Swaps? All Of The Looks With Modern Power?


Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Regular Barn Finds readers will be aware that I’m looking to eventually find a Jaguar Mk. VII, VIII or IX for my wife. So when reader Peter R. sent in this find and suggested it could make a nice wedding car, I immediately had other thoughts, especially when I saw the pictures of what looks like a decent body. Then I noticed that the drive train had been swapped for a Chevrolet 350 V8/automatic combination.


Ah, those curves! My wife fell in love with a Mark IX at a car show and has wanted little else since (but we’re not in a hurry because we’ll have to sell something else first). I’m not sure I like the idea of a swapped power plant, though, and we’ve run into a lot of them when looking for this type of Jaguar. I’m not sure whether it’s the desirability of the power plant for XK-series Jaguars that need them, or the complexity of the XK series engine, but there seem to be a lot of these big Jaguars out there with swaps. This one seems to be in particularly nice shape, but it has some things I don’t care for that seem to be common on this type of swap.


Many of them have the beautiful leather/vynide interiors replaced with velour. Why? Someone spent a lot of time either refinishing or preserving the wood here–why not return the interior soft goods to their former glory too?


On the other hand, the seats are brown. Why? With blue sides? Why? And this seems to be the case in a lot of swapped big Jags. Anyway, the seat does seem to be in nice shape, just not the same color as the interior sides.


Considering the swap, I would have thought they would have shown under the hood. As a matter of fact, I’m somewhat concerned about not being able to see the engine installation. All this thinking about the big Jaguar swaps had me wanting to ask you folks a question: if a classic is in nice shape with the exception of the drive train, how do you feel about inserting a readily available modern engine and/or transmission to keep a classic on the road? And if you’re interested in this Jaguar in particular, it can be found here on craigslist for a reasonable $6,000.


Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bill

    You can see the bad bodywork in the photos. Heaven only knows what horrors lie beneath the paint and Bondo.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

      You mean all that wavy white stuff ;-) Yup. You find that a lot too on Mk. VII/VIII/IX’s!

      Like 1
  2. Leroy

    I wonder what the driver’s side looks like. For the life of me, I can’t understand why a seller wouldn’t take more pictures and post ’em if he wants the vehicle to sell.

    Like 0
  3. jimbosidecar

    I’ve got 2 swaps and love them. A 1950 Ford F-1 Pickup with a Chevy crate motor and TH350 tranny mated to a 9 inch Ford rear end. I’ve taken this truck cross country many times either delivering or picking up old motorcycles. My other swap is a 1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe. It’s got a 327 with the TH350 and again a Ford 9 inch rear end. This car will cruise effortlessly at 75-80 all day long. I don’t mind the swaps at all.

    Like 0
    • Charles

      I have seen a more than a few cars that needed an engine and were destined to meet with the crusher. Someone liked the vehicle, bought it, swapped in a SBC and continued to enjoy the car for many more years. A swapped small block is not the worst outcome for a vintage vehicle. The SBC is plentiful, lightweight, cheap, dependable, economical to run, easy to fit, and simple, which translates to many people opting for that engine as a swap. A vintage car with updated brakes, suspension, and drivetrain is a good choice for someone who wants a vintage DD.

      I prefer original cars, and usually only buy low mileage originals for my own use. That does not mean that I don’t see the value of a modern running gear in an old car. It just so happens that the two low mileage original 80’s Trans AM’s that I own came from the factory with SBC engines. The trend these days is to swap an LS based small block into these cars, which runs the originality of those cars. Of course 50 years from now if these cars are still around, the owner may swap a new technology engine into them so that they can enjoy them and drive them safely in traffic as it will be in 2066. It will not matter to me, as I will be dead, rotten, and forgotten.

      Like 0
      • Horse Radish

        THERE HAS TO BE A huge SBC donor carcass grave yard somewhere….

        Like 0
  4. racer99

    It’s hard to get too negative on the swap since most likely at the time the swap was done the car might not have been worth much and the cost of repairing/replacing the stock engine was probably more than the car was worth. That’s probably also the story behind the mis-matched interior, etc.. Price is reasonable depending on what’s under the paint.

    Like 0
  5. Van

    I would be happier if the swap was a later model jaguar 4.2. Modern fuel injection and parts availability. Modern swaps dun well may save a car from the rust god. The dumbest swaps put a 502 or other big block in a car that can’t be driven safely when the power builds much past 300 hp.
    Anybody have any stories about this?
    And if your car is well sorted and built this way then you have done a lot of work and my hat is off to you.

    Like 0
  6. RayT

    I dunno, Jamie, I don’t think $6K is reasonable for a car that a) may well be a corroded Roach Motel under the paint and b) has the wrong powertrain underneath.

    I know Chevy-into-Jag swaps have been going on practically since the first Bowtie small-block was cast, but I tend to think the majority have been a waste of time. Experiences vary, but Jag powerplants were reliable if cared for and got the job done. I never even minded the Moss gearbox, but then I liked tuning SU carbs, too!

    These monster Jags aren’t at the top of my list anyway; would still love to own a 3.8 Mk II. But not with a SBC in it….

    Like 0
    • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

      Ray, I agree with you. I also agree with Van–if you are going to swap things, I’d put in an XK engine from a later Jag before I went with something entirely different.

      And just to throw gas on the fire, I’m one of the very few folks who prefer Strombergs over SU’s. I’ll let you have the Moss gearbox, though, although the only E-Type I ever drove with it wasn’t bad at all.

      Like 0
      • Horse Radish

        XJ (?) engine from a later car ?
        XK engines would be in earlier cars and that you don’t find too many anymore….

        Like 0
      • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

        I thought the engines were all called XK’s…maybe not? But yes, I’m speaking about one from an XJ6.

        Like 0
      • Eric Dashman

        Later XJ6/XJ40 engines and transmissions (assuming you’d swap both) have a complicated computer set up (complete with limp-home-mode…don’t I know!) that would make them a somewhat difficult swap. As much as you’d like to keep some measure of originality, the SBC and GM trans is likely to be a much easier and likely more reliable swap into an older non-computer Jag.

        John’s and others offer SBC swap conversions for the later XJs and even those can be dicey to do properly. In my XJ40’s case, I’m going to make the original engine work.

        Regarding Stromberg v. SU, I have both in 2 of my cars and I personally find the SUs easier to manage. A rubber hose works great for synching them :-)

        Like 0
  7. Ross W. Lovell

    . Greetings All,

    Disclaimer: I have a VIIM and a IX.

    I’m wondering why the car has the later rear wheel spats with the cutout rather than the solid ones?

    These had no rustproofing so there are concerns.

    Van, you bring up a good point, in light of the fact this model had drums. Putting a V8 into a nearly 3 ton car no doubt will make it go faster but stopping? Please allow me to introduce myself I’m the man with tons of brake fade.

    Have seen IX’s, that came with discs, with a V12 and newer injected 4.2’s both were fun to drive.

    Jamie, Strombergs over SU’s anytime……….as long as it’s an automatic. There’s a reason the call them Zenith-Strangleburgs, but SU had nothing in the pipeline that was Federally approved in the US.

    Like 0
    • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

      Ross, thanks for the additional information, I know whom to ask when we get serious about hunting for one!

      Right now, we own 4 SU carbed street cars, one SU carbed race car, and three stromberged street cars. I’ll take the ease of rebuilding a Stromberg with replaceable seals, replaceable diaphragms, and no dang spring-loaded toggles in the throttle plates any day.

      Like 0
  8. Michael Rogers

    I’ve had and driven a MK-VIII for 30 or so years and have found they’re very good rides, easy to work on, economical–kinda, LUXURIOUS! and RESPECTED when you arrive somewhere, This guy is a MK-VII with later skirts the interior looks like vinyl to me, To do the leather would cost lots unless you know how to sew and you need to ,CAREFULLY look over the wood, often some ham handed fool has sanded the knife edges off where they join, for an enthusiast that would be a serious mark down,
    The diff is common to almost every anurikun car at some point it came wit a 4:27 , good if you want to drag it. I put a 3:54 in mine.
    It’s a car to keep and pass on to you ‘properly raised’ kids!
    $6k might be a bit large if it is past restoration. You can find nice ones for $16K when you get to # 2-3 it’s up to how much the gal wants it!A BIG benefit is the comaddery of a Jag club, Nice people! The SF club was heavy professional that al lhat all had older cars and worked on themselves~hardly snobs!

    Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      Speaking of the wood — Take a close look, it’s all straight grain. Where’s the Burl [burr] walnut that it came with when new? I’ll tell ya where it is — the idiot sanded it all off because it was only a thin veneer! Having the 4 door cappings, the picnic tables & the dash panels redone will set the new owner back about $4k to $5k.

      If we can see the poor body work from photographs taken from 20 feet away, can you imagine what it looks like in person? Put on safety glasses before taking a look under the car, due to falling rust bits!

      Like 0
  9. MikeG

    I think it’s a shame when people swap drive trains. The resulting vehicle might as well be a replica & without that beautiful Jag power plant I would be little impressed. Also the quick and dirty swapper isn’t likely to have cared too much for faithfully restoring or maintaining the body or interior, it’s probably just as slap dashed. The wavy body panels are just the first signs.

    Like 0
  10. Scotty GStaff

    Jamie, you’d have room for this car if you sold me the Triumph Herald.. (kidding!)

    Like 0
    • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

      Scotty, if you are serious, my future son-in-law is trying to sell two plus a bunch of parts. Seriously. Cheap.

      Like 0
  11. Julles

    Question of you Jag guys, I live in Georgia and I was thinking of starting a business collecting and parting out old pre 1980 Jaguars. Bad idea or Good idea? I was thinking of it because I am having a hard time finding parts this side of the pond.

    Like 0
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Julles, how far back is pre-80?

      I’ve seen a fair bit of vendors over the years. Sheet metal seems to be the area most lack for me but then again not sure how well it would sell as most pass on cars needing welding as it’s beyond their skills.

      There is little money in these big ones, gorgeous cars but easy to get upside down.

      Seems like the post XK engines do not get the love due to the somwhat shorter production run compared to the XK.

      Surprised about not finding parts in Georgia. Several that I know down around that way and in Florida.

      Like 0
      • Julles

        Would you share some of those places that you know of in Georgia and Florida please? I am looking for a steering column, wheels, gauges and a wiring harness and many assorted parts that I need to scavenge off some old jags. I’m not looking to buy new. I can’t afford it and I am trying to make it as period correct as I can. When we finish, I want you to question for a minute or two whether it is real.

        Like 0
  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    Julles —
    If you already have a storage yard that’s approved by the state & county governments for storing/parting out vehicles, and room for at least 30 or more cars, then you have a head start. But you will also need a place to store the parts that you take off. And I’m not talking about throwing parts in old truck bodies, but inventorying them & storing where you can get to them quickly.

    The easy part is collecting the cars. The hard part is getting the parts off the car & into the customer’s hands, as 95% of your business will be by internet, then pack & ship.

    If you want to start this kind of business, I suggest you go to work for a local used auto parts company to see how it’s done.

    I started selling used Packard parts at the Hershey AACA meet in 1969 when I was 17. When I retired & closed my shop, I had about 130 cars on 4 acres, in a former Desoto-Chrysler dealership.

    Like 0
  13. Horse Radish

    Hey, I got a couple of these ‘monsters’.
    Mine are rust free but with dead drive lines.
    They are really nice styled cars and putting in a Chevy V8 is probably second of my choices after a more recent Jaguar swap.

    Like 0
  14. Mike

    I drive a 67 Ford F100 that has a Chevy 350 in it, I bought the truck at an estate sale back in the early 90’s, it had set for many years in an old out building. When I got it I paid 150.00 for it, even though I offered to pay more, but the people handling the estate did not care, the estate was being sold to benefit a charity. Anyway I get it home and that is when I discovered the block was cracked. So I let it sit. Finally after a couple of years walking around it in the shop, I decided to do something with it, my Son’s and I tore it down to the frame and started cleaning it up. It was actually in good shape considering its age and amount of time sitting in the old out building. As we were putting it back together, I went over to the bone yard at Dad’s shop, and found a wrecked 88 Chevy 2500 Pickup, that had a 3 speed in it and the 350 I wanted, so I pulled it out of the wreck cleaned it up and put it in the Ford. After I repainted the truck we had one of the guys make a sign that is fastened to the tailgate it says Made by Ford, but powered by Chevy.

    Like 0
  15. Steven C

    To me SBC swaps into anything are the most boring overdone thing in the automotive world.

    Like 0
  16. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Julles, not sure if you were referring to me about parts.

    Which car model and years for the parts are you looking for?

    Different vendors specialize in different models.

    Like 0
  17. Julles

    We have a ’56 Jaguar D-type recreation. It was in a museum before it caught on fire burning the body and interior. The engine is a 6cyl with triple carbs from an early 60’s 420 G. We are looking for Jaguar parts to put it back together again. We need gauges, wheels, wiring harness and steering column. We are hoping to scavenge them off of some early 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Jaguars. We have been to Coventry Jaguar but they blew us off and said that they had nothing that was pre 1985.
    If you know of some other places around here, we would be truly grateful.

    Like 0
    • Eric Dashman

      Here’s a 71 XJ in Fuqua-Varina (Wake County), North Carolina.
      Interesting that the price has gone up. A couple of months ago it was $400. I spoke to the guy and he’s a retiree who is just trying to get rid of it. It was funny. I was supposed to go see it but a snow/ice storm caused us to cancel. I tried to reschedule, left voicemail and sent email, but got no response. I was interested in some of the engine parts (same as my 71 E-type). Give it a shot.

      Like 0
      • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

        Hey, guys…I live in Fuquay, although I’m out of town until a week from today. If I can help, let me know.

        Like 0
      • Julles

        Van and I looked at the ad and texted the person but haven’t gotten a reply yet. It sounds really good.

        Like 0
  18. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Julles, okay now I remember your previous letter.

    Enclosed is my e-mail, you also reach me via Facebook and here’s why I’m doing it this way.

    Familiar with a fair bit of the replicas. Most likely the parts came from a Jaguar but if you have pictures of some of the stuff, like the steering column I can point you in the right direction. Don’t want to clog up BarnFinds with these things.

    E-Mail. rossw.lovell@yahoo.com
    Facebook, Robert William Lovell send a friend request/maybe do a chat.

    Example, gauges from a MKII or earlier will work depending on how they drove the tach, some driven from a tach generator on back of a cam. Depending on how authentic you need, correct gauge faces are available but I doubt most would notice. C-Types had a counterclockwise tach, which was still available on MKVII’s but not VIII’s.

    For some reason seem to remember a Spitfire steering column.

    What are you using for wheels? D’s had peg drive not wires.

    Like 0
  19. Dennis M

    Do not be afraid of an XK engine. They are really not all that “complex.” The Moss gearbox is actually trickier to rebuild.

    I have done a number of XK engines and other than “fiddly bits” as the Brits would say, they are pretty straightforward. Most time consuming thing is adjusting valves with shims. If you are good (or lucky) you can do it and only pull the cams twice!

    Like 0
    • Eric Dashman

      Yes, the shims. I have a whole box of shims….for a Fiat 124 Spider or a 128, along with the 2 tools to install them without taking out the camshaft. Unfortunately, they don’t fit the 4.2 XK engine :-(. I have a couple of sets from the 2 heads I have, but none of them are the correct sizes to adjust the valves. Do you know where the shims can be obtained? I know you have to figure out what sizes you need, which is a bit of a pain to begin with, but who has them and how expensive is each one? I’m thinking they’ll cost an arm and a leg. I’d rather give them one of my son-in-laws :-).

      Like 0
  20. Eric Dashman


    I don’t think he’ll respond to a text. I tried that and got nothing. I spoke to him on the phone the first time. I’d also consider taking Jamie up on his offer since he lives in Fuqua. The ad has a map to his place and I suspect that the car is visible from the street. He also seems to only want to have people show up on Sunday. I don’t know….people can be funny, but then again, I have enough trouble walking in my own shoes to question someone else’s lifestyle.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds