There is plenty of luxury on offer with a Series 2...
With the styling of the Series 1 widely admired, Jaguar weren’t about to mess with such a successful recipe. The Series 2 of 1973 was a case of gentle evolution then, distinguished by a shallower grille and higher-set front bumper to satisfy US safety regulations. Engines were largely unchanged, although a 3.4-litre XK unit replaced the 2.8 version in 1975; the XJ-SC coupé arrived the same year.
Jaguar XJ Series 2 V12
Engine 5343cc/V12/Single cam
Power (bhp@rpm) 265bhp@6000rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 301lb ft@3500rpm
Top speed 142mph
Gearbox 3-spd auto
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Rot in panels will be obvious but bubbling in the screen surrounds or beneath a vinyl roof spell trouble. It’s particularly important to check the valances and spare wheel well, the front crossmember beneath the radiator, and the subframe mounting points. You really need to get the car on a ramp for complete peace of mind.
Oil leaks are common along with worn timing chains and tensioners, and you want to see over 40psi of oil pressure when warm. All engines need a cooling system in tip-top condition – lack of use and incorrect anti-freeze levels can cause the engine block to silt-up, with overheating and head gasket failure almost guaranteed to follow. Don’t ignore a car that starts or runs poorly as carburettor or injection system woes can be labour-intensive to fix, while the Lucas ignition wasn’t a paragon of reliability either. A smoky exhaust should ring very loud alarm bells, especially if there’s a V12 badge on the back, while a strong smell of fuel points to problems with the twin fuel tanks or pipework, both of which can corrode with obvious consequences.
Power steering hydraulics can get leaky, a noisy system could mean a pump on its way out, while perished steering rack bushes will cause vague handling. Lack of use can cause the inboard rear brakes to seize, so make sure they feel healthy on the test drive and that the handbrake holds and releases okay. The ride should be quiet and cosseting so anything less probably means an overhaul is on the cards. There are plenty of bushes to replace – particularly at the rear – so labour costs can mount.
Watch for damaged door cards too, while replacing a sagging headlining is a task best left to the experts. Never exactly robust in the electrical department, brittle wiring and corroded connectors will wreak havoc so make sure everything is working.
What draws many people to the XJ is the elegant and beautifully proportioned styling,
and it’s a shape you’ll never tire of admiring. It’s also well appointed, very comfortable, and has
a superb ride. Old-school British luxury then,
but there are prices to pay in terms of build quality and reliability and you could never justify the cost of a full restoration. Find one that’s been cared for though and it’s a wonderful way to travel.
A Fintail Mercedes isn’t quite as easy to live with as more popular and numerous British-made classics, but in some ways it’s more rewarding because of its relative rarity. As they say of so many things, the highs are higher but the lows are lower!