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Jaguar XJC

XJ Bliss Published: 10th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XJCLooks just like an XJ saloon with a vinyl roof; door sealing was always a problem

Fast Facts

  • Best model: V12
  • Worst model: Anything bodged or ratty
  • Budget buy: Daimler versions
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): (mm) 4815 x 1770
  • Spares situation: Trim can be scarce
  • DIY ease?: Fair, but it can be heavy duty
  • Club support: Good
  • Appreciating asset?: In theory yes
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Good buy
Entry and egress isn’t too bad and note pillar less door design. Door drop is common Entry and egress isn’t too bad and note pillar less door design. Door drop is common
Ultra rare Avon convertible wasn’t Jag’s work but seems to suit the XJC very well Ultra rare Avon convertible wasn’t Jag’s work but seems to suit the XJC very well
Typical XJ cabin although few may be as good as this. Check electrics as quality dropped on S2 models Typical XJ cabin although few may be as good as this. Check electrics as quality dropped on S2 models
Rare cloth trim option - bear in mind that trim is unique to XJC so rare, but most want leather Rare cloth trim option - bear in mind that trim is unique to XJC so rare, but most want leather
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An XJ6 in sleek-bodied coupe form sounds the perfect Jag, but the XJC was a fl op when new. As classic cat, they now take some beating...

Pros & Cons

Style, XJ brilliance, value for money, rarity, V12
S2 build quality and rough reputation, poor parts availability, V12 thirst

Think of two-door Jags and you immediately remember the XK sports cars, E-type, XJ-S and, of course, the XK8. But a sumptuous, two-door XJ6 was made briefl y during the mid 1970s, and despite its short lifespan and undoubted exclusivity, it never caught the imagination of classic car lovers. Until now. Apart from being a fi ne grand tourer that was much more practical, roomier and easier on the eye than the XJ-S of the same era, the XJC has to be a classic cat in the making. So what’s stopping it?


The XJ coupe was announced when the Series II was introduced late in 1973. SIIs differed little from the original XJ6, the main changes being at the front, where a revised bumper height (demanded by US federal legislation), shallower grille and indicator lights below the new bumper gave it a much cleaner look. But the overall svelte silhouette of the original – even in twodoor mode – was retained. Weighing some 50lb less than the short-wheelbase saloon it derived from, XJCs didn’t actually materialise until 1975 due to production diffi culties – those big frameless doors didn’t seal too well at speed. Two versions were built: the 4.2-litre XJ6C and the V12C, the latter running on fuel injection with a higher final drive in the interests of better economy. A Daimler range was also offered, of which 1600 were made – they’re pretty rare now, though. Technically, the S2 boasted four-pot callipers and vented discs up front, which were a big improvement over early XJ anchors. The optional automatic gearbox became the superior Borg Warner Model 65 design. As well as Jaguar’s offering there was also a plusher Daimler Sovereign variant, but with the XJ-S only months away from launch, the XJC was never going to be anything other than a short-term fl ing. By 1977 it was killed off – along with the XJC saloon racing programme – after 6505 XJ6 versions and 1873 V12s rolled out of Browns Lane. Hardly a major seller forJaguar - but as legendary Jag test driver Norman Dewis recently commented to us, a much underrared car, if you get a good one!


It’s an XJ6, which means amazing modernity after almost four decades. Rolls-Royce-beating ride and sports car-like handling that stunned the world all those years ago and can still impress today – providing it’s a good example, mind The three-speed auto was a popular pick over the four-speed/overdrive manual combo as it suits the XJC’s laid back nature. Overall gearing is a touch too low at motorway speeds, to the point where an extra cog would come in handy. A popular fi x is to bolt on a four-speed auto from the later XJ40 models – consult a specialist for advice on this fi rst.

In terms of performance, the 4.2-litre six with its 245bhp is adequate for today’s roads and will propel the car to 60mph in under 10 seconds. Expect around 20-22mpg, too. The magnifi cent V12 with its mind-blowing pace won’t better 13-15mpg even with fuel injection. But if you’re only covering 3000 miles a year or less, then it’s more than worth the thirst for the thrills it gives. Naturally, the coupe XJC loses a bit of practicality over the saloon, but the big doors make for easy access. Inside it’s typical old-school Jag, meaning limited rear legroom – but as long as those doorframes are sealing okay, it should be as quiet as any XJ.


XJC prices are as unpredictable as the weather – sometimes they’re up and hot stuff, but they give cold comfort to sellers in equal measure. Expect to pay a slight premium over XJ values. Remember that the XJC was always based on the least-liked XJ6 – the Series II was hit by chronic cost cutting from British Leyland. Generally, rough cars start from a couple of thousand with a good example that’s worth preserving at around £4500 or so. Truly top cars may be worth double this but that’s the limit and hardly dear for what they offer.

What To Look For

  • The XJC’s ’75 launch coincided with a downturn in Jaguar build quality and later Series IIs gained a poor reputation, particularly for electrics.
  • Like all Jags, XJs rot big time and some believe that the XJC suffers the worst! Common areas are round the headlights, lower front wings, doors on the edge which meets the front wing and where it joins the sill, the rear wheel arches and windscreen surrounds (beware, it is usually worse than it looks here).
  • Ideally, raise the car off the ground for a nose underneath, checking the lower front valance and crossmember below the radiator, while the rear valance comprising of the spare wheel well is another iron oxide target area.
  • Open the bonnet and observe its leading edge where the hinges are, the inner wings and suspension turrets. You’re unlikely to get a car without at least a few of these telltale signs of corrosion but if bad, fi nd another.
  • Interiors can get very tatty. Door cards, leather seats and the felt headlining all perish, the latter being particularly troublesome; when that starts to sag, the only surefi re way of fi xing it is to remove the front screen and install an all-new headlining – expensive stuff.
  • Remember that apart from the headlining and the dash/centre console, the rest was unique to the XJC, and so is a lot harder to source. Electric windows were standard but they can be problematic.
  • Check the carpets for signs of damp. Beneath it a thick foam lining resided, which insulated the cabin from any engine and road noise. If there’s rust in the fl oor due to a leaky windscreen or rot-ridden screen surround water ingress can play havoc. Check the vinyl roof (if fi tted). If it’s ratty then bank on up to £700-£1000 to replace, and watch for rust bubbling underneath.
  • Watch for door drop as the XJC uses big doors and hinges will accordingly suffer. Even when new, the windowpane seal to the doorframe was touch and go and neglected cars will suffer from excess of wind noise.
  • It’s well known and relatively simple, but the XK unit can prove fi ckle, especially in what’s known as the latter ‘long stud’ guise. These XJ engines could suffer from specifi c head and block issues, causing the piston liners to move. Some prefer the old 420/E-type engines and retro fi t them.
  • The alloy head and cast iron block really needs quality anti-freeze to but also to prohibit corrosion and silt build-up of the internals.
  • As with all XKs, watch for excessive oil usage, leaks (from the rear crank oil seal are common), decent oil pressure (40-50lbft@2500rpm if ok), over-silent tappets (meaning a head off decoke/ re-shim) and rattly timing chains.
  • The V12 suffers similarly, but unless really knackered rarely needs a full rebore. The oil pressure needs to be 60-80lb if healthy. Standard Lucas electronic ignition is infamously poor and may have been swapped with better aftermarket types. The EFi system needs proper servicing if it’s to function at its best, too.
  • Most XJs came with a Borg Warner three-speed automatic, although some were specifi ed with a four-speed manual ‘box (usually fi tted with overdrive). From 1977, a GM three-speed automatic gearbox was mated to the V12 as it could better handle the massive amounts of torque. If cared for, they all last the distance and should be smooth and silent. State of oil tells you a lot. Does it smell ‘burnt’?
  • The Salisbury rear axle is sturdy enough, but it can weep oil round the pinion seal. Leaks emanating from the driveshaft seals should be viewed seriously as the escaping lube contaminates the inboard rear brake discs.
  • The E-type-derived independent rear suspension needs to be dropped to gain access to the rear brakes. If the rear suspension is looking a little tired, consider changing the brakes at the same time, as this will save a lengthy job later.
  • Sub frame, radius arm mounts and innerwishbone bushes dry and crack with age. Renewing this lot will transform the way an XJ drives, back to the way it did when new. Spongy steering will probably be down to tired rack bushes while a clonking noise is typically universal joints past their prime.
  • Cheap tyres fi tted as a cost-saving exercise are common. They should be on VR rated 205/70VR-15 and the specially designed Dunlop Aquajet rubber to be precise if you want the best out of your XJ but this classic rubber doesn’t come cheap.
  • Said to have been Lucas’s lowest point, the SII Jag was beset with problems due to British Leyland penny-pinching. Switchgear, alternators and the like were all unreliable so check that everything works.
  • The great thing about the XJ is that there is a vast army of specialists in the UK that can advise, service, repair and even upgrade this model, while parts are usually readily available direct from Jaguar via the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust (log on to http://www.jdht. com, or call 024 7640 2141). Failing that, big independent players like SNG Barratt and David Manners will be on hand with OE and quality aftermarket alternatives.
  • Restorations can be horrendous and perhaps outweigh a car’s value unless its something special – like a rarer Daimler version. Those massive doors are simply extended saloon items and the long rear quarters are just welded and strengthened! They rot particularly badly there.

Three Of A Kind

BMW 6 Series
BMW 6 Series
The Jag’s German rival gave it a tough time on the tracks and trounced it on the road too. The original coupes ran from 1965-75 when it was replaced by all new design, which formed the basis for the yet-to-be-launched 7 Series. Superbly made with a great choice of engines, it’s a much wiser and more useable buy than the Jag. Top 635 CSi is a real hot shot.
Mercedes SLC
Hard top coupe spin-off of the iconic SL, the SLC had the same integrity and ability but in a useable, stylish coupe body. As with the BMW, wide range of engines means there’s a model to suit most pockets and it’s another German that wears far better than the Brit. Good specialist base means owning one is pretty easy and not that dear either. if you buy right.
Fiat Coupe
Fiat Coupe
Stunning coupe take on the capable 130 saloon that was styled by Pininfarina. 3.2 V6 is in automatic guise only and so performance is no better than lively, but the Fiat drives spiritedly with good handling. Lavishly appointed although lacked luxury feel and didn’t age too well either so buy with care. Great value but restoration costs usually exceed car’s worth, so bodges are rife.


Classy, cultured and Coupe-styled, the XJC is perhaps the best-kept secret classic Jaguar around. Despite their exclusivity, they can make great buys that can only appreciate in price and affection – hopefully sooner rather than later. No doubt about it, the XJC now deserves the respect and appreciation it was rarely given 30 years ago.

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