By on January 4, 2010

Ian's inspiration

This is one of exactly 1,873 Jaguar XJ-C V12 coupes ever made. Like a fine wine, I was saving it for a special occasion; but what better time to break it out than to coincide with today’s feature on Jaguar styling with Ian Callum. Undoubtedly, the XJ-C and XK-E are the two most divine, essential, and final manifestations of Sir William Lyons’ fertile Jaguarium. Never again would the leaping cat grace such a sublime creation. Given that Ian Callum’s difficult task was inspired by this very car, lets savor this fine vintage white Jag today.

you've got your work cut out for you in topping this, Ian

We did an in-depth CC on an XJ-12 sedan a while back, so we’ll stick to mainly just drooling over this limited-production coupe version of one of the all-time handsome cars ever. Jaguar showed the Coupe in 1973, but technical production issues kept it out the showrooms until the 1975 model year. It should not come as a surprise that even with the delay, these coupes had problems with water leaks and wind noise. The Brits had none of the experience that Detroit did making pillarless hardtops; to my knowledge, this was Jaguar’s one and only attempt at this body style.

is the prince of darkness at work in that lovely burl dash?

To have a graphic representation of how this car was actually built, one needs to just remove the inner door liner and see the welds of where two of the shorter sedan front doors were cut and welded together to make a coupe front door. Definitely not Body by Fisher technique. Since all the Coupes came from the factory with vinyl roofs, there was a presumption that it was done to cover up weld marks there too, but as our example shows, that was clearly not the case.

In all, just 8,378 XJ-Cs left the Jaguar works, ending in 1978. The bulk of them (6,508) were powered by the XK series six, and the rest by the V-12, whose problematic birth and early years we covered in that earlier CC. It lives up to its “turbine smooth” demeanor, when it’s working. Since this one is sitting around the corner from an exotic-car mechanic’s shop, it’s hard to say whether its turbine is spinning or not. Not our problem, right? We can just sit and ogle, and let someone else worry about the bill.

no bad angles on this gem

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38 Comments on “Curbside Classic: Jaguar XJC V12 Coupe...”


  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The hood is so badly misaligned that you could put your entire 5 fingers in the upper portion and the door weather stripping is falling off the bottom of the door and thus hanging outside for all to see. Nevertheless this is indeed a rare Jag and one with some style.

  • avatar
    krazykarguy

    I can’t believe that I have never heard or seen of this car.
     
    These articles are the best part of TTAC right now. I love the “Curbside Classic” series. It’s almost enough to be it’s own blog!
    Every single car featured is significant in it’s own right, and it’s cool to see cars that haven’t been seen on Vermont roads since the 1980’s!

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I’ve only actually seen one of these in my life, and like this example it was in a specialty import repair shop. Makes one wonder…

    That being said, I often wondered why Jaguar pursued development of the XJ-S, rather than refining the XJ-C. In my opinion, the S always seemed a bit bloated, and lacking the visual grace of the XJ-6/XJ-C.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    And behind it, if I’m not mistaken, sitting  E24 ///M6 (aka ///M635CSi in North America).

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Saw one just a few weeks ago, probably the 2nd or 3rd sighting I’ve ever had of one of these.  too bad they never run as great as they look.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Beautiful and stylish. Makes a great driver with a Chevy drive train.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I have never seen one. It is a beautiful car.
    There is always the small block chevy conversion. (reality bites)

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    I loved the one that Patrick MacNee/John Steed drove on the Seventies revival “The New Avengers” that replaced his vintage Bentley.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I have never seen an XJ-C in the flesh. It is a handsome car, but to speak of it in the same breath as the E is blasphemy. The E is one of the most beautiful cars ever, and probably number 1 in the mass production group.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Beautiful car…and even the dashboard has an appeal far superior to the Remco-Crystal Set Radio dashes currently used by Mercedes, BMW, etc.
    (I’m ignoring the radio hole bleeding wires….of course.)
    Gads, I really wish the Brits built those darned things well.  Their engineers are superb (I worked with some doing doctoral work over there.)  However, their managers are beyond incompetent, and those decisions are what led to the awful build qualilty.  (And – of course – taught our bankers everything they know…)

  • avatar
    Acd

    Very nice car and article Paul.  If only Jaguars from this era had been built with the quality of the 450 SEL parked in front of it!  Hopefully you took a few pictures of the Mercedes while you were there.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Sure, and there’s another set of numbers that goes on right side of that trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      CRConrad

      “6.9”?
       
      That, and the A-M Lagonda (the wedge with the spaceship interior), they were what I planned to have in my garage besides the BB, 450 Hai (etc, etc) — for when I needed to transport more than just myself and Maud Adams or Barbara Bach. The Maybach and Phateon of their day.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    I know a guy in Minnesota that has a couple of these (one a parts donor) and indeed they all had vinyl tops… his explanation was that the roof panels that they used did not hold up well and would distort from body flex… so their solution was to cover them in vinyl.  How British.
     

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    It’s 1978, the first national fuel crisis is still fresh in your memory from 5 years prior and I question why in the name of everything that’s holy would one wish to buy a 12 cylinder car with a dubious electrical system. I am sure these things got single digit mpg’s.
     

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Why cars from Old Blighty failed so miserably, to sum it up one could write a few Doctoral dissertations and not run out of material.
    Can start from Lucas, Prinz of Darkness, to BLMC to the Onion folks and Labour Govt.
    These V12 were prone to overheat, some owner says u have to clean out the A/C condenser, if dirty it will cause dirt yo get sucked up in between the 2 rads, and plug up the rad.
     

  • avatar
    blowfish

    It’s 1978, the first national fuel crisis is still fresh in your memory from 5 years prior and I question why in the name of everything that’s holy would one wish to buy a 12 cylinder car with a dubious electrical system. I am sure these things got single digit mpg’s.
    Jag ownership  are not for normal folks, u need lots of mulla and brain is not an option at all.
    Or they call it using good money to chase after bad money.  Burning Chivas regal to heat up your house.
    U have any brain u buy the car infront of the pic, a Merc.
    As some bloke here said his CPO Lexus 400 never required any W work the that came with the extended Warranty.  Is like when u buy a Life Ins, last thing your Loved ones  need to do is to cash out the indemnity.
    Seems the newer Mercs had losted the reliability once had. Built like a Sh*t brick house.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    This is my all time favorite Jag. As a kid I used to scan the Browns Lane lot looking for them. I could only imagine the sort of person who would buy and run such an expensive and compromised vehicle; it was a status I seriously aspired to and never achieved.

  • avatar
    jimperial

    No cut lines across roof stamping since it’s actually the same pressing as the by-then dicontinued SWB sedan used with modified C pillars. A friend had an XJC 4.2 that was the recipient of bulk $ from the prior owner. Looked beautiful, black vinyl over silver with saddle leather. Bought as a retirement toy the thing had so many ongoing small faults he lost interest, it didn’t last two years. No, I didn’t buy it. Sometimes wish I had. Even I wouldn’t contemplate owning the V12.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Through the years I’ve seen many a good debate over whether or not the XJ Coupe was more or less beautiful than the XJ Sedan.  (Sort of like whether or not the Cord 810 Roadster and Phaeton are more beautiful than the Custom Beverly and Westchester Sedans.)  One of those arguments than can never be won.
     
    I also remember reading about how a Jaguar advertisement referred to the XJ Coupe as “The Corporate Sports Car,” which led to one of the car magazines labeling the XJ Coupe “The Corpulent Sports Car” in a road test.  In retrospect the car is lean and compact and the styling has held up well.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Early to mid-90’s, I saw a very unusual creation. A German-reg Jaguar XJ-C, on vacation in Sweden. I grew up in a holiday town, so it was not unusual to see a lot of tourists and strange cars during the summer. But this one was more unusual than that, because it had been updated to Series III configuration. Knowing that the Coupe was discontinued during the Series II duration, I took a long and hard look at the car. Not only was it updated, with those peculiar triangular rear light, and vinyl roof deleted. On top of that, it had a body kit, with new and painted front and rear bumpers, and plastic skirts in between. The car was painted grey on grey, with the lower part of the car, with bumpers and skirts,  a darker shade of grey. I didn’t really know what to think of it. The body-kit looked better than it sounds, it was quite tasteful. But such a sacrilege on such a beautiful car to begin with. Knowing the Germans, I didn’t know what to think of them either. Either the owner had to much humour and just didn’t care, or he had none of it. Like the Germans love for David Hasselhoff, you really just don’t know which is which…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I had a seriesIII XJ 6 for a couple  of yrs.  I loved the DOHC I6 and the body lines, the rest of the car was the POS I have ever owned.  Never liked the looks of the  XJS or the E .

  • avatar
    Forty2

    That underhood shot is the stuff of nightmares: five miles of vacuum/fuel/mystery lines and 94 relays, half of which work intermittently at best.
     
    Beautiful car, though.

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    There’s a few technical problems with the article…

    This is one of exactly 1,873 Jaguar XJ-C V12 coupes ever made.

    1855 according to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust archivist.

    The Brits had none of the experience that Detroit did making pillarless hardtops; to my knowledge, this was Jaguar’s one and only attempt at this body style.

    Are you trying to suggest the ability to engineer one is some arcane skill beyond anyone else but the Michigans? And I bet if truth be known most of the Detroit ones were just as noisy and leaky

    Brits built plenty of pillarless saloons, including numerous coachbuilt Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Lagondas etc. More mundane examples include the Sunbeam Rapier and the Ford Consul. …as for Jags besides the XJCs aren’t the current XKs also pillarless?

    To have a graphic representation of how this car was actually built, one needs to just remove the inner door liner and see the welds of where two of the shorter sedan front doors were cut and welded together to make a coupe front door. Definitely not Body by Fisher technique.

    The last sentence is funny, because that’s exactly who build the bodies for these Jaguars..Pressed Steel-Fisher! (although only distantly related to the US company).
    But in any case they were actually well made doors and as you’ll see the extention piece was not merely the rear end of another door, it was a unique pressing albeit from a modified standard tool. For a small volume, this is a perfectly acceptable technique.
    http://www.xjcjaguar.ozcarnut.com/xjc_history/jaguar_pixe1/doorjoin.jpg

    In all, just 8,378 XJ-Cs left the Jaguar works, ending in 1978. The bulk of them (6,508) were powered by the XK series six, and the rest by the V-12

    Whilst 8378 is technically ballpark for XJs (it’s actually 8342) you’ve forgotten about the 2084 Daimler variants they made. Total production was 10426 of all Series II coupés. Production ended in 1977 not 1978.

  • avatar
    d002

    With all its guts spilling out of the dashboard.  Yup.

    The sound of that V12 by the way, was absolutely, manically, glorious.

  • avatar

    Though I think the Series III XJ is the best looking sedan ever made, and obviously the best looking four door  XJ, the XJ-C is a thing of beauty unto itself.
     
    Among Jaguar enthusiasts, the Coupe is particularly notorious for unreliability and poor build quality. A particularly unreliable Jaguar? Now that’s an automotive landmark.

  • avatar
    nutbags

    Didn’t Jaguar or Group 44 race one of these?  I recall seeing a photo of an XJ-C racing in Group 44 colors but my memory is not what it used to be.
    Quite a nice looking auto.  Makes you wonder where all of the ‘designers’ have gone.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    In the early 80s I worked in an all-night gas station, and I had a regular customer who had one of these as a daily driver. One day she turned up driving something mundane, and I asked where the Jag was. Her mechanic had managed to drop it ten feet off a lift, and destroyed it.

  • avatar
    TheDarkPhoenix

    I am one of the few fortunate enough to own one of these cars. Mine is a “signal red” 76 XJ12C and I have to say, the car is astounding! I’ve always wanted one and finally was able to snag one. As with all British Leyland productions there are definetly some quality quirks but no more then any other Series II cars of the era.

  • avatar

    Gorgeous cars. Always loved the look of them, and wil own one someday (but NOT stock). I’v ehad a couple Series III XJ6s, and other then rust on one from living in Connecticut all it’s life, only a couple simple mods made them completely reliable daily drivers. Cleaning the alternator contacts made teh charging systems work all teh time, same with cleaning the fuel tank switchover contacts. But a stakedown kit in the head (a $35 part and a half hour of time) cured internal engine unreliability, and replacing the lucas starter with a bosch gear reduction unit cured all starting problems.

    I’d love an XJ12C like the one shown, and since there’s no reason to leave it stock, redo the wiring with a street ord wiring harness and update the carbs/fuel injection and ignition with a MegaSquirt setp. Vastly simplify what’s underhood as the engine itself is pretty solid.

  • avatar
    bigworm

    paul you took these pictures of my car without asking for them so im gonna have to ask you to take them down now! you have no right take picture of peoples cars without asking them so im asking nicely please take them down and the mercedes and bmw in the pictures are mine too and you have no right posting them. so take my pictures down and we wont have a problem 

    • 0 avatar

      If you don’t want your car to be photographed, don’t leave your private property with it, ever. The legalities of photographing cars on public property is a non-issue. Maybe you better tell google street view not to photograph people’s cars and houses, and even the people themselves…
      Photographers have been shooting street scenes forever, fortunately. It makes for interesting history.
      Anyway, I don’t work here anymore, so you’ll need to take it up with the owners of this site, a corporation based in Canada. I’m sure your attorney will be happy to spend some time to look into it for you.
       


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