Jaguar created the XJ6 series back in 1968 as a contender in the luxury full-size car market. The first series was the last car that Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons worked on. They were built on the Mark X sub-frame with either a 2.8L or 4.2L V6 XK engine.
The XJ6 had the proud, strong Jaguar grille with dual front headlights and a wraparound chrome bumper. The bonnet was a long, shapely design with a swept-back windscreen and slightly dipping roofline. The unusual feature about the rear was its twin fuel tanks, which necessitated two fuel caps, one on each rear wing. In 1972, the wheelbase was extended giving extra legroom and also came with the option of a V12 engine, which filled the seemingly ample engine bay, and the grille was given a simpler look.
The Series 2 facelift came out in 1973. These were all based on the longer wheelbase, and they had higher bumpers and therefore smaller grilles. There was also a coupe versions produced between 1975 and 1978 which had a hardtop roof, using the shorter wheelbase and the larger rubber bumpers, which by then had become standard across the Jaguar range.
The next big change came in 1979 with the release of the Series 3 Jaguar XJ6s. These again used the longer wheelbase and had the Italian styling of the Pininfarina. They gave the car a narrow chrome strip on the integrated bumper, a complete rear light cluster, and safer, flush door handles.
The Series III eventually saw the end of the XJ range. In 1992, the last of the models rolled off the production lines as Jaguar replaced the XJ6 with the XJ40, which was intended to address all the issues about production and build quality.
The V6 engine that was initially fitted into the XJ6 produced a sweet ride. It kicked out 152kW and had a torque rating of 314Nm. Typically, the V12 that came into production with the Series 2 cars had a power output of 217kW and squeezed out 432Nm of torque.
The XJ6 Series III came in three variants, fitted with the choice of either a 5.3L V12 engine or the 4.2L and 3.4L V6 engines. The majority of the engines were twinned with automatic gearboxes, and these units could get the Jag from a standing start to 100km/h in 10.3 seconds. They had a top speed of 241km/h. On average, the fuel consumption was around 16L/100km, with the big thirsty V12s managing 100km on 28 litres of fuel.
As long as petrol costs were not of concern, then the XJ6 made up for its consumption with the quality of its ride and the precision of its road handling. To overcome concerns about quality control and reliability, Layland Australia offered a special Mastercare Plan, which ensured that any initial build problems with the Jags were ironed out before they reached 40,000 kilometres or 3 years off the production line.
Power assisted steering and leather upholstery were supplied as standard in the first XJ6. By 1976, the XJ6s assembled in New Zealand featured half-leather, half-draylon upholstery, vinyl roof, rubber mats, chrome wheels, and air-conditioning as standard.
In 1979, the XJ6 III came with the option of a sunroof and cruise control. By 1982, they were fitting trip computers as standard in the V12 versions of the XJ6, and the ‘pepper pot’ alloys were a popular choice. Management changes in 1980 saw a radical overhaul of production and included a number of extras to gain favour with Jaguar fans. The Series III now had intermittent wipers, sealed halogen headlights, a more comfortable electric, adjustable driver’s seat, lumber support, and headrest.
Security also became a major talking point in 1980, and Jaguar issued a 3-key locking system that offered varying levels of access. You could either open all the locks with one key, or another key only opened the car doors, while a third would only turn the engine on.
In the full-size luxury market, there are few pretenders to the crown. Jaguar XJ6 pitted itself against the German precision of Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi as well as the style of Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Once Jag finally managed to dispel fears of build quality, there was plenty to like about the XJ6. It was a gorgeous car to drive, handled magnificently, and was quiet inside. It was innovative engineering-wise, and it was generously packaged, as standard, for the time.
One of the main attractions of the XJ6 in the luxury market was its price; it was half that of the Mercedes. Even now, its depreciation value still means you can pick up a quality classic motor at a fraction of the price of its German counterparts. And thanks to the Mastercare Plan, the majority of initial quality issues are history, and these days, it is only the issue of ownership and standard of care that buyers need worry about.