I know something about the Mark VIII because this was the first Jaguar my
dad bought - in 1958. From memory, the differences between this and the Mark
1) One-piece windscreen
2) Cut-away rear spats.
3) Bodyside chrome strips.
It had the rear picnic tables, of course, which are considered rather neat
These made it much more modern (we thought!) than the VII.
The Mark IX which followed it, had the 3.8 blue top engine (2 x 1.75 in
SUs), and chrome tail-light surrounds like the XK140.
Ours was manual/overdrive, with optional rear compartment sheepskin rugs. It
was a _beautiful_ car which went like stink. My dad used to like reading out
loud from the owner's handbook: "When driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph
for _extended periods_, it is recommended that the foot is lifted from the
throttle from time to time to assist upper-cylinder lubrication"! He used to
boast of covering 98 miles in an hour driving up the N10 through the Landes
(an ordinary highway).
Anyway, enough of these reminiscences - a good car, with a separate chassis,
so possibly repairable. Lots of inside trim to redo, though. Go for it!