1988 Jaguar Sovereign V12

Ian Scanlon

Personal History

I remember reading Modern Motor’s road test of the Jaguar V12 in their January 1975 edition. I was greatly impressed with this fine vehicle. I had been a big fan of British cars, and Holdens, for many years. I could see myself buying such a Jaguar once I graduated and began teaching. I bought a Torana XU-1 instead for one-seventh the price of a new Jaguar V12. I had to wait until I retired to purchase my Jaguar V12, and paid one-twentieth of the price a good Torana XU-1 was bringing. Price-wise I bought well, but how fickle is the classic car market? I nearly killed myself a number of times in the XU-1 but the Jaguar V12 is so much more forgiving.

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Ian with his Jaguar Sovereign V12 at Broke Village Fair.

After acquiring my 1985 Jaguar Sovereign 4.2, I was suitably impressed to the point where it was time, after all those years, to chase a V12. I haven’t been all that impressed with the XJS, except in racing, and they could be pricey. Jimmy, a mechanic I know from Maitland and who did his apprenticeship with British Leyland in the 1970s, suggested that instead I could look for an XJ12. Another piece of advice that was given about the same time was “if you can’t get a V12 Jaguar out of your system, the best thing to do is own one!” I purchased the featured car from the Blue Mountains in October 2018.

Jaguar V12 History

Motor Manual featured the Jaguar V12 (in Jaguar E-Type Series 3 form) in their June 1971 edition. Jaguar announced the new V12 engine on March 29th, 1971. This was their first new engine in 22 years, and the V12 would remain in production for another 21 years. Motor Manual reported that the V12 was conceived in the ‘early sixties’ when Jaguar were contemplating returning to racing. That engine was of quad-cam configuration with fuel injection and producing over 500 hp. Jaguar didn’t go racing so the engine was re-configured with single overhead camshafts. It was only 80 lbs heavier that the 4.2 litre six cylinder engine it replaced. They noted that the engine revved happily to 6000 rpm and beyond and “provides silky, near vibrationless, quiet running in the limousine manner”. “When the V12 range is complete his (Sir William Lyons) Jaguars will rate amongst the finest cars in the world. On a value for money basis they are probably THE world’s finest”.






4 door luxury sedan




5343 cc


299 horsepower (431 kWs) @ 5500 rpm


318 lb ft (431 N-m) @ 3000 rpm


GM400 3-speed automatic


Four-wheel independent


Ventilated discs on all wheels, inboard at the rear


1900 kg

Claimed top speed

145 mph (233 kph)

Standard equipment

Limited slip differential, climate control air conditioning, trip computer, central locking, power windows and sun-roof, alloy wheels, leather seats, and security alarm


Modern Motor was exuberant is its praises of the Jaguar V12, when they tested the XJ12 in January 1975. The V12 was planned to be released when the XJs were launched in 1968, but there were many delays due to the public demand for the XJ6 with its venerable 4.2 six cylinder unit. It was only when a separate assembly line could be set up that the XJ12 became a reality.  There were a couple of minor niggles like and ill-fitting glove-box lid but they were impressed with this car. “It is undoubtedly a pure luxury car yet it is one that will stop, go and corner hard on command … total insulation makes you forget there is a road under you and a muscly twelve cylinders operating only inches in front of your feet”. “At freeway speeds the Jag is beautifully responsive … the power surge is so smooth … the Jaguar is pure fun to drive”. “The beauty of the Jag’s stopping ability is the mating of suspension and brakes for maximum effect with minimum fuss … the anti-dive geometry in the front suspension”. “At no time did the XJ12 feel unbalanced or unstable – it is a precise handling car and very responsive. The creature comforts contained in the XJ12 can only be described as opulent. It is a touring gem”. Other compliments included “... the greatest ever saloon ...” Thoroughbred and Classic Cars Issue 534; “... the best saloon car in the world ...” Classic & Sports Car February 2003; and “It may just be the best sedan available anywhere in the world” Car & Driver.


Ian Scanlon

April, 2020