Jaguar XJS V12 - today's tempter

By: Guy ' Guido' Allen, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

xjs xjs

Big V12 GT

It seems incredible these days, but Jaguar's XJS series managed a 21-year production run, starting in 1975.

The company's V12 was the star of the show, however there were later straight six variants. The 12s came in 5.3 and 6.0lt form, while the sixes came in 3.6 and 4.0lt capacities. Earlier cars came with a three-speed Borg Warner auto, however three and four-speed ZF autos and even a firve-speed Getrag manual were offered in later cars.

This Wiki link provides a useful quick guide to what was offered and when.

Following on from the company's legendary E-type was by far the biggest sales hurdle the XJS had to conquer - it simply didn't have its predecessor's feline elegance. It did however have a brutish appeal all its own that has stood the test of time.

At launch it was an impressive GT car in its own right, particularly when compared against its peers in 1975. Long-term Wheels magazine road tester Peter Robinson wrote this for the February 1976 edition: 

"After spending a day in the very first Jaguar XJ-S to come to Australia, I am convinced that the entire point of the newest Jaguar is its dual personality.

"It wasn’t until I found and started to attack a couple of tight corners that I realised the soft, limousine-like qualities of the car, overpoweringly evident in gentle driving, are pushed aside as the XJ-S shows off the kind of limpet roadholding that would bring praise to a Dino Ferrari." High praise.

We have a 2016 buyer guide online - see it here

While maintenance of the V12 has been known to terrify people, the core engine and transmissions tend to be robust, particularly if looked after. Owners tell us ancillaries such as ancient rubber fuel lines (a fire hazard) is what tends to let down these cars. Once sorted, they're a good thing.

While the sixes are reported to be an excellent drive, for a collector it's the V12s that have the bragging rights.

They were always a high-end and relatively complex vehicle and maintaining one will  require extra effort and expense over your average Aussie car from the period. If you go in knowing that, and buy a solid example, you should have a ball with it.

This 1984 example in Brisbane is with Undercover Cars. The seller says it is in great shape and comes with a good history - worth a look at $32,500.


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