1985 Jaguar Series III XJ6: Bargain Brit Luxury

There is something utterly compelling about classic British cars. It was the Brits, after all, who really introduced America to the affordable sports car with the MGTD, Austin-Healey, MGA/B/C, Spridget, Lotus Elan, and a host of Triumphs. And those are just the regular production cars, never mind specialty cars from the likes of TVR, Morgan, and Ginetta. For many enthusiasts, however, the best British sports cars are unattainable due to price or rarity, while the affordable cars may not suit from a reliability or practicality standpoint. Enter the Jaguar XJ6. Taking the same basic venerable 4.2 liter XK inline-6 that dates back to the early XK120, the XJ6 represents an interesting bridge between the classic British sports car and a modern luxury sedan. Find this affordable example here at The New England Classic car Company in Stratford, Connecticut for just $3,500.

The seller of this car indicates that he is selling it for a friend, but also details some fairly extensive recent mechanical work including front suspension, brakes, fluids, and tires. In addition, he reports that all electrics work including the comprehensive set of gauges and the optional sunroof. No specific mention is made of the air conditioning, so I usually assume that means it doesn’t work. While that would not necessarily be a surprise at this price point, it would be worth asking the question. We like the 15″ factory alloys, which look especially good shod with the OEM Pirelli P5 tires – although the expense of those from a company like Coker Tire would be a little over the top for a driver-quality car like this one. We would consider upgrading to the European 7″ outside headlamps in place of the US-spec small sealed-beams.

The seller waxes poetic about the outstanding condition of this car’s interior, and we’d have to agree with the exception of the dash wood (which he does call out as needing replacement, with full kits available in the $300 range). The carpets could use a shampoo, but appear perfectly serviceable. We like the burgundy and tan color combination on these cars, second only to British Racing Green on tan. The seller suggests a respray would be in order, but it doesn’t look as if that is an immediate need. For a car of the late-70s/Early 80s, Jaguar did a much better job of integrating USDOT-approved 5mph bumpers than did companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW who basically appended battering rams to both ends of their S-class and 7-series cars, with which the Jaguar competed directly.

The Bosch fuel injected (under license to Lucas) XK 4.2 liter motor was the final iteration of what was a Jaguar legend – the motor that won countless races at the hands of great drivers and lived on for more than 40 years. In the US-spec Series III the silky six delivered 176hp and 219lb-ft torque, which in this car meant 0-60 in around 9 seconds and a top speed of nearly 120mph – all competitive with its contemporaries from Mercedes and BMW, and an attractively priced alternative to much loftier Brits like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Aston Martin. Jaguars are, after all, British sporting cars at heart – even the sedans. Frankly, we at TTS are about driving our cars, often hard, and we’d much rather pay the upkeep on a Jag than a Roller. Plus, those Pininfarina-massaged lines are second to none among usable luxury sedans, designed with emotion and not by the grace of a wind tunnel.They just don’t make then like this any more. In excellent running and driving condition, the asking price here is a bargain. Don’t be surprised for these cars to start ticking upwards someday, but that’s not really the point. A classic Jaguar – even a sedan – identifies you as someone who is passionate about what he drives, and the price is irrelevant.

~Reed

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One response to “1985 Jaguar Series III XJ6: Bargain Brit Luxury

  • Steve

    Sure, they’re pretty, I’ve been tempted by them too, but:
    – They’re super rust prone, and this is a New England car. Those gaudy chrome wheel well moldings are almost always there to hide rust.
    – Seriously complicated rear suspensions, all of which need new bushings by now.
    – Lucas!

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