This ’85 XJS is actually my first Jaguar, bought in mid-1992 with a
blown engine (typical V12 scenario: overheated, dropped valve seat,-etc.,).
Otherwise the car was in decent shape-perfect for the swap. It has been
converted with a TPI 350 and T-700 trans from a wrecked ’85 Corvette The
year of the Corvette is no coincidence; in California, for a swap to be
legal (smog-wise, every 2 years for registration), the engine has to be
the same year as (or newer than) the car. Only an ’85 or newer Chevy V8
could be used, and all of its original pollution controls would have to
be maintained (essentially) intact. All that had to be changed were the
oil pan (to later Camaro), exhaust manifolds (to 75-79 Corvette cast iron
with AIR), and air cleaner (to a setup based on ‘86 TPI Firebird parts).
My goal was to use as many “off the shelf parts” as possible, so as to
make replacement easy in the future, if needed. The basic Suncoast Conversions
kit, which I used offers only the custom pieces, but includes a list of
all the aditional “off the shelf” parts needed, such as oil pressure sender,
etc.,., which is very handy. At around $300, it was (is) a great value,
and saves quite a bit of time. Suncoast also offers a TPI wiring manual,
which I used to speed the wiring process. As you see it, this car is smog
legal in California (and the other 49 too); it has the diagnostic connector
(so any GM shop or dealer can work on it), check engine light (required
as well), and speed sensor (control evaporative emissions). Since the conversion,
I’ve put about 20,000 miles on this car, and have to say, fuel injection
is the way to go. It may be a little more complicated, but it starts instantly
in any weather, idles very smoothly, has terrific throttle response, and
gets 20+ mpg to boot!! The rest of the car is basically stock, with the
exception of Koni shocks, Ronal 16” wheels, and the TWR body kit. It also
has a nice 360 w 7-speaker sound system. Future plans include a ZZ3 (345hp)
350 long block swap, some up-sized sway bars (F &R), and new paint.
The sedan in these pictures is my latest project, finally on the road after a year in process (I travel a lot for business, so the car just sat). This ’87 Vanden Plas was found locally with a holed piston. The car itself only had about 100k miles, and was in great shape, maintained for the PO by a local RR/Jag shop to the tune of big bucks. I found a trashy ’87 IROC Camaro (with a great TPI motor/AOD trans) for next to nothing, so I did the swap. It is basically very similar to the XJS, but is running only a 305 at the moment (the older 350 from the XJS may end up in there sometime). Again, I used Suncoast’s kit, and tried o stick to as many “off-the-shelf” parts as well. For this car I tried an “off the shelf” (85-91 Camaro/Firebird V8) plastic-aluminum radiator. It runs very cool, and fits like it was made for the car. (not bad either at $200 from Modine with a lifetime warranty) The exhaust manifolds are actually factory Corvette (80-81) stainless headers, that are dimensionally equal (inlet and outlet) to the Corvette cast iron versions, but flow much better. The interior shot shows how the computer (silver box) and wiring are set up under the passenger seat (the XJS is the same, but it’s harder to take out the seat). The diagnostic connector and the dedicated fuse box (actually a Jaguar part taken from an XJ6) are visible. This box holds fuses for power to the injectors (L&R), emission control solenoids, computer memory, and torque converter lockup.All of this is accessible, if needed, by removing the passenger seat cushion (one screw). The car was smog certified last December, and has been running great since. As you can see in the photos, this car came out very cleanly; it is now waiting to have the AC hoses made and the system charged (soon, as it’s getting warmer).
As I’m sure the rest of the contributors to this site will agree, the V8-Jag swap is a great alternative to the stock engine, providing a very enjoyable, reliable, economical, and satisfying vehicle. If any one reading this has any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. Please E-mail me at Weinberg_Andrew@AMAT.com.
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