Preserve or Swap: 1976 Jaguar XJ6 Coupe

Years ago, I visited a car museum on Cape Cod (Toad Hall, well worth stopping in if you’re ever out near Hyannis Port) full of British classics. Easily one of the prettiest cars there was a 1976 Jaguar XJ12 coupe, and this tired XJ6 retains those same good looks with six fewer cylinders. The seller claims he just won’t have time to tackle this project after owning it many years, and you’ll find it here on eBay with some rust issues and no bids. 

The XJ6 and 12 coupes really stand apart from their sedan siblings, which seem to almost litter junkyards and shady used car lots by comparison. The coupes had a fairly short production run (unlike the later XJS, which was made in significantly higher volumes) and are hard to find in survivor condition today. This one isn’t quite a survivor, as it needs extensive rust repair, but it’s at least one of the few that haven’t been swapped out in favor of a SBC V8 upgrade.

The interior looks great for a car that’s been sitting. Add into the fact that the old-school luxury interiors have usually completely disintegrated by now and it’s even more impressive to see intact leather seats and a presentable wooden insert on the dashboard. The automatic is fairly typical for these cars, but the seller mentions having a few other replacement transmissions, which makes us wonder if this one is on its way out. A 700R4 and 4-speed with O/D are available for sale, too.

This example retains its stock six-cylinder but no word on whether it turns freely. While I realize the operating costs can be significant, I’m in favor of not swapping this car for a V8 powerplant unless absolutely necessary. Fewer and fewer are left that haven’t been cut up, and the coupes in particular are deserving of preservation. The seller’s opening bid of $2K seems reasonable but having a reserve is surely a deterrent for a buying a non-running Jag.

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  1. jdjonesdr

    I had one of these driving next to me in the city last week. Dark blue with the tan interior. Driven by a guy who appeared to be in his seventies.

    I drove next to him for 3-4 miles just looking at the car; it was that nice. Easy to see it was his baby.

    I’ve always wanted one, but I know I’ll never take the leap.

  2. Sparkster

    Hate the green , LS3 conversion ? Is this a GM sourced transmission on this year of Jag’s ?

  3. oilngas

    Transmission is Borg-Warner. Mine lost reverse. Replaced it with a 700-R4.
    A shop in Dallas, John’s Jags made the adapter kit. Made a huge difference in how it drove.

    • Clay Bryant

      Next time you loose a reverse,drop a qt. of diesel fuel in the trans and just sit and run it in place but shift the gears back and forth from low to reverse for 10 minutes or so. You can do the same thing with TransMedic or Trans-X. Might be the best 5 bucks ever spent. I know on older cars, the flow of trans fluid is changed by a ball that seats in a cup to block fluid one way and reverse the flow to that other gear. If crud builds up on that cup seat it allows fluid to flow by the ball and nothing performs(in that selection) Had the twin to this car 28 years ago and was a great performer except mine was a 12 cyl. coupe (74) and they only made 474 of them that year. I never had a problem but I heard some Jags had a problem “cooking” the computer that they had installed on the top of the engine and Jaguar solved it by moving it to the radiator support. Wondered about this for years. Any answers from knowledgeable Jag people out there…….? Great road car.

  4. Loco Mikado

    Borg-Warner auto transmissions always seem to get a bad rap on this and other sites but I have never have had one fail on me even though I had one that had 144,000 miles(totaled the car in an accident) which I beat the crap out of. Had 5 cars with a BW. On the other hand I have had failures of 4 Torqueflites, 2 Turbo Hydramatics and one Powerglide.

    • Bruce

      There are many reliable rumors that GM was selling Jag defective automatic transmissions for installation into their cars. If there was any question if there was a problem instead of testing it or fixing it they sold it to Jaguar. I got that from two sources one who worked on the line in the factory that made them. That is why they got such a bad rap with Jag’s. The newer transmission would be a revolution especially in the V-12’s like my parents had. It was fast enough with the BW trans but it would be much faster and quieter I think with a better more efficient transmission.

      • ACZ

        Like most “reliable rumors”, that one has NO substance.

    • JagManBill

      I have an 85 XJ6 with 284,000 on it and same BW66 it started with. Never been out of the car. Serviced it every 30k (or so). I bought an 86 with a “bad” tranny once, took it home, crawled under it, adjusted the bands and its still driving. That was 6 years ago.

    • russell

      I’m not a big GM guy but their TH400 is probably the best automatic trans anyone ever made. The Toronado 455 with the front wheel drive TH transmission is so strong they put them in motor homes far heavier than a mere automobile, and they last and last.

  5. john from ct

    The big problem with the borg warner is thst it’s only a 3 speed and in third the engine is typically turning 3500 rpm or higher at highway speed. Poor mileage and also noisey. An R4 has both a low 1st gear and 4th is overdrive, so it is a much better match to the Jag 6 cyl. BTW its also a great substitute for the GM 2 speed powerglide.

  6. Ben T. Spanner

    I was a Jaguar Concours judge for more than a decade. The 2 door XJ6 and XJ12 have value with the original engine. Probably more value with a more modern transmission

    The V8 conversions,(also known as “lumps”) have much less value. If you are going to spend a large amount of restoration money, leave it original.

  7. Jake

    This with the original carbs-go thru the engine, swap the 700 R-4 tranny and do the mechanicals (brakes, fuel tanks, lines and such-great drivers and worth much more than a Chev V-8 conversion!!! Sweet looking rides and once get to the cosmectics-take off the vinyl top total paint job and enjoy the classic lines!

    • russell

      If someone wants a Jaguar, whey would they want it to have a Chevy engine in it? I can’t see why they would.

  8. Maestro1

    I’ve always wanted one of these. They are elegant cars, and will give many miles of pleasant driving. This one if bought right in terms of price would have upside potential but the engine has to stay with the car. And by all means the 4 speed transmission.

  9. David Miraglia

    Next to the E type, the XJ is the prettiest

  10. Chimmy

    I owned a 75XJ6L. It was a beautiful with dual side draft Strombergs, it ran smoothly but was expensive to repair. The old saying goes like this:
    You know why they don’t have ice in England?
    Because they have Lucas freezers!

  11. sluggo

    We have many friends who are Jag owners and collectors, also the All British Field meet is well attended with some stunning examples and the Jag club is always well represented.
    That being said, Most of these are wonderful cars with the right owner, but they have a lot of quirks and some are expensive.
    Our friend has a sedan all stock and my wife always wanted one of her own. We picked up a deal on a EFI sedan and it was a nightmare. There are very compelling reasons to swap in a SBC and If you do, I recommend the Jags That Run aka JTR conversion manual. 2 things to note on these… They are big heavy cars, cornering can be tricky because they tend to be so smooth and glide along and then you realize how fast you are going too late.,, on EFO models on a regular basis CLEAN the fuel tank filler necks and keep the vents clear. If not they are alloy tanks and they collapse into a crushed beer can and VERY expensive and difficult to replace.

    As to Lucas,,, “A gentleman does not motor about after dark”
    Joseph A Lucas.

  12. oilngas

    There nothing more disappointing than seeing a beautiful Jag that sounds like a Impala when you turn the key.
    A little bit of trivia: All XJC’s were built from the 4 door body which required the roof to be cut into 4 pieces. It was faster and cheaper to cover it with a vinyl top than do the lead work.

  13. Gaspumpchas

    lucas electrical system- King of darkess….

  14. Marauder

    After owning four Jags, might I recommend passing on this one and holding out for one that has already been sorted? Unless you are an amazing mechanic fluent with the marque, of course. Even if you have deep pockets, you don’t need the headaches. Find and drive the best one you can, and take care of it. You will love it!

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