The Jaguar MKII was introduced in 1959, and arguably transformed criminality in the 60s, as the archetypal getaway car for British gangsters. However, when the 1964 Jaguar S-type rolled onto the scene, the classic car quickly stole the show as the ideal getaway car, made famous on film and television.
From it’s big boot that could fit plenty of plunder inside, and independent rear suspension that allowed for a smooth escape, to it’s multiple on-screen appearances – we’re exploring how the Jaguar S-type became infamous as the perfect getaway car.
The Jaguar S-Type was conceived in 1961 as a saloon car that would combine the narrow track of the MK2, with the independent rear suspension of the MKX saloon. It would offer any buyers a luxurious alternative with less weight and expense than the Jaguar Mark X.
It sported more room than the MK2, along with better ventilation and heating – its body looked similar but the boot was much larger, offering more convenience, space and comfort overall.
The models power came from the famed 3.4 and 3.8 litre, straight-six engines. And by 1965, it was the most popular four-door Jaguar on the market.
Overall the S-type was fast, manoeuvrable, and had plenty of room in the boot – all making the model virtually unsurpassed as a getaway car.
In Popular Culture
It wasn’t just the design and specs that made the S-type saloon a top choice for those dodgy figures planning a bank job – the model’s popularity on film and TV secured its infamous position as a great getaway car.
A notable example being the 1971 film, Villain, starring Richard Burton – that sees a 3 litre Vanden Plas Princess, belonging to a bank messenger, hijacked by three other vehicles, one being a Jaguar S-Type. Burton’s character, crime boss Vic Dakin, even comments that the 3.8-litre S-type is a “very nice car, Terry. Very good steal.”
Prior to this, the S-type had a claim to fame in the 1967’s Robbery – that saw the model in a dramatic police car chase in the film’s opener. But the sight of Richard Burton’s unhinged Dakin, and his gang, using the car for an ambitious wages heist, cemented the Jaguar model’s image for a generation.
Beyond Burton & Co
The British thriller film, Callan, saw a black S-type belonging to a gun-runner, pursued around Kent in a high-speed chase in 1974.
After that the classic car arguably found even more fame with stunt maestro Peter Brayham in the television show, The Sweeney. The stuntman had already used a silver model to leap across the half raised Tower Bridge in a spectacular sequence from the film Brannigan, starring John Wayne.
Brayham was later responsible for choosing and maintaining several S-types for specific high-octane sequences on The Sweeney – with his work even setting higher standards than most Hollywood productions of the time.
These moments of jaw dropping speed, and mesmerising maneuverability on the big and small screen just added to the appeal of the S-Type. It was viewed as a car of glamour, that moved beyond the circles of famous actors and bomber jacket clad stuntmen.
It became infamous as car of danger and desire, associated with romanticised criminality and luxury.