Jaguar XJ6/XJ12 (1968 – 1992) Review

Jaguar XJ6/XJ12 (1968 – 1992) At A Glance


+Sleek styling, and an oh-so English image. Superbly comfortable ride, and effortless performance.

-Expensive to restore in relation to values, complex to fix, and hardly economical in V12 form, suspension set-up could break the odd bush here or there without the driver feeling a thing.

The introduction of the XJ6 in 1968 ushered in a new era for Jaguar. It was the beginning of a time where all of the cars that rolled out of the Browns Lane factory were based on one platform - all the way from the XJ 2.8/3.4 to the glamorous XJ-S V12. Once again, Browns Lane was building the best affordable luxury saloon in the world.

The Series I XJ6 was not an entirely new car, though, as it was powered by the impressive XK twin-cam engine that first saw the light of day in 1948. The XJ was launched with its XK engine available in two sizes - 2.8- and 4.2-litres. The smaller car ended up lacking performance and reliability, so the larger version became the optimum model in the range.But it was designed to reinvent the Jaguar brand, moving it forwards significantly. The XJ boasted independent suspension all-round, and an opulent new interior to match its expansive (compared with the Mk2-based cars) exterior dimensions. It lacked a little in rear legroom, but that was fixed with the arrival of the later long-whellbase body.

Unlike the 2.8-litre version, of which few survive, the 4.2-litre XJ in Series I form was popular with buyers and has a good survival rate today. It’s easy to see why, as the ride quality and interior comfort are astounding, while roadholding is tenacious. Rust is a significant issue, though, and few unrestored cars remain. 

In 1972, and a year after it was rolled out in the E-type Series 3, the Hassan-designed V12 engine was installed in the XJ saloon body. The turbine-smooth power unit found its true home in the larger XJ bodyshell. With up to 300bhp in the later versions, it offered 150mph performance and effortless high-speed cruising. 

The most beautiful of the lot - the XJC - was also the most incomplete model in the range. It didn't help that it was prematurely announced in the summer of 1973 - two years before it went on sale. And consequently, the XJ 5.3C (and XJ6 Coupe) are still forgotten gems to this day. Circumstance certainly didn't help - the eventual launch conincided with the fuel crisis and then recession, and sales dried up to almost nothing. But worse of all, the coupe's arrival coincided with the introduction of the Series 2 model, which saw many downgrades in build and material quality. Also, the frameless windows (which caused much trouble during development) were noisy at speed and often, while the later Lucas fuel injection set-up caused further problems.

But it wasn't all bad with the Series 2. The new heating and ventilation system was welcome, as was the improved fuel economy thanks to an updated engine. The interior received a substantial update, but the only visual differences externally were the smaller grille and raised bumpers, to help the XJ meet US safety regulations. The slimline front helped it look more modern. But these were tough years for Jaguar, and its reputation as a quality carmaker was put to the test on the back of failing XJs.

But that was turned around after the arrival of the re-roofed (by Pininfarina) Series 3, which after the arrival of new boss John Egan, started being built to a much higher standard. So much so, that when the XJ6 went out of production in 1986 (the XJ12 hung on until 1992), it was enjoying its strongest ever sales. Not bad for a car that had been in production 18 years at that point.

Ask Honest John

I want to buy an old Jaguar XJ6 or XJ8 - what do you think?

"I'm considering buying either a 2007 Jaguar XJ6 with 160,000 miles or a 1998 XJ8 with 98,000 miles whilst I'm in Switzerland for 2-3 years. I'll cover approx 150 miles per day so comfort and ride enjoyment are important for me. Whilst I'm sure a Toyota something or other would be more practical, my heart is saying enjoy a Jag for once in my life. I don't want to get tied into a long term lease (pricey here) or a PCP. I'm keen to pay for a car in cash, in full, and just having running costs thereafter. I could just about put up with the XJ8's poor mpg and have worries about the potential diesel repair costs should something go wrong with the XJ6. There are also trade-offs with the mileage on the cars and their respective ages. What do you think?"
If your heart is set on a Jaguar, I'd say go for it. But be prepared for eye-watering repair and service costs. Both of these cars will need significant work (and money) to keep on the road. A good set of all-season tyres for either of these cars will easily set you back £600.
Answered by Dan Powell

How much should I be paying for a Jaguar XJ6 at auction?

"A 1978 Jaguar XJ6 series 2 is going to auction. It has been in a collection and has only covered 12,000 miles. It appears in very good order, but due to its time in storage it does not have a FSH, but a number of bills and MoT. What would you estimate the value to be, and what might I expect to pay at auction?"
To be fair, by the time a car gets to this age bills and MoTs will tell you more about it than a stamped up service book so make an hour or so to go over the bills and see what has (and hasn't been done). Is the history complete? Has it been restored? Where has it been serviced? With such low mileage the chances are it's been pampered - but a car that's spend much of its life sitting around can also cause problems with seized components etc. As far as values go, S2 XJ6s don't quite attract the same level of attention as a Mk2 or E-type. A really good one at a dealer would be about £10k while a solid example for sale privately could be about £6k. One that's got an MoT but is very much a rolling restoration would be about £4k. However, in this case expect the low-mileage to bump the price up. Whatever you do, make sure you do your homework and use the auction's viewing day to thoroughly check the car over. If you're not comfortable take a technically minded mate along or see if the club can help with the inspection. Is this the first one you've seen? Always worth trying to see as many as possible so you have something to compare it too.
Answered by Keith Moody

Is my 1977 reg Jaguar XJC tax exempt?

"I wonder if you could clear up when cars over 40 years old become toad tax exempt? I own a 1977 Jaguar XJC first registered August 1977. Will the car become tax exempt in September or do I need to wait till 2018 before I can apply for the tax exemption."
The Historic Vehicle taxation class is now a ‘rolling’ system. From April 2017, all pre-1977 vehicles (ie those built - not registered - before 1 January 1977), will be eligible for tax exemption. So, in the case of your 1977 Jaguar XJC, you'll either need to investigate build records to see if your classic was in fact built in 1976 - or wait until April 2018. But be aware - the reclassification won't happen automatically. You can find out how to change the taxation class of your classic here:
Answered by Keith Moody
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