Jaguar MkIX

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This Big Cat's a chameleon - a hot-rod limousine. Sit in the back of this near limo-length behemoth and you'll find enough comfort, space and luxury to massage the ego and rump of any 1950's cigar-chomping industrialist.

The chances are, though, that you'll probably want to give the chauffeur the day off and clamber behind that big four-spoked steering wheel. Under the bonnet there's the fabulous XK engine that debuted in the 1948 XK120 and went on to power the E-type. Floor that throttle and there's a most un-limo-like throatiness from the twin-exhausts as this 16-footer lifts her nose, heaves you to 60mph in 12.5 seconds and on past the ton. In its day the MkVII, VIII and IX Jags earned universal praise for their exceptional handling and competed with distinction in circuit racing and rallying. Why, if these big Jags weren't so beautiful and imposing, you'd almost be tempted to treat them to a flame paint job.

Production: 46,500 
Price in 1955: £1772 including purchase tax 
Engine: 3442 & 3781cc, straight six, twin-overhead cams.
Power: 160-220bhp.
0-60mph: 11.2-12.7 seconds
Top speed: 101-115mph.
Brakes: Servo-assisted drums all-round; discs all-round on MkIX,

For: Fabulous walnut and leather-lined 100mph point-to-pointer that also went round corners better than its rivals. More road presence than a container full of radio-active waste.

Against: A bad one is a wallet-wilter comprising 16ft 4in of rust, mildewed leather, rising damp and woodworm.

Pick of the bunch: The later the faster; MkIX, from 1959 to 1961, had bigger 3.8-litre engine, disc brakes and power-steering you'll be grateful for.

Quotes and Connections: The Queen Mother kept a beloved Jaguar MkVIIM as her personal transport from 1955 until 1973. Stirling Moss raced them and raved about them. He recalls: "It was a fabulous car, well balanced and light to drive - powerful enough to pull 110-115mph on the straight and so softly suspended that, through corners, it leant over to an incredible degree. In fast, tight corners I had to stretch my leg across to brace myself against the opposite door." 

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