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Jaguar XJ6 S3

Published: 13th Jun 2011 - 2 Comments

Buyer Beware

  • Series I front wings are now very scarce and although Series II wings can fit, they have a different arch profile. Having said that, repair patches are available for all. The most common rot spots are around the lights and, if the wheelarch splash panel has been holed, on the trailing corner above the sill. Also at the front, try squeezing the crossmember under the radiator to make sure that isn’t crumbly, as repairs are pretty involved.
  • Rear arches tend to rot more readily, often spreading into the rear valence outer edges below the fuel tanks. Complete coupe rear wings have virtually disappeared, but any car that has rusted above the bottom 12 inches will be uneconomic to repair in any case!
  • Particular rust spots on the Series III include around the front and rear screens, as well as the front subframe. Repairing any of these properly is expensive, so beware of bodges.
  • A touch of timing chain rattle is not uncommon. It usually comes from the top chain, which is easy to service. Getting to the bottom one isn’t.
  • The XK likes a drop of oil to drink, and a puff of blue smoke from the exhaust on start-up is no cause for concern. Rear crank seals leak for fun and if the unit shows less than 20psi oil pressure at idle or under 40psi at speed then it’s worn.
  • The 2.8 was prone to holing the odd piston, but good after-market ones make this an unlikely occurrence today, particularly as the cars tend to be treated more gently anyway.
  • The thick carpets soak up and hold water from any window leaks, so feel for dampness The multi-skinned section around the transmission tunnel is another common rot spot that is hard to repair, while SWB sills and floors will have to be adapted from their LWB counterparts.
  • On cars that are rarely used, there is a tendency for the rear brakes to seize. Check the (usually poor) handbrake too. You’ll have to drop the back axle to service them properly.
  • A hollow knock over bumps suggests that the top wishbone bushes are worn on the front suspension (look also for uneven tyre wear), or that the anti-roll bar links are shot. If you hear more of a twang, then check to see whether one of the front springs are broken. And if the noise sounds more like a crack, then the clamp might well have worked loose on the front subframe mount.
  • A slight oil leak from the diff is acceptable, but it will fail in short order if oil is pouring down the driveshafts (as well as contaminating the rear brakes). Rear IRS bushes wear quickly, too.

Fast Facts

  • Driving: 5/5

    Still a class act, sporting yet serene and pretty swift as a 4.2

  • Usability: 3/5

    Has enough of a modern feel but fuel costs are against it

  • Maintaining: 3/5

    Not a worry or that dear but many parts are heavy duty

  • Owning: 3/5

    If you can afford to run a Granada, then Jag is easy step up

  • Value: 4/5

    Little has changed in 40 years and they are still great value!

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Jaguar’s evergreen saloon has always been remarkable value for money. Still cheap, is it still one of the best Jags ever asks Simon Goldsworthy?

Jaguar took a huge gamble when it unveiled the XJ6 at the Paris Motor Show in 1968. This was the car that had to replace the Mk2/240/340 family and the S-Type as well as the larger MarkX/420 cars – Jaguar was putting all its saloon eggs firmly into the one basket. Fortunately it proved to be a shrewd move. The new car was both luxurious and sporting, moving the target that other luxury carmakers had to aim at far beyond the horizon. All that, and it sold at a price that could only make Jag’s competitors shake their heads in disbelief. Journalists loved it too, promptly voting the new XJ6 ‘European Car of the Year’. But unlike many highlyacclaimed newcomers, this Jaguar also had staying power. In production until 1991 in V12 form (until 1992 if you opted for a Daimler badge), it still looked timelessly elegant after more than two decades. So much so that the company went back to it for inspiration in the 1990s when they retreated from the more angular stance of the XJ40 that had succeeded it. The question we have to ask though is, do the XJ6 (and XJ12) represent such a great bargain on the classic marketplace?

Which model to buy?

Originality will always attract a premium, and 4.2 saloons are highly prized in good condition, regularly topping £5000. Decent runners can be found for less than half that amount, and sad examples are hard to shift even at sub-£1000 prices. There are not many of the sweet running but piston popping 2.8s around these days, but if you can find a good one then you can shave a third off the price. To many eyes, the re-styled Series II cars were better looking than the Series I with its guppy-like radiator grille. Series II and III saloons with either XK engine peak around £3000-4000, although the best condition cars are starting to creep towards Series I money. The rare two-door Coupes attract a premium of up to 50 per cent, but you need to really want one to consider that good value for a car this size that is missing a couple of doors plus values of the Coupes appear to fluctuate, so choose the time to buy wisely. Their justifiable reputation for being thirsty keeps values of the XJ down and, if you shop around, condition one cars can be picked up for under £4000. That is a hell of a lot of car for your money. Strangely, Daimler-badged XJs tend to be a couple of hundred pounds cheaper than equivalent cars with a cat on the bonnet, but coupes and Double Six saloons are dearer by the same amount. Performance differences between the models are not huge in the real world of motoring (potent V12 excepted), so it pays to go for the best condition car you can find regardless of what is under the bonnet. The professional advice is that it is better to buy at the top end to get a car with a good body, as mechanical items are easy to get and not as horrendously expensive as many people think.

Behind the wheel?

A Jaguar XJ6 cabin is a lovely place to be

An XJ6 cabin is a lovely place to be. Appointments are lavish, Series I cars also coming with extensive use of chrome and aluminium that help give their cabins a slightly more luxurious feel. The switchgear looks cheaper on the later cars, but works just as well. The seats are very comfortable. Vinyl seats were an option on the SI, with cloth available on Series II cars. You are more likely to encounter these on the smallerengined base models, but for the authentic Jaguar experience you’ll want to have a leather interior. All V12s were fitted with an autobox, while the XJ6 had the option of auto or manual. Many people seek out the less common manual gearbox, but in reality the XJ6 is better suited to the auto option. All versions feel powerful rather than rapid, and the ride should be tremendously smooth. Jaguar did such a good job of insulating the XJ6 cabin that the rev counter can be a useful reminder that the engine is actually running. There will be some wind noise at speed however, more so on the earlier cars with their separate quarterlights than on the revised Series III. Power steering will feel lighter than we are used to on all of them, but overall the handling is remarkably surefooted. For a big old cruiser, a good, well set up XJ6 can be surprisingly good fun to hustle through the bends. But age and weight can take its toll on the suspension, often so slowly that long-term owners are unaware of just how much driving pleasure they are missing out on. Brakes are more than adequate if looked after.

Ease of Ownership?

If you can afford to r un a Granada, an XJ is no more a burden

The supply of spares is good for these cars, so that is one potential problem out of the way. Parts can get a bit expensive, but the costs can really mount if you have to pay a specialist to take care of the car for you even if labour rates are reasonable. This is not because the cars are especially complicated to work on, more because many jobs are time-consuming to carry out. On the other hand, this means that if you are handy with a spanner and don’t need the car for work on Monday morning, a competent DIY spannerman can take care of an XJ. There are few specialist tools needed, and any that help can be hired from one of the enthusiastic owners clubs. If you are getting heavily involved though, do remember that big cars have big components and budget tools may not be up to the task of, for example, removing the engine and gearbox without a struggle (as it’s a massive DIY task).

The Daily Option?

If you are serious about using one of these cars everyday, then going for a Series III probably makes the most sense. You may prefer the looks of the original but the later design is quieter, faster and its Borg Warner 65 autobox is smoother than the earlier cars’ Type 8 (Series I) and Type 12 units (from 1972). Least liked is the SII because it came at a time when quality started to slip. Having said that the design improvements make it a better driver than the Series I. But using any of them on a daily basis is certainly possible if the car is in good order and you keep on top of the servicing – and you can afford the fuel of course. Do remember though that if you try to eke out the miles in a worn car, then the eventual repair costs will rise more quickly than the odometer. With that warning aside, the good news is that mechanical and electrical parts are freely available and some mechanical components (those rear brakes, for example) actually benefit from regular use rather than just the occasional spin around the block. And running what was a luxury car as a classic does mean that you have to make no apologies for speed, handling or comfort – you can drive an XJ6 all day and still emerge as fresh as a daisy and feel utterly contented. Physical size of an XJ aside, the urban crawl is no hardship either with good brakes, finger light power steering and (usually) a smooth autobox. But the cost of body repairs will make most owners wary of the urban warfare that usually accompanies a commuting role, and owners should rustproof comprehensively before venturing out on winter roads. But if you can afford to run a Granada then an XJ is no more a burden.



XJ6 replaces all of Jag’s old line-up of saloons. Choice of 2.8 or 4.2-litre XK engines. E-type sourced independentsuspension, PAS rack and pinion steering and a choice of manual or auto. Huge waiting list so gazzumping ensues!


Top notch Daimler introduced under the Sovereign label, complete with trational fluted chrome on bonnet and boot, extra trim and sprinkling of Daimler badges inside and out. Mechanically it’s the same as the Jaguar version!



Unpopular 2.8 and SWB V12 dropped. SII, complete with a higher front bumper to complywith US safety regs. Front bulkhead now single-skinned. Brakes ventilated, four-pot calipers. Regarded as least liked XJ due to BL cost cuts.


Production of SWB cars ends in Nov 1974. Two-door coupe launched in April ‘75 (unveiled two years earlier but delayed by door sealing woes) with 4.2 XK or 5.3 V12 power. New entry-level 3.4-litre (not old XK unit) saloon launched.


Squarer cut Series III takes over in March, with clever styling tweaks by Pininfarina (first time Jag had ever consulted an outsider on styling) and fuel injection from Bosch (modified by Lucas) on the 4.2. Slick Rover five-speed replaces old overdrive unit and quality control tightened up.


V12 cars get the HE engine (High Efficiency ‘Fireball’ cylinder head),with economy up from a pitiful 15mpg – but not by much! Alloys and trim upgrades also included but these were dark days for Jag as build quality really lagged rivals (XJS even dropped for a period).


XJ6 phased out in favour of the newer and more angular XJ40 generation, but the V12 engine won’t fit in the new engine bay (!) and so the Series III XJ12has to soldier on until 1991 in Jaguar guise, the Daimler Double Six bowing out the following year.

We Reckon...

Jaguars has always been a quality car built down to an amazing price, and it would be foolish to expect them to rival the build quality of certain other prestige marques. Allied to that has been thei traditional availability on the second-hand market to impoverished owners with dreams of grandeur that far outstrip their financial resources, so it is more vital than ever that a potential purchase is inspected by somebody who knows what they are looking for. Rush in, buy blind and you could end up with a money pit. Instead tread carefully and buy a good car but be warned: nothing else will ever seem quite good enough again.

Classic Motoring

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User Comments

This review has 2 comments

  • nice car but it,s a s3

    Comment by: madmo     Posted on: 16 Sep 2011 at 09:45 PM

  • Thanks madmo, the error has been corrected!

    Comment by: Admin     Posted on: 26 Sep 2011 at 08:44 AM

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