Classic Jag Gets New Lease on Life as Drift Car

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Who knew a vintage XJ, with a few upgrades, could shred tires like this? 

When you think of a drift car, you probably think of something small, light, and easy to wrench on, right? Maybe a Nissan 240SX, a first-gen Miata, or even a Fox Body Mustang. What probably doesn’t cross your mind is a Series 3 Jaguar XJ sedan. But that’s what the maniacs at Xcessive Manufacturing of Portland, Oregon did. And the world is better off for it.

This recent episode of Build Breakdown from The Hoonigans gives us the skinny on this wild Jag. The car began life as a 1985 XJ6 with a 4.2-liter XK straight-six. In fact, Xcessive actually posted a few very early build picutres here in the forums. And while you might expect a big block Ford or Chevy V8 under that long hood today, it’s still powered by an XK six. Of course, now it’s mated to a massive turbocharger that’s running 15 psi of boost. That means the car is now sending 420 horsepower to the rear wheels, making 400 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. That’s a lot of power for a big old cat.

1985 Jaguar XJ6 drift car.

Massive ’80s-era diving board bumpers have been replaced by older, more elegant chrome units. And other than a fuel cell, manual transmission, massive parking brake, and BC Racing cantilevered suspension, and a new electrical system, the car is mostly still Jaguar. That’s right, a drift car this righteous is still running on parts that were bolted to it in Coventry over 30 years ago.


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Inside, the sumptuous interior is gone. An aluminum dash, custom leather-trimmed bucket seats (front and rear), and a leather-wrapped steering wheel replace it. Gutting the interior helped lower curb weight to a respectable 3,300 pounds. Considering that these cars weighed a shade over 4,000 pounds when new, the 4.2 liter six has a lot less stress on it now.

And it shows. In shaking down the car (piloted by Xcessive founder Rich Kobliha), the XJ proves to be a torque monster. It shreds tires in a way that would make a 240SX owner blush. Thankfully, this video is mostly just the Jag tossed around with gleeful abandon. Surprisingly, it looks like it was born to drift and shred its tires like this.

Love it or hate it, this video is well worth a watch. But be warned: it will make cheap XJ project cars that much more tempting.

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James Derek Sapienza has worked as a writer and editor in the world of automotive journalism since 2015.

He has a BS in History at SUNY Brockport, with a focus on American popular culture. A fan of the classics with a special interest in German cars, he is a proud owner of a 1991 W124 Mercedes. He is a frequent contributor to Mustang Forums, MBWorld, 5Series, Rennlist, and more.

Sapienza can be reached at [email protected]

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