Once a big, fast, luxurious status symbol, now just so much scrap metal
The first-generation Jaguar XJ-S debuted for the 1976 model year, and it was a mean-looking personal luxury coupe with a beautiful-sounding 326-cubic-inch V12 engine and an intimidating price tag. The Mercedes-Benz 450SEC was slightly more expensive, the Cadillac Eldorado coupe was about half the Jag’s price and those two cars came with lowly V8 engines. Depreciation is particularly cruel when it comes to cars like this, though, and a first-year XJ-S in weathered condition is worth about as much as a rusted-out Tercel stuffed full of cylinder-head cores. I spotted this once-glorious ’76 in a Denver self-service yard last week.
The 326-cubic-inch V12 engine in this car featured fuel injection by The Prince of Darkness, and it drove the rear wheels via a cast-iron BorgWarner automatic transmission. These cars had reliability issues, to put it mildly, and the most persistent tended to be electrical in nature.
In spite of the glitchy electrics and build quality that suffered due to incessant labor strife at British Leyland, these cars had far more mobster-in-expensive-suit style than their staid Mercedes-Benz 450SEC competitors. This one appears to have been abandoned outdoors a few decades ago and finally hauled off to its final parking space, but try to imagine this interior the way it looked when new.