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By the mid 1960’s, Jaguars model range had become somewhat cumbersome. Yes, the E-Type was going well – the 4.2 Ltr. engined versions had been released and work was progressing on the Series 2 version, the MK10 had evolved into the 420G and was chugging along, but the Compact Saloons were starting to look a bit messy. Messy - in that there were now several variants and permutations all based around the original MK2 body shell.
The original concept was brilliant. In 1955 Jaguar had released the compact 2.4 Saloon as it was known, followed by the 3.4 Ltr. a couple of years later (now retrospectively named the MK1). These compact saloons evolved into the MK2 in 1959 and were available with 2.4, 3.4 or 3.8 Ltr. engines.
This ‘Compact’ series of cars became the mainstay of Jaguars production for the next decade, becoming very popular with both the motoring public and journalists of the time. But during this time, Jaguar started to tweak and fiddle with its compact range. First, in an effort to introduce a better ride and comfort, they borrowed the Independent Rear Suspension from the MK10 – this, along with some subtle body changes became the S-Type. Next, Jaguar remembered they had a couple of V8 engines available (left over from when they acquired Daimler back in 1960), so proceeded to fit the 2.5 Ltr. version (the other being a 4.5 Ltr.) into the MK2 body bringing us the Daimler 2.5 V8. Then the 4.2 Ltr. XJ engine was released for the E-Type and MK10, so subsequently it was decided to utilise this in the compact series as well, becoming (with another subtle facelift) the 420 – though not to be mistaken for the 420G!
Confused? - The time had come to rationalise all of Jaguars’ sedan model ranges. So the brief was set – to utilise the best attributes and characteristics from all 3 of Jaguars’ ranges and come up with an advanced design which would be a world beating formula! And that’s exactly what they did. Taking the compact body shell of the MK2/S-Type/420 and enlarging it, Jaguar then added the rear suspension and running gear from the E-Type, then by adding the 4.2 Ltr. XJ engine and some of the styling and luxury from the MK10/420G created the XJ6 as we know it.
As they had done in 1948 and again in 1961, Jaguar took the world by storm! In 1948 Jaguar had released the XK120 and the motoring world had been shocked. In 1961 Jaguar had released the E-Type and the motoring world had been stunned. Now in 1968 the world was awestruck as the XJ6 was released, beginning a whole new era of motoring and, setting a fresh raft of superlatives flowing.
Such was the smoothness of the ride and luxury qualities like walnut veneering and leather upholstery, that the XJ6 was compared to Rolls-Royce and Bentley and considered the better car – and obviously, way cheaper too!. Performance too, was rated as best in its class against Mercedes-Benz, BMW and most other British luxury brands! Never before had the world seen such a complete package as what Jaguar had put together, and at the same time appropriately reinforcing the now famous Jaguar catch-phrase – Grace, Pace and Space. Of course, the XJ6 became the anchor for all future generations of Jaguar sedan models and became the benchmark a many other manufacturers would mark themselves against.
The Paragon Model
This model of Jaguar's iconic XJ6 captivated me for three reasons – firstly because this is the first ever model of the XJ6 to be produced in 1:18 scale, secondly this particular car modelled, was actually owned by Jaguar founder and CEO Sir William Lyons - a fitting tribute to a Motor Industry legend, and thirdly, Paragon Models is a relative newcomer to the modelling world so this is the perfect opportunity to study their style and application in detail.
Upon unpacking this model from the packaging the first thing to note is that it just looks right. The lines and proportions are spot on, and the stance and the way it sits are also correct. The overall appearance and the depth and shade of colour (Sable to be exact) are excellent with a lovely finish and having a period sheen to it without being overdone with multiple clear coats. All the panel gaps are even and precise and all the chrome work and fittings are well finished, again without being overdone or too heavy. Emblems and badges are all present and correct being either ‘Growlers’ or ‘Leapers’ in Jaguar speak, even onto the hubcaps. I do notice however, that the wheels, hubcaps and trim rings are all in chrome whereas the wheel rims themselves should be silver painted. The radiator and lower grilles, and the front air vents have all been given a wash of black to make them really standout.
Having access to photographs of the actual car being modelled is a great help when making comparisons – but it can also create the opportunity to become pedantic when it comes down to points of correctness and accuracy. Based on this, apart from the wheels being chrome and not painted, the air vents alongside the radiator grille should house a pair of fog lamps, and the original car doesn’t in fact have any wing mirrors on the doors like this one does!
Moving into the engine bay, there is a pleasing level of detail showing the now renowned and proven 4.2 Ltr. XJ engine and a pleasing range of ancillaries such as plug leads, SU carburettors, and battery, and also the brake master cylinder and radiator fan and shroud assembly. There is also a clutch master cylinder to go with the manual gear shift lever as seen on the centre console inside the car. However - this car, as did the majority of the XJ series, had an Automatic Transmission!! .... Ooops!! The pedant in me also notices that the radiator fan and shroud are sitting too low.
When looking toward the rear end now, again fixtures and proportions all appear to be correct – the twin fuel fillers are present and the boot area contains the representative vinyl mat, although no tool wrap, which would have contained the jack and associated tools needed. Also present are the lovely chrome S-Bend exhaust extensions – probably one of the distinguishable features of the XJ range in its day. However, these weren’t introduced until a few years later, and as such this particular car shouldn’t actually have them, rather there should be just straight pipes exiting from below the bumper.
Looking underneath the car now, again everything appears in order with a decent amount of detail shown including the correct independent rear suspension layout and importantly, showing the inboard rear brakes, although there are no coil springs present. These would have been seen as a ‘coil-over’ set up in conjunction with the rear shock absorbers, but given the constraints of space, I suspect there would be no room in the space provided without the manufacturer spending large sums of money on retooling. The exhaust, engine, transmission and front suspension and steering components are all shown to good effect.
Finally, moving inside we can behold the interior in all its opulence and finery. Most obvious, the wood grained dashboard and its fine array of dials and switches – all carried over from the preceding models this car replaced. This is all very nicely captured with a lovely display of moulded switches, each highlighted with ‘painted’ chrome surrounds, as are the dials themselves (all correct to original it should be noted). It is also nice to see the woodwork carried on around to the upper door openings and to the door window capping trims. However they do become somewhat lost due to the shade of colour used for the leather and vinyl trim. On the original car the interior is a nice shade of ivory or sand colour – or to be precise ‘biscuit’ is a correct colour name, but in this instance the colour is a quite distinct shade of a ‘terracotta’ colour with a matching shade of flocking to form the carpet.
Apart from the previously mentioned manual gearlever, the only other inconsistencies of note to this reviewer are the presence of headrests on the seats, something not seen until 1974 with the introduction of the Series 2, and also the overuse of chrome to the centre console face. This should have been more correctly, painted silver to depict a turned or brushed aluminium finish.
In summarising then - in its own right this is a fantastic model with proportions, lines, finish and execution all to a very high standard. As a representation of Jaguar's XJ6, it is instantly recognisable and the package would sit comfortably with anyone who is familiar with cars of the period. Yes – this is the first occurrence of the XJ6 in this scale, and yes – Paragon being a newcomer to the model scene, have done a brilliant job, but with a little more attention to detail and accuracy, they may very well find themselves vying for a lot more collector shelf space with the likes of the AUTOart, Minichamps and the Biante/Classic Carlectable gang of manufacturers.