The Tiger and the Cat
Once in a while, a newly introduced car is destined to achieve instant collector status. Such is the case with the JAGUAR XJ12 Coupé, imported to these shores from England a quarter of a century ago. In 1975, the XJ12 C was JAGUAR's celebrated flagship. Based on the 12-cylinder sedan, the infinitely more elegant two door hard top was the last automobile design Sir William Lyons himself had supervised during his decades-long tenure at the helm of this vaunted British marque.
Exclusivity of the XJ12
C was guaranteed by its lofty price, and a
mere 821 examples , most of them in right hand drive guise, left the factory
gates. Finding a nicely preserved XJ12 C with the steering
wheel on the left side thus is a rare occurrence, indeed!
When was the last time you saw one?
Rumor has it that the car for auction here was originally owned by the singer
' Tiger ' Tom Jones. Jones, who maintained a pied à terre in
Los Angeles' Wilshire district in the 1970s, simply parked his cat after some
needed spares for a required engine repair could not be shipped in a timely
manner. Mileage on the odometer was a scant 27,803. For over 15 years, the
motorcar languished in the underground garage, watched over by his faithful
valet. Finally, the 'Tiger' deeded the car to
the man on the occasion of his 50th birthday.
Since the car had sat, unregistered, for so many years, all existing Department of Motor Vehicles records have long since been purged, but I discovered score cards from the Hillcrest Country Club under the seat; the posh golf club that was the scene of many memorable foursomes involving the singer. The glove box still contained some parking stubs from L.A.'s legendary Bistro, a preferred schmoozing place of the rich and famous in the 1970s. I can easily picture Mr. Jones sipping highballs while entertaining the restaurant's distaff clientele . . .
The new owner, in order to revive the dormant cat, did the right thing: he had a reliable 5.7 liter CHEVROLET V8 engine fitted, along with a GM Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. This conversion meets stringent CARB standards and the car is California emission compliant, as evidenced by the federal label attached to the left doorjamb. In fact, the car has just passed the smog inspection with flying colors and is currently registered through April of 2000.
One of the hallmarks of the XJ12 C are its sumptuous,
specially hand-made seats, differing considerably in material and appearance
from the more mundane 6-cylinder models.
The prolonged, UV-protected storage did wonders for the condition of the black interior. The exquisite CONNOLLY hides are virtually unmarked; there is no cracking, splitting or fading.
Wear on the individual rear seats is absolutely negligible. It is questionable whether or not they ever have been used at all. Ultra-luxurious interior appointments of the XJ12 C are evident above. Even the window control bezel is made from burl walnut, and both side panels feature storage compartments.
Above: close-up view of the leather.
You might be pleased to learn that CONNOLLY , the World's leading manufacturer of top-quality automotive leather, chooses only hides from healthy and deliriously happy cows grazing on protected areas of the Scottish highlands. It would be a futile task to try to replicate this outstandingly preserved interior. The craftsmanship so abundantly displayed here is simply priceless!
The burl walnut dashboard is breathtakingly beautiful. Aside from a Rolls
Royce, there is nothing like it in the automobile realm. Mirror-like varnish
provides lasting protection.
Floors are covered with the original black WILTON wool carpeting, not surprisingly also in excellent condition.
Locking glove box houses hinged vanity mirror. Original owner's manual can be seen in the back.
View of the beautiful instrument cluster. All gauges work. Note current mileage of 40,316 .
Although there are no service records to support this, the vehicle's condition, especially the interior's, indicates that the mileage shown might be accurate.
Stylish hard top is covered with EVERFLEX , the most
expensive material of its kind.
The top is like new !
As so often before, Sir William Lyons' marketing genius helped create a world-class motorcar, on par with RR's Corniche, Ferrari's 400i and Mercedes' SLC.
Who would believe that this fabulous cat celebrates its 25th birthday in 2000?
This JAGUAR is living proof of the beneficial Southern California climate. The car is virtually rust-free and there are no signs of any accident damage. The doorsills, usually an Achilles heel of the XJ series, are pristine and free of filler.
Car has been painted once in its original Old English White. Save for a small scratch on the passenger door--too small to be noticeable in the photos, all of which were taken on January 15, 2000-- there are no dents, dings, or marks that would distract from the beauty of this feline.
Standard equipment of the Jaguar includes such amenities as power brakes, power steering, power windows, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo-cassette, telescoping steering wheel, dual gas tanks, and tinted windows.
The powerful 350 cubic inch V8 has plenty of torque, and, combined with the smooth shifting GM transmission, is perfectly mated to the compliant suspension and 4-wheel power disc brakes. The brake master cylinder has recently being replaced.
This combination certainly provides an exhilarating driving experience, liberated of worries about service availability for the overly complex British mechanicals.
Cat's paws are nice stock chromed artillery wheels, shod with excellent 15-inch tires.
Matching spare wheel is located below the spacious trunk compartment. Trunk and tire well are extra clean.
This fine motorcar is historically significant as one of Sir William's
pet projects. It occupied the manufacturer's top echelon in the mid-seventies.
Not a restored show car or a 'trailer queen', this cat's provenance is impeccable. With its smartly updated drive train, immaculate interior and unmolested body and chassis, it represents a rare opportunity for the knowledgeable JAGUAR enthusiast to acquire one of the few remaining LHD examples of the XJ12 C.
Ownership of a Coupé definitely has its rewards.
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