Big surprise on my car's history

I knew when I recently bought my 1976 Series 2 that it had newer Series 3 tail lights and that the trunk lid had been modified to eliminate the back up lamps, and that it had newer model “Jaguar” and “XJ6” emblems. Not surprising that over the years a past owner had made some changes to suit their taste - as this is currently a SBC lump powered car after all.

Then when I removed the old fuel tanks I noticed that the quarter panels on the backside clearly had the holes for mounting the coachline trim that had obviously been filled over on the outside when it had been repainted ~ 25 years ago.

These details and other clues made me curious to decode my VIN. What I discovered was that the “R” in the vin means that this was actually born an XJ12 rather than being an XJ6 like I had thought. I had found a very small V12 emblem inside the center console compartment that was in very poor condition, and I had thrown it out thinking it was just a trinket a past owner had picked up - only now do I notice the spot on the center console where it was mounted originally.

There was a little paperwork that came with the car, mainly from the man who owned it from 1993 until his passing last year. It had been titled to a flooring contractor prior to 1993 who appears to have owned it from new, and now I think I understand why he would have owned it for 17 years; because he enjoyed the V12 power. I’m not sure, but I believe it was the original owner who had the car repainted and reupholstered circa 1990. I don’t know when the incorrect emblems were added to the trunk lid (they are glued on). The paperwork I have does clearly show it was owner number two who purchased the SBC lump and had a shop install the engine that is now in the car in 1993. and then shortly after that he became ill and parked the car in his garage for the next 23 years until his estate sold the car. Poor owner #2 only got to drive it ~ 2,400 miles (by the records that came with the car) before letting it rot in his garage after he couldn’t drive it.

It doesn’t really matter what it started out as, given all the changes that have been made, I’m just having fun making discoveries about the car as I bring it back to life from its long slumber.

So the previous owner lumped a V12, Thomas - it sure saddens me…

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)


  1. Coach line trim?

  2. Repair of a rear end collision?

  3. The V12 suffered a terminal illness.

  4. Which SBC? Carb’d or injected ?

  5. Which conversion kit. About four known in 93. .

  6. Or a pure home grown effort.


Frank, I think the ones that should sadden you are the ones that were deemed to not be pretty enough to even be worth a lump conversion when they reached that same stage of the depreciation cycle with a tired engine. Economics in action if you will: The longtime owner after 17 years and 130,000 miles of driving knows that his car’s engine and transmission is getting tired and so he sells it - to a retired Postal worker with a modest budget. Then after it dies the new second owner gets the repair estimate shock of his life, and the shop gives another option of a lump conversion at a fraction of the price. Since no one can see the engine while he is driving, he goes with option B. The survival rates of the XJ sedans is fairly low, probably many were scrapped because low car values did not justify expensive repairs. There are videos of junk yard workers assing around with running and driveable Jaguars turned in under the cash for clunkers program - now that is sad!

Carl, on 1976 models at least, and probably other years +/- as well, the XJ12 had a thin bright trim at the keyhole level that stretched from the front fender to the quarter panel. It can be seen in the sales brochure. The above picture is a '76 XJ12 on eBay showcasing the trim

The location of trim just down from the belt line (bottom of the window is the belt line) on a car is known as coach line - I believe it is a traditional name from when there was a horse in front of the buggy! My car currently has gold pinstriping along this coach line.

These are not random drilled holes for pulling a dented body panel straight, these are trim clip mounting points methodically spaced at equal points on a trim line on both quarter panels (same locations on both quarter panels). In my many years in the auto trades, which includes working with collision repair shops, these are the original quarter panels with no obvious points of repair showing through on the back side - save for the filling in of these trim clip holes.

Besides all that, the vin decodes to an XJ12. The XJ12 has an “R” in the vin, whereas the XJ6 has a “T” in the vin. As I’m changing the fuel tanks the XJ12 has a vent line attachment just past mid way up the side of the tank - this plumbing was not on the XJ6. There is more, but with the vin and other clues it all adds up as an XJ12. I don’t know for sure when it was painted, but I do know that Series 3 tail lamps and later year trunk badges are on the car, and later year square outside chrome rear view mirrors too. I actually like the style of the mirrors and the Series 3 tail lamps so all that will stay on the car.

That is my understanding, that the original engine expired. Ever the shopper, the second owner got the SBC long block on sale for $649! It is a 1974 4 bolt main 350 (he paid an extra $50 for a four bolt main engine) originally installed in a police car (code CMJ). It has the requisite Edelbrock Performer intake manifold topped with a Carter 625 performance series carb. HEI distributor, factory rams head exhaust manifolds rather than headers - pretty standard stuff, probably less horsepower but more torque than the V12 it replaced.

Nothing says where the conversion pieces were sourced from, it is a very clean installation and even has Jaguar decals on both valve covers. It retains the Harrison style A6 air conditioning compressor. My non car guy friends didn’t recognize that it was a SBC, it looks right at home.


Thank you for sharing this interesting information about your Jaguar’s history.   I wish you good luck and many safe driving miles in your new car.  


Paul M. Novak

1990 Series III V12 Vanden Plas

1990 XJ-S Classic Collection convertible

1987 XJ6 Vanden Plas

1984 XJ6 Vanden Plas

1969 E-Type FHC

1957 MK VIII Saloon

Ramona, CA USA

That no one can see the engine while driving is just like sailing under a false flag, Thomas…:::slight_smile:

Some are happy doing so - I’m not; I’d rather drive an honest Chevrolet…

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

The issue isn’t “moral” for me in any sense, it’s much more economical.

I’ve never lumped a car, though I did lend a hand upgrading a few pony cars to larger displacement.

For a Jag, by the time you’ve sourced a (new) engine, bought or fabricated all the brackets etc, built a suitable exhaust, and figured out how to get the instruments etc. to read correctly… I have trouble believing that you’ve saved money or time over just rebuilding the original.

Some of the fabrication work the guys in the #lumps category do is quite impressive, but if they add up all their time and costs do they actually come out ahead, compared to just putting the original car to rights?

On a side note, if anyone should be so foolish to actually keep track of their time and costs, don’t publish it here, or leave it anywhere else she might see.

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I’ve witnessed ‘lumping’ change quite a bit over the many years.

Early lumps, going back to the 80s-90s, were often very rudimentary. A garden variety (often used) V8 and 3-speed auto, no fuel injection, no frills mounting kit, etc. As often as not the result looked cobbled and many details were left unresolved…but an otherwise dead Jag became essentially functional. It’s a fair bet that this did indeed save money back in the day.

Nowadays the trend is towards much more elaborate conversions and, as you say, are often impressive. Beautiful execution, all details fully sorted. In these cases the goal isn’t to save money. The owner simply wants a modern, more powerful drive train.


There is a stage in a “classic” car’s life where it’s market value bottoms out. As far as I can tell this is usually about a decade. Someone purchases it for not much more than the value of a full tank of gas and an oil change, and the poor thing is often subjected to the most atrocious things.

The amount of rework, 30 years later, to undo the neglect and abuse is usually significant. We’ve all seen doors which are scrap because nobody bothered to lubricate the hinges (or clear the drains), engines and rads damaged by running straight water, etc, etc.

Too true. And, in the USA at least, used Jags traditionally have had very low market value. On one hand this is a plus. as ordinary people like me can afford to buy one :). On the other hand, the low value results in many owners being unwilling to spend much money on repairs and upkeep.


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My Saloon spent 20 years in an underground garage, with a non breathing tarp over it. The tarp was a huge problem, the paint was pitted all over with small bubbles (like osmosis damage on a 'glass boat), and the interior was full of mould. I soaked the hamburger packaging and back of the woodwork with various anti mildew agents before I resprayed them, and replaced everything else that is absorbent (and most bits that aren’t)… I hope it’s gone.

The cost of storage here runs about 100$/month… that means the owner spent (or missed rental income of) about 24K$ I bought the car for about 1/6th of that. Even at Swiss prices, they could have had whatever was wrong with the car fixed back in the day for a lot less than that, and had some enjoyment out of the car. The engine doesn’t turn, but I’m not sure if that was the reason they laid the car up.

Oh, where do I begin. In the USA engine swapping came on early. Hot rod inspired. Many neatly done, others far from it.

  1. Racer Don Montgomery’s 41 Graham Hollywood. flat head six out, OHV GMC 6 in. Mush more power. A salt flats car for speed.
    Not road worthy.

  2. Many of us. Out with the A or B Ford flat four. In with the Ford flat head V8.

  3. A bit later, out with the flat head either 4 or in with an Olds or Chevrolet V8.

  4. Even the beautiful Lincoln Continentals, 41-48, relinquished the flat head V12 for an olds or Cadillac OHV V8.

  5. 49 -51 Ford and Mercury’s gave up the flat head V8’s for Olds and Cadillac OHV V8’s

Thusly lumping Jaguars, not a new thing, merely an evolution. “Out with the unkown, in with the known”. Seems to work!!!

Carl .

I believe that if you were to add up all the lump conversion sales from the companies that made a business out of it, that well beyond 10,000 Jaguars have been lumped - so its not an insignificant part of the hobby, and has likely kept some cars on the road that would have been scrapped.

My car (pictured above) came to me lumped, all I know is for the princely sum of $800 I now own the car and have the privilege of recommissioning it back to road worthy status. Things are moving along nicely, it is a decent car that was stored indifferently for more than two decades. For those who have taken a long dead car back to life you know it is a job that takes countless hours and money - lots of disassembly and lubing everything that hasn’t moved in a long time. Time just figuring everything out, fortunately I enjoy staring at whatever I’m working on until I can make sense of it.

Please don’t think of me as the guy with the lumped XJ12, but rather as a kindred spirit bringing a forlorn Jaguar back out into the light of day to be enjoyed once again. I’m intrigued that a past owner went through the subterfuge of masking this XJ12 as an XJ6. Mostly I would guess he didn’t like the extra trim and wanted to update the car to have the appearance of being a slightly newer model year. I just like old cars, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the driving experience, even if the sound from the exhaust pipes has an American burble.

Ah, the ol’ 270 Jimmy: really great engine, for its day, and THE go-to hot rod engine, before the venerable SBC!

If you install 180-degree headers—a ROYAL PITA!?— it’ll sound like a 6!

Founded in WWII’s famed “deuce and a half”. 6x6 driven. Hauled troops and cargo with aplomb. And a jingle I can not print.

Add a Wayne or Horning head and yowzwer, lots of go.


The GMC 270 and 302 were formidable contenders, but I always thought the more common popular and cheap flathead Ford V8 was the SBC of its day.

Wane head
No doubt the Wayne 12 port made for a beautiful engine. Good luck ever finding one, I’ve probably gone to more than 1,000 car shows and cannot recall ever seeing one in person. I’m guessing that perhaps less than 1,000 were made during the '50’s - mentions the heads were made at a rate of ~ 12 per month when they weren’t busy with other projects.

No 180 degree headers for me, way to much work to gain a European sound. However I may employ an old hot rodders trick: do not use an X or H pipe, and run a short muffler on one side and a long muffler on the other side - almost like harmonizing, it sounds musical!

Count on me, sir!! Good onya, as Ed Nantes would say!

There is no burble on a V12, Thomas - and the mere sound of a V12 cranking is sublime, and priceless…:slight_smile:

Unfortunately, you have let the cat(!) out of the bag yourself; it was a V12 - but you are innocent of the lumping, so no blame is attached. There are two schools of thought; to one; a lumped Jaguar is anathema. The other school embrace it, but are split between the one that wants a cheap fix - and is loth to spend money on the rest of the car. In the latter case; it is a short reprieve from scrapping - and those cars look it…

That I would not buy or have a lumped Jaguar is neither here nor there - looking at that beautiful body; I’d still know the lady is a tramp…:slight_smile:

But anybody that offer tender, loving care to an old car has my full support…

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

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