1975 Jaguar XJ12 Automatic Series 2
Searching for a classic Jaguar survivor? Then on the evidence of this beautifully preserved XJ12, Norway looks like a good place to start.
WORDS PAUL WAGER
PHOTOGRAPHY GREG EVANS
We find a series 2 XJ which has survived the ravages of the British climate by emigrating to Scandinavia.
Few readers would disagree with the sentiment that the Covid pandemic changed the world in general and the classic car business in particular. Over on our classic titles, as we beavered away during lockdown wondering how we might fill the news pages of our weekly old car paper we were grateful for the sudden emergence of distance selling operations and online auctions as enthusiasts welcomed the enforced home leave to get busy out in the garage. In the main however, these were project cars and delivery involved little more than a day’s driving for the man in a beavertail Transit rather than a trek from Scandinavia to Kent.
For that’s what happened in the case of the XJ12 you see here, present owner Angelo Lione having taken what some might regard as a gamble in buying it from its Norwegian owner unseen. As he explains though, it wasn’t as rash as it seemed, since at the time UK travellers couldn’t enter to Norway without being vaccinated. “I hadn’t had the jab though,” laughs Angelo who considered asking someone to go and inspect the car on his behalf. In the end though, the seller provided so much information in the form of photos and videos that he felt confident taking a chance.
An engineer working on North Sea oil rigs, the vendor had clearly cherished the XJ and had maintained it fastidiously, as witnessed by the big framed wiring diagram visible in the wall in one video and the immaculately presented garage itself. The decider was a beautifully kept journal detailing every journey the car had made during his ownership, including miles travelled and calculated fuel economy. “I’m buying that car,” thought Angelo to himself once he’d seen that. As you might have noticed, the XJ is right-hand drive so how did it come to be in Norway in the first place? Well even the car’s three folders packed full of history don’t explain its Scandinavian odyssey but it’s clearly done it no harm as the car has survived rather better than most of the Series 2s which remained here. Sold new in 1975 by Kenning in Leicestershire, the car is the long-wheelbase model which had become standard by then, the short wheelbase having been dropped in 1974 and was with its first owner until 1985 when it went to Sweden, where it would live for another decade before being sold into Norway in 1996. It was sold on within Norway to the owner who would eventually sell it back to Angelo here in the UK.
Certainly it seems to have been cherished by its Scandinavian owners, all of whom were members of their national Jaguar clubs and obviously kept the car out of the harsh Swedish and Norwegian weather. Despite the obvious obstacles imposed by the climate, there’s a thriving classic car scene in Scandinavia but owners are pretty much resigned to taking their cars off the road for winter, which means they often fare better than in the UK.
The authorities don’t tend to salt the roads as heavily as we do either, while many owners see the opportunity to work on an old car as an ideal hobby to occupy the long dark winter months. This particular Jaguar has also received a welcome boost in the form of the Ziebart rustproofing treatment which was applied back in the UK when it was new. An American process developed in the late ’50s, Ziebart expanded into the UK during the 1970s and was one of the better anti-corrosion treatments out there, as witnessed by the trademark shield sticker we so often find in the window when photographing a ‘survivor’ classic.
Certainly in this case the Ziebart treatment and a life in heated garages has kept the Jaguar stunningly original. Its age means the car is technically MoT-exempt but Angelo took it for a test on arrival in the UK and remembers the tester being amazed at the car’s originality. “On the ramp we could see all the original nuts and bolts for example,” he comments. “It might have had a bit of paint over the years but seems as if it’s never been welded and has a lovely patina.”
With the correct N-registration plates back in place, the XJ12 was back in action on British roads and Angelo – who has always been a fan of the XJ – hasn’t been disappointed. His impressive classic car back catalogue includes the R107-series Mercedes-Benz SL, Porsche 928 and 944 Turbo and a personal favourite of mine, the Ferrari 400i, with the Jaguar ranking high in what is an illustrious list. Unsurprisingly, the refinement of the Jaguar is what sets it apart from the similarly V12-engined four-seater Ferrari and the famously thirsty V12 hasn’t been a stumbling block. In fact, it’s offset to a useful degree by the car being ULEZ-exempt which means it’s often used to take Angelo into London for his shifts as a London firefighter. It’s also proved impeccably reliable too: “I’ve covered 1500 miles in it so far,” comments Angelo, “without even a ‘what’s that noise?’ moment.”
Sadly though, a recent loss of storage has seen thoughts turn to selling the car, which is just too nice to leave out on the street. It’s not the end of the story though, since as we chatted about what could possibly replace it, Angelo mentioned a hankering for the X308-generation XJR. I wonder how popular they are over in Scandinavia…
BELOW LEFT: Speedometer is the original unit with a km/h face replacing the original, meaning the 67,963 miles is genuine.
BELOW RIGHT: Aftermarket radio is one of the very few non-standard parts on the car.
Above: Carburetted V12 is all original
I’ve covered 1500 miles in it so far without even a ‘what’s that noise?’ moment
FAR LEFT: Lucas ‘Third Dimension’ was an external amplifier and speaker system connected to the car’s standard radio which provided an early surround effect.
LEFT: The L signifies the long wheelbase model which by 1975 had become standard.
BELOW: The car came with a huge history. The Jaguar cane was bought by owner Angelo to go with a previous XKR