Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Jaguar XJ6

Jaguar XJ6 Published: 9th Apr 2020 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XJ6
Jaguar XJ6
Jaguar XJ6
Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

Few cars are born classics meaning they suffer the slings asnd arrows of the motoring press through their life. But Jaguar’s XJ6 was unanimously loved

Show stopping Jaguar launches continue to this day but some are better remembered than others. The E-type stands above the rest and its 60th in March 2021 is sure to be marked but September 1968 is just as memorable; that’s when the XJ6 was introduced. To say that this open secret saloon caused just as much a storm is an understatement. Autocar paginated some 10 pages to the latest in Lyons’ pride and why not as it was the first really new four-door Jaguar since the MkX, launched just after the E-type. “Without doubt the new Jaguar XJ6 announced today [26th September] is the most important new car of 1968 and will be the centre of attraction at the Earls Court Show next month [after its début at the Paris Salon on 3rd October]”. The XJ6 was one of the rare cars that gained plaudits even before it was tested. Autocar, after a brief drive, weeks before announcement, said “A short acquaintance with the car suggests that its handling may well set new standards of steering and roadholding”.

The weekly wasn’t wrong as the XJ6 became the benchmark other luxury saloons were judged for more than a decade and even today, 52 years on, still impresses. “In the history of motoring no car has been so unanimously praised as the Jaguar XJ6. Old and experienced road test drivers have become quite starry-eyed about it and usually critical writers have found virtually nothing to criticise,” said Autosport warning that if you don’t intend to buy one “don’t try one as ordinary cars will be spot for you thereafter”.

Other reports echoed similar views although we can’t quite work out what CAR meant on its front cover headline – “Who says you can’t play a new tune on an old fiddle JAGUAR CAN” – as apart from the XK engines and the MKX rear IRS set up the XJ6 was all new. “Predictably… it’s just the beginning of something big from Bill Lyons’ outfit… the long promised V8 can’t be far away” the monthly cherrfully predicted – try 30 years!

Engines played a major role during the appraisal of the XJ6 as while the saloon was initially offered in 2.8-litre and 4.2-litre forms, we can’t find any reports powered by the former unit and wonder, just like 2.4 Mk2s, whether the car was released by Browns Lane to the press due to its lack of performance because it was happy enough with the 3.4 replacement of 1975?

“The Jaguar XJ6 impresses not just by what it is, but by the value for money it offers in its class – and this is a class which boasts some very worthy competition… it renders superfluous all cars that cost more.” CAR’s verdict was while not perfect “it is probably the best this nation can offer certainly among the best that nation has known for 75 years.”

Motor couldn’t praise the XJ6 higher saying “It comes closer to overall perfection than any other…” Perhaps the staff were Brexiteers four years before we even joined the Common Market because the headline of a later road test was simply “Beat this, Europe” still eulogising about the Jag a year after launch. “The XJ6 is a superb car and will remain so for a long time”, although it did comment on some failings such as the lack of rear seat room which it regarded “not really in the Financial Times reading class” and criticised that lovely classic wooden dash for its ergonomics.

Don’t rest on one’s laurels…

Autocar broadly agreed but said the Jag’s qualities remained unrivalled at price. Its June 1969 test said that the XJ6 was the “smoothest and quietest car it had ever driven in” while the handling was “if anything, better than the E-type”. In its conclusion, the weekly remarked that if the car were double its £2639 price tag it would still be value, but noted the XJ6 demanded stricter quality control. With more expensive fittings the road test said it would wipe up the quality car market (if only Jaguar had heeded the advice as later on the failings came to haunt the Jag under British Leyland stewardship-ed).

“If there is a car capable of matching it, we have yet to find it,” the weekly further gushed in 1971 but while the road testers were continually blown away by the XJ6’s ride and handling what didn’t impress so much was the saloon’s packaging, its interior (in standard-wheelbase form) not feeling as roomy as it should be for such a long car – the lwb option didn’t arrive until the advent of the XJ12 in 1972.

When the XJ6 was conceived to replace every Jaguar saloon, in 1964, the plan was that it was to last in production for seven years. A delayed development, it resulted in the 420 being hastily introduced in ’66 to appease customers, but Browns Lane didn’t delay the Series II for 1974.

A test of the SII (a Daimler) saw a noted improvement in the heating and switchgear departments although Autocar’s testers found – like others – automatic transmission models were too low geared at ton up cruising for engine durability if not silence and thought the ride of the lwb chassis not quite as good as previously, which is strange as the longer wheelbase should enhance this, and the power steering, never a paragon of feel “has virtually none now”.

Nevertheless, “One glides along in great comfort and relaxation…A most desirable car in any company” was the final verdict but rival Motor [1977] considered that while the XJ6 was still a “magnificent machine” wondered for how much longer “with rivals fast catching up”. With shortcomings such as ropey heating and ventilation, muddled switchgear become more apparent “Even by today’s standards, it still is a magnificent car, but Leyland had better not sit on their laurels for too long” was the mag’s slightly back-handed verdict.

Indeed, CAR pitted the XJ6 against the Peugeot 604 and BMW 528. The Volvo 264 and Renault 30 were also considered as rivals along with the Mercedes in concept – but not in price, XJ6s were always remarkable value for money. Of the three that did make the group test, the BMW was dismissed first, as it wasn’t all that comfortable and despite its high price it wasn’t nearly refined enough. It also wasn’t as good to drive as the Jaguar, which handled better yet overall plaudits now fell to the French.

Best of three?

With the XJ40 taking too long to develop an S3 facelift in 1979 injected new life in the ageing cat. “No other car made combines such performance with refinement” hailed Autocar three years after introduction. “In fact, one of the few jewels the British motor industry has left to show the world,” its rival weekly added although CAR commented that “cabin space and the heating and ventilation fell well short of expected 1983 standards” although still conceded that “Most drivers on their first acquaintance must love the air of luxury, even of the ‘base’ Jaguar”.

Finding new ways to sum up the XJ6 obviously was becoming increasingly harder to pen. Motor continuously heaped its praises on the Coventry car – naturally – but let a passenger sum the XJ6 up best in just six words rather than reams of copy; “The bloody thing freewheels up hills!”. What more is there to add?

They said it

Few cars have enjoyed such universal praise as the XJ6 and copywriters were having a tough job to come up with new superlatives in subsequent road tests. The weeklies devoted pages to the car’s introduction in 1968 – you don’t get that kind of detail these days! Motor was being an early Brexiteer in a later update of the 4.2 (no 2.8s were ever tested) “Beat this, Europe” although quite fairly started to wonder if British Leyland was beginning to rest on its laurels against ever improving opposition by mid decade with the Series 2.

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Britians top classic cars bookazine