Why did I buy a Jaguar XJC

I was after a collectible/classic car that I could enjoy on sunny weekends.  You know, wash and polish it on Saturday and cruise into the country and have lunch at a winery on Sunday, with the occasional car club show & shine thrown in.  It had to be reliable, a pleasure to drive and attract admiring glances.  As I am spoilt by all the modern gadgets found in new cars it also had to have as many creature comforts as possible.  I didn't want an old clunker that was collectible but a nightmare to drive.

After investigating different makes and models I settled on a Jaguar XJ Coupe for a number of reasons.  In my opinion the XJC is a classy modern classic and as so very few Coupes were built it's rather a rather scarce commodity and should appreciate in value over the years (yes I know - every owner says that about their car).  I had only seen two XJC's on the road over the years and English friends said they were even rare in England.

The Jaguar XJC came standard with climate control, electric windows, power assisted rack & pinion steering, leather interior, central locking, four wheel disc brakes, independent suspension all round etc., and it was a Jaguar, a brand I had admired since I was a kid.

I found my car

I finally located my 1977 Jaguar XJC in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton and purchased it from a 70 year old grandmother who was finding it too big to drive.  She really didn’t want to part with it and became emotional when it came time for delivery and went into her house rather than watch me drive it away.

It was part of her 86 year old husband's Estate (he died six months prior) and he had owned it for eighteen years.  He was the second owner and it came with the original owners handbook and service book showing regular services for all of its 100,000 km (60,000 miles) and it had been garaged all its life.  This was a fairy tale find and too good to pass up.

It had been delivered by Bryson Motors in Melbourne, still had the original registration number and was one of only 96 XJC V12's delivered new to Australia.  Only 42 of the original Australian XJC V12 imports are known to still exist and the Greensand colour was the fourth most popular colour (21 imported).  My car appeared to be the only Coupe imported in the Greensand exterior and Olive leather interior combination.

It was in very good, original condition and had only a couple of spots of minor rust and a few minor scrapes on the body.  The paint work was mainly factory original and in good condition and the interior was clean and neat with no damage to the leather trim.  The roof lining needed replacing and the climate control was not working.  Mechanically it was very good and the V12 engine bay was all original with no signs of fiddling or non-standard changes. 

So the deal was done and I drove home in my shiny old Jag with a grin from ear to ear.  It wasn’t perfect but provided an excellent solid car that could be turned into a top example with minimum restoration – or so I believed.  What actually happened over the next few months was that I became very fussy and enthusiasm got the better of me and I ended up with a major restoration – and that’s covered in the restoration pages.
Jaguar XJC V12
Jaguar XJC V12
Jaguar XJC V12
Stunning Jaguar Coupe
Plush interior by Jaguar
Jaguar XJC interior
The Jaguar XJC V12 engine bay, crowded and challenging to work on
Jaguar XJC V12 engine bay
Strikingl Squadron Blue Jaguar XJC with optional Kent Alloy Wheels
Classic Jaguar XJC side profile
First impressions

When I first started to drive the XJC I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth and quiet it was for a mid 1970's car.  It cruised effortlessly and needed a constant eye on the speedo to keep it within legal speed limits. It was a V12, powerful, smooth, quiet, complex and thirsty.

I hadn't wanted a V12, I was actually looking for a six, but the car was just too good to resist.  The 5.3 litre V12 with 285 bhp (212 kw) was very smooth and quiet and as the revs build so does the power.  Not the harsh acceleration of a V8, but turbine smooth progressive power.  Everything is silent up to 3,500 rpm then you are gently pushed back into the seat and the V12 growl starts and doesn't quit until you hit the 6,500 rpm red line by which time everything is a blur and you are looking for the brakes!  Road tests when the XJC was new claimed a top speed of 140 mph (225 kph)!  I found it would cruise effortlessly at 100 mph (160 kph) and still accelerate rapidly if you put the pedal to the metal!  I wasn't game to test the top speed theory but the way it performed I didn't doubt it.  And it was as solid as a rock at those speeds and handled twisty roads with ease.  A true European grand tourer.

The down side to all of this performance is fuel consumption.  It's rather heavy on fuel and only gives about 12 to 14 miles per gallon.  The best I achieved on a long highway trip was 16.5 mpg at a steady 110 kph.  The XJC has twin fuel tanks with a capacity of over 90 litres between them.  When driving quickly it seems that the fuel gauge is moving faster than the clock!  Oh well, I only drove it on weekends and just had to save all my spare cash for fuel.

The more I drove the car the more aware I became of  the questionable build quality that Jaguar were notorious for under British Leyland in the seventies.  They hadn’t paid the attention to detail that they should have and even though the car was well engineered, very solid and generally well constructed the detail work just wasn't up to standard.  During the restoration I paid particular attention to improving panel fit, weather sealing and assembly to improve on the original factory standard.

Long term impressions

After completing the restoration I drove the XJC for nearly 10,000 kilometres over a couple of years, including interstate trips to Sydney (2,000 km) and Canberra.  I am pleased to say that the car was very reliable and a real pleasure to own and drive.  The smooth power and quiet, supple ride made for effortless cruising and it was just so enjoyable to drive on a long trip.  Heavy fuel consumption is something you learn to live with, however it is more than compensated for by the superb ride, handling and the performance of that silky smooth Jaguar V12.

As an active member of the Jaguar Car Club of Victoria (JCCV) I regularly entered the XJC in car shows and the occasional Concours d'Elegance, and often came away with a much appreciated award.

Jaguar XJC V12
Jaguar XJC V12
Jaguar XJC V12
Replacing my classic XJC Jag

After a couple of years of trouble free motoring and winning several trophies from Jaguar Concourse events, I decided that it was time to move on to another beautiful Jaguar that I had always admired.  The XJ Coupe had given me no trouble and I really enjoyed driving and displaying the car, but I was after a new experience and this time I purchased an iconic sports car.  The XJC was sold to an enthusiastic new owner in sunny Queensland and I took possession of my new hobby car, a 1972 Jaguar E-Type V12 series 3 2+2.  The E-Type is powered by the same 5.3 litre Jaguar V12 as the XJC, except it has carburettors instead of fuel injection.  A totally different beast to the XJC, the E-Type is a sexy, standout sports car that every classic car fan wants to own.

More information can be found on my Jaguar E-Type web pages.
Jaguar E-Type V12
The new toy that replaced my Jaguar XJC
My new Jaguar hobby car