Bad guys drive Jags: Jaguar XJ12/Daimler Double Six
The Jaguar XJ12: An Endangered Species
The Jaguar XJ12 (AKA Daimler Double Six) is a beautiful big British luxury car with an enormous smooth powerful V12 engine and acres of leather and walnut inside. It's like a bargain Bentley, with the performance of a new Porsche Boxster (if not the handling) and the running costs and reliability of a supercar.
The XJ (XJ6, XJ12, XJR and XJ8) has been around in some form since 1968 and frequently stars in British crime dramas, but usually being driven by the bad-guys; it is the perfect getaway car with five seats and a very powerful engine.
In July 2009 Jaguar launched a new XJ drastically moving away from this style that has been recognisable for decades. Time will tell if this was a good idea.
Please read the full review of the 1996 6.0 Litre XJ12 below...
An Endangered Species
Six Litre V12 luxury saloon
The Jaguar XJ12/Daimler Double Six is available in four variants: long and short wheelbase and badged either as a Jaguar or a Daimler. The Daimler being a slightly higher specification, but the main difference is the addition of beautiful walnut "picnic tables" in the rear. This is no longer available and was replaced by a Daimler variant of the new Jaguar XJ8, several years ago, but it still makes a very interesting second-hand purchase, with good examples of this luxurious super-car available for just a few thousand pounds, despite it remarkable specification and original price of over Â£55,000 for the Jaguar version. I used one of these as my "company car" for three years and drove 60,000 very comfortable, relaxing miles in it.
What is the XJ12/Double Six
This is a very rare beast. A big four-door Jaguar Saloon with a six-litre V12 engine. In other words, the sort of engine only found in Â£120,000+ Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins (mere Â£100K Ferraris etc just have a V8) It has the same body as an XJ6 and similar to the later XJ8 that replaced it. The similarly powered, supercharged XJR was cheaper and handled better, but just wasn't as smooth. The enormous old-fashioned engine, with lineage back to the late E-types of the 1970s purrs quietly as it effortlessly glides the two-tonne car along the road. Despite it's girth the Jag has performance similar to that of a standard Porsche Boxster, if not the handling nor the excitement, but of course is designed to be driven sedately and anonymously (It would make a great get-away car though - one driver, three bank-robbers, four doors and very fast) The XJ12 was allegedly, when it first came out, entered into a racing series up against powerful sporty coupes and lead every race, briefly, before breaking down in a cloud of steam.
Is The Jaguar XJ any good?
The ride is fantastic, extremely comfortable and the weight of the car just seems to flatten out any bumps in the road. Handling is surprisingly good for a car of its size, although is compromised a bit by the enormous weight hanging over the front wheels. The road noise seems fairly loud, because everything else is so quiet, and the big fat tyres rumble a little. The engine sounds wonderful and smooth because of the 12 cylinders although gets drowned out by the enormous cooling fan when it is getting hot (then it sounds like a very expensive Hoover) The over-all effect is similar to, and in many ways, better than an old Bentley. Unfortunately there is a massive downside. The fuel efficiency is terrible at an average of 16 mpg, barely capable of managing 20mpg on a long journey and easily into single figures in traffic. Reliability was appalling. In my last year with the car I doubt if I had a single week when it didn't break down or at least have a fluid leak of some sort. On the plus-side however, it did mean that the return leg of my daily 150 mile commute was often completed on the back of a recovery vehicle, which saved me a lot in petrol and I did get to know all of the RAC employees on the M3.
This car is easy to drive, if you have enough space. Motorways and wide, winding roads are enjoyable places to be, but at more than six feet wide it is wise to be careful in country lanes and parking is difficult. There are no parking sensors and the huge long bonnet and boot don't make life easier. The very low seating position also reduces visibility. The power-steering is wonderful (except when it springs a leak and squirts fluid every where) and makes maneuvering effortless. The brakes are very powerful and smoothly bring the car to a halt and ABS is fitted for safety, as is rudimentary traction control.
Could you live with (and afford) a Jaguar XJ 12
The interior is old-fashioned with the feel of a gentleman's club. Lots of leather and walnut veneer on the dashboard and each door. There is however some plastic above the dashboard, which spoils the effect a little. Two airbags at the front are hidden behind the walnut and in the steering wheel. Extremely powerful air-conditioning and a good quality stereo make it a very pleasant place to while away a few hours in a traffic jam. The seats are extremely comfortable, better than any I have experienced elsewhere. The three buttons in the door move the seats to his, hers and the butler's memorized positions, adjusting the headrest height and lumbar-support as well. Legroom in the back however is not good in the short-wheelbase car, due the thickness of the sumptuous padding in the seat, but very good in the long-wheelbase version. The boot is a good size, large enough for two large suitcases and a couple of smaller bags, compromised a little by the big fat spare-wheel and large fuel tank, which still only gives the car a 300 mile range at most due to the horrendous fuel consumption.
Other running costs
Servicing was not too expensive, despite the regular attention required. A 10,000 mile service interval at a friendly specialist (i.e. not the Jaguar main dealer) was usually between Â£200 and Â£350, and most of the extra intermediate attention was just to replace various burst hoses, of which there were many. Tyres are huge, but not too expensive, at just over Â£100 each, because they are the same as those fitted to most ordinary XJs and Daimlers and therefore quite popular. Nothing major or expensive went wrong in the three years I had this car and it had over 150,000 miles on the odometer when I sold it. All of the break-downs were caused by minor inexpensive, but annoying things. The engines are reckoned to be good for 250,000 miles due to their low stress lives, but if a major engine or gearbox overhaul were required this would be extremely expensive and probably uneconomical unless you could do it yourself. Even a new radiator or rear-axle could break the bank.
Jaguar XJ Performance and Specifications - The Monstrous Jaguar XJ12
Engine: 6 litre V12 (366 cu in)
Power: 318 bhp (237 kW) @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 342 ft lb (464 Nm) @ 3750 rpm
0-60 mph 6.80s
0-100 mph 16.50s
Top speed: 155 mph (250 kph) limited
Jaguar XJR Review
Conclusion. Should you buy a Jaguar XJ?
I miss my old Jag. (I have to make do with a more modern V8 one now) but in these times of rising fuel costs and increased environmental awareness it is difficult to recommend this car for regular use. At 16 mpg the average fuel consumption is terrible and the reliability is appalling, but if you want to help the environment, buy one and use it only on special occasions, that way preventing someone else from driving it and ruining the planet.
Summary: Buy one and give it a good home, but don't use it
The current Jaguar XJ - Big, very modern, luxury car
The new Jaguar XJ, XJ6, XJ8 and XJR (Unfortunately no longer a luxury Daimler variants) have lost their old fashioned style (which you probably either loved or hated - I loved it myself) but are still made out of aluminium alloy making it very light despite its huge size. The latest engines include the 5.0 litre and 5.0 litre supercharged monsters. These cars may have gone away from that classic design, used since 1968, but they are still magnificent luxury cars, looking like a huge Jaguar XF. Most are now sold with extremely good, efficient diesel engines, but, if you can afford the petrol, a supercharged V8 perhaps suits the car best.
The History of the Jaguar XJ (and Daimler equivalents)
The Jaguar XJ6 was launched in 1968 and a remarkably similar looking XJ8 and XJ6 is still being made until 2009 (See photo below)
The Mark 1 was made from 1968 until 1992 and is the real classic, although there are Series 1, 2 and 3 variants of that, and a two-door coupe. These had straight-six engines or the rare V12 in 5.3 litre form (called either XJ12 or Daimler Double Six)
The early Mark 2 cars were of a new squarer more modern design for the late 1980s market and is generally considered less attractive, but then later reverted to a retro styled design (as reviewed above) still with the same old six cylinder and V12 engines
The Mark 3 had the same design as the late Mark 2 cars, but with a brand new range of V8 engines (and the wonderful ancient V12 was no longer used) The V8 is extremely good especially in the 4.2 litre supercharged variant and was the basis for the current Aston Martin Vantage engine (although that doesn't have a supercharger)
In 2006 the last "retro styled" Jaguar XJ was launched (see photo below) which was an aluminum alloy bodied car, far lighter and bigger than its predecessors, but still looking and feeling like a Jag. A Daimler variant was produced briefly, but this still caused confusion, especially in the US market, where the Daimler name is associated with Daimler-Benz (i.e. Mercedes) There were XJR, XJ6 and XJ8 (and rare Daimler Super V8 variants of the supercharged V8 version)
In 2009 the current Jaguar XJ was launched.
The last of the "Retro" Jaguar XJs (2006)
Daimler Six, Double-Six, V8 and Super V8
The U.K. Prime Minister's Car
The Daimler variants of the already majestic Jaguar XJ series cars were little more than a rather expensive options pack added to the basic car. Most were long-wheelbase which added an extra 9 inches (23cm) or so to the rear cabin and provided ample leg-room, which was perhaps a little disappointing in the standard car (for a car of its size anyway) Most also had the walnut picnic tables hinged to the back of the front seats, like luxury aeroplane tray-tables and thick sheep-skin rugs over the already luxurious carpets. The front passenger seat was even controllable from the rear seats to gain even more leg-room if required. The only extra visible details on the outside were beautiful fluted chrome grill and boot-lid which have been a feature of all Daimlers since the late 1800s. Originally there for cooling purposes. The door surrounds also have the full chrome treatment seen on the more expensive Jaguar XJ Sovereigns.
Most of these expensive Jaguar variants, in the U.K. started life working for the government in Westminster, London, as luxury transport for Cabinet Minsters, the Prime Minister and visiting dignitaries. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, liked Rovers but by the time she came to power as U.K. Prime Minister, Rover was no longer a luxury car maker, so most photographs or TV footage of Margaret Thatcher arriving at political events or at Downing Street show her in the back of a Daimler. All subsequent U.K. Prime Misters and many Cabinet ministers, up to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown also used Daimlers, but Jaguar have dropped the Daimler model now (probably due to confusion with the Daimler Benz name - i.e. Mercedes cars) and the current Prime Minister, David Cameron uses two armour-plated Jaguar XJL limousines (i.e. long wheelbase Jags.) which are basically the same thing.
In later life Daimlers often become wedding transport. The extra rear leg-room makes getting a bulky wedding dress in and out of the car elegantly somewhat easier.
The Queen even used to use a Daimler V8 for her own personal transport, either as a passenger or sitting in the back, when visiting the races at Ascot.