The original XJ6 steering column is an undistinguished black shaft covered at the lower end with a moquette like material and encased in plastic at the top.
The steering column incorporates a wheel lock that is engaged if the ignition key is turned to the bottom Off (“O”) position. Although obviously introduced as a convenient anti-theft feature, there is an unfortunate safety hazard. If the key is turned all the way to the Off position while the car rests on an incline and not immediately placed in PARK (or the handbrake set), the car will roll but the wheels can’t be turned!
At least our model has a dedicated “lock” position on the insert face; for some reason this was eliminated in later models making a “frozen wheel” mishap even more likely.
This latent safety issue suggests that the lock feature should be eliminated. However, the ignition key mechanism is an integral part of the steering column itself and not easily separated. In addition, the cheap plastic key surround — a continuation of the crash roll around the dash facia — further depreciates what is already a dreary appearance and restricts changes to the dash itself. Our plan for push button start conflicts with this immovable ignition key.
The Jaguar steering column length of about 22″ doesn’t match any American cars, so any aftermarket replacement will require a custom fit. The XJ6 column has a left side direction indicator switch arm, and can be extended about 2 inches. The center horn button ring works like earlier saloons. These features should be mirrored in a replacement if at all possible.
Ididit steering columns can be made to custom lengths, and the standard floor shift (that is, no column shift) model seems to match our requirements well. A turn indicator lever on the left can be fitted with a push button for headlight dimmer/flasher functions, and a small knob on the right turns on the hazard warning. The horn switch is located on the steering wheel hub.
Here is a comparative CAD renderings showing the difference between the Ididit replacement and the original Jaguar column.
The original Jaguar steering column is secured in three locations: at the universal joint (mates with the upper steering shaft), at a lower clamp mount a few inches past the universal joint, and at the dash face that holds a drop down brace.
We will use the same mounting points with modifications to fit the new Ididit shaft.
A lower clamp bracket is bolted to the frame. The Jaguar shaft uses a welded-in U-clamp to support the relatively heavy steel shaft.
The Ididit aluminum shaft is considerably lighter, so a small clamp will be sufficient.
For the front end of the shaft, Ididit has designed an attractive and innovative column drop with a pivot that accepts irregular angles. There is a nearly invisible seam between the two halves which open up to hold the column.
The drop bolts are 2 5/8″ apart and quite fortunately, this is exactly the measurement between the holes on the original dash face brace. A 2.5″ column drop piece — measured from the edge to the center of the circle — will position the column almost precisely where the original one was located; the brace must be slightly bent back back to provide enough room for new digital instrumentation (Dakota Digital HDX-2018).
A small rectangle and a hole were cut into the Jaguar vertical bracket to allow wiring connectors for the HDX instrumentation to pass through.
Moto-Lita steering wheel
Cabin space is somewhat limited in the Jaguar XJ6 compared to modern four-door sedans. The distance from the driver seat to the steering wheel can be maximized by using a flat dish style steering wheel rather the the “pizza crust” dished original design.
The XJ6 design was “transitional modern”, often substituting molded plastic interior parts for metal and wood. With the planned 1960s retro dash, a classic wood rimmed steering seems more appropriate than the black plastic XJ6 wheel.
The Moto-Lita Eagle 3 flat wheel uses a 9-bolt attachment pattern.
Ididit makes a range of wheel adapters, including a 9-bolt adapter that is 2.5″ deep.
The original Series 1 XJ6 15.5″ diameter “thin pizza crust” black steering wheel has about a 2.5″ dished construction. It’s been criticized as more suitable for a school bus due to its large diameter and grip design.
A smaller 14″ diameter makes sense, especially with the upgraded Series 3 power steering rack that sports a slightly tighter turning radius. The plastic center horn button won’t be missed either; a Moto-Lita billet polished aluminum horn button will fit into the Ididit column.