Jaguar

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JAGUAR XJ6 SERIES 1-3

YEARS MADE

1968-87

NUMBER MADE

281,176

ORIGINAL PRICE

£1797 (2.8 in 1968)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

2792-4235cc, six-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

205bhp (Series 3, 4235cc)

FASTEST VERSION

131mph (Series 3, 4235cc)

BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY

18mpg (Series 1, 2792cc)

WHEELBASE

2765-2865mm

LENGTH

4816-4951mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

5

 

When Jaguar launched the XJ6, it rewrote the luxury car rulebook. Not with anything radical, mind: the XJ6 was a conventional saloon, front-engined, rear-driven, coil-sprung; but by masterful fine-tuning.

Jaguar combined standards of ride comfort, silence, handling and roadholding – qualities previously thought irreconcilable in a luxury car – that eclipsed Europe’s best and set the pace for two decades. On its plump tyres, specially designed for it by Dunlop, this new British world-beater would out-manoeuvre Jaguar’s own E-type and beat Rolls-Royce for ride quality. It had beauty too, a feline aggression that proved amazingly enduring.

Initially using the proven six-cylinder XK engine (a V12-powered XJ12 arrived in 1972) most XJ6s were automatic, all had power steering and Jaguar built some with a short-stroke 2.8-litre engine to beat European tax laws. Like all previous Jags, the XJ6 was a bargain, often undercutting comparable Mercedes models by 50 per cent.

The XJ6 wasn’t perfect, of course. Standards of build looked pretty flaky by the time the facelifted Series III came along in 1979. But in March 1980, John Egan was appointed to ‘fix’ Jaguar. As his quality drive took hold, flagging sales were arrested, and Jaguar enjoyed a spectacular privatisation and stock market floatation in 1984. The very last of these XJs, an XJ12, was built in 1992; wistful aficionados regarded it as the last of the old-style Jags.

 

JAGUAR E-TYPE

YEARS MADE

1961-75

NUMBER MADE

72,507

ORIGINAL PRICE

£2096 (in 1961)

MECHANICAL LAYOUT

Front engine, rear-wheel drive

RANGE OF ENGINES

3781-4235cc, six-cylinder; 5343cc, V12-cylinder

MOST POWERFUL ENGINE

272bhp (V12)

FASTEST VERSION

150mph (V12)

BEST OVERALL FUEL ECONOMY

18mpg (3.8-litre Series 1 coupé)

WHEELBASE

2438-2667mm

LENGTH

4453-4783mm

NUMBER OF SEATS

2 or 2+2

 

 

 

 

 

There’s something almost emotional about the shape of any E-type. Sexy, certainly. No wonder when Frank Sinatra saw one, he said: “I want that car and I want it now!”

In 1961, the E-type was an instant classic, an exercise in cool aerodynamic theory completed with unashamed showmanship. It was the era’s most beautiful roadster and, at over 140mph, by far Britain’s fastest production car. Moreover, it undercut its nearest rival, Aston Martin’s DB4, by a third.

That curvy shape, inspired by the Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-type racer, covered an immensely strong frame, and wishbone and coil spring independent suspension gave limo ride comfort with leech-like roadholding. The 3.8-litre XK engine was well worthy of the new chassis, the clunky four-speed gearbox a little less so.

In 1964, a bigger 4.2 engine offered extra torque. Gearbox, brakes and cockpit were all improved, making the 4.2 Series 1 E the best of the bunch. A roomier two-plus-two version followed in 1966 and optional automatic transmission. But by the time the Series II was launched in 1968, emission controls demanded by North American legislation had smothered its power so that, by 1970, the car was a shadow of its snarling former self.

The final Series III introduced Jaguar’s awesome V12 engine. It was deliciously smooth and very fast once again even if its softer, fatter body shape lacked the original E’s fierce beauty.

 

 

 

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Illustrations © JH Haynes & Co. Ltd