Junkyard Find: Small Block Chevy-swapped 1969 Jaguar XJ6

junkyard find small block chevy swapped 1969 jaguar xj6
The Series 1 Jaguar XJ, built for the 1968 through 1973 model years, sold fairly well in the United States but became a rare sight in self-service wrecking yards well before the 20th century was through. I photographed this ’69 in a Northern California yard all the way back in 2007, when I was busy harvesting clocks for my collection and gauges in general for my team’s 24 Hours of Lemons Volvo, and I think it’s time to share them.
Jaguar straight-sixes weren’t horribly unreliable, at least by the standards of the 1960s, but the good old Chevy 350 has always been tantalizingly affordable when the Jag’s original engine gives up. This was a very, very common swap, given the Jaguar’s spacious engine compartment and the overabundance of cheap small-block Chevrolet engines going back to the 1950s.
The shadow of the yellow-on-blue California plate, drawn in road dust, remains visible. The first year for the blue plates was 1969, so this may have been the car’s original license plate.
Would you trust any of the Lucas– or Smiths- built electrical components you see here? As I recall, I bought the clock and voltmeter, neither of which worked.
It was beat-up and showed ample evidence of liberal application of body filler, but it didn’t seem rusty. Worth restoring in 2007, with the Great Recession just getting into gear? Probably not.
It’s better to imagine a car like this when it was a very luxurious status symbol, not what it became during its decline-and-fall years.
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  • JimC2 JimC2 on Apr 02, 2018

    I remember the fender gas tanks in these- not a great plan for salt country! I remember the Jag 6 cylinder engine being heavier than the Chevy V8 conversion, so I'm not surprised to see @pwrwrench cite a figure of 100 lbs. The Stromburgs and SUs were good carburetors, but they needed a bit of particular care from someone who knew what they were doing. Their undoing is you could always tune old ones to get the engine started and to idle, but that didn't mean it would run well. They were particularly sensitive to throttle shaft bushing wear- that would screw up the idle mixture, which you would compensate for with a mixture adjustment, but that adjustment would then screw up the mixture the rest of the time. There were a few other specific areas of attention, and then finally synchronizing both (or all three like on the XKE) needed a knowledgeable person, who could accomplish the task in a matter of minutes. An unknowledgeable person could waste hours and still not getit right. Ahh, carburetors. Keep in mind that contemporary Holley 4BBLs and Carter Thermoquad, Rochester Quadrajet, etc. also needed particularly knowledgeable service to keep running well. With enough neglect, an engine with any of those could certainly be made to run like crap- but people with the knowledge have always been easy to find on this side of the pond.

    • See 2 previous
    • JimC2 JimC2 on Apr 03, 2018

      @pwrwrench "IIRC, we’re going back over four decades, very few carbs had throttle shaft bushings." I can't say I realized that. I "made my own" bushings, not knowing any better, but knowing that my twin SU throttle shafts had way too much play. Really, I just took some thin brass tube from the local hobby shop, cut to length (about 1/4") and pushed them on my throttle shafts about where they should go. My new bushings were too tight, so I chucked the throttle shafts in my drill and turned them in a wrapping of fine grit sandpaper, bit by bit, wiping them down each time to try the fit again, until they fit. That took a couple hours. And then my old car ran so much better!! "Customers did not like the cost of rebuilding the carbs and the throttle shaft replacement." I can see this, but knowing what is involved I personally think that less than half the price of new carbs would be a bargain.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Apr 02, 2018

    A lot of the transplanted XJs I've seen over the years, going back to the '80s, ran Buick 400s rather than SBCs. Was this because of the displacement versus physical dimensions?

  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.
  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.