Junkyard Find: Small Block Chevy-swapped 1969 Jaguar XJ6

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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.
Join the conversation
2 of 22 comments
  • 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?

  • Greg Greg on Jan 23, 2023

    Yes, here in Australia too in times gone by there were people in the Jag club who had fitted Buick 400's & 454's to both series 1 xj6's & also to the bigger mk10/420G's as there is plenty of room and the big block Buick v8's are still lighter than the Jag 6 cylinder!!

  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.
  • Crown They need to put the EcoDiesel back in the Grand Cherokee. I have a 2018 and it has been the most reliable vehicle I ever owned. 69,000 miles and only needed tires, and regular oil and fuel filter changes.
  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.