MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man

1 IT WAS A 1980S JAGUAR DE­SIGN

The im­pos­ing sa­loon range went on sale in 1986 as the XJ6 2.9 and 3.6. But these big Jags were known be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter their pub­lic un­veil­ing as the ‘XJ40’ se­ries. XJ40 was the in­ter­nal co­de­name for the de­sign pro­ject to re­place the orig­i­nal XJ6. Work on XJ40 be­gan as far back as 1972, with a view to bring­ing it to mar­ket in the late 1970s. But con­stant cut­backs and cash crises at par­ent com­pany Bri­tish Ley­land led to a 13-year devel­op­ment pe­riod.

2 ROVER’S V8 DIDN’T FIT IN THE XJ40

In the early 1970s, BL bosses tried to twist the arm of Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Bob Knight to aban­don work on new en­gines and in­stead use Rover’s V8 in what would be­come the XJ40. Knight cun­ningly found ev­ery pos­si­ble ex­cuse to re­sist this as­sault on Jaguar’s in­de­pen­dence. An­other fa­mous Jaguar en­gi­neer­ing name, Jim Ran­dle, said in 2003 that fit­ting the V8 was prob­a­bly pos­si­ble, but that noone at BL dared force the is­sue. What was true was that Jaguar’s own V12 wouldn’t go un­der the XJ40’s bon­net un­til a huge amount of re-de­sign work had been done.

3 THE BUILD QUAL­ITY WAS A LOT BET­TER

Jaguar claimed that its new car would be much bet­ter built than the out­go­ing 1968-86 XJ6 Se­ries III, but it was wish­ful think­ing. John Egan and his team had mas­sively in­creased build in­tegrity of the Se­ries III dur­ing the early 1980s, to the point where it was su­perbly screwed-to­gether. The XJ40, how­ever, brought in a new body struc­ture, brand new AJ6 en­gines and un­tried elec­tron­ics, so it took sev­eral years for build qual­ity to re­turn to Se­ries III stan­dards. The last XJ40s were ex­cel­lent cars, but own­ers of ear­lier ones had paid the price in terms of rust traps, elec­tronic mal­func­tions and shoddy build.

Years in the plan­ning, the XJ40 was even­tu­ally worth wait­ing for.

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