Fascination is the key to quality

A Jaguar (or Daimler), but which? English text Nederlandse tekst

March 2008, fully rewritten and much extended in August 2018 and February 2019, now primarily in English

Overview of this page


On a previous page, I described the cars that I loved during the long time I did not own a car. The Rover SD1 or 3500 Vanden Plas was my favourite and it became my (our) first car. In fact cars were not my interest and I did know very little about brands and models. Not strange as I did not have cars in my environment, as my parents got their first car only when they were sixty! Because it is just like the Rover also stylish, British and luxurious, one would expect that Jaguar would also be among my favorite brands. But it wasn't, at least not around 1985 to 1990.

My favourite cars as described on the mentioned page were less expensive than the top brand Jaguar. All cars mentioned over there could be considered as affordable for an old student after several years of depreciation. A Jaguar was clearly never affordable. Furthermore, Jaguars were exclusive cars. As far as I looked to cars, what I did not do much because they did not interest me that much, I did not see Jaguars around on the streets, because they were too exclusive.

Nevertheless, Jaguar has always been in my mind. In particular after a few years of ownership of the SD1 and more than a decade after I listed my preferred cars, I really liked Jaguar. I just found in my notes (2006) that I certainly did not consider the styling of whatever Jaguar superior to that of the SD1, but their exclusivity and appeal were. Just like with older Rovers, there is a moment that older Jaguars become 'affordable', or let's say less unrealistic to dream of. Now, what Jaguar would be my favourite then?

Read on below! ↓

Jaguar-advertentie van 1968: one day

A fascinating Jaguar advertisement, published with the launch of the XJ6 in 1968. This could not be me, as my youth was completely car-free and I did not have any interest in cars.

The straightforward choice: the Jaguar XJ6 series 3

One thing is for sure: I have never liked the E-Type, nor the Mk II: supposedly the most loved Jaguars. In the end, it will turn out that as usual I like the most unloved Jaguars the most, which has the unintended bonus of the most affordable price. I am still amazed about the ridiculous prices E-Types fetch and after my initial astonishment I start to smile, because I then calculate the number of 'my' Jaguars I could buy for that sort of money smiley

I have always loved the styling of the Jaguar XJ6, or to be more precise: the series 3. The XJ6 was the model Jaguar's sir William Lyons designed as the successor of several rather oldfashioned Jaguar models. This was the 'Series 1', introduced in 1968. In 1974 the Series 2 was introduced, with a different arrangement of bumpers and dashboard switches as most visible differences. In 1979, in fact as a temporary model before the introduction of a complete new model, the Series 3 was introduced. It was the first (and last?) model not styled in-house but by the Italian Pininfarina. Because the Series 2 saw colossal quality problems and Jaguar workforce and British industry policy made all things uncertain, this temporal model was produced the longest: only in 1986 the successor was launched, the XJ40.

I do not really like the looks of the Series 1. Now, after a few years I have to say that the Series 2 has a very good and classy look and maybe it is even the most beautiful XJ6. However, the build quality made that most of them have dissolved, literally! The Series 3 is, well, a beauty with clean lines and a rather 'modern' look. In practice, the Series 3 has always been my favourite, although only recently I 'rediscovered' the beauty of the Series 2.

As of, say, 1984, the build quality of the Series 3 was in general very good, although sales were still struggling because of the very notorious name it had (read Saving Jaguar by former CEO sir John Egan! buy it here). Actually, the Series three has been produced from 1979 to 1992! As the XJ40, the successor of the Series 3, was designed deliberately with a front chassis too narrow to accomodate a V-configurated engine (to prevent the high management of British Leyland to come up with the idea of fitting the Rover V8 in the Jaguar), the Series 3 was still produced to 1992 to be able to sell the famous V12 engine.

Daimler Double Six series 3 1992 gunmetal grey

A series 3 Daimler Double Six from 1992, the last year it was produced, six years after the XJ40 production started. A gunmetal grey car with the typical 'pepperpot' alloy wheels. Note the Daimler 'fluted' grille and the standard fog lamps. Photo from a sale website.

Daimler Sovereign 4.2 1978 series 2. Daimler Sovereign 4.2 1978 series 2.

Maybe this is the most beautiful of the Jaguar XJ6 models: the Series 2. This is a Daimler Sovereign 4.2 litre from March 1978. From the front it might not look very different from the series 3, but compare the windows and roof shape with the Series 3 photos above and below. Photo from an advertisement on Marktplaats.

The Daimler Double Six as a favourite

So the Jaguar Series 3 appealed the most to me. When looking around to Series 3 Jaguars for sale – always a nice way to spend some evening hours – it struck me that there were very many cars for sale, in fact much more than of the cheaper Rover SD1, which in my view has always been the most beautiful. But there have been a several engine and luxury types of the XJ6. So, one can make a choice, if I would ever be in the comfortable position of being able to buy such a car.

Around 1985, the XJ6 (Series 3) consisted of the following models, in order of price:

  • Jaguar XJ6 3.4
  • Jaguar XJ6 4.2
  • Jaguar Sovereign 4.2
  • Jaguar Sovereign V12
  • Daimler Double Six

What Series 3 to choose? I considered that, just as I had done with the Rover SD1, it is always preferable to choose the most luxurious variant. In that way you get the best specced and most enjoyable car for only a little more money, incomparable to what the most luxurious model had costed more when sold new. The most luxurious, best specced model of a Jaguar is the Daimler. Daimler was a separate English brand, until Jaguar bought it in 1960 to acquire extra production capacity. After several years of separate Daimler models, the Daimler brand was used for Jaguar models with the most luxurious specification. So for me, the Daimler was the way to go. With the Series 3, this also means you get the world famous 5.3 litre V12 engine. It is famous and very refined, although a pain in the ass to work on as one can't get at whatever parts … Anyway, I decided if I would ever buy a Jaguar, and I could afford it, it should be the Daimler Double Six!

Later on, I will describe on a separate page what is so nice about a Daimler and in particular what the differences are between the individual Daimler and Jaguar models.

Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas from 1982 at De Goey

The series 3 Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas from 1982, as visited by me (see next section).

Visiting a 1982 Daimler Double Six

In April 2006, I saw a Daimler Double Six for sale and although I couldn't yet afford to buy it, I asked the seller if I could visit and meticulously inspect the car, as I wanted to familiarise myself with it. The De Goey garage in Montfoort had stowed it away as they regarded it as a very special car only to be sold to a real enthusiast. They got the car ready and I was allowed to drive it. Amidst the mid-Holland meadows, I have watched the car extensively and photographed it.

The Double Six is actually a Vanden Plas. For a short period, the Daimlers came with a luxurious specification, the Daimler Double Six, and an extra luxurious specification, the Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas. On the bootlid it is badged as such and the Vanden Plas can be recognised from the double bright wood strips in the door veneer panels: see my photos.

This Series 3 car dates from October 1982. Now I have often seen that the interior design of the Series 3 has changed around 1983, although I have never read on it. This car has the more round centre console with a larger tray below the dash vents, one strip with four switches and a classic clock and without any veneers, where the later Series 3 cars have veneers (for the Daimler also on the centre console!) and two instrument strips, including a trip computer for the Daimler. Furthermore the earlier more luxurious Series 3 cars can be recognised from the alloy 'five-spoke-design' Kensington wheels.

It is in a gorgeous golden colour (possibly 'silver sand'?) and the leather upholstery is in a reddish dark brown (Jaguar trim colour name?), making it look like a seventies car.

By clicking on any of the photos below, you can click to all of my 19 selected photos!

Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort Minifoto DD6 Montfoort
Foto DD6 Montfoort
Foto DD6 Montfoort

In January 2014 I saw a Daimler Double Six for sale on Marktplaats and I was almost certain that it was this very car. It had severe damage to the right hand side over almost the full length of the car and the left front door was bad. What a pity … Now, 1 February 2019, I see at the RDW the car has last been sold in February 2014, but still has no valid MOT. That it is still registered at least means that it still exists …

A late series 3 Daimler Double Six?

For a while, I considered to look for a late series 3 Jaguar, preferably a Daimler Double Six for reasons I described above. It is well known that the seventies Jaguars, including the Series 3, can be or will be of a very bad build quality. But from 1984, these cars are suddenly very good! If you have read the extensive search for quality of Jaguar's boss John Egan in his book Saving Jaguar, you will understand why. Now in 1986, when all Jaguar employees understood how to manage quality while building a Jaguar, the successor of the Series 3 was launched: the XJ40.

The engine compartment of the XJ40 was deliberately designed too narrow to fit a V-shaped engine in. But now the oil crisis was over, there was again demand for the impressive Jaguar 5.3 litre V12. For that reason, the Series 3 was still produced to 1992, six years after the XJ40 was launched. So if one wants a good Series 3 and preferable the famous V12, why not look for a 1986 to 1992 Jaguar XJ12 or Daimler Double Six?

It struck me that there were relatively many for sale, back in 2006, but still while I write this in 2019. This will be for several reasons:

  • The later the car, the better the build quality, in general. So the post-1986 cars will most probably have survived.
  • The more luxurious the model compared to other cars of the range, the more chance it will have survived. It is exactly why of the Rover SD1 most surviving cars are the top spec 3500 Vanden Plas and also why I am after a Daimler Double Six.
  • Many sellers advertise with "unique! one of the last series 3 cars built!" Because of that uniqueness, there are many 1992 Series 3 cars for sale, limiting their uniqueness …

Indeed, I have seen beautiful examples of the late Series 3. The Daimler Double Six comes with the most precious burr veneers and in some cars these have been beautifully survived and sometimes not faded at all. By the way, the latest years come with options not available to earlier models, like ABS and colour-coded piping.

Daimler Double Six 1992 met prachtig wortelnotenhout

A series 3 Daimler Double Six from the last build year 1992, with beautiful unfaded Daimler-quality burr walnut veneers. Also mind the different styling of the centre console compared to the 1982 DD6 above, only found at models from after 1984 or so.

Daimler Double Six 1991 met cream leer en contrasterende rode piping

The last Series 3 Jaguars were available with new options like ABS, cream or magnolia leather and contrasting piping, as in the Daimler Double Six above, dating from 1991. (I have my doubts, however, on the red dashboard: never seen before.)

The Jaguar XJ40

The successor of the successful Series 3 was launched in 1986. It wasn't given a new name: it was just the XJ6. But it is well-known by its internal Jaguar identification: the XJ40. Although it was a much more modern car, very refined and in general of high quality (although at the beginning not as good as hoped), it has never been very loved. Its rather sleek, smooth, angular design was modern, but got out of fashion rather soon. Many potential Jaguar buyers regarded it as non-Jaguarish.

In particular the rectangular headlamps and the pancake-flat bonnet were disliked. Please note that only the more expensive Sovereign and Daimler models got the 'styled headlamps', as Jaguar called them! For me they fit perfectly in the overall XJ40 styling, better than the twin round headlamps.

The XJ40 never had a long wheelbase as standard. However, in 1993 the handbuilt Majestic was introduced: a car with a wheelbase extended by five inches by cutting an existing body in two. The roof at the back was 5 cm higher, making custom rear windows, rear doors and interior panels necessary.

Although I now already can reveal that I in the end loved the XJ40 the most of all Jaguars, I back in 2006 or so regarded the XJ40 in the same way as many Jaguar enthusiasts and potential Jaguar buyers. What did not help was that many cars were around in a sorrow state, as the black XJ40 to the right, probably just because they weren't loved, hence they were cheap, hence buyers who could afford an XJ40 could not afford to spend a lot to maintenance. My theory …

Zwarte gebutste Sovereign uit 1989

Pure neglect and lack of interest resulted in many XJ40s to look as unattractive as this 1989 one.

Daimler Double Six met rechthoekige koplampen

The rectangular 'styled headlamps' are standard for the Sovereign and Daimler XJ40s and characteristic for its overall style, I think. This is my Daimler Double Six.

De Daimler 4,0 met twin headlamps

The XJ40 could be ordered with the 'classic' twin headlamps. Only the cheapest model, the XJ6, had them standard. This is a Daimler four litre. During the last two years of the XJ40, the twin headlamps came with bezels in the car's paint colour instead of chromed. The leaper was never available for any XJ40 and certainly does not belong on a Daimler (as it is not a Jaguar …) in my view.

The Jaguar X300

The successor of the XJ40 was the X300, again the internal Jaguar code name. It was introduced in September 1994 ('Model Year 1995'). Although it has a rather different look from its precursor, it is essentially a restyled late type XJ40 with several technical improvements. Actually, although it looks the same, the 1993 XJ40 differs more from the 1992 XJ40, than the 1995 X300 differs from the 1994 XJ40.

Because of the criticism of potential Jaguar buyers, the styling returned to the classic Jaguar styling with the curved bonnet and 2 times 2 round headlamps. And indeed, this model is even by current Jaguar enthusiasts much more loved than the XJ40. The interior only saw a very light restyling and the typical XJ40 instrument dash extensions are still present in the X300.

The X300 saw a further improved six cylinder four litre line engine, the AJ16, but the famous six litre V12 was retained. The X300 series indeed has its Daimler Double Six top model.

A big difference in the X300 model line compared to the XJ40 was that the long wheelbase version was now produced on the standard production line. It could be ordered by electrically adjustable rear seats. These seats do exist in the XJ40 Majestic but are extremely rare.

At the time I started to look around for a Jaguar, the X300 was still too expensive for me. And in the end I liked the XJ40 more because I regarded it to have a more pure style. It is just more convincing. In my view.

Daimler 4,0 X300 1995 van Djurre

Although technically there were only minor improvements, the 1995 X300 looked much more classical than its XJ40 predecessor. (Photo Djurre Gerritsen)

Daimler 4,0 X300 1995 interieur van Djurre

The styling of the X300 interior was only slightly modernised compared to the XJ40. (Photo Djurre Gerritsen)

Jaguar XJ12 X305 1996 Diepenbroek lange wielbasis

The X300 was standard available with extended wheelbase (and higher rear roof). This model is called X305. The car on the photo is actually is a Jaguar XJ12. The very long rear door and higher roof are clearly recognisable. (Photo of a car for sale at Diepenbroek)

Daimler Double Six X305 1996 Zwitsers lange wielbasis met elektrisch verstelbare individuele achterstoelen

The long wheelbase X305 was available with electrically adjustable individual rear seats. The seat could be shifted forward, changing the angle of the backrest at the same time. The headrests and lumbar support are ajustable and the seat has electric heating. I don't know what to think of the Persian carpets: they are typically Swiss and typical to the care Swiss cars get or just a way to make a car for sale look like that … (Photo of a car for sale in Switzerland)

The Jaguar XJ8 or X308

In september 1995, the X300 after two years was replaced by the X308 or XJ8. This was the last Jaguar built on the XJ40 platform. There were many styling changes, in particular in the interior. Everything has been made rounder, e.g. the door veneer panels. From the outside the same can be said from the indicator lenses in the bumpers. I think that's the easiest way to distinguish an X308 from an X300 from the outside. The weird 'dash extension plank' from the XJ40, that was retained in the X300, has been discontinued: the X308 got a fully new dashboard with one car-wide veneer panel with three deep round instrument recessions.

The six and twelve cylinder engines were all discontinued and 3.2 and 4.0 litre V8s were introduced, a first for Jaguar. The 4 litre engine was also available with twin superchargers (a supercharger is a compressor that pushes air into the combustion chambers, leading to higher power; a supercharger is driven by a belt from the engine, a turbo charger is driven by the pressure of exhaust gases).

The equivalent of the most luxurious XJ40 and X300, my favourite V12 Daimler Double Six, is the Daimler Super V8, with the 4.0 litre supercharged engine. The Daimler V8 has the 4.0 engine without supercharging. They can be distinguished from the different alloy wheels.

The X308 still contained many XJ40 elements, because it was build on that platform and can be regarded as an evolutionary XJ40. The X308 was superseded by the X350 in 2003, a completely new design with a fully aluminium body.

Daimler Super V8 Zwitserse met 58 Mm

The top model of the X308 is the Daimler Super V8. Many details, in particular in the interior, have a much more rounded design compared to its predecessor, the X300. The Super V8 with supercharger can be recognised by its standard 17" alloy 'Solar' wheels. (Photo of a car for sale in Switzerland)

Daimler Super V8 Zwitserse met 58 Mm dashboard

The styling of the X308 dashboard is definitely very different from that of its predecessor. Also the round details and panels can be seen.

I decided for … the XJ40! An XJ40 Daimler Double Six!

I was not really looking for a second car in 2007. I did my work still with our first car, the 1985 Rover 3500 Vanden Plas. In December 2007 it had about 371,000 km on the clock, while we bought it with only 142,300 km. It wasn't really the beauty it has been and with my company I had a good turn-around. So I had reasons to look around for a second car. Of course I would never sell the Rover. Although it does not run at the moment, I still have it now, with 383,000 km on the clock!

And then, all of a sudden, when I was again wasting my time by looking on the internet for Daimlers, I came across a website of a Dutch guy with stunning photographs of stunning cars that he apparently found in Switzerland. In fact he was a professional photographer and he had a second business in importing very good cars from Switzerland. He had a contact in Switzerland looking for very good cars with only very little kilometers, typically as second or third luxury car of wealthy owners, only on the road for a couple of months a year and parked in the garage in the basement of the house.

He offered a stunning Daimler Double Six from 1993 with only 89,000 km. It was not cheap, but the detailed professional photos showed an impeccable car. It was in the classic Westminster blue with Magnolia (yellowish) leather upholstery. These photographs impressed me quite a lot … and I was very well aware that this was both because of the impeccable condition of the car and the skills of the photographer, who used soft yellowish evening daylight, professional lenses giving very sharp images, the telephoto lens effect to image cars without distortion, and depth of field effects.

These photographs made clear to me that the XJ40 indeed is a beautiful car. If you find a very good one, the interior is of stunning beauty and finish. I decided to contact the seller and I tried to learn as much as possible. I was the well-known 'window shopper' for whom we have in Dutch the clear expression "kijken, kijken, niet kopen" (looking around, looking around, not buying). I noticed that many sellers who are themselves enthusiasts like to share their expertise and do not really care if you are not immediately buying. The guy of this car also informed me on my request about the painstaking way many Swiss owners care for their car, have license plates that can be used temporary leaving the car most of the time in the heated garage, and that the legal tests are very strict and even the typical English oil leaks are not allowed.

But there was another influence. One of the most enjoyable things to do is looking through older car brochures. Shiny professional photos of cars that one never could afford, but now these brochures are getting antique, even I possibly could. By browsing and reading and reading again, one also gets familiar with the models and specifications.

I clearly remember that there was one image in one of my Jaguar brochures that struck me – and convinced me in favour of the XJ40. I do have tens of brochures now, but I found it back and scanned it: see at the right. The cosy, stylish, warm, quality interior of the rear passenger compartment of a Daimler, including the individual seats, the useless but impressive picnic tables and most of all: the quality and pure styling of the beautiful veneer inlays of the door cards completely convinced me that the XJ40 is the design to own. I considered the Series 3 to be stylish and an icon, but at the same time as oldfashioned and not as pure and well-designed as the XJ40. In particular I have always been most sensitive to the styling of the interior of cars and most of all that of the rear compartment in the Daimler models.

So, let's look for an XJ40!

And because its quality top-of-the-bill finishing and specification: let's look for a Daimler Double Six!

The huge changes made in 1993 to the 1986 XJ40 to accomodate for the gigantic V12 was enough to designate the V12 version of the XJ40 with the internal Jaguar code XJ81. So from now on, I use for my favorite XJ40 the XJ81 designation.

Next page: looking for a beautiful and good Daimler Double Six (Dutch only)

De Daimler Double Six in Westminster blue die grote indruk maakte

The impeccable Daimler Double Six from 1993 offered by a professional photographer who imported top cars from Switzerland.

De Daimler Double Six in Westminster blue die grote indruk maakte

The stylish interior, finished in Magnolia leather (I suppose). The veneer is still very dark, which it not only beautiful but makes it also likely that the car has been stored inside. Unusual is that the dashboard and upper part of the door cards are black instead of 'colour coded'. I have always found this more beautiful, in particular in combination with bright leather colours.

De Daimler Double Six in Westminster blue die grote indruk maakte De Daimler Double Six in Westminster blue die grote indruk maakte

The interior is perfectly finished and, as far as visible on photos, in very good condition. Inspiring!

Interieur van het achtercompartiment van een Daimler uit een brochure uit 1989

This is the photo that convinced me. In a 1989 brochure, the rear compartment of the Daimler impressed me with its luxurious, warm atmosphere, styling and use of precious perfectly finished materials.

Kind regards,
Rens Swart