・All import paperwork complete and ready to register
・Rot-free and completely original car
With the new XJ40 delayed by budgetary constraints, Jaguar turned to the Italians for help in keeping the XJ saloon series going for a few more years in 1979.
The Series 3 XJ was created with the help of Pininfarina, which gave the car an inexpensive restyle, keeping Jaguar’s engineering costs in mind. A lower roofline, new light clusters front and rear and – most importantly – US-market compliant safety impact bumpers were the main elements of the brief, and it’s fair to say that Pininfarina did a great job.
The outcome was a really pretty car, especially given how tight Jaguar’s budget was, and it kept the XJ selling well until 1986 when the new XJ40 appeared, though the V12 models carried on even longer - until 1992.
This one was built in 1986, when the XJ40 was already in production. But for Daimler buyers, its traditional appeal and V12 powertrain were much more important than the modern flash-in-the-pan newcomer. And the buyer of this particular example was something of a perfectionist….
First registered in mid-1986, this Double Six was ordered directly from the factory by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in Africa and – at the age of 18 – the youngest. It was registered to the Swaziland Royal Family as one of several luxury cars owned by the King, who is known to this day for his love of powerful and luxury cars.
After a couple of decades in Swaziland, the Daimler was discharged from Royal duties and found its way into private ownership in South Africa, from where it was recently imported. It has covered a total of 51,000km, or 30,000 miles, in that period.
Those who drove or travelled in it when new would never once have imagined that it would end up in Norwich, but that’s where you’ll find it today – and it’s worth tracking down.
As a South African import, the Daimler comes with minimal paperwork – it’s quite common with cars from the country to not have stacks of history as the same culture to preserve service history doesn’t exist.
However, there is evidence as to its royal connections (the history of which is classified), as well as a copy of the South African registration document.
The vendor specialises in importing vehicles from the country having lived there for many years, and knows the process inside-out. The cars he brings in are sourced via classic car contacts he has out there and are imported with all of the duties paid and NOVA paperwork (port notifications) complete. The car also has a brand new UK MOT, meaning that all that’s left is to complete an application for first registration – something the owner is happy to help with and which is a very straightforward process.
Long, low and sleek, this is the perfect car in which to make a dignified, regal entrance – whether you’re a monarch or one of his 15 wives.
There’s certainly a lot to admire about the bodywork of the Double Six, which is in superb original order. There are a couple of small marks on the driver’s door and evidence of a repaired scratch on one back door, but these are very small areas that don’t jump out at you. The overall condition is fabulous, with no evidence of corrosion anywhere to be seen.
The chrome and trim are in generally good order withs some minor sun damage to the rubber seals, while there’s also the shallowest of dents in the rear bumper. The unique Daimler grille and fluted boot plinth are in great condition, as are the pepperpot alloy wheels, which are shod with good quality, recent Bridgestone tyres.
It’s absolutely beautiful inside, as is to be expected from a Daimler. After all, this isn’t a Jaguar; it’s something a whole lot more special.
The cream leather is offset by grey carpets and dark walnut veneers on the dash, door tops and centre console.
This one has the four-seater layout, with a pair of individual rear seats in place of the three-seater bench seen on Jaguars and optional on the Daimler. The rear tray tables normally seen in the Daimler were deleted though, presumably to allow for more elegant access and egress.
With such a low mileage (the km figure on the odometer amounts to just over 30,000 miles), the condition is as clean and smart as you’d expect and everything works as it’s supposed to, the only faults being some hairline cracks in the dashboard veneer. There are some nice original features, too, such as the high-line radio-cassette player, LCD trip computer and dual ashtrays.
If something ever goes wrong with Jaguar’s 5.3-litre V12 you’d perhaps be better off calling a plumber rather than a mechanic, such is the mass of pipework you’ll discover under its fluted bonnet.
It may be daunting to look at if you’re a home mechanic, but the engine is actually relatively straightforward when you know where all the pipes lead to, and it’s renowned for being quite tough.
This example fires up instantly from cold (it had been parked for a fortnight on the dockside before we got to it, yet it started instantly). It warms up quickly and maintains very good oil pressure and a steady temperature. We were able to drive it a short distance on private land and can report that the steering, brakes and transmission all seem to operate as intended, as do all of the electrics.
This is a truly lovely example of a late Double Six in fantastic order inside and out, with superb rot-free bodywork, a spotless cabin and in great mechanical order. It has a fascinating past, while the dry climate it has lived in for the past 35 years has ensured it has survived in astonishingly rot-free condition. It’s a fabulous car – fit for a king!
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