Jewel of the junkyard: 1977 Jaguar XJ6L

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British Leyland started selling the Jaguar XJ in 1968, and production continued through several generations of rigs (and business owners) until just a few years ago. The original XJ was facelifted twice, in 1973 and 1979, with sales of the six-cylinder version extending through 1987 (3 Series cars with V12 were built through 1992). Production numbers were never very high, but these cars proved popular in the US and I still find them from time to time on my junkyard trips. Here’s a Series 2 XJ6 sedan that showed up at a Denver-area drive-in yard last winter.

Jaguar introduced a long-wheelbase version of the XJ saloon for 1972, giving it a four-inch stretch to better compete with the planned Rover P8. Since Rover was another British brand of Leyland, it was as if Buick was pouring great resources into crushing a threat from Oldsmobile, to the detriment of the whole company. In any case, the long-wheelbase sedans were so successful that the short-wheelbase four-doors got the ax a few years later (coupes remained on the shorter chassis). Jaguar continued to add the “L” badge to sedans for quite a while after that, probably because it looked classy.

The paint on all upper body surfaces was reduced to steel by the relentless High Plains sun, so we can assume this car has spent a decade or three sitting parked outside.

It may have started in Arizona, one of the few places with more intense sunlight than eastern Colorado.

Is it possible that he only traveled 46,630 miles in his lifetime? With most cars of this vintage, I assume the five-digit odometer has been flipped once or twice. With a Jaguar and its troublesome electrical components made by the Prince of Darkness, however, it’s not such a sure bet. To own a car like this, you have to be willing and able to give it the money and the work to keep it on the road; few are fit for this responsibility.

The interior appears to have been in very good condition before the car was parked somewhere in a field.

The wood interior trim has seen better days.

In the 1970s Mercedes-Benz had a big advantage over Jaguar with mechanical sophistication and build quality, sure, but Jaguar beat those Stuttgarters hands down when it came to giving the interior a car feels like a billionaire’s library.

The engine is a 4.2-liter XK6 inline-six, developing 162 horsepower and 225 lb-ft. That was respectable output for 1977, when the 425 cubic-inch (7.0-litre) V8 in the most powerful new Cadillacs produced just 180 horsepower (and a mighty 320 lb-ft).

The only transmission available was a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic.

The price of this car was $15,000, or about $76,335 in 2022 dollars. The twelve-cylinder XJ12L sedan went for $17,250 that year ($87,785 today). A new 1977 Mercedes-Benz 280E sedan went for $16,467 ($84,800 now); it was stronger but sturdier, and there was only 142 horsepower under the hood in the US-market version. Either way, you wanted the longer-wheelbase 280ES if you needed the Jag’s backseat (you did, if you intended to impress everyone at the disco with the quality of your recreational pharmaceuticals), and this car listed at $19,217 ($97,795 in 2022).

Detroit could put you on even flashier wheels in 1977, and it wouldn’t have cost you as much as an XJ. How about a Lincoln Mark V, priced at just $11,396 (plus an additional $2,100 for the Givenchy Edition with Majestic Velor interior)?

Still, there’s no such thing as a real Jaguar.

It could have been fixed, but it wouldn’t have made much sense with fine examples going well under ten thousand dollars.

“This car was bought the year we won the World Cup!

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