The epitome of elegance, the Jaguar XJ 12 was first introduced in 1972 as the ultimate luxury sedan and it has lived up to its billing.  With a 5.3 liter V12 engine pouring out 301 horsepower, the top end speed for this flagship automobile was 147 miles per hour, making it at the time the fastest four-seater available in the world. 

But speed alone does not adequately describe this beautiful European import; rather, it is the elegance one experiences while travelling at 147 mph that truly defines this British trademark.  With its hand-crafted leather and wood trim interior, more-than-adequate leg room, and extremely quiet ride, it is easy to feel like James Bond as you navigate the open road.

The “XJ” designation stands for “experimental Jaguar” and at the time of its introduction it was indeed an experiment.  Never before had a V12 engine been placed in a four-door sedan and predictably there were problems at first, most notably in adequately cooling the monster engine.  After several attempts at modifying the cooling system the final product was released and it has never disappointed.

Think British Royalty with a flair for the dramatic and you have a pretty good grasp on the XJ 12.  James Bond chasing the bad guys through the Alps.  James Bond chasing the bad guys through the streets of London.  James Bond driving a beautiful companion to a wonderful dinner along the Thames.  This British work of art is all those things and more.

The XJ 12, also known as the Daimler Double Six, continues to this day to warrant a close look by anyone wanting to experience a classy rush.  You can spend more money for a BMW 750 iL or a Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL but seriously, why would you?  This beauty is sleek, lean, and as agile as the cat it is named after.  One ride in this British luxury car and you will understand why it has been the keyword for “luxury performance” for so many years. 

Are there shortcomings in this high-performance car? Of course there are as with all luxury sedans.  Moments of extreme change are when you notice a slight hiccup in performance in the XJ 12.  Fast acceleration coming out of sharp curves, or quick turning while hitting the brakes, are when you will most likely feel the smoothness leave this ride.  And of course replacement parts are expensive.  Other than those moments, though, you will marvel at the subtleties of this magnificent automobile.

How did the British take a V12 engine kicking out 301 horses and silence it? How is it possible to drive 140 mph and feel like you are watching a silent movie?  How can you whisper to your driving companion and be heard while this big cat roars under the hood?  The answer is British craftsmanship at its finest.  For anyone with the dream of becoming a secret agent just once in this lifetime, the Jaguar XJ 12 sits waiting for all the adventure you can handle.