You don’t have to send a lot of money to the Poms to identify fairly closely when your MK1 / 2 was built. There is no doubt that the certificate they send you will give original details on the car which is nice to know but do you really need to know unless it is going to influence the concourse judges or increase the value of the car.
Upon being asked any question relating to age/build of one of these models I immediately reach for the Nigel Thorley “Original Jaguar MK1/MK11” book. This is an excellent publication and one of its endearing features is that it traces each model of car by dates of production changes to the assembly line.
Thus by knowing the chassis number and engine number it is possible to narrow down the production date to within a couple of months. E.g. the Mk 1 was in production from 1955 to 1959 and there were no less than 25 production changes, which average out to one every two months. These production changes are typically dated with a month and start off with “from chassis number so and so” or “from engine number so and so”. Simple arithmetic between the change dates and chassis/engine numbers will give an indication of the quantity being produced and from this you can make a reasonable estimate of when your car was built and more particularly what the production status of your car was all about.
Although this book is expensive at typically $59.95 it is the reference bible for anyone wanting to get their MK1/MK2 restoration correct and the colour photos of interior trim and changes in production are really good. The text is well written and is totally to the point. I.e. no padding-just information. I have read it several times and still emerge with some new snippet or fact that I have previously missed.
Another worthy publication is the “Practical Classics Mk 2 Jaguar restoration”. I wish I had read this years ago. It traces a project car that was professionally restored but at the same time as much as possible was retained from the original trim etc. For example it gives guidance on replacing the door trims by salvaging the original vinyl and attaching it to new backing boards. I have also used the same technique in MK 1s. There are literally dozens of photos of each step along the way and many hints and tricks are explained including how to find the hidden screws that retain trim and also woodwork restoration etc.
For the restorer of a MK2 [and a lot of the book also applies to a MK 1 particularly in the body and mechanicals] it is extremely useful and whilst not cheap at again $59.95 I believe the cost would be more than off set by savings made in the restoration process from the books recommendations on salvaging trim etc.
These books are available from any good motoring bookshop. The prices I have quoted are from a bookshop advertising on page 51 of Edition 101 the Australian Jaguar Magazine. There are also a number of other Jaguar models covered by the "Original " series of books as well as the "Practical Classics" publications. If they are anywhere near the standard of the MK2 publications they should be good investments. You could also enquire with our club librarian as to their availability on loan from the club library.