News : H&H to sell New Avengers Jaguar XJ-C

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jaguar XJ12 C 2

John Steed’s famous wide-bodied Jaguar XJ-C, in Racing Green, is coming up for auction with H&H on 14 October with an estimate of £10,000-12,000. It was the eighth XJ-C built, and originally an experimental model featuring a Broadspeed body kit and extra-wide wheels fitted for the TV series.

Dry-stored for many years and now in need of restoration, the car is being sold with this (and last) year’s buzzword of ‘barn-find’ attached for good measure. The car was built in 1973, and registered as an ‘XJ12 2 Door Saloon, Chassis #2G 1008 (1973), Experimental Car – Project XJ36’, and the first owner was the Jaguar Experimental Department. Its original colour was Lavender, but in 1976, it was Body Modified for The New Avengers, when it was also painted in Metallic Green.

Three Handed Game
In Episode 11 of The New Avengers, Steed memorably raced down this single-seater

Currently, the Broadspeed replica is looking a little worse for wear, but in better shape than most fans feared, as the rumours were that the car had been left to rot since last changing hands in 1991. The 5.3-litre V12 is going to need work, as is the bodywork, but for those with a penchant for the more interesting aspects of Jaguar’s history, this looks like a tempting proposition.

Damian Jones, Sales Director of H&H Classics, said: ‘Who of us who remember the series did not at one time or another fancy ourselves at the wheel of this car? Now there is a chance to make that fantasy a reality for a very nominal amount. And who knows, maybe the chance to find a modern-day Purdey in the passenger seat!’

Jaguar Broadspeed
The XJ12 as it appeared on The New Avengers

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

27 Comments

  1. This was John Steed’s car in The New Avengers. However, due to the car being modified with extra wide wheels, Patrick Macnee found it a handful to drive and switched to a Rover 3500.
    Indeed the relationship between British Leyland and the three main action series on ITV at the time( The New Avengers, Return of the Saint and The Professionals) was not a good one. The Jaguar XJS used in Return of the Saint was so unreliable a second car had to be on standby and the producers of The Professionals switched from British Leyland to Ford for the second series as the Rover 3500 and Triumph TR7 that were used were troublesome and held up filming.

    • Another other factor I understand was that BL did not understand the need for continuity, providing them with cars from the press fleet, so cars would end up being swapped for ones with a different colour and I recall hearing Joanna Lumley recalling about a TR7 she was filming with being swapped for a Spitfire after the TR7 developed a problem, which must have caused havoc with the filming schedules.

      Ford on the other hand gave them a set of dedicated identical cars and had a deal that “repairable” dents did not need to be paid for, so the producers could put more action into the car chases than they could with BL press cars.

      • It made Ford in the 70s. My dad’s generation thinks the epitome of cool motoring is a mk2 Granada or a Capri! (In fact, I think that too sometimes…)

  2. Yes I agree, the car may be notable for it’s appearences in the New Avengers but the bodykit spoils it. I preferred the cars in earlier Avengers like Steeds Bentley and Emma Peel’s Lotus Elan…

  3. It was vulgar and not something you’d associate with John Steed, who probably would have preferred a Daimler Double Six. However, the New Avengers was the start of a strained relationship between ITV and British Leyland as the cars they supplied to their shows were often unreliable. I did read the XJS used in Return of the Saint seemed to freeze up inside when the aircon was turned on, making it undriveable, and was frequently prone to overheating and electrical nastiness, making a spare one being essential on set. Luckily only one series was made, as the Professionals, which spanned five series, switched to Ford by series 2 and apparently encountered few problems with their German made Capris and Granadas.

  4. As I understood it these ITV shows stopped using Leyland products because the press office couldn’t send the same vehicle two days running. It made filming difficult if the cars kept changing colour.

    • That is correct. BL could not (or would not) guarantee to supply the same cars for the duration of the series causing major continuity headaches. In contrast, Ford promised to provide the same cars for an entire series. Another BL shot in the foot.

      There is a story that a second Dolomite Sprint was obtained from a dealer and the number plates swapped when necessary, although I can’t verify this. Evidently BL had only one white Sprint on the fleet!

  5. I think this is great news. As a big fan of The Avengers and, somewhat surprisingly, this car in particular, I was always a bit sad reading that the Jaguar had supposedly vanished without a trace. Even though it is vulgar, and arguably out of character for Steed, I think that juxtaposition actually made it quite cool, and I can’t find myself saying that about anything else with a body kit. In my opinion this car should be part of the Jaguar Heritage Collection, and I hope it won’t get lost again. Does anyone know why it was registered as an Experimental Car? It seems reasonable to assume this was due to the fitting of the Broadspeed body, but I’m reading the article like these later modifications was unrelated to this fact.

  6. Some observations on the general business of supplying cars to TV and film companies – including advertising agencies: You really had to be prepared to write off any car that was loaned in this way. With a few honourable exceptions, they treated the cars appallingly. All well and good if you had the budget to throw brand new cars away like this, and if the exposure was actually positive enough to justify it. (Quite often, they wanted a BL car to deliberately portray it in a negative light, so go figure!) Most of the time in BL we had to ‘make do and mend’ with cars that were otherwise unsuitable for sale – early pre-production cars, experimental cars and the like. They were loaned purely as ‘props’, not as normal transport. So it’s not surprising that some of them were less than perfect. The Avengers XJC suffered the usual problems of sticking oversize wheels and tyres onto a car without the radical changes in suspension geometry that you would normally do for a race car. Like I said – visual prop only.
    Generally, we didn’t use press demonstrators for this sort of work because the demand for proper road test vehicles was too high and we couldn’t afford to lose the cars for weeks at a time or have them trashed every time they went out.

  7. @ M, the bread and butter models like the Marina and the Maxi were mechanically OK, but the higher end models like the Rover SD1( until about 1981) were unreliable and badly made. In the case of the SD1, it was assembled in a new factory with an inexperienced workforce that was prone to strikes, and Jaguar’s quality seemed to get worse every year in the seventies. That said, a big quality control drive in the early eighties saw the reliability of all British Leyland cars improve.
    Also unreliability and poor quality wasn’t just confined to British Leyland. Italian cars of this era were notorious for rust and terrible quality, with French cars being not a lot better( and expensive to fix).

    • I think it is unfair to critice the assembly workers,in my experiance the cars were well screwed together any reliability problems are normally down to the component
      suppliers.
      It seems to be an industry problem now,look at VW.

      • Er…. no. By and large the components made were of variable quality in the 70s however the quality of assembly and production line rectification was appalling. My uncle worked for Ford at Halewood in the 70s and had some incredible tales about how cars were thrown together.

        I recall tales of a particular spot weld requiring some effort to make properly and hence it was often not done properly and thus the seam was weak, water ingress followed and the car would fail the MOT on rust a few years later.

        There were also takes of inner sills being made to fit with the aid of a lump hammer and front wings that had to be held in place by someone leaning on them while the welds were made.

  8. @ Robert Bird, I agree, but the original Rover SD1 was an extremely badly made car. You don’t expect a car pitched at the Mercedes market to have carpets coming adrift, water leaking into the cabin and poorly fitting door panels.
    Yet for absolute rubbish, Fiats of this era take some beating. At least British Leyland cars didn’t start rusting as soon as they left the factory and fall to pieces inside within a few years.

  9. Nice to see this turn up.

    Steed also drove a Range Rover in some episodes of The New Avengers, & Purdy an MGB.

  10. Lots of repetition here – we should read the posts of others before writing our own!

    It would be good to know the reason the makers of The Professionals switched to Ford (the producers of both NA and TP were the same). Was it an under-resourced PR department, or reliability issues?

    The XJ6-C in green with the blown wheel arches was a nod to Steed’s Bentley of the 1960s. By 1976 he was a little older, so actually this car was a good choice. As a child watching the programme, I thought it looked great. In the mid-eightes my classmate even made a cover for his RE bible with this car on it!

    As well as the Range Rover, there was Purdey’s MGB and Gambit’s red XJS. There were also TR7s and Steed had a yellow SD1, which probably came out mid series and was a much sought after car at the time, so why not have it in the show. John Steed would have had the contacts to source such a car!

    Such a shame the XJ6-C has not been looked after. Let’s hope it goes this time to a better home.

  11. Good to see the Steed “Broadspeed” car resurface after so much time. I last saw it at the British GP in 1979 at Silverstone being unloaded from a transporter (sort of, it was actually a furniture van) for display on the company’s stand (this would have been before yeat another company reshuffle so not sure what the other cars were but presumably Austin Rover products. The New Avengers was contemporary with the Leyland Cars / Broadspeed Jaguar ETC campaign so it maybe made sense. Good to see Ian Elliott contribute to this forum. I was based at the former Standard Triumph factory at Canley in the early 1970s so remember quite well some of the promotional vehicles. I drove Steed’s Range Rover before its respray in green when it was still a mustard yellow works “hack” (I think). Quite fancy the challenge of returning the XJC to the road. I think, however, that an odd £12K would be just the start!

  12. @ ian, reliability issues were one of the reasons The Professionals switched to Ford, and also Ford were easier to work with. However, the show also featured a very interesting episode where an Austin Princess limousine( rare forties like car that survived into the sixties) is involved in a chase.

  13. Damn I would bid on that in a heartbeat if the auctioneers gavel was ready to strike around the £12k mark. But in reality what do people think it will go for? (come on you auction followers and Jag owners)

    I guess you can add another £20k or £30k for a restoration even if you did some of it yourself, but the final value for a TV icon car, in restored condition must surely only rise?

    Second question, are those wheels bespoke or readily available? I would hate to think what they would cost to replace if they were crack tested and found to be unsuitable and you couldn’t return it to it’s prime without them.

    I really want and have followed the story of it being hidden away for years, but would/could I fork out £50k for it to be back completed and expect to not lose any more than that if it had to be sold one day…..

  14. Damn I would bid on that in a heartbeat if the auctioneers gavel was ready to strike around the £12k mark. But in reality what do people think it will go for? (come on you auction followers and Jag owners)

    I guess you can add another £20k or £30k for a restoration even if you did some of it yourself, but the final value for a TV icon car, in restored condition must surely only rise?

    Second question, are those wheels bespoke or readily available? I would hate to think what they would cost to replace if they were crack tested and found to be unsuitable and you couldn’t return it to it’s prime without them.

    I really want it and have followed the story of it being hidden away for years, but would/could I fork out £50k for it to be back completed and expect to not lose any more than that if it had to be sold on one day…..

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