inspection the bodywork appeared to be mostly filler and rust.  Plus, it wouldn't go into reverse gear as I discovered when I returned from the road test.

One vehicle under serious consideration - even though the price was a real push - was a Jaguar Mark 2.  This was pre-Inspector Morse, where the Mark 2 Jag was usually the villains getaway car in The Sweeney or The Professionals.  Yes, in 1990 and Mark 2 Jag could be bought for around 5 to 6 grand.
It was only a year later, when investments and yuppie money took off, that a Mark 2 was auctioning and changing hands for £20 to 30k (and more), rapidly rising to near 6 figures for mint (and some not so mint) examples.
In the end, I went for a Ford Orion 1.6i - effectively an XR3 with a boot.
It was a good car - it just wasn't a Jag.

The Jaguar company dates back to the Swallow Sidecar company, and when that was liquidated William Lyons formed SS Cars - it's prime purpose being the manufacture and sales of Sports Saloons (the Jaguar name first appearing on one of the SS models).
However, World War II diverted car manufacturing to military manufacturing, and by 1945 the name SS was probably not the most saleable.
William Lyons changed the company name to Jaguar, and set about producing a tranche of some of the finest looking sports cars on the market - XK120, XK140, XK150, and in 1961, the E-Type, all housing the robust XK engine (which would remain - with upgrades and modifications - the powerplant for Jaguar until the early 90s).
"Grace, Space, Pace" was the Jaguar mantra, and whilst the Sports cars did indeed posses "Pace" (and some "Grace", it was the step-up into mid-range luxury cars that fully met the mantra by adding the "Space".
The Mark II (like the Mark I before it) was not a small vehicle but by the some token wasn't that much larger than it's competitors.  What the Mark II did do was make the best of it's dimensions by ensuring the cabin was the most comfortable it could be (I have heard the kitting of the interior being called a poor mans Rolls Royce).
The Mark II is (probably) only second to the E-Type as the most recognisable car in the Jaguar history.
And in 1990/91, was still an affordable (just) choice for the mainstream buyer - yet in 3 years at least another zero - and at it's peak, 2 zeros - were added to the price tag)

Madness may well be the quintessential singles band of the 80s ... but they didn't actually survive the 80s.
Mike Barson left the band in 1984 after 'Keep Moving', which (whether directly related or not) led to a change in style for 'Mad Not Mad'.  The album included the resigned and/or prescient "Yesterdays Men".  The album scraped into the top 20 (as did the accompanying singles) and has generally been cited as "not a great experience".  And that experience hung over into the early sessions for the next album, which were curtailed when the band called it a day.  Mike Barson did re-join for the signing-off single "(Waiting for the) Ghost Train", before going their separate ways.
Suggs, Chas Smash, Lee Thompson and Chris Foreman did re-group in 1988 under the The Madness banner, but after one poorly received album, that name was too retired.

In 1991, "It Must Be Love" was re-released as a single, swiftly followed by the compilation 'Divine Madness' which compiled all the A-Sides.  Virgin Records investment was indeed returned as the record-buying public lapped it up (the fact it was on CD, and many older fans probably had 'Complete Madness' and 'Utter Madness' on vinyl, surely helped sales).
Never a band to disappoint their fans, discussions and agreements reached to reform for 2 shows at Finsbury Park in 1992.  Such was the reception, that the opening salvo of Madstock registered on the Richter Scale.
Whilst not exactly a recording concern, Madness continued to tour and organised bi-annual Madstock Festivals.  And then in late 98, decided to go back into the studio and see if they could still be a recording unit.  1999s "Wonderful" was not without flaws, but proved the 80s band could progress and develop into the next century.

The early part of the 2000s was spent overseeing the Our House Musical, before re-convening under the name Dangermen for a club tour (with each member adopting a pseudonym) playing predominantly cover versions from their early days.  The resulting album 'The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1' was well received, and work begun on their next album in 2007.
Preceded by the single "NW5" and a Glastonbury appearance, 'The Liberty Of Norton Folgate' ranks as not just a return to form, but very probably the best album they have released.


  1. Lovey to read about this as I still have a very soft spot for the Jaguar Mk II after my childhood experience of riding in my Dad's in the late '60s and early '70s! Ooh it was lovely, even though I was just a kid, with its leather seats, walnut and low slung curves. But it nearly ended its life as a banger racer...
    (a little more here if you're interested
    and of course the Who song!)

    1. A Mark 2 for a fiver - bargain.
      I had an X-Type and was a bit miffed that I never got one of those bonnet ornaments.

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  3. I'm surprised you didn't opt for the S Type. I had three back to back from the mid-90s thru to the early 00s. (Purely because I was in love with the Mk. II and the grille on the S Type paid homage to it.)
    The Madness track is sublime. I posted about it over at my place and still feel it's probably their finest hour.

    1. S Type - I tried, but the the couple I did look at were a bit shabby.
      If a good un was available, I'd have been straight on it.
      Plus the X-Type had an air of Arfur Daley about it