Junkyard Find: 1974 Jaguar XJ12

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Looking for some affordable V12 power? Check out this 1974 Jaguar XJ12L here on eBay, where a New Mexico junkyard is selling it after being locked up in storage since 1986. Although dusty, the dry, desert storage means this vintage Jag sedan is rust-free and also cheap, with a starting bid of only $1,682. 

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Of course, the downside to dry storage is the impact the sun usually has on an interior. This one is sun-beaten and cracked throughout, meaning replacing components like the dash will be necessary. You’ll also have to get friendly with a local automotive upholstery shop, though it shouldn’t be too hard to find one of these cars being parted out on the Jag forums. This is a long wheelbase model, so rear seat occupants enjoyed an additional four inches of comfort. There’s limo-like accommodations in the back seat, and who wouldn’t love staring at that wood dash and all of those gauges?

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The big question is just how difficult it will be to return this big cat to the road. The engine hasn’t been started since it went into storage and the gas tank will need to be drained. May as well replace the fuel filter and pump while you’re addressing the nuisance of old fuel, and check all the lines to make sure they don’t require replacing. Unfortunately, these Series II XJ12 cars have a notorious reputation for expensive upkeep with the added bonus of a cramped engine compartment. With four carbs and Lucas-sourced electronic ignition, you’ll want to determine what sent this car into storage for so many years.

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These are truly gorgeous cars, but like many vehicles from this era, they can be quite difficult – and pricey – to get running correctly. Although I love the coupe version known as the XJ12C, you’ll be hard pressed to find one of those in running, rust-free condition. This sedan will be a labor of love to bring back to life, but with a dry shell as your foundation, putting the work in to feel 244 b.h.p. under your right foot when it’s buried in the Jag’s thick carpeting could be worth it. I wouldn’t expect to ever make your money back, however, so personal satisfaction will have to suffice as your primary return on investment.

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Comments

  1. Dan h

    Wonderful cars when they are running well. Would I even consider renovating or even owning one?-no

  2. JagManBill

    unfortunately, if this has been off the road for 30 years, its a really nice/complete parts car. Unless performed as a labor of love, the cost to restore this is going to far exceed its market value. “IF” you got lucky, you would only have to rebuild the entire brake system, fuel system, cooling system, transmission and engine…oh wait…thats almost the whole car…

  3. brakeservo

    Hey, there’s a reason it was in the junk yard . . . just sayin’

  4. hhaleblian

    I owned a XL6C (coupe). Lovely lines. You could hear it rust at night. Never ever again.

  5. misterlou Member

    Jeff,
    Have you considered a career as pusher? That was the most compelling argument to buy this car.

  6. JagManBill

    I had a 74 XJ6. It was pretty, and it was a difficult car to keep running. Once I got most of the relays out of the ignition system it ran great. I had a 78 XJS with the FI version of this same V12 as this that was fun when it ran good, not so much when it didn’t (lots of electrical issues, especially the FI system). I currently have an 85 XJ6 that has been off the road for only 2 years and I know I will have to rebuild the brake system before I can drive it later this summer.
    The absolute worst thing you can do to a Jag is park it for any length of time.

  7. brakeservo

    As a former, and I do mean FORMER Jag owner, if you say that the absolute worst thing you can do to a Jag is park it, then the second worst thing, and perhaps much more frustrating thing to do is to drive it, or more correctly, try to drive it!

  8. Howard A Member

    Chevy V-8 and trans, you’d have a nice car. Very popular swap, and I heard good things about it. Now, where in the world would you ever find a Chevy V-8?

    • Jay

      I agree.

    • Keith

      Agreed Howard. even better: find one that’s already been done, let him take the financial hit and or busted knuckles, and enjoy!

  9. Rob

    Lovely art.

  10. Blindmarc

    I agree with Howard! Then sell the v12 and recoup your $.

  11. zaphod

    It’s a series 2!!!!!!! Sabotaged at the factory. First hose to replace is the fuel pressure return that crosses the left bank exhaust manifold. Easy to get going again if you have an “O” ring kit and lots of time to replace hoses, purge the cooling system, and fiddle with the internal vent solenoids. Beautiful engine, well balanced, powerful, quiet, efficient if it is of the series that had the May heads.
    Problem is when you’re done, you have a series 2.
    Engines make very classy moorings.

  12. Coventry Cat

    There is no such thing as an affordable Jaguar V12, other than the purchase price. Ya gets what ya pays for.

  13. MikeK

    Meh….

  14. glenn

    way too expensive and too far gone to restore

  15. Allgonquin

    Had two of these ’74 XJ12L’s back in the day. Last year of carb’ed V12. Engine was fine in one of them, but rear stub axle broke. Not to hard to fix by dropping rear subframe. Second car dropped a valve seat, which is common for this engine. Found a replacement head and swapped, not too difficult. Fuel system is funky with two tanks, two filler caps, and two electric fuel pumps in the trunk, lots of hoses to replace. Carbs not hard to rebuild. Trans is a Borg Warner 3 speed, pretty old school.

    The mechanicals are workable for these cars. Not hard to keep a 12 running well. Very smooth engine, sounds great and reasonable power for a heavy car. However restoring that interior will cost you a ton unless your brother has an upholstery shop…..

  16. boxdin

    Drain both gas tanks in this case.

    • Keith

      Yes and then watch as the Jag drains the new owners wallet!

  17. Van

    It’s a shame that we all agree that this should have been a great car.
    This engine would be cool as hell in a hotrod. How about four exhaust pipes with cut outs.

  18. dj

    I’ve had several Jaguars and I have to agree, the worst thing to do is let it sit. You’ll be upside down on this car before you know it. Let it rust in peace.

  19. Joe Btfsplk

    I think that this V-12 engine would make into a lovely coffee table.

  20. nessy

    The series 2 long wheelbase Jaguar sedans built between 1974 to 1979 are one of the nicest looking luxury sedans in the world. The long rear doors make the car look so low and classy….The new series 3 for 1980 was still a good looking car but not as nice as this model. Hey, can an object be low and classy at the same time? Oh, again with the dirty car photos? I can not stand that. I would be washing the car the second it comes out of storage. Wash the thing.

  21. Van

    How about a T bucket roadster V12.
    12 straight pipes running out back.
    Maybe a pickup bead and a Gray Poupon delivery logo on the back.

  22. Doc

    Invest 10K and you have a killer V12 car.

  23. jaker

    Not just gas tank, dual tanks and 3 count em crossovers plus the vent-if those are out there and brake system and….this would make a great parts car unless the next buyer is a gluton for punishment or an old jag mech!!!!

  24. Julles

    There is a beautiful 1973 XJ6 with 13,000 original miles that runs and has only been owned by a father then son at Copart with the current bid being $1650 but reserve has not been met yet. It goes up on June 10th. I can’t see anyone not liking this one. Oh and it is a California car.

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