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A wise man once said: “Every man should own a twelve-cylinder car at some point in their life”.

To be honest, I don’t know who first said those words. But as a matter of fact, they are very true, utterly beyond discussion, and I furthermore happen to thoroughly agree: The famed V12 configuration is King of piston engine technology.

Last time I heard those famous words, they came from an inner voice – only a few seconds after one of my friends asked me where a friend of his should attempt to sell his Jaguar XJ12. Well, of course I’d love to help, right? So I asked for more details about the Jaguar – purely for the sake of helping, naturally.

In order to do so, I had to know more about the car – which proved to be of late 1987 vintage and thus a Series 3 edition of Jaguar’s very classic line of XJ6 and XJ12. The series 3 was rather redesigned (with the help of Pininfarina, by the way) compared to the previous two series, and as the latest and most developed XJ it is also the best XJ. Not necessarily the most beautiful, but the best.

The XJ series as a whole – you might recall – is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. I have already written about this elsewhere, and about the models huge importance for the marque, as well as the Royal House, not to forget automobile history in general. Of course, I tried to block out all of this as to not get too emotional – after all, I was merely trying to assist with selling the car.

The subject of the day is the series 3 XJ – the latest and the best XJ.

I then learned that the specific car was Danish delivered from new, had only covered 114,000 kilometers (71,000 miles) during its 31 year lifespan and that, in XJ12-guise, it was called a Sovereign. Sounds good, doesn’t it? That is – the name “Sovereign” as well as the mileage of course. On that high, the car was Solent Blue Metallic, which sounds equally good. A bit like something from a James Bond movie. And we all like James Bond, don’t we? It also looked great on pictures, that Solent Blue Metallic Jaguar XJ12 Sovereign. The leather was Doeskin which seemed a very fitting contrast to the Solent Blue.

Furthermore, it turned out that the car lived in nearby Aarhus and that I had even met the current owner a few years back. Suddenly it seemed a logical step to pay a visit – just for a quick look. Nothing serious of course.

The XJ6 was a world class car, but when Jaguar dropped their V12 into it, immediately it entered a class all of its own: For many years, only Jaguar built a twelve-cylinder saloon car. Pure and uncompromised luxury, but also amongst the fastest saloons in the world.

So we promptly agreed to meet on my returntrip from a huge classic car meeting at Wedelslund Manor. While at the meeting I took the opportunity to have a closer look at a similar car on the Jaguar club stand. Hmmm – I liked it! Up until then I had only driven a XJ6 (early Series 1, manual) which was impressive enough. But I was acutely aware of all the stories about just how fabulous a car a XJ12 is with that iconic engine adding vastly to the already talented Jaguar. All of this was confirmed later in the afternoon: When I first saw the XJ12 parked in the street – in all its Solent Blue Metallic-ness – my heart skipped a beat out of pure joy. We wafted silently through central Aarhus with a short burst on to the highway as well, and the V12 was all I had heard of and everything I had dared dreamed about.

OK, I was now really warming up to help him.

The Series 3 cars have the long wheelbase and plenty of legroom aft…

…but the XJ was always more of a driver’s car, and up front it’s quite nice too.

Lastly, I just needed to figure out why he would want to sell such a lovely car? As part of my sales research, of course. An Englishman would probably call it a “genuine reason for sale”, as it turned out: The owner had simply not been using the Jaguar enough. That in spite of the fact, that it was actually a joint acquisition with a mechanically-minded friend three years ago. Even together they did not use it enough. Furthermore, they were clearly not the only owners to have driven the Jagaur so sparingly: The stamps from Jaguar Denmark in the service book revealed that as a ten-year-old in 1997, the XJ12 had still only covered 53,005 kilometers and the Danish MOT (-equivalent) reports show that by 2006, the mileage had only risen to 104,000 kilometers. Now in 2018 the odometer still only reads 114,000: The last twelve years the Jaguar had barely managed 1,000 kilometers per year.

However, the two friends had in that respect at least been better than most of the previous owners. Especially in recent years had they driven the XJ12 quite a lot – the seller himself even stating that lately he had actually used it as his “semi-daily” (his own words) car.

The brochure stated that the Jaguar would be a good investment. I seriously doubt that, as a new one cost an eye-watering 800,000 DKK including Danish taxes in 1987 – that’s almost £ 100,000 back in 1987! Albeit, as an investment the XJ12 would probably be the best bet though, as it is by far the rarest with only 10,500 cars built.

This probably contributed to the fact that the XJ12 actually ran very well indeed: Here was a low-kilometer XJ12 which wasn’t in any way all seized up due to lack of use. Alas, it was not perfect: The air conditioning didn’t work and the cruise control didn’t either, but conversely most of the electric windows could wind down and almost all the way up again. The sun roof also worked. Carpets, wood and leather were pretty nice. The alloys were fine. Something though was not quite right with the steering, but the necessary new spare parts were present in the trunk. The suspension only omitted a single clonk-sound from deep below when exposed to very uneven surfaces. But the brakes felt good and strong, which I regard as highly important in two tonnes of car.

The windshield was cracked and there were also a few bubbles, scratches and little dings scattered around the body. The rear parking sensors worked, but surely they must have been retrofitted later in the XJ’s life? I didn’t check the Eberspächer pre-heater nor the CD-changer, but the latter would hold ten CD’s (!). The tire size was correct but the rubber was all-season tires – from Hankook. And I doubt whether the rims are correct? Most Serie 3 XJ’s I’ve seen were fitted with the so-called “pepper pot” alloys, but this car was on lattice alloys – with Jaguar center logos though, so maybe it was an original option? The opinion here in Denmark seems to be that the lattice wheels became popular later.

One of several highlights: The controls for the electrically adjustable door mirrors are the most delicious I’ve ever come across – two small chrome knobs in the driver’s door. And they work. If at any point in time something stops working, the service manual contains a huge chart of the car’s wiring harness – something I’ve never seen before and surely only God knows why the XJ12 would have it?

All of the photos above are period press pictures by Jaguar.

The above sums up what I found, and while I have probably forgotten some things and managed to overlook others, it would appear that there was nothing catastrophically wrong with the car. The overall impression was of a very well-kept luxury saloon, carrying its years and kilometers beautifully and with tremendous style. An all-together nice car, I concluded.

But it doesn’t quite stop there. Last but not least, there was a small and very special treat hidden in the glovebox. And I don’t mean the little vanity mirror in there, although I am sure that many wives would be rather fond of this feature. No, there was something for the man as well: A “Jaguar for Men Vaporisateur Natural Spray 85% vol”. Completely intact within its original cardboard box in British Racing Green and lightly flossed at the edges. Incredibly, like the grand V12 engine, the scent had not lost its power. The seller sprayed a small test on my right hand, and two days later I still had a penetrating scent of the Eighties perceptions of male citrus luxury. My wife liked it.

To cut a long story short (or is that too late by now?): I did indeed help our friend with the sale of his Jaguar XJ12 Sovereign. It is now in my garage.

And it feels so right! I’ve always dreamt of an XJ6 which I remember from my younger years. A friend’s uncle who lived in Germany had a couple of XJ’s and I loved the sight and sound of the low limousine setting off on the gravel driveway and turning southbound towards Germany, while offering its occupants the highest levels of grace, space and pace. As a car enthusiast many years later, I have often written about the XJ and I still firmly believe it is the world’s most beautiful four-door car. I have long known that there would live an XJ in my own garage at some point.

It turned out to be an XJ12, but all the better: Now is apparantly the right time for me to experience twelve cylinder ownership.
Perhaps it was the scent of “Jaguar for Men” which made all the difference?

What do you think?


7 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt

    What a car…!!!
    Congratulations Claus. Definitely a milestone in your classic car owning career… ;-)
    I’ve always loved the XJ’s design – who doesn’t after all? And as you started off by saying – every man ought to own a V12 at some point in their life. The XJ12 is indeed a proper SuperSaloon.

    Sounds like you managed to find a good one too. Not too nice, but certainly nice enough. Though I’m quite convinced that those alloys are not factory. To the best of my knowledge, the lattice alloys used by Jaguar in the eighties had exposed wheel nuts. These alloys are either aftermarket or perhaps later Jaguar wheels. Either way, as you already mentioned, their dimensions are correct, and they certainly don’t look out of place on your Jag.

    Quite the garage you’ve assembled Claus! Your XJ12 will no doubt look great next to you Rover 3500 SD1, M-B 450SLC, Alpine A310 and Reliant Scimitar… :-)

  2. Claus Ebberfeld

    Indeed, Anders: I’ve barely driven it since writing the above as I still stick to the original plan of fixing the most blatant errors and faults before putting it into use – they don’t show up very clearly in the photos. Although it’s a good question how much that will actually be – I’ll take it out when I’m feeling royal, I guess.

    Must confess I have already been looking for the pepper pots. Let’s see about the wheel/tyre issue…

    And yes, the variety in my garage is rather fine at the moment: You forgot the RX7 and a few others! What IS actually missing is something Italian :-)

  3. Tony Wawryk

    That’s a fine-looking super-saloon you have there, Claus, enjoy your time with it – but with so many cars, how do you decide which one to drive and when?? Nice problem to have, though!

  4. Leo Jensen

    @claus-ebberfeld – That’s a dangerous approach. You will some day end up in the simplest car you own, and that’s a shame, when the more complex has so much more to offer.
    My guess is that the XJ12 has 10-20 times more components and systems than your Volvo or Spitfire. That increases the chance of having more problems as well, but as I remember it the Jag is the only one of these running ? ;o)

  5. Claus Ebberfeld

    You’re right in the logical continuation of that approach, @leo-jensen . But at least your memory is wrong: My Spitfire is actually running. Well, it was the last time I tried, at least…

    I admire the Jaguar immensely as you are again right here: It’s complexity is not for show but for a purpose – and the XJ12 DOES have a lot to offer. I won’t really tap into that until after the summer trips.

  6. YrHmblHst

    The cologne definitely pushed the deal over the top; at least it would have for me – Im a sucker for promo items and unusual little options. {I’ll admit it – I once made the final decision to go ahead and purchase a car that I was on the fence about [this exact unit, not the type] due to the presence of a factory tissue dispenser…}
    Personally, I like the wheels that are on it better myself. But what do i know… :)


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