Debunking the most common old wives’ tales
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.