1978 Jaguar XJ6 – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

When it comes to British classics that come loaded with presence, there are few that can top the mighty Jaguar XJ. It was a massive, massive car for Jaguar. The XJ was the machine that would take over from the 240 and the 340, the S Type and even the 420. Jaguar was putting many of its eggs in the XJ basket. And it worked. There was some production run-over from previous models so as to gently usher customers into the XJ, and when they did, they were glad of it. The XJ was an exceptional machine, built to an impressive standard and laden with wood, leather and a brace of period-correct features.

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The XJ went from strength to strength and went through several evolutions before production ended in 2019. For us though, it’s the early cars that are the best. While the later models were indeed lovely luxury beasts, there is no denying that there is no school like the old school, and the early cars are the headmasters. The Series 1, the Series 2 and of course, the Series 3. Happily, that’s what we have here in the guise of a Series 2 long wheelbase.

What is it?

What we have here is a 1978 Jaguar XJ6. Being a 1978, this is a Series 2 model, though it is one of the last, as the Series 3 was launched in 1979. While the name ‘Series 2’ would suggest a car wildly different from the Series 1, it was actually largely the same car, at least in terms of body and structure. More of a heavy facelift than an all-new model, the Series 2 featured different, higher bumpers, a thinner grille, new indicators and thin, wide intake below the bumper. These visual changes were largely to satisfy American regulations.

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This car has the trusty 4.2 straight-six engine found in many Jaguars of the time, though it was offered with a V12 as well as a new 3,442cc engine. The interior was heavily revised for the Series 2, in particular with a new HVAC system that was less complicated than the previous model.

Finally, there is the mention of this being a long-wheelbase model. However, this is how all XJs were offered as of 1974. Short wheelbase versions of the Series 2 are exceptionally rare. Jaguar looked at the sales figures and noted that the LWB version of the Series 1 was arguably the most popular, so opted to discontinue it for the Series 2, other than the Coupe, which of course retained the 2,762mm wheelbase.

Why is it a project?

Having checked the history on Cazana, it seems this old Jaguar hasn’t been on the road for some time. Certainly, there is no MOT history to show. However, don’t be put off. This isn’t a long-forgotten machine. Instead, it’s more of an unfinished project, as some works have been done in readiness for this big cat’s return to the road.

The runs, drives and stops, thanks to the brakes having been cleaned up. The carbs have been reconditioned, the automatic choke replaced and adjusted, and the offside rear fuel tank has been replaced with a new sender and pump. The electrics were inspected, repaired and checked recently, too. There is, however, a tapping from the engine which will require further investigation.

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The paint is presentable but by no means show-winning. There is some surface rust, and as such, a full respray would be on the cards at some point. However, the seller states that there is no evidence of any damage or poor repair, which is pleasing. The chrome work, as you would expect, needs a bit of love, too. Structurally though, there is a lot of good news. The floors have been replaced, which is a big job on these. There is still a small amount of welding needed under the nearside fuel tank though, so be aware of that.

The interior needs to be reconditioned and put back, and the wood needs some attention, too. But on the whole, this is a very handsome machine that looks to have had most if not all of the hard work done. And at a hair under three grand, it’s something of a bargain, too.

Five things to look for:

1) Rust
It seems the floors have been replaced, which is, of course, a good thing. However, old XJs love to rot, so you need to have a good look. Door bottoms, sills, wings, pillars, boot floor. Check it, then check it twice.

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2) Trim
Both internal and external need to be checked. Hopefully what’s external can be restored and re-used. However, when it comes to internal, remember that a lot was removed to facilitate the floor repairs. Is all the trim still present?

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3) Paint
Bit of a moot point, as the vendor, states that it will need a repaint at some point. However, in the pictures, it looks presentable. It might well be good enough to leave as a rolling restoration. Plus, Jags look cool with a bit of wear and tear!

4) Engine
That tapping from one of the cylinders needs investigating. It could be something minor, or it could be something serious. It might be worth investing in a cheap endoscope to see what’s what within the cylinder.

5) Suspension
The ride and handling are what make the XJ so special, especially at the rear. The clever independent rear suspension unit with its inboard brakes was and still is excellent, but only if it’s in good condition. Check the bushes, check the shocks, check the frame of the unit for corrosion.

What should you do with it?

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This would be a great basis on which to carry out a full restoration. There are plenty of specialists out there who can advise you and also supply all the parts you might need. It would be wonderful to get this back up to tip-top condition, and you have the added bonus of the Jaguar market always being hungry for nice examples. The only issue is that engine noise, which we would really want to investigate a little further before spending any serious money. But even if it is something catastrophic, the popularity of the engine means a repair or replacement unit is never far away. For three grand, it’s most definitely worth a roll of the dice. We would.

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