Being the creature of habit that we are, we take the same route each morning for an non-motorized jaunt. This circuit never fails to bring us into proximity with a ’69 Jaguar, an XJ 6 as it tells us in a huge font on the trunk lid. No, we’re not going to call it a “boot” lid because boots are worn on one’s feet. We admit the car isn’t in the best of shape but we do know it runs.. it dutifully goes from one side of the street to the other and doesn’t accrue parking tickets. There’s a significant gash on the left side front door — you can almost see the window mechanism within and it wears just two out of four wheel covers.
Still, we’re fond of this old Coventry-born trouper. It has an air of an old money aristocrat (or, perhaps, gone money) that lends it a certain dignity in decay. You can almost smell the moth-eaten Harris Tweed.
Look at the “cathedral” style tail light lens – a shapely work of art crafted by Joseph Lucas Limited, the UK parts supplier that has long been the butt of rude jokes uttered, quite predictably and drearily so, by “car guys” who think it’s funny to tell the same joke countless times. Har! In the tighter shot, you can actually read the numerals ’68’ in bas-relief but we’re betting this is registered as a ’69 because it wears year-appropriate, federally mandated, side markers. Sorry about all the geeking out but this car was in production pretty much uninterrupted (except by many strikes) from introduction in 1968 through three mild updates over the course of an almost quarter century run so it’s quite a significant piece. It was, almost sheepishly, replaced by a series of Ford-fostered XJs, the styling for which was unabashedly based on their swingin’ sixties forbear.
This car is a real inspiration to feral aficionados, especially because it is, arguably, a bridge to unite the automotive kind, like us, and the feline oriented ones — like us. That leaping hood ornament is the link.
The left side (where the steering would most definitely not be in home market cars) is quite unblemished but we’re tempted to take up a collection to buy hub caps.
This one is powered by the same 4.2 liter straight six used in the XK-E, officially ‘E-Type,’ but c’mon, who says “E-Type” if they’re not smoking a meerschaum pipe? Which is to say there’s a powerful cat lurking under that formal facade. Actually this generation XJ was quite a radical departure for Jaguar. E-Type acceptance — there, we said it — may have emboldened Jag to discard post-war styling that related more to the ’30s and ’40s than to the ’50s and ’60s. The XJ6 was competitive with Mercedes S-Class, BMW’s 7 series and all manner of Lincolns and Cadillacs. Because of, ahem, mobility issues, they’re much less common than those pretender makes. As you are, doubtless, aware, Jaguars of this period, marked by the British auto industry’s fast fade into non-existence, don’t have the best reputation for reliability. It’s a fact that there quite a few were converted to GM 350 V8 power in the ’70s and ’80s, a very decisive way to deal with questionable UK components and build quality.
It’s always exciting to behold an XJC, a somewhat limited production variant of a car that’s already highly regarded for its beauty if not its utility. This XJC 12, a pillarless two door “hardtop” version that is, in some ways, the ultimate expression of the XJ. This example is one of just 1,873 12 cylinder ( 5.3 liter) cars built, both left and right and drive. That’s out of a total of 10,000 for both 6 and 12 cylinder models produced over a span of just four model years, ’73 – ’78.
The big bumpers of this ’77 compromise the machine’s inherent grace but it’s still lithe looking for such a heavy car. That vinyl top was applied out of necessity. Explanation: because the car’s structure lacked the bracing that a solid pillar between the front and rear side windows affords, it had some tendency to flex which would crack the paint on the roof. Necessity, being the mother that it is, prompted Jaguar to adopt the American look of vinyl topping but we think they pulled it off quite tastefully. Please note the lack of opera lights and/or gratuitous stuffing and tufting as one would expect in an analogous domestic car that relates to this niche market such as Cadillac’s gargantuan Eldorado or Lincoln’s Continental Mk V, offering in Bill Blass, Cartier, Givenchy and Pucci designer editions.
Feral Cars Field Scout Bonnie Ruttan captured this big bumpered XJ, probably an ’80 or ’81, on the mean streets of Pasadena, CA. The roulette wheel-themed steel wheels are a sporty but, somehow, generic, touch.
To the best of our knowledge the motor hasn’t been swapped out for a GM 350 as found in Chevy Malibus, Olds Cutlasses and all manner of Buicks and Pontiacs though we do understand that a member of nobility must do what one can to keep up appearances and occasionally avail oneself of trustworthy transport.
We found this pretty awesome ’73 XJ6 in nearby Wilton, CT. It’s a low mileage (70K) beauty in great shape offered for a mere $14,500. What could possibly go wrong? Just to confirm we’re not blowing smoke about switching to Chevy power click here to see about modular conversion kits to put an American heart in your British kitty.
Dig this French commercial for the XJ from back in ’76. The tag line translates to “Jaguar, one of two or three better things that a man should demand of life.” This has us thinking about the the other one (or two) things implied here.
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Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes. If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.