Spannerhead Dot

Classic Cat: The Jaguar XJ-C

June 5, 2013 by Matt

Jaguar XJ-C XJC Silver

Temporarily occupying the two-door niche in Jaguar’s product lineup after the merciful demise of the Series III E-Type, the XJ-C is the stopgap that should have stayed.

More attractive than its successor the XJ-S, which for its part experienced a mixed reception, the XJ-C took the basic XJ6 sedan shape and, by removing the rear doors and B-pillar, subtly polished the natural attractiveness of the already-comely sedan.

Jaguar XJ-C XJC Green Olive

It was offered from 1975 until XJ-S production was in full swing in 1978, and could be had with either of the two engine options offered to its four-door stablemate: The classic XK6 4.2l inline-6 or the big 5.3l V12. In spite of the removal of the door and associated bits, the XJ-C still weighed around 4,000 lbs, so performance was stately rather than sparkling.

Furthermore, as an interim measure, the car exhibited production problems that Jaguar never resolved. Rather than investing in bespoke tooling, the automaker manufactured the car by taking standard XJ6 sedan body panels and modifying them in a kind of factory-sanctioned chop-top operation. The doors, for example, were simply two sedan doors grafted together, and the roof was an assembly-line modification of the original as well. It’s for this reason that all XJ-Cs left the factory with vinyl roofs, to cover the weld seams underneath.

Jaguar XJ-C XJC Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

Jaguar never really figured out how to make the pillar-less windows seal properly either. In fairness, the car was introduced at the “height” of British Leyland’s infamous domination of its indigenous car industry, and quality control problems cropped up in auto plants across Britain during that period. Still—for as attractive a car as the XJ-C is, and for as much as Jaguar charged for it, it would have been nice to be able to drive through an afternoon shower without having to don a raincoat inside the car. If development capital hadn’t been siphoned off to work out the details of its replacement, perhaps Jaguar would’ve buckled down and really cured the XJ-C’s nagging issues. Then again, maybe not.

I like it a lot. As mentioned above, it’s prettier than the XJ-S and more representative of the classic Jaguar styling idiom, with more feline, resolved lines. Besides, the whole “beautiful but flawed” argument has never really turned me away. Would I drive one every day? No, but as a weekend cruiser it’d be hard to beat.

Image credits:,,

Filed under: Jaguar


  1. John says:

    More than a passing resemblance to the Corvair in profile – not a bad thing! It is a shame that they didn’t continue it’s development.

    The XJ-S always a bit of a mess to me: The weird front shut-line of the door a foot ahead of the A-pillar; the visually heavy C-pillar/flying buttress with the big hunk of black plastic in the middle of it; and it was one of the few cars where the US quad sealed beams looked better than the blocky euro-spec headlights – they always looked cloudy to me. Of course all of the C-pillar issues were resolved with the somewhat good looking convertible version.

    Thanks for bringing the XJ-C to my attention!

    • Matt says:

      I actually like the elongated-hexagon Euro headlights. If nothing else, having grown up in Europe it’s was I was accustomed to seeing…

      But yeah, overall the XJ-S is kind of a mixed bag, although I do like the 1991 refresh, with the slightly minimized buttresses and more flowing taillight treatment.

  2. Chris says:

    I had one and loved it until the chassis bent! This might have had something to do with shooting bunnies out of the back windows while bombing across fields, but who knows.

Leave a Reply