When it was introduced in 1968 the Jaguar XJ6 was probably the finest car a gentleman with taste and refinement could buy. Outstandingly beautiful, quiet, comfortable, fast ~ fitted with the glorious, iconic, versatile, powerful, dohc straight six 4.2 litre, (258 cu in), XK engine the big Jaguar saloon could top 120 mph, (which was very quick in 1968), and made the classic Jaguar E-Type look jaded in comparison.
Jaguar and Rolls Royce for sale in Palm Springs
The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, (seen in a dull colour in the background here), was not even in the same league as the Jaguar, being slower, heavier, and with handling like a barge in comparison. The Rolls-Royce was also almost three times the price of the XJ6.
From its launch this was a car for crossing continents in comfort. When the Daimler Double Six came along, Jaguar had produced the most elegant car in the world.
The big downside for Jaguar was that the XJ saloon was just too good. In one form or another the XJ remained in production from 1968 to 1992, after which it was replaced by other Jaguar saloons which were, more or less, the same as the 1968 XJ. All in all, Jaguar made versions of this great car from 1968 until 2009, (in a bewildering number of variants), until it was finally replaced by the Eurobox that is the current XJ, (known by Jaguar as the X351).
Along the way the big Jag came in short and long wheelbase, two and four door, Jaguar and Daimler versions with straight six, V12, V6, and V8 engines of various ilks.
Probably the most desirable of all these magnificent cars is the Daimler Double Six Coupe, of which only 407 were made between 1975 1nd 1977. Fitted with the 5.3 litre, (323 cu in), V12 engine this gorgeous car could do almost 150 mph and sprint to 60 mph in about seven and a half seconds ~ and this in 1975. Even by today’s standards, this is a very fast car. (Daimler is the even more upmarket version of the luxury Jaguar brand.)
Daimler Double Six Coupe
How much should you pay for one of these cars? How much have you got? A friend of mine almost bought a beautiful example of a long wheelbase XK engined XJ6 in Palm Springs which had a sticker price of $9,500 ~ stupidly I talked her out of it, and I don’t think she’s yet forgiven me. If it comes to that, I haven’t yet forgiven me! Want one of these cars? Just you peruse the advertisements on the internet, and don’t even think about anything that needs a lot of work.
Long Wheelbase Jaguar XJ6
These cars are mechanically complex, (your local garage won’t have a clue), and some versions are very prone to rust. The luxury interior would cost you a fortune to restore, and in a Californian summer it will overheat. The V12 will really overheat. The answer is, buy the best you can afford because you will need a mortgage for any repairs or restoration work. Also, it’s a good idea if you know / can find someone who will spend a few hours a week fettling your XJ.
Unless you don’t have to worry about money, you can’t really afford to run a classic version of the XJ, not without scrimping on other things. The V12 will usually only give you somewhere between 5 and 15 mpg, (depending on how you drive and the size of your gallon of petrol / gasoline). The Jaguar independent rear suspension, with its inboard disk brakes, will have the average American mechanic in disbelief and needing therapy. And, even the XK engine, (introduced in 1949 remember), is complex and difficult to maintain and rebuild. (Trust me, I have rebuilt an XK, and I still have the grey hairs). But properly looked after, the big Jaguars / Daimlers are totally bombproof. (The XK engine was so strong it was even used in a tank.)
You know what? I am seriously thinking of driving from Chicago to Santa Monica this year, following the line of the old Route 66. A Jaguar XJ6 would be a great car for that road trip, a v12 coupe even more so. The big Daimler Double Six is Californian spiritual sex on wheels. The downside is the XJ didn’t come as a convertible. Perhaps a Jaguar XJS would be a better choice for my next road trip.
Now there’s trouble in the Malvern Hills where they make spring water and Morgan sports cars. Charles Morgan, the last member of the Morgan family fully involved with the company, (allegedly), has been ousted from the board. Mr Morgan stepped down as strategy director less than a year ago, and now in a bloody putsch has been told by the new M.D. Steve Morris that he will have no role with the iconic car maker at all. Seems that the men on the factory floor aren’t so happy with the effective ending of the Morgan family connection after more than 100 years. Seems the network of 65 Morgan Dealers isn’t so happy with the board either. Morgan appears to shipping out new cars with far too may faults in them.
As The Telegraph strapline says, Morgan: what’s going on?
Nowadays Morgan builds an eight car range, (seven of which seem almost exactly the same as the Morgan 4-4 from 1936, while the other model is a three-wheeler, again very similar to the models they built in the 1930s). The current range costing from about £33,000 to more than £85,000. A bewildering host of optional extras are available. All of the cars look as though they should belong to one of the ‘Few’ and live at Biggin Hill Aerodrome among the Hurricanes and Spitfires. All of the cars are much, much faster than they look. Theoretically there’s a waiting list for a new Morgan and, unlike a lot of companies, Morgan makes a healthy profit.
However, buy any Morgan and you can expect it to go wrong. Seems even brand new Morgans are being delivered with hidden faults. If you’re interested Morgan has a pretty good website at http://www.morgan-motor.co.uk which covers their current range in impressive detail.
On the plus side, Morgans are very fast on British country roads, look great, hold their value, and are just about the only other convertible which can be driven by the more mature male without making him look stupid. (Along with the equally iconic Lotus / Caterham 7.)
A Morgan should be looked at as more of a hobby than a means of transport, and as a reasonable investment. You can probably only drive your Morgan during the warmer months of the year, when it hasn’t been raining. If you own a Morgan three-wheeler you can probably only drive it on half a dozen weekends, in England, not too far from your home. Owning a Morgan is a bit like living with a very independent cat.
Nevertheless, having toured all of civilised Europe in totally unsuitable sports cars, (Jaguar E-Type, Triumph TR6, Austin-Healey Sprite, Caterham 7), including driving over the Stelvio and St. Bernard passes, I can confidently say that you could use your Morgan for your three-week Continental Road Trips. The major drawback for your partner is that there’s almost no luggage space in any proper British sports car. Some of the luggage space will be taken-up by your tool kit, because your British sports car will break down, probably seriously.
On paper the best of the current Morgan range is the Roadster, powered by a 3.7 litre Ford cyclone V6, which gives the antediluvian-looking machine about 300 bhp per ton and a top speed of 140 mph. One of those will set you back about £45,000. Personally, if I was in the market for a Morgan, (which I’m not), I’d look for an older +8 with the venerable Rover V8 under the bonnet. Probably start at around £25,000 for a decent car. Face it, the new cars look almost exactly the same as the old cars. An older car may have all of the faults fettled out of it, (possibly).
However, every now and again Morgan does something different. Different like racing at Le Mans, having their own one-make racing series ~ the Aero Racing Morgan Challenge http://www.morganchallenge.co.uk or building a pretty little closed coupe, or making the three-wheeler again, or making completely wacky, hideously expensive, stupidly fast, limited editions, such as the Aero Coupe. (A used Morgan Aero will set you back about £85,000)
The practical upshot is; Morgan seems to be going through a bit of a transition. Now may not be the time to buy a new Morgan. Should you want a Morgan, I would look for a well cared-for older car, which will look exactly the same as most of the newer cars. Look for a car with aluminium bodywork.
There are dozens of books about the Morgan Motorcar, in all its variants, the latest is a 300 page history of the Morgan Aero 8 by Gavin Farmer. A Brave and Exciting New World £60 from Ilinga Books.
- Charles Morgan To Appeal His Dismissal From Morgan Motor Company (motorauthority.com)
- Morgan Motor Company Moves On, Plans Future (motorauthority.com)
- Glamorous wife of Morgan feud heir launches astonishing tirade against ‘greed and ego’ of her husband’s relatives and former board members (thisismoney.co.uk)
- Autocar: Charles Morgan Sacked For “Misconduct” – Will Appeal to Family Members At Hearing On Friday (thetruthaboutcars.com)