CC Outtake: Jaguar XJS – Still Iridescent Five Years Later

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You’re still around! I was a bit surprised to see this the other day, parked against an apartment building. I wouldn’t necessarily have expected that, given that the projected future lifespan of an iridescent Jaguar XJS V12 with a For Sale sign is not exactly very long. And that was five years ago. But then, I doubt this Jaguar gets out much, if ever. But it makes a nice contrast to the ordinary cars in the parking lot; an ornament of sorts, even if it’s an immobile one.

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Here’s how it looked back then, obviously still running. I never cottoned much to this car from the first time I saw pictures of it in a magazine. This was supposed to replace the XKE? After that iconic car and the very handsome XJ6, this was a very different sort of cat.

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The tunnel-back styling seemed rather retro-grade, given that this fad had long run its mojo.

Dino Berlinetta Speciale 1 ba

The 1965 Dino Berlinetta Especiale was the first to let its sail panels really sail. GM picked it up for its 1966 intermediate coupes. And the 1970 Dodge Charger was the last to wear it in the US. Some exotics continued with it for a few more years, but its time was essentially over by the time the XJS.

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The OCD German licensing authorities wouldn’t give the XJS type approval because they felt that the buttresses impinged too much on rear visibility. Imagine that happening nowadays! German buyers had to get their cars approved individually. I suspect there weren’t many anyway. The KJS got off to a rocky start given its arrival not long after the first energy crisis. And its looks were almost universally panned. Like so many British projects, it took way too long to gestate; the project to replace the XKE was first started in the late 60s.

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And the V12 was mostly a troublesome affair. When it was running right, it was a gem. But it developed a rep for all sorts of issues. Maybe those custom louvers are an attempt to keep it cool. Warped heads and coolant getting into the open-deck block was one of its vices.

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I wondered if it still had its original drive train or whether it had been Chevy-ized, like quite a few of its ilk. But the stock gear shift strongly suggested originality.

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I noticed that the hood was not latched, so I tipped it up to confirm my suspicion. Sure enough: a V12 is buried somewhere under those hoses and manifolds. And my guess that this is not a running car is starting to look more like a good one. Wouldn’t you like to plunge in and deal with all that dry rubber and cracked wiring insulation? No big deal…you’ll have it purring like a kitten in no time.

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And I’m sure the junk yard will have the replacement window.

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Shall I knock on the door and find out if it’s still for sale? You know you want it.