This may not be on the street, but surely a public carpark is fair game? I came across this great-looking XJC recently, and knew it had to make an appearance on Curbside Classic and also do some research into actual information on one of my favourite Jaguars.
Everyone will know that Jaguar launched the XJ6 sedan in 1968 to essentially replace their entire range; the 240/340 (better known as the Mark II) and Daimler counterpart V8 250, Jaguar S-Type, 420 and Daimler Sovereign as well as the big Mark X/420G. The car was universally well-received, primarily because it combined great ride comfort and excellent handling, as well as containing all the traditional-by-then Jaguar virtues of great performance, styling, interior and value for money.
Ironically when writing this post I could not find a CC shot of a XJ6 series 1, because I suppose it falls under the category of cars I’ve mentally classified as ‘common’ and thus don’t actively notice and photograph, even at car shows. About the only one I could find was this series 2 XJ6, clearly more adapted for the urban automotive jungle.
But did you know that when the XJ6 was being designed, Sir William Lyons was aware of the emergence in America of the personal car. But it was only once the car was in production that he was able to turn his attention to producing a Jaguar version, with the first prototype constructed from a standard sedan in 1969; note the low bumper of the Series 1 XJ here. Amazingly this car has survived despite being sent to be scrapped by the factory in 1977. Like so many others, somebody realised the historical significance of the car and saved it. Or without taking the romantic view, perhaps there was money to be made by selling it?
I am not sure why the car took so long to reach production, although it seems that British Leyland did not approve the initial prototype. It would also be reasonable to assume that work the coupe took a secondary priority against getting the XJ12 to market (in 1972) and the Series 2 update of the XJ sedan that followed in late 1973.
The XJC was shown at the 1973 London, Paris and Frankfurt motor shows ahead of the Series 2, but due to trouble with window sealing as the glass would be sucked outwards at speed causing excessive wind noise. This was eventually solved with a cable and pulley system that forced the glass against the rubber seals when it was closed. The car eventually went on sale in 1975, and kept the original, shorter XJ6 wheelbase whereas after 1974 all of the sedans were on the 4″ longer platform.
The Series 2 interior may have less character than the initial XJ6 interior, but it is still very impressive with all of the leather and wood trim.
There were just 10,400 XJC’s produced, and only 241 were sold in Australia. This included 5 Daimler versions, but a disproportionate 100 of the coupes had the V12 engine. Only 2,262 V12 Coupes were built in total. With a good number privately imported and a very high survival rate as the XJC was always treated as a special car it is estimated that there are around 300 in Australia today.
Of course many have been modified with a popular change being to delete the vinyl roof during a repaint of the car. I gather that the ‘conventional wisdom’ of the vinyl being installed to hide ugly metalwork underneath is not necessarily true – who knows?
This car, seen at the Motorclassica show last year, also has the V12 taken out to a whopping 6.4 litres (~400 ci) and fed by a 12-throttle body Motec EFI system. It also has a 5-speed gearbox and uprated brakes and suspension. Additional cooling is provided by louvres in the bonnet, something that Jaguar took great pains to avoid in the production XJ12. The larger V12 engine blocked much of the airflow through the engine bay.
There have even been a few turned into convertibles. You would want to be brave! Dare I say this one of few you will see with wire-spoke wheels and white walls? Also of note in this shot is the upper rear corner of the partially-retracted rear side window; note the angle it takes on the way down.
This car will have been taken too far for the purists! You can see the body-colour cover for the LS1 engine, and the car is wearing Series 3 bumpers. No doubt they are more effective than the slim chrome Series 2 originals (that I prefer), but I doubt that this car sees too many supermarket car parks for that to be a justification. I can’t object to the owner building the car to their own personal taste though.
I mentioned at the start that this is one of my favourite Jaguars, and I think the rarity has a fair amount to do with that. Even though the extra slim chrome pillars of the normal sedan really don’t spoil its looks, the coupe has a cleaner look and I think a different image; in view of Jaguar’s reputation for performance and dynamics this ‘clicks’ for me in a way that for example a Chevrolet Caprice hardtop does not.
How do you rate the XJC?
Roger Carr’s wonderful history of Jaguar: Automotive History: Jaguar and Sir William Lyons – One Man’s Passion For Gracefulness, Beauty And Speed