(first posted 6/20/2016) 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
CC Capsule: 1975 Jaguar XJ6 C – Flower Power
Two Door Sedan Jag Outtake: The Exceedingly Rare Jaguar XJ6-2D
Curbside Classic: 1973 Jaguar XJ 12 – Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun…
Car Show Classic: 1974 Jaguar XJ12 L – The White Whale!
All XJ 6’s and their derivatives (various Daimlers) are beautiful and the XJC probably the most gorgeous of the lot, especially the Mark 1 with that full depth grille and totally trad interior. I have only ever seen these with vinyl roofs – but I loved the look of those, especially the silver one, in the post, without the vinyl tops. Did they all leave the factory with vinyl roofs? Actually, I never really understood vinyl roofs at all. My father had a couple of Australian Ford LTD’s and they had padded vinyl roofs! This was promoted as a wildly luxurious feature back in the day and was actually a conversation point.
XJ’s……Make mine a series 1 with delete vinyl roof and the Six cyl engine. No V12 for me thank you very much, especially after my oft-mentioned here tribulations with a new XJS V12 coupe, which was questionably the most unreliable car and worst ownership experience in the history of the world! I often chuckle to myself when reading about bad quality on some US cars in the ’60’s and ’70’s – the problems associated with all of them could not compete with my XJS experience!
Yes all the coupes had a vinyl roof. I agree with John C below that I don’t remember anything about the sedans having them, which makes it hard to believe arguments that the vinyl was not there to cover up imperfect metal work, or at least to avoid the need for expensive finishing of joins.
The reason they all came with vinyl roofs was this: without the B Pillar, the roofs flexed so much that it would crack the inflexible paint used back then. Modern paints are much more flexible, and now these coupes can shed their toupees and be enjoyed au natural.
Now *that* is an answer that makes perfect sense. Thanks for clearing that one up!
Yes, makes sense to me too. It doesn’t really make sense Jaguar would begrudge the same sort of leaded joins they did on their other cars.
Yep a friend stripped the vinyl top from his LTD it keeps cracking along the roof seams despite modern paint or it could be the 460 lincoln motor he put in either way it was a mistake, car is far too flexible.
Going off-topic here, that’s an interesting comment you made about the padded vinyl roof on the LTD. Our local big 3 often seemed to pick up on cues from the US that seemed to make Aussies go “Huh?”. The LTD’s padded vinyl roof was sort of the answer to a question nobody asked. As was Chrysler’s LWB VH hardtop: a second coupe when the SWB Charger was outselling the Valiant sedans – who did they think was going to buy the things? And the Holden Brougham’s name – Holden had to tell Aussies what the name meant (who remembered horse-drawn carriages?) and how to pronounce the word! Despite GM’s best efforts, it got pronounced in some rather strange ways.
That’s just off the top of my head; I’m sure there were others.
I can think of some strange decisions that were driven either by Detroit or American management in Australia: the AU Falcon styling for 1988; the 1972 HQ Holden handling set up for dead loss understeer due to the preferences of the ex-Buick CEO, the lack of a timely introduction of a diesel in the Territory SUV.
That was the dreadful EA for 88 the AU for 98 both used imported styling the AU was hideous the EA only partially baked, GMH moved the steering box to ahead of the axle for the HQ-HZ series and yes they understeered at the limit not really a big deal in Aussie with nice straight roads but a handfull here on the twisty two lane blacktop NZ had/has, Then again I owned half a dozen or so HQ+ Holdens decent radials sorted them out, they came on crossplies from the factory and I’d just got my license in time to drive new ones.
I always thought this was a beautiful car (both the sedan and the coupe). IMO, the coupe looks best in a light color and without a vinyl top – like the silver one in this article. Give me a true ‘greenhouse’ any day. This Jaguar XJ coupe or a BMW CSi would be just fine.
The vinyl top just ruins this car for me. I never remember a sedan of any of the three series having one from the factory.
See my comment above.
But the ‘personal car’ had to have a vinyl roof. 🙂
Love it! The XJ Series Jaguar is my all-time favorite design, bar none. The 2 door version just takes a beautiful design up a notch or two, IMO. I prefer it without the vinyl roof treatment though. The silver example above is absolutely stunning.
I agree that this is an attractive car. I don’t mind the vinyl roof – I would prefer the car without it, but they were so hugely popular in the 70s that I can deal with it as a period-correct thing. However, I do not find the red/black combo all that flattering to this car. In my mind’s eye, an English car requires a more subdued color and leather in some shade of red, tan or gray.
It is a shame that they never did a factory convertible, this car’s lines would take right to that body style.
JP I agree that the vinyl roof fits the era. I don’t mind a Jaguar in Signal Red or whatever they called it, it is a common colour on Mark 2’s and E-Types and reflects their racing/sporting heritage.
Too bad the convertible above was shot on a cold rainy day!
The XJC is a very handsome car and I admired them when (rarely) seen on the streets of Denver in the ’70s. I bought a trans-kit to convert a 1/43 scale Solido XJ6 model to an XJC; the kit body being resin and replacing that of the die cast sedan. I finished my model without replicating the vinyl top – a preference indicated by others here.
I thought the XJC was one of the very most desirable coupes (without knowing anything about Jaguar mechanicals) until the Mercedes W123 280CE started showing up on the streets of Denver.
The red almost ruins it for me. Almost. No Matter. The XJC will always reside in my All-time Top Five.
Being a (damn) Yankee and old to boot , I find the red/black Coupe to be very good looking although I’d prefer shiny black paint instead of the rust inducing padded top .
Nice find ! .
I like it even in Mighty Mongrel Mob gang colours red/black, I like em any colour.
I’ve only ever seen 2 or 3 of these up close/in the metal and think they look gorgeous (really, can you use any other word to describe them?). The 1st on I saw was at a Naval Air Station in Florida in the early 80s, a pale yellow car with black vinyl roof.
I think the next one was silver and black or white and black, and agree with those who say this car looks better in lighter colors.
Incredibly, these XJCs were the basis for Jaguar’s return to factory sponsored racing with that V12 engine somewhat modified….just wish I could remember what type/class of racing they were used in. And if memory serves, they weren’t quite as successful as was hoped.
BTW, the reference book I rely on has different production numbers:
6,487 of the 6 cylinder coupes, and 1,855 for the V12 for a total of 8,342….and ALL had factory applied vinyl roofs.
Total coupe production, including the Daimler version, was 10,426.
I’m not sure why I rounded off the number really. I wonder if Howard’s numbers were for US sales?
I’ve only seen one of these outside a car show, in the mid 1980s. I don’t know if that lovely warm gray color that I associate with the sedans was offered on the coupe, but in my memory, that’s what it wore. These Jags also had the coolest artillery wheels, though I prefer them painted rather than chromed
Give me one of these for the really hot or cold days, and a 300-SL convertible for the cool, sunny days, and I’ll be a happy old sod.
I’ve never been lucky enough to see one of the coupes ‘in the metal’ but I love them regardless–the deletion of the b-pillar and the fewer shutlines/ less hardware just make the lines of the car that much cleaner. Truly one of my favorite designs and it’s a shame they couldn’t carry the coupe forward into the Series III cars.
The silver with vinyl delete looks especially fantastic, but the ones with vinyl don’t offend me either. As others have mentioned, though, I’m really not a fan of the red paint on this one. Give me something more appropriate to a Jaguar and it’ll be perfect!
I got the chance to see one close up last week at the Alameda Point Concours. Just beautiful. I have seen a few out in the wild over the years. Even the early saloons are an uncommon sight.The roofline gives the car such an airy feeling. The sedans are likewise beautiful but my favorite type of car is the personal luxury coupe. It seems that only BMW and Mercedes can build them now. I prefer the two door hardtop version of a sedan because they usually have more room in the backseat in trunk.
The number plate was issued in 1978. You don’t see many of these green/white Victorian plates any more due to fading and peeling. To see the XJC in that condition with original plates could indicate the car is original too.
I prefer the vinyl top, makes it look classier.
The best-looking of an attractive line, to my tastes. I think most of the delay in introduction was British Leyland’s financial crisis — nearly everything was late during this period.
These are nice cars.
No fan of vinyl roofs here, but at least these are done the “right” way with the A pillars being free of vinyl.
Unlike so many other cars which had the vinyl continuing down the A pillars which just looked wrong, given that they were supposed to give the appearance of a convertible with the roof up.
Agree with all above. I was a kid growing up in the 1970s in England and was mesmerized by the early SI and SII XJ6/12 sedans. Like many classic car fans I see the E-type as possibly the coolest and most beautifully styled car ever – but I’ve always felt that the XJ sedans were very close. …and you saw the XJs around you on the road more often than the E-types.
Our next-door neighbor had a XJ12C in the same red as this and I had the same car and color combination in a model car (I think it was a “corgi” toy?). For some reason when I read the name off the bottom of the toy I always thought it was X-J-1-2-C ! hey, I was only little !
I also think that the SII “coupe” version is possibly the most handsome of all the XJ sedans and would agree that this is one instance were the black vinyl roof doesn’t actually detract from the style. and I’m someone who generally loathes the vinyl roof fashion fad.
These cars were pretty fast for their day. The pre-“HE” era V-12s were horribly thirsty but I guess if you were buying one of these new at the time you probably weren’t too concerned about fuel economy.
These seem to be quite affordable classic cars these days. I guess the challenge is finding one that has been looked after as they are expensive to work on, and one that isn’t too rusty – as I understand that complex monocoque body is not easy or cheap to repair.
Yup, definitely one of those cars that would be on my “list” when I win that lottery…. maybe just send it to a good pro restoration shop with an open check-book, get it refurbished like new, maybe upgrade to a newer HE V-12 with modern EFi, maybe one of the late 6.0 versions…… hmmmmmmm, dream on.
My favorite Jaguar, probably ever.
IMHO it is also one of the few cars on which a vinyl roof works well, maybe better than a regular roof. Get a V12 in a dark red or dark green with a black roof, and you’re set,
The racing was in European touring car championship.
The XJC’s are one of the most elegant cars ever produced by Jaguar in my opinion. Thats why I have 2, a XJ5.3C and I also own the car in the 4th picture above. The only Series 1 XJC ever built. my other coupe can be seen parked to the right of it in that photo. That was taken down the Fremantle Docks for our Jaguar National Rally over 10 years ago. The cars had vinyl roofs to appeal to the American market. Only one car ever left the factory without one, and it was for the head of Jaguar PR at the time, Andrew Whyte.
Always wanted one. Still do.
CC effect, well sort of. I was scrolling through Trade Me this morning and saw a beautiful convertible XJC. Allegedly a Lynx (of Eventer fame) conversion, and allegedly the second example the built, which was (again!) allegedly used by Stephen Spielberg. Lynx apparently updated it to SIII spec in 1986. Lots of ‘allegedly’ in there, but still rather beautiful without its roof and I for one prefer the SIII front and rear ends.
Wow! Stunning car. I love how the wheels emulate the spots of a real life jaguar. So clever.
The red/black top one in the lead pic is a beauty.The silver one, half way down the reading is so regal.