XJC.COM.AU - 1969 Series l Prototype Page

  The Website dedicated to the XJC -
  Jaguar and Daimler XJ Coupes


The 1969 Series I XJC Prototype Story

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In 1969 Sir William Lyons was convinced that the market for cars was changing to one which the Americans had created where Coupes like the Mustang, Camaro, Javelin and the like offered a sporty car with lots of options. He therefore thought Jaguar could not afford to let that pass, so when the XJ6 production and sales had began to settle down he ordered a four door body be taken into one of this secret departments.  He knew what he wanted and ordered the team to take this rejected shell, earmarked originally for Sweden, they should cut it up and turn it into a two door Coupe. It was the final car the great man ever designed and created.



We know now from having pulled it down to repaint and restore it, that in very simple terms they removed the pillar, lengthened the doors by around three inches by taking a door skin and grafting a piece of it on, and taking a rear door skin and welding it in place to form the side of the car.  Special glass was made for the windows on the sides, but the windows never worked on this car (or the Series 2 prototypes) until many years later.



A huge amount of cutting and shutting had been made to the inside of the doors, the rear cabin and even behind the rear seat (and I have photographed all of that). When the car was completed it was painted Regency Red with Beige trim and then viewed by Sir William. He approved this - his only two door Jaguar saloon - but Leyland would not approve production and so the car was kept in secret storage and very few people knew it existed.



It was tested however with the XK engine, four and five speed gearboxes, automatic and even the quad cam V12 engine and pre-production versions of the standard but then secret V12. The car still carries a V12 wiring loom plus the XK one for the 4.2 engine it had when it left the factory to be scrapped. This is still mated to the four speed manual overdrive gearbox.



It finally saw the light of day in early 1974 after the Series 2 XJ-C was shown. The car was not registered at this time but the rear seat was removed and it was driven around the Browns Lane plant by the apprentices as a hack to deliver parts and the like. It still has covered less than 5000 miles from new. Ron Beaty remembers it when he worked there, and he told me it once ran down a slope at Browns Lane and demolished a shed. He said the roof had a dent in it, but otherwise the car was unharmed. Later when we restored it we took about an inch of bog out of the roof and pushed the dent out!



I saw it at Browns Lane in 1976 when Andrew Whyte explained that it was a one-off and was due to be scrapped soon after!  I was dumbfounded, but he said that this was the Company policy so there was nothing that could be done.



The car was sent to the wreckers in 1977, but it survived illegally and was sold off to an owner in Staffordshire. He put it into a shed (I have photographs) and removed the front guards and bonnet and 'updated' the car to look like a Series 3. He painted a two-pack coat of BRG straight over the original enamel, and took the car to a number of JDC events! I have pics of it there too - but nobody twigged to it being anything other than a 'modded' standard Series 2 XJC.



It had one more owner who wrote to the factory about it (to Ian Luckett) but nobody still realised what he had - despite his questions (I have his letters and Ian's in replies).  It ended up in a car dealership, but when that went broke it was put into a liquidators in London, and it was from them I purchased the car through Jim Patten in 1990. I had the car shipped to Brisbane sight unseen, and was really worried when I first saw it because the body was all full of bubbles. I suspected rust - but it turned out to be the two pack paint falling off the original!



I had the car restored in 1994 by one of Australia's top restorers, but found very little wrong. Apart from the dent in the roof the body was perfect, and showed all of the handmade signs expected. Series 1 panels were put back on the front, the rest carefully prepared - but left imperfect - the way it was built. I wouldn't even let it be painted in two pack as that would have looked 'too good'. I found a set of Dunlop Aqua-jets, and in every way it is as accurate as it could be to the day it was made.



Lofty England supplied the full story of the car, as did Cyril Crouch who was the body man on the car and the man who designed the rear window 'Monkey Climb' lifting system as he describes it. Lofty brought the concept out again in 1972 and ordered the prototype show cars be created for the 1973 events. He loved the Series 1 Coupe and thought that was the best thing Jaguar could do in 1973 to add some excitement for the shows.



The completed Series l XJC has only been seen publicly once since it was restored, and has been in secret storage ever since - but maintained in perfect condition.  This masterpiece of motoring history was sold in Melbourne Australia recently.  The new owner is from Perth Western Australia, no other details as we go to print.  

Sincere thanks to Les Hughes, Editor of the Australian Jaguar Magazine for the use of words and pics.