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LS Swap! 1972 Jaguar XK-E 2+2 Project

Called “The ultimate cat” in Jaguar sales brochures, the V12 XK-E mated a smooth and powerful V12 engine with the gorgeous E-type body. This 1972 Jaguar XK-E in Campbell, California prowls a different path than many classic Jaguars, packing a modern GM LS V8 in place of the elegant V12. The half-baked Anglo-American mash-up comes to market here on eBay, where potential buyers may choose Buy It Now $22,950 or tempt the seller with Make Offer. This price does not include the LS motor or transmission!

Witness the modern hot-rod motor of choice, the GM LS series V8. In prior decades, GM’s earlier SBC (Small Block Chevy) V8 found its way into Jaguars and scores of other unexpected places.Naysayers bemoaned how the iron SBC ruined the handling of cars born with more petite powerplants. No problem here, as the 460 lb LS weighs significantly less than the Jaguar V12’s “unexpected” weight of 680 lb. Ironically the engine pictures is a “test engine” and the price buys neither engine or transmission.

The 2+2 body offers additional storage and avoids concerns of water intrusion that plague convertibles, while striking a different yet handsome design compared to the drop-top “E.”

Despite the gutted interior, the Jaguar comes with many parts not pictured here. Professional hot-rods usually involve two builds:  one to sort the engineering and a second build where everything is removed, made pretty, and re-installed. While it would have been cheaper and easier to source an pickup-truck LS paired with an automatic transmission, this swap utilized a costly six-speed manual gearbox that’s more in-keeping with this Jaguar’s British roots. I visited England in 2019 and was thrilled to learn it was difficult to reserve a rental car with an automatic transmission. Global travelers to America (those without leg injuries anyway) are no-doubt horrified to find the opposite experience here. It’s embarrassing how a nation priding itself on controlling its own destiny has lazily abandoned controlling its own gear changes. Assuming this Jag’s original V12 was destroyed or otherwise beyond repair, I have no objections to building what will be a lighter, faster Jaguar. Is this LS-powered hot-rod an upgrade or pure blasphemy?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Don’t mind a good project, but a car that comes with nothing but a rolling shell sure isn’t worth 23K. Anyone agree with that?

    Like 35
    • Shawn

      Agreed, total crack pipe. Sure, it would at least be entertain-able if the LS and the tranny came with it.

      Like 14
      • Ward William

        Except the donk. Easy to source cheaply.

    • Ward William

      Read the Ebay ad. It comes with literally everything.

      • Steve Widlund Member

        Except engine.
        But it is sold.

  2. Tony Primo

    Petrol fumes have got to this seller’s head.

    Like 6
  3. Mikefromthehammer

    Wrong shade of green.

    Like 2
  4. Slomoogee

    Another case of watching to many auctions on cable.

    Like 4
  5. Sam61

    Let’s turn a phrase…you can’t get something for nothing. But you can get nothing for something ($22 large).

    I think the seller should market this, based on stance, as the first Jag gasser!

    Like 2
  6. Bruce

    If one plays with that V-12 Jag engine a reliable 500 HP is easily obtainable with gobs of torque that makes the Chev engine transfer look extremely foolish. Better yet you can replace that automatic transmission with a 5 or 6 speed that bolts right up. The GM LS engines are great but not in everything. The Existing owner by doing this is telling us that he is to lazy to figure out the tricks of a Jag engine or destroyed it and because he knows nothing else put a LS engine in. The lighter engine will still upset the balance far more than most expect. I have driven both a 500 HP V-12 Jag and a LS swap in a similar frame that the difference is amazing. The LS was a total wimp compared to the V-12 and at speeds the front end of the LS Swap would lift off where the V-12 was like a rock.

    BALANCE, BALANCE, BALANCE it is the critical factor for most sporting cars. Upset that balance and it is very difficult to get it back. Power is not everything. Power with the wrong weight and balance will more often than not give you more problems and a slower car than you had before. Not a car I would spend time on and I agree with others that the color of the sky this owner is living under is not blue.

    Like 16
    • Dave

      That V12 motor made 250 hp. I can see getting 300 “playing” with it, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say any more than that, like 500, will cost a phenomenal amount of money. With a simple cam swap the LS 5.3 will make 400hp. Put the same money into the LS as a 500hp jag motor and the sky’s the limit. Wierd handling from too little weight? Add ballast.

      With that said, it’s a shame the V12 isnt in this car.

      Like 2
  7. DeeBee

    Far too many people are screwing up perfectly good Jags, deciding to stuff cheap GM paperweights in a perfectly good machine!

    Like 2
  8. Melton Mooney

    In the 70s my body/paint guy swapped out the V12 in his XKE roadster for a Vega motor/trans, because the Vega guts were more reliable. His words.

    Like 2
  9. laurence

    One can easily get an affordable donor Jaguar V-12 for this E Type, from an XJ-12 or an XJS. One can also rebuild it with performance parts readily available and have a FAR MORE BALANCED and ORIGINAL E Type than some Franken-jag with an LS-5. By the way, the LS-5 in 1972 put out (in a Stingray) 270 bhp, while a ’72 Jag V-12 put out 272. Finding a “stock” V-12 from an XJS with upgraded Mays heads will by itself up the power by 20-30 bhp. When you put an American V-8 into a pedigree Jaguar, no matter how wonderful the other aspects of the restoration, your value winds up being half or less!

    Like 1
    • Dave

      The LS5 big block you’re talking about is completely different than the modern LS family. This Jag was set up for the modern LS. 4.8, 5.3, 5.7, and 6.0 liters.

      Like 1
  10. Gary

    Looks like a nice car, the Ls will make big hp with little effort/expense. He probably wanted to go further than around the block without a breakdown.

    Like 1
  11. Tracy

    Some redneck tried to ruin a cool old Jag. Thank god it’s for sale! Maybe it will land in competent hands to return it back to original spec. The obsession with a simpleton pushrod V8 is mind boggling.

    Like 1
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Tracy et. al. I normally favor original engines, so this is just to provide some counterpoint to the “simpleton pushrod V8” crowd. First of all, this car may have never covered another mile if it had to be propelled by a Jaguar V12, and now it’s setup for a motor that can be purchased for $600 or less from any junk yard in America. The pushrod design is favored FOR its simplicity and durability, which has proven effective in racing where you have to finish to win. This site blends the SBC and LS years, but anything after 1997? would apply to the LS including 8 Class victories at Le Mans since 2001 and 12 Manufacturer Championships since 2001

      Like 6
      • laurence

        Todd: WHO says that “…this car may have never covered another mile if it had been propelled by a Jaguar V-12”???… Where on God’s green Earth does such an arbitrary statement come from? The Jaguar V-12, when SERVICED at its correct intervals by a mechanic who is TRAINED in Jaguar maintenance, is a reliable powerplant good for a minimum of 200 thousand miles. Carefully maintained V-12 Jaguar motors are capable of much longer rebuild intervals. Jaguar engines are not RUSTIC engines that power anything from a hot rod to a pick-up truck. If not looked after per the owner’s manual they will eventually start to make very expensive noises and leak. If competently looked after they give you good service, don’t clang and won’t leak. It is up to the owner to decide on which side of this double-edged sword he or she wants to come down on. In 1971 Enzo Ferrari called Jaguar’s new V-12 “…the best V-12 in the world”. I suppose you would also put some $ 600 LS V-8 in a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO… Let’s also put LS engines in Lambo Miuras, Aston Martin DB-5s, etc Sorry, but I agree with Tracy et al.

        Like 2
      • trav66

        You misread what Todd said, “if it HAD to be propelled” by the original engine and trans. They are hard to find and a quick search found just the engine in Arizona for $7000 (not including shipping). This is already set up for a combo that can be found at the local salvage yard for around $1000 (including trans).

        Like 2
  12. laurence

    trav66: I am not looking here for some huge argument, but with due respect you are the one who has misread. Todd’s comment above isn’t about it having to be that brown car’s original engine. It says: “…if it had to be propelled by a Jaguar V-12”. Note the indefinite article “a”. Also, while I believe you when you say you found a Jaguar V-12 for seven thou, if you do a thorough search of wreckers, you can find aJaguar V-12 for a much more reasonable price, because apart from being used in E Types, it was used extensively in the ’70s and ’80s in XJ-12 and XJS Jags, which were far more numerous than E Types. Also be aware of the following: any E Type with an American V-8, at best, will never be worth more than half of what one with a correct engine is worth. Thus on a valuable E Type the V-8 will save you–let’s go with YOUR numbers–six thousand dollars. OK…but what would have been, say, a sixty thosand dollar car with a Jag powerplant (20-25% more if it were numbers-matching), is now a $35.000 or so car… How wonderful a deal is it really, to desecrate a valuable classic E Type with an incorrect and anachronistic LS V-8?…

    • Todd Fitch Staff

      About the LS in this car, I actually agree with parts of what everyone has said on the subject. Bottom line I suspect there are enough of these to serve everyone who wants to put one back to factory perfection plus PLENTY with non-operable V12s or trashed interiors, etc. that will never see a proper restoration or cover another mile or unless someone hot-rods them with an LS or another low-budget option. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my observation. The same is true the Model A Ford or the ’57 Chevy or other classics that cause people to flip out if they see one that’s not completely stock. If collectors felt that strongly about their favorite sorts of cars becoming lowly hot rods, they would establish an endowment to buy them all up and restore them. Until that happens, let the car serve the owner, not vice versa. There might be an angle where die-hard collectors say “good; this LS version makes my original one worth that much more.” Just my opinion, though, worth no more than any other. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts on the matter!

      Like 1

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