Wheels/Tires and decisions

This is a picture of my car that I took yesterday. As mentioned in previous threads, this specific car (not model, but THIS car) is special to me because I bought it from a college professor I had. In the 1980s I would see him driving, I’d go look at it in the lot, etc., so when he offered it to me for sale (not knowing I had actually had such a thing for his car), I had to buy it.

I do not know what he did to the car and what was done prior to his ownership. I also am not an expert on these cars. This is a series-III XJ6. My understanding is that the things like wire wheels, some of the chrome or stainless trim, etc that are on a lot of XJ6 cars (like mine) were done to make it look more like a 12 cylinder car.

For those who are experts here, please take a look at the picture and tell me what on my car was added to make it masquerade as a 12 cylinder car. I want to discuss this with my professor, because if HE put all that on, oddly enough that might make me more likely to keep it masquerading. But if it was done before his ownership I might be more inclined to get it back to stock.

The reason I’m talking about this right now is that although the tires have plenty tread, the date code is very old (15+ years old) and if I’m going to keep driving the car I need to replace the tires. This would be the time to investigate replacing the wheels with stock wheels. I wonder if there’s a market for the wire wheels that would help to subsidize my OEM wheels and tires purchase.

Matt, your car looks beautiful! I would not change a thing. But in answer to your question, the wheel well stainless trim, the door bump strips, the Dayton bolt-on wire wheels, and the leaper (hood ornament) are all add-ons, and IMO relatively tasteful ones.

None of these aftermarket (often dealer-installed) items were intended to make the car look like the V12 version. Indeed, the XJ12 was indistinguishable from the XJ6 excepting the grille and certain badging. And, during Series 3 years, it was not directly sold in the US anyway due to corporate fuel economy concerns (but it was sold elsewhere until 1992, 5 years after the S3 XJ6 was discontinued).

You will find much disagreement as to the virtues of these items. I personally like the wire wheels (have them on 3 cars) but many feel they are inappropriate on this large a saloon. Dayton made two types, 60 and 70 spokes. If yours are 60, they are unsafe for a car this heavy (and replaced for free with 70 spoke by Dayton back in the day). If they are 70 spoke they are safe albeit heavier and harder to clean than the factory aluminum alloy wheels. Definitely need new tyres! If you decide to change wheels you can move up in diameter to 16 or 17 inch. That gives you more tyre choices with the correct outside diameter–a lot in the archives. Enjoy!

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Thanks for the reply. I’m going to check with the prior owner to see if and what he did from your list of modifications. Apparently I was mistaken that these things like the wire wheels were to mimic the V12 cars. I’m a newbie and learning.

One thing I know he (the prior owner) did was put a wooden MoMo steering wheel in. I have the original in the garage in a box of parts. I’m actually NOT inclined to move back to the original because I do like both the look and feel of the wooden steering wheel.


your car looks wonderful, and, at the same time, very “period” for the customer taste in the mid-80s in the US: whoever bought a Jaguar had a penchant for that traditional look, and, even though Sir William wanted the “Experimental Jaguar” to be a modern car doing away with wire wheels, hood ornament and the chrome strips abundant on MkII and MkX cars, the customers wanted it and received it, mostly from dealers.

The door side protectors rather come as a reaction to shopping mall parking lot habits …

The wire wheels can be easily changed. Correct and ecent sets of Kent wheels or Pepper Pot wheels can be had easily; BBS (“lattice”) wheels are scarce. If you look at the coupé (XJS) there are some larger wheels (Star Fish are wider; Lattice were sold also in 16") around. Larger rims may make finding rubber easier, but will totally change looks and driving experience.

Some of the other “improvements” can hardly be made undone easily as they drilled holes for the leaper and, quite likely, the wheel arch surrounds. If you’re lucky the rubber door protectors are just glued on. The chrome door edge protectors can be pulled off easily.

Frankly, tastes differ and even though I do prefer the clean original lines over the bling adornments, I can see the power of personal history: after all, this car is a perfect time capsule for you to take you back into the mid- or late eighties and your college time … and that’s exactly what luxury cars looked like in the US at that time! So, keeping “as was” is a perfect choice for you.

Whatever you do though, check out for rust developing underneath the trim or from the holes drilled into the body. The wheel arch surrounds and the body side mouldings, if drilled, are notorious rust traps.

Enjoy the beautiful car and keep in touch with your professor:-)

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

The contemporaneous XJS sports car convertible and coupe models that Jochen mentions had V12 engines and may be the car you were thinking a PO was trying emulate. They often sported aftermarket wire wheels even though wires weren’t supplied by the factory.

Whatever wheels you use it would be good to replace those tires/tyres before it gets driven too much. They won’t be too bad in the dry but wet grip is badly affected. Anything older than 10 years is not legal here now.

Totally safe to use, if not driven over 5 mph…:neutral_face:

My recommendation is to not use those tires, at all, at any speeds above that.

Don’t worry, tires are next. I’ve driven the car only to the shop and back since I’ve owned it, plus two trips to work and back to ensure everything is ready and reliable. I didn’t want to put brand new tires on it until I knew it was ready to go. It’s ready to go – I just need to decide whether to replace the tires or to replace the tires AND wheels.

I’ve been through this game before on cars, and in my opinion, the most important thing on a car is brakes. Second most important is tires.

I may be out of touch, but don’t wire wheels require tubes fitted?

Many do. But Dayton wire wheels, the popular replacement for the Jaguar XJ6,12,S series, has made tubeless wire wheels for this application since the early 1980s. Their tubed Jaguar wheels were so popular then that they sealed the spoke nipples with a proprietary sealing compound, perhaps modified the tyre bead (can’t remember) and declared them tubeless.

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Thank you, Robert.

The proprietary sealant is just windshield cement.

Yes, thank you for the clarification! I do still have another british car with Dunlop wire wheels, spoke protectors, tubes, etc, but it is 46 years older than my 85 XJ6. If this car used tubes I’m pretty sure my normal tire source (Costco) wouldn’t play along. :slight_smile:

I forgot to clarify one comment you had – thankfully my wire wheels are 70 spoke, not 60!

I’ve emailed with my professor, the prior owner. All the modifications we’ve discussed in this thread were done prior to his ownership (he bought the car in 1989).

In reflecting, although normally when I buy a vintage car I am absolutely true and pure to originality (with very few exceptions, such as seat belts in cars that didn’t have them), with this car I’m going to keep the modifications. The truth is, I did not go out and look for a Series-III XJ6 to restore, own, drive, etc. If I had, I’d be looking for bone stock. The reason I bought this car is because I basically used to stalk THIS car when I was from age 19-21 in college. I used to go to the road it would commute in on, I’d go to where it was parked and ogle it. Right now, the car is presented as it was when I was awed by it, so I will keep it as is.

The car needs paint eventually. There are some rust bubbles around the windshields, and there are some normal wear and tear scratches/imperfections. There are some other issues that I couldn’t figure out with the paint, and a co-worker saw them yesterday and confidently said “Oh, it’s been egged before, that’s what that pattern is.” When I decide to do all this (taking the windshields out would be the right time to replace the tired and sagging headliner), I’ll of course have all the extra trim taken off to have it painted and if there are any starts to rust issues they’ll be addressed. I might not put the trim back on the edges of the doors, but almost certainly will put the leaper back on and probably the wheel arch stainless.

I appreciate everyone’s perspectives on this topic. I figured there would be some lively debate on these types of modifications, and I’m impressed at how each person presented their perspective without denigrating other options. :slight_smile:


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Oooo… those can be deadly!

Mine are tubeless. They lose less pressure than my disc wheels.

Leave it as it is completely - new tyres - and enjoy it as long as you can. Oil the windshield corners to slow down further rust but one day this requires welding and then everything should come off and be fixed. Afterwards it just won’t be the exact professors car with all the history and details. Not that it‘d not be that car anymore but you get what I mean. Patina, soul, wabi sabi etc.

Any water leaks inside from the screen area.?

Hi Matt,

My two cents:
Chrome around the wheel arches:
Not original, just remove them… in my own humble opinion, they don’t look nice.
The are most probably self adhesive so it will not be that hard.

Spoke wheels:
Never was a great fan of these wheels, but it’s personal taste.
Definitely aftermarket and, again in my own humble opinion, a downgrade.
Heavy, not very safe, hard to keep clean and problematic.
Kent or Pepper-ports wheels can be found for cheap.

Door side mouldings:
Installed by the dealer.
Self adhesive but not so easy to remove and the paint underneath will be a slightly different colour from the rest of the doors. Leave them.

Installed by the dealer.
Holes on the bonnet, big deal to remove it.

Rust around the Windshield:
Problematic and should be fixed. The longer you leave it the worse it will get.
The screens have to go out so it’s not a small job.

For comparison here is a photo of how the car left the factory, without any mouldings, no leaper and Kent wheels.