Muscle Cat: 1977 Jaguar XJ-S V12 Twin-Turbo

This sinister-looking 1977 Jaguar XJ-S is a vehicle of legend. Its existence is in part due to a secret horsepower war between two of Australia’s media titans. This car went perilously close to being lost forever due to a fire, but it has been rescued and returned to its former glory. The owner has decided to part with this big cat, so he has listed it for sale here at Lloyds Auctioneers & Valuers. The Jag is located in Carrara, Queensland, Australia, and at the time of writing, the bidding has reached A$68,000.

The late Kerry Packer was, at one point, Australia’s wealthiest individual. He was a colossus within the media industry, owning television networks, newspapers, and other media outlets. He was also passionate about performance cars, and he had the money to secure the best of the best. Unknown to most Australians, this passion brought with it a fierce sense of rivalry between Packer and radio personality John Laws. Both men had the money to get what they wanted, and both men were always striving to be the best. The result of this rivalry was a horsepower battle to rival any that you might find on a racetrack. Packer’s win-at-all-costs attitude led to a meeting with legendary driver and race car engineer Kevin Bartlett. They worked together to transform the rapid cat into a fire-breathing monster, but the car was almost lost forever thanks to a different fire. A subsequent owner raised this car from the ashes and transformed it into the beast you see today. Originally finished in British Racing Green, the person who rescued this classic repainted it in beautiful Black. It looks stunning, with a depth of shine and color into which you could almost sink. The gold pinstripe offers a great contrast and perfectly matches the centers in the enormous 3-piece Simmons B5 alloy wheels. Covering those wheels are a set of hand-beaten steel fender flares that add to this classic’s sense of purpose.

This XJ-S is about far more than mere muscular looks. When it was new, its 5.3-liter V12 would have been producing 285hp. Those horses were fed to the road via the rear wheels and a 3-speed automatic transmission. If the driver held the foot to the floor, the XJ-S would run out of breath at 150mph. For Packer, that was nowhere near enough. Once he had forged his friendship with Bartlett, work began in earnest to transform the Jaguar into the ultimate high-performance beast. Bartlett handed the vehicle to a company called Rymec, who scrapped the electronic fuel injection and bolted on a pair of turbochargers and some SU carburetors. After many problems, breakages, and the occasional engine bay fire, the fuel injection was refitted. Bartlett replaced the automatic transmission with a bulletproof 5-speed manual Getrag unit, and he swapped the rear end for a Detroit Locker. The V12 was now producing an incredible 1,200hp! However, fate intervened, and a workshop fire saw the Jag virtually destroyed. The remains were sold to another prominent Jaguar specialist, who resurrected the vehicle but detuned it slightly to make it a more civilized beast. Today, the engine still churns out 740hp, and with the rest of the drivetrain remaining as it was when owned by Packer, it still boasts some impressive performance figures. Pointed at a ¼ mile, it will devour the distance in 11 seconds. If the driver is brave enough to keep the pedal to the metal, the XJ-S will wind its way to an incredible 320 km/h (199mph)! The owner recently treated the car to a mechanical refresh, and this classic is ready to hit the road for a spot of rapid motoring.

When you look at the state of this Jag’s interior, it is hard to believe that it was once a smoldering mess. The previous owner treated the interior to a complete restoration, and it remains in as-new condition. There are acres of Creme leather, lashings of walnut timber, and pale carpet without a mark to be seen. The buyer won’t need to spend a dime on this interior because it is all close to perfect. Aftermarket additions include a CD player and a chunky leather-wrapped wheel. Creature comforts include power windows, power locks, and power seats.

The dash and pad of this XJ-S present perfectly, and you would almost think that the car had just rolled off the production line. Apart from the wheel, the only indication that this isn’t your average Jaguar is the pair of additional gauges mounted in the console to monitor the health of the monster lurking under the hood and the speedometer that is calibrated to 320 km/h. The owner claims that the needle can hit that mark, and when you consider the available power, I find that claim to be entirely plausible.

Kerry Packer was quite a character. He was a businessman with a fortune that was reputed to be more than a billion dollars, but he was a firm believer that a handshake deal was worth more than any written contract. His involvement with Kevin Bartlett went far beyond the work performed on this 1977 Jaguar XJ-S, although that is a story that could nearly fill a book of its own. This car stands as a testament to his desire never to walk the safe middle-ground. If Packer did something, he ensured that he always pushed the envelope of what was possible. That means that someone is about to become the new owner of one of the most potent examples of a Jaguar XJ-S ever to grace our roads. I envy them that.


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  1. Cadmanls Member

    Great story and the car looks to be finally completed and a beast. Can’t imagine what that V-12 sounds like, what a cat.

    Like 9
  2. Terrry

    Wow..and unlike some cars, putting large meats on the back with flares just makes this one a dangerous-looking, ready for serious business cat. Definitely stunning. I wish my wallet was thick.

    Like 9
  3. Dan August

    Does this car have a salvage title?

    Like 11
  4. A.G.

    Neat car! Hopefully the new owner will be skilled enough to take advantage of the car’s capabilities. An eleven second quarter mile (less a couple of feet) isn’t bad with a curb weight over two tons. The same goes for a 199 mph top end. A less-skilled driver could turn this car into scrap with a push of the loud pedal.

    Why are most auxiliary gauges mounted where the driver’s head has to turn to view them? At least idiot lamps are within one’s peripheral vision. How useful are this car’s console-mounted gauges at speed? To view the gauges the driver would have to turn their head left and look down. At least orient them to the driver’s view.

    Like 3
  5. Engident

    That engine bay hurts my brain. Replacing spark plugs, step 1: spend 10 hours removing engine

    Like 4
    • Skorzeny

      Like Subaru valve cover gaskets, step 1: remove engine.

      Like 1
    • tompdx Member

      The spark plugs are actually very easy access, sitting right on top in “the valley” next to the intake manifold ports. No need to remove the engine for any maintenance on these, but the front main seal is difficult to change without removing the radiator and A/C.

      Like 3
  6. tompdx Member

    The hood louvers are a nice touch – a nod to the XJS’s E-type heritage.

    Like 3
  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow this is definitely a super cat. Would love to hear it wind out, and unlike Demons and Hellcats, I bet this one would actually handle the 700hp without wrapping itself around a telephone pole 10 seconds into the go-pedal squish

    Like 4
  8. JBD

    Awesome V12 Jag and remarkable story and history. Early XJ-S’ cars are becoming rare and harder to find in unmolested state.

    Like 5
  9. Jim in FL

    Having owned several V12 XJS Jags, I would really like to see how they stuffed carbs & turbochargers in this beast. No pictures of undercarriage, carbs, or turbos…bummer!

    Like 3
  10. Mark

    Nice but not 68k nice… Not even close… A lot of money just to have all of those jaguar headaches.

  11. Leslie Martin Member

    I know this car is the answer to a question nobody asked. But I’ll ask it anyway; “What would a Viper would be like if it had been built by Jaguar?” Now I know.

    • Mark

      Problematic high maintenance euro junk. I used to work at a dealership that dealt with Jag, Benz, BMW, Audi etc and the petty problems with the Jags and BMW were endless.

  12. t-bone BOB


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