Say the words “muscle car” and what do people think of? The Chevy Camaro? A Cobra? A Barricuda? Whichever of those classic muscle cars that you think of one thing is for certain: they have some serious power packed underneath the hood.
And one of the classic powerplants during the 1970s and 1980s was the Jaguar V12 piston engine. This baby was no wallflower but rather a serious engine for a serious driver.
The V12 was only the second engine produced by Jaguar and it could be found in the Jaguar E-Type, the 1975-1981 Jaguar XJS, the 1971-1981 Jaguar XJ12, the 1973-1981 Daimler Double-Six, the Panther J, and the Panther De Ville.
This engine was originally designed as early as 1954 and was originally planned to be used in the Le Mans road race. The first plans had a 5.0-liter, quad-cam engine with a very high redline. Those plans were set aside and nearly forgotten once Jaguar decided to withdraw from racing and they were not activated again until the early 1960s, again with racing in mind.
Again Jaguar backed off of the racing idea and instead considered this engine for a limousine project, which was also sacked. Finally, in 1971, a 5.3-liter version of the V12 was produced for a passenger car and the rest, as they say, is history.
It probably should be noted that this sort of thinking has been quite common for Jaguar. They consistently push the envelope with ideas and product designs only to fall back on tradition at the last moment and sack the daring plans. This has always been a company so steeped in tradition that it at times becomes immobile, so for the V12 to actually come to fruition and become an important part of automotive history is quite remarkable.
Now it’s time for some bad news. If you have one of the aforementioned vehicles that has the V12 under its hood, good luck finding replacement parts and if you do find them good luck paying for said import car parts. These used import parts are quite expensive and also quite hard to come by. If you should be perusing the All Import Auto Parts website some day and notice replacement parts for a Jaguar V12 engine then by all means run on down to the salvage yard and buy them up because chances are you won’t find them cheaper anywhere else. By nature European car parts are expensive but used parts for a Jaguar V12 leave expensive behind and enter a whole new world of pricing. Once you get that big cat running properly, though, it is a joy to hear it roar.