Jaguar’s strenuous efforts to make the grade as an upmarket volume purveyor of quality saloon cars took a step forward in 1968 with the introduction of the all-new XJ Series 1. The launch of the XJ (from Xperimental Jaguar) Series consolidated the company’s saloon car offering into a single range.
New XJ models provided a superb replacement for existing Jaguars (S-Type Mk 2, 420 and 420G, plus their Daimler counterparts) and the line would continue to be produced into the 1990s.
First out of the box was the XJ6 Mk 1. These comfortable saloons came with a choice of two straight sixes — 2.8 litre and 4.2 litre versions of Jaguar’s renowned twin-cam XK engine. The former was considered to be somewhat underpowered and the latter outsold it by three to one. Power steering was standard and there was a choice of manual or automatic transmission. With either engine the XJ6 was famous for silky-smooth performance and crisp handling.
The particularly graceful styling was classic ‘four-headlamp’ Jaguar and the interior was lavishly appointed with wood and leather upholstery in the marque’s finest traditions. A long-wheelbase version of the 4.2 litre XJ6 appeared towards the end of the run, offering more rear legroom, as did the top-of-the-range XJ12 with its powerful 5.3 litre V12 engine.
Around 82,000 Series 1 XJs were produced, plus another 16,000 of the Daimler equivalents of each Jaguar type, so there are still plenty around for anyone who owns a petrol station to drive and enjoy. Series 2 appeared in 1973 and did not acquire the best of reputations, with allegations of shoddy build quality said to stem from Jaguar’s absorption into the British Leyland Group. The cars themselves weren’t so different from Series 1 examples, but were modified to meet US regulations.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1968 (until 1973)
2,790 cc or 4,235 cc Straight Six; 5,343 cc V12
With 2.6 litre engine – top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 10.5 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
During the initial launch campaign Jaguar boss Sir William Lyons described the XJ6 as ‘the finest Jaguar ever’ – but he would say that, wouldn’t he? Actually, he knew a little something – Series 1 cars are universally considered to have the best build quality and are definitely the most collectable XJs.