The Jaguar XJ-S was up against it from day 1 with the whole world expecting an E-Type successor. But, Jaguar never intended the XJ-S to be that, it was designed as a luxury Grand Tourer with sophistication and refinement not just another Ferrari beater like the E-Type.
However many only saw the negative and not all the good things about the XJ-S. It still had one of the world’s best engines in the 5.3 V12 from the E-Type which happily propelled the XJ-S to 153 mph which was faster than the E-Type despite carrying another 300 Kg of extra weight; it also had an excellent drag coefficient again better than the E-Type so it seemed to have all the right credentials.
Despite all these criticisms the XJ-S sold well and stayed in production for over twenty years, being a financial success for Jaguar. The Eighties saw a cabriolet version introduced to the line up and also a new engine, the AJ6 was a 3.6 litre straight six with slightly less grunt than the big V12. But perhaps more suitable selling well in the U.K. and with some weight reduction with the engine change and a 5 speed manual transmission offered a well balanced car.
Buying an old XJ-S seems daunting but a well looked after one will be a joy to drive. So let’s start by inspecting one of the biggest killers of cars from the seventies and eighties, rust!
Check body and underneath for rust including front wings around the headlights, lower edges, sills, wheel arches inner and outer, bonnet hinges inside the boot and everywhere else, early models are worse so something from the eighties will usually be better.
Providing service guide lines have been adhered to the engines are silky smooth if thirsty especially the V12. Engine coolant needs replacing every two years so check the cars history. If when you’re checking the car if the coolant is brown, then walk away. The straight six engines aren’t as quiet as the V12 but still run smoothly just watch for head gasket week-ness after 50,000 miles and make sure you have good oil pressure.
Whether it is Auto or Manual gear boxes are tough, the four speed manual does get worn with age especially from first to second. The early models used a Borg-Warner model 12 automatic gear box which are a bit clunky however the three speed General Motors Model 400 superseded it in 1977 and this is much smoother.
The XJ-S has twin wishbone suspension up front, top inner bushes wear out every 50,000 miles allowing the suspension to move around creating uneven tire wear. Rear suspension is in the sub-frame; check the hub bearings are ok. Interiors are good quality and later models are all leather the main thing to check for is driver seat bolsters for excessive wear.
For Jaguar XJ models, Jaguar uses only leather from Scottish Angus Bulls. The reason for bulls over cows is that the cows can get stretch marks from pregnancy. What’s more, the Scottish bulls are less likely to have been bitten by mosquito’s, which could damage the leather. Skin from the belly and neck make up the dash and the doors, while the rump and backbone make the seats, as those parts of the hide are tougher.
Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director Says:
“The Jaguar XJ-S was in fact a great luxury grand tourer in its own right and not a direct replacement for the enigmatic E-Type. That aside the XJ-S was a great seller for Jaguar and is now fast becoming a favourite amongst Jaguar enthusiast and it’s about time!”