1970 Jaguar 420G – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

They say bigger is better, and if that truly is the case, then this Jaguar is the best. Big enough to have different weather at each end, it is an imposing machine of Brobdingnagian proportions. And for that, we love it. But of course, there is a caveat here in that a car so big is going need a lot of upkeep. It’s worth it though, as the Mark X, or 420G as it was later known, is a wonderful thing to own and drive. Once you get used to the aircraft carrier like dimensions, the 420G is the kind of classic that will lap up the miles and waft you to wherever you want to go.

If you think the size of it is perhaps more than a little egregious, there is one thing to consider. This car wasn’t penned to satiate the needs of the British motorist. Instead, Jaguar had its sights firmly set on the American market, and in the ’60s and ’70s, bigger was better. It was a time where vehicular real estate mattered, but fuel consumption did not. As such, Jaguar made the 420G big, but designers also looked at the technology at play in America, and bested it. The 420G was a monocoque for starters, which made it stiff. This meant it handled well, thanks to the inclusion of fully independent suspension. Then there was the engine. No thumping V8. Instead, Jaguar fitted its silky smooth 4.2 straight-six unit with a gaggle of carbs.

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Build quality was enough to embarrass most Yank motors, and with swathes of leather, wood and a brace of modern electronics, it was also far more advanced. And yet, despite being so good, it never really won over the hearts of American buyers. It was, ironically, seen as being too big and too imposing. Jaguar didn’t help itself either, by introducing the XJ range of cars. Sales dwindled, and after a short production run, the 420G was quietly killed off. A shame.

What is it? 

The car we have here is a 1970 Jaguar 420G. As we mentioned earlier, this model was first known as the Mark X, before being upgraded to the 420G, with the 4.2 straight-six engine. The vendor describes it as a genuine barn find, and apparently it has been running and driving, though apparently the fuel filter is now blocked and so it’s a non-runner again. Frustrating, but that’s old cars for you. The vendor states that he has cleaned out one fuel tank, so it’s more than likely a case of the other tank needing the same treatment.

It has astonishingly low miles, at just 36,888. Apparently the first owner in Solihull racked up that mileage over the space of ten years, before putting the car away. It was rescued in 2013, but was again put into storage where it has remained ever since. And certainly, the storage used must have been decent, as the car looks impressively solid if a little tired.

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The engine was working, as mentioned. The brakes bind a touch, but work, as does the power steering, the heater and most of the electrics. By the sounds of things, this car is quite the find. Of course, we would encourage a proper, in depth inspection, but at face value at least, the road doesn’t seem to be too far away.

Why is it a project?

Well, as mentioned, the car hasn’t been used since 1980. As such, it will need a full and thorough inspection. It will, as a minimum, need a complete service. All fluid, filters, coolant flush, transmission flush and service, fuel system flush, electrical inspection, brake overhaul, new tyres and other wear and tear items. At that point though, this big old machine might be ready to approach an MOT station. The vendor states that, after having inspected the car, there doesn’t seem to be any serious rot or corrosion, which is reassuring given how much they can if left anywhere wet.

The body, of course, lets it down, as it looks a little tired. Maybe the paint could be restored, leaving some nice patina. Maybe you’d want to go down the route of painting it. That’s very much your call. Crucially though, it could just be basic bodywork. The vendor seems confident that no panel will need to be replaced, which would be a big headache avoided. The interior, too, is all original, all present and all in decent order. There are some issues, such as the odd bit of trim that has corroded, and the leather is dry and in need of some attention. However, parts are out there for these big cats, and there doesn’t seem to be anything mentioned that sets off ‘you’ll never find that’ alarms.

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Five things to look for: 

1) Engine

The vendor has had the car running and even driving, but now says there is a fuel blockage. This will need investigating to make sure it’s nothing more serious. Maybe invest in a bore camera to have a good look inside.

2) Rust

The listing for this car is long and detailed and as such, we’re confident in the seller’s appraisal. However, this is a big old car and one that has form when it comes to corrosion. As such, have a proper look yourself. The headache areas will be suspension mounts, sills, floorpans and the bulkhead.

3) Interior

It all seems to be present and correct, but can it be saved? Years of sitting in the dry will not have helped the leather or wood, so look for excessive cracking, splits or other damage. There are specialists out there who can rescue both, but it’s going to be expensive and time consuming – the dashboard for example is a complicated thing to remove.

4) Glass and Chrome

The mechanicals aren’t too much of a concern, as they were used in lots of other cars and as such, parts are simple enough to find. However, model specific stuff like the chrome and the glass are going to be harder to find. Check the condition of it and make sure it can be re-used or restored.

5) Electrics

Having been locked away for so long, it’s going to be wise to inspect the electrical system before switching anything on. Has a hungry rodent been nibbling on it? Have connections gone brittle and dry? If so, you could run the risk of shorting things out, or even worse, setting something on fire. And you don’t want that.

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How it could look

What should you do with it? 

We love this big old cat, and we love how it looks after its slumber. We’re eternal optimists when it comes to classic cars, and as such, we would like to hope that a good inspection, a full mechanical overhaul and some new ‘under the skin’ parts would have this Jaguar back on the road. That would be our goal. Do that, then have the body and interior professionally detailed, but not restored. We like the patina on this old car, and if it’s as straight and true as the vendor states, it would be a shame to restore it. So yeah, get it running get it cleaned up and then enjoy it ‘as is’. Like a good leather coat, or a wingback chair, some things are better with a bit of age to them, and this Jag is one of them.

 

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