The Jaguar XJ6 set the motoring world afire when introduced in late 1968, and was considered the most beautiful sedan at the time. It arguably deserved it. The styling would go through three different series on the original body, and two subsequent redesigns going all the way to 2008. The XJ6 was a survivor. It outlasted British Leyland, the Ford buyout and lives on today with a totally different design language that was finally introduced in 2009 after 40 years of refining and adapting the original 1968 shape.
The XJ6 was introduced in September of 1968 and used 2.8L and 4.2L versions of Jaguar’s long-lived and famous XK inline six cylinder, dual overhead camshaft engine with dual Zenith-Stromberg carburetion. The suspension consisted of coil springs up front with anti-dive geometry and anti-roll bar, and fully independent suspension in the back, again with coil springs and damper units. Power four-wheel disc brakes with separate front and rear circuits were also included. An interesting feature that carried over from previous Jaguars were twin 12-gallon fuel tanks (with twin SU fuel pumps).
British markets received upmarket versions badged as Daimler Sovereigns. Performance was very good for a big sedan, with automatic-equipped 4.2s having a 0-60 time of 10.1 seconds. XJ6s with the manual were even better at 8.8 seconds. This was a driver’s sedan, not something to be chauffeured about in.
The original XJ6 was built from 1968 to late 1973. Other than the famous Mark I and Mark II sedans of the 1950s and early 1960s, it was quite a departure from the reserved styling and so-very-proper British image that the Mark VIII, IX and X sedans had projected. This was more like a four-door E-Type. It effectively replaced most of Jaguar’s sedan range, including the Mark II and 420; only the aforementioned Mark X and 420G lasted into the 1969 model year. A long-wheelbase XJ6L came out in 1972, adding an extra 4″ to the regular XJ6’s 108.8-inch wheelbase.
The Series II XJ6 came out in late 1973. All XJ6s received a new, taller front bumper (to comply with US bumper height regulations) and a shorter grille. Inside, there was a new instrument panel. Auxiliary gauges moved from the center of the panel and now framed the speedometer and tachometer for better visibility. By this time, the 4.2 was producing 170 hp @ 4500 rpm. While manual transmissions were still available from the factory, all US-bound XJ6s had the three-speed Borg-Warner automatic.
1974 North American XJ6s sported Dunlop E70VR15 SP Sport whitewall tires. Whitewalls on a Jaguar may sound odd, but in the ’70s it was not uncommon for Mercedes-Benzes and Volvos to be sporting them, in the US at least. Overall length was slightly longer at 194.8 inches, due to the new rubber bumperettes added to satisfy new Federal bumper standards. The 108.8″ wheelbase remained the same.
A beautiful two-door hardtop version of the XJ6 was introduced in 1973, but actual production was delayed for a couple of years due to weatherstripping issues on the pillarless body. Sadly, it only lasted through 1973, as management felt the 2+2 XJ-S covered that segment of the market more successfully. Fuel injection replaced carburetors in mid-1978, with a Lucas-Bosch L-Jetronic unit. Series IIs continued until early 1979, when a much more substantial refresh of the 1968 body replaced it.
The Series III may have looked very similar at first glance, but closer inspection revealed a number of changes. The restyling was handled by Pininfarina and included a smaller vertical-bar grille, taller roofline with increased glass area, flush door handles and larger black bumpers with built-in turn signals. Roof pillars had a bit more rake, and the roof panel itself was flatter than before. This particular Series III appears to have late Series II bumpers and chrome wheels, as the Series IIIs had revised Rostyle or GKN alloys and black wraparound composite bumpers with chrome trim on top. Or maybe it’s a real early Series III?
Series III XJ6s continued with only minor changes until 1987, when the long-in-coming XJ40 finally replaced it in 1988. A Series III XJ12, never imported to the United States, lasted even longer, with production lasting into 1992. The XJ40 version of the XJ6 (a story for another time) lost a lot of the classic Jaguar styling cues, and a 1995 revamp brought back much of the Series III’s character, including the tunneled hoodline with circular quad headlights.
About a month ago, I found myself in Iowa City, and happened to spot this bright red XJ6 along Highway 1. I was sure it was a Series II due to the bumpers and wheels, but subsequent research proved me wrong. It looked to be in nice shape, though it was sporting a really cheap set of seat covers. You could get Signal Red on Jaguar XJ6s, but I’m not sure if it is the original color on this one. I’d much prefer midnight blue or BRG with tan interior though. I wonder if it still has its 4.2L six, or could there be a 350 Chevy in there?
It was for sale, but due to the windy day, I was unable to see the price on the sign, if indeed there was a price listed. The fact that it was parked in front of an Auto Zone makes me wonder if it’s ready to go, or is an ongoing project. These BL-era Jags weren’t the most robust cars on the road, but they sure are sharp!
The SIII XJ6/12 is one of my favourite cars of all time. All through the 80s, whenever Wheels magazine (Australia) tested one, editor Peter Robinson would always say it was the best-looking sedan ever, and teenage me 100% agreed with him. The beautiful ‘pepper-pot’ alloy wheels were like the icing on the cake. Even now, so many years later, the SIII still looks absolutely fantastic. The SII and SII were assembled here in NZ, but all the SIIIs were imported built-up. We got all the SIII variations – the 2.8, 3.4 and 4.2 sixes, and the 5.3L V12; as well as the manual gearbox option too. Still plenty of them on the road too in various states of (dis)repair.
My (now-late) Great-Uncle bought both an SI and later an SII XJ6 new, but by the time I was almost old enough to appreciate the SII he traded it for a new VC Holden Commodore SL/E V8. It was nice, but…not a Jag, sigh. Thankfully the Jag bug bit him again shortly afterwards though, and the SL/E was replaced by another Jag – an XJS this time. My Great-Uncle was passionate about cars, and especially Jaguars, and when he tragically died years ago (cancer), I inherited his extensive collection of car magazines and Jaguar brochures. I owe my love of cars to Uncle Bill, to my grandparents, and to my mechanic Dad. Dad, being a British Leyland (or whatever they called themselves that week) dealer mechanic, occasionally had in an XJ to service in the early 80s, my favourite being a bright red XJC coupe someone local owned.
My dream SIII would have to be the glorious dark red and with pepperpots – like the one below that’s listed on trademe:
I always find it to be a bit of a shame to see these sporting Small Chevy power. I’ve heard all the arguments before, reliability, performance, mileage, bla, bla, bla.. You won’t get me to change my mind. If you want Chevy power buy a Chevy.
Every time I forget about these cars I wind up seeing one here or on another site and I’m reminded of how much I’d love to have one.
But a Chev wont go around corners like a Jag will.
You mean while the Jag’s being towed?
That styling still makes me melt right up until the 2009 restyle and British Racing Green and tan leather makes me weak in the knees.
@Sean, what if somebody figured out how to put a GM Atlas 6 in there? It would still be inline 6 powered but make 275 fuel injected hp. At least it would be different than the typical “SBC FTW” attitude. 😛
The Atlas 6 is an intriguing idea. After all, they are very common and reasonably efficient, and would fit the Jaguar’s “personality” well.
I like the XJ6, its pretty, but the coupe…..the XJC….that is really the looker. Its one of those cars that makes me want to go against logic and just say screw it, buy one and figure the rest out later.
Luckily they are rare enough that its not too much of a temptation, they don’t come up for sale often
The SBC conversions, despite the fact that they fly in the face of my own usual tendency toward automotive purism, almost make sense when you consider that what many people want out of an XJ is to roll around in that old-school interior, inside that handsome shape. They don’t care what’s under the hood–if it takes too much time, trouble and money to keep running, that’s less time spent driving the XJ around.
I’d argue this is one of the few cases where the SBC conversion makes perfect sense. I’d definitely prefer one to the original, though a Ford 5.0 would be even more cool.
The SBC is in fact better in every way; more power, torque and less weight. When you are at it, you can also swap in the GM a/c compressor and evap, which most people do, giving reliable and cold a/c.
There is good reason so may SBC swaps have been done. The open deck six is impossible to rebuild after it has been overheated and a new long block would require a second mortgage.
$2k just for the head to be recond makes a SBC swap sensible there are quite a few Jag specialists around but it aint cheap to repair one
Also Jag used the THM400 trans behind at least the V12 is a factor in favour of the Chev
My favorite engine swapped Jag is local XJ6C with a 350. A three-fifty *Oldsmobile*, that is. Something different, and so neatly done you’d think it was factory.
The Jaguar XJ are, in my opinion, the most beautiful sedans I have ever laid eyes on, inside and out. I have driven many of them and when they run right, they are superb cars. The interior of the SIII is stunningly pretty and the car goes down the road wonderfully well. The suspension in particular was very well sorted out, giving excellent road holding and ride at the same time. I fully understand the allure.
The problem is, of course, that the cars are reliability nightmares. The sixes were bad enough but the V-12 was absolutely horrid. The six wasn’t really a big problem on the Wet Coast of Canuckistan since it is never that hot here. It also makes great torque due to the long stroke design. It is the rest of the car that is one nightmare after another. This goes back to my old axiom about luxury cars: if you cannot afford a new one, don’t buy a used one. If you could afford an XJ6 when it was new, the $5000 a year in fiddling and fixing you’d have to spend to keep one running perfectly was not a big deal. However, if you were on a Chevy budget and bought a ten year old XJ because it was cheap (and they were since they required so much work), you simply cannot afford the keep it running. Once you let ANYTHING slip on a Jag, you are on a terminal downward trajectory to the poor house. The upshot is working stiffs making $50,000 a year cannot dream to afford to run an XJ. This is where the totally negative image of Jaguars comes from in my opinion.
Have a look around;there are loads of W126 Daimler cars on the road and hardly any XJs of the vintage. Keeping an XJ on the road is going to take a big investment in time and money.
On another topic, I really dislike the latest Jaguar sedans. All their distinctiveness has been removed. Sad, really.
That a $50000/y working class `stiff’ can’t dream of affording even a used Jag is a *positive* image of Jaguar, if you happen to be one of the rich folks who actually can afford ’em. This exclusivity has been one of the dreams of Cadillac. To our collective delight.
Beautiful car. And for those critical of engine swaps, let me ask you: would you rather see someone enjoying driving a Jag with a swapped engine, or would you rather see it sitting abandoned in someone’s yard because it took too long to fix – or worse, scrapped?
Beauty is subjective, but it’s obvious that pretty much nobody would argue that that these are not amongst the most beautiful cars ever created. What’s also interesting is that all three series looked good, with perhaps the US bumpers on the Series II. Most cars, especially ones that seem perfect from introduction, usually don’t look better after revisions, facelifts, and updates. But while the Series I and II have their charm, IMO, the Series III actually looked best…along with that achingly beautiful coupe.
I just saw a Series II XJ12L in a repair shop in NYC yesterday, walking down West 40th (I think) towards the auto show. I stopped and pointed it out to my kids, who might have pretended to care for my sake.
My roommate from high school bought a brand new 1988 XJS which he offered as our transportation from Ft Worth, TX, to northwest Arkansas for our annual alumni reunion. I was really stoked! I had read so much about Jags and what wonderful road cars they were, that they really came alive at 90+ mph. I packed my new Escort radar detector in anticipation of some lively motoring. A V-12? How cool was that?
So I flew to DFW hardly being able to contain my excitement. My roomie picked me up at the airport and we were off on our adventure.
We kept to secondary roads to add to the fun quotient. Even the secondary roads in Texas are great. It was bright and sunny and I was driving a Jag! But what I was really driving was an overweight pig, 4350 lbs (1975 kgs) and it felt like it. At 90 mph it felt floaty. Passing power was barely adequate. Then I did some math in my mind. This rocking V-12 was only 326 cu in. A Pontiac Tempest-sized motor. No stump puller. It hardly had the oomph that my ’88 Mustang 5.0 had (and which I still have). It was just kind of blah. The lyrics of Peggy Lee’s song, “Is that all there is?” kept playing in my head.
By the time we reached Ft Smith the passenger-side window was unresponsive to any diddling of the window lift button, and the interior rear-view mirror had fallen off the windshield. I had long ago ceased expecting the car to be an epiphany.
The car did have the desired effect at the reunion (at least from my roommate’s perspective). Our classmates thought that it was a really cool ride. But I was onto the lie.
A used Jag today is a $10,000 check waiting to be written. And that’s just a start. Jags are like beautiful women that turn out to be total psycho bitches and bad in bed.
A friend of ours had one of these in Signal Red, back in the 70s. From the appearance, and the way he drove it (he was a former Spitfire pilot), it was always known as “The Fire Engine”.
Tom, a little correction – the ‘formal’ Jags were the Mk VII, VIII & IX, whereas the Mk X was the torpedo-style whale that has a lot of XJ6 styling cues.
My mother’s neighbour still has her deceased husbands series 1 & 3 XJ6’s, not sure how often the series 1 in particular runs or if it is still registered. And I don’t like the cars that much to own one, as if I had the spare space/money/time anyway…
The XJ4 series was sort of a consolidation effort: Jaguar had had a bunch of saloons, including the smaller Mark 1/Mark 2, the big Mark X, and the medium-size S-type, all of which the XJ eventually replaced. It sort of split the difference in size (it was smaller than the Mark X) and it was probably the best-looking of the bunch. The Mark X looks good from some angles, but it’s kind of bulbous from others, the S-type had sort of an awkward tail, and while the Mark 2 was pretty, it was clearly an older iteration (and it didn’t get the other cars’ IRS). The XJ was the Goldilocks version.
Until the Series III appeared, I never paid any attention to Jaguars. After that, well, I lusted after one but have never been willing to become stuck with one. I have known several people who were. They are beautiful, but actually are a beautiful money pit.
Sure, I will continue to lust but I will continue to think with my brain and keep all that money in the bank.
I have a 1971 Jaguar Daimler 6cyl 4.2l Automatic with twin SU fuel pumps which have failed. Can any one help with information on how I can purchase the fuel pumps please?
I am thankful for any information.
To: Dr. Kassahun Abberu
As an owner of 2 old jags – XJ6 SI and SII long wheelbase and the helper out of other owners I can tell you this is a common problem as the original pumps only last 30 to 40 years. The cure is to buy two made in America “FACET” brand transistorized electronic fuel pumps (www.facet-purolator.com/) and install them in place of the SU fuel pumps (as they are much lighter they can be installed using only one mounting bolt plus being transistorized you do not have to adjust the points like in the SU’s). The FACET’s are relatively robust mechanically and very cheap (R500.00 or about $50) and last about 10 years before replacement (I use them on other cars where spare fuel pumps are either very expensive or unobtainable whether electrically operated or mechanical). Their only problem is if you apply a battery charger in reverse polarity or their power connectors in reverse polarity they then self destruct in under .001 of a second. In South Africa “MIDAS” the motor factors supply these. If you don’t fancy fitting them yourself -a relatively simple job- the work may be entrusted to any fairly competent mechanic. In most parts of Africa I have visited using these fuel pumps is a fairly common “spanner boy” trick to get old carburettor vehicles back on the road again.
P.S. Either you or your mechanic have already checked the points and replaced the “AC” fuel filter haven’t you? Yes the AC Cobra people made fuel filters and rebuildable fuel pumps as well as chassis for mr Shelby.