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Jaguar XJ40, X300, X308

Jaguar XJ40, X300, X308 Published: 9th Feb 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Bettering the classic XJ was never going to be easy and while the XJ40 successor was better dynamically it suffered poor build and quality issues from the outset and although improved for the X300 have always dogged both the ranges. Furthermore, the square-cut XJ40 look remains a matter of taste – although their rarity and age mean increasing interest as a classic – replaced by more traditional looking X300 in the early 1990s. As with all Jags, jaw-dropping value for money is guaranteed along with a very satisfying drive but there’s far too many scabby cats around and you get what you pay for.


Any car following in the tyre tracks of the XJ6 and XJ12 was always in for a tough time. Say what you will about the original XJ40, but few will argue that it wasn’t an improvement on the old design, providing astonishing ride and handling qualities as well as Rollslike refinement. Engine choice ranges from a 2.9-litre ‘six’ to the famous V12 and these are poles apart. The former is the ‘2.8 XJ6’ of the range in every sense. Better are the 3.6 along with the later 3.2 and better still, the 4.0 cars as they are not only better performers but also more durable (heads and gaskets fail on the 2.9) and frugal.


If you are after as much metal for your money, then look no further as these Jags are as cheap-aschips and can sell for banger money – maybe not wise as driver but that’s a clever way to ensure cheap parts for years). While you may strike lucky at under a grand, it’s best to budget around £2000 as the starting point to ensure you get good, well cared for examples – because so many aren’t. At the top end, £6000 is not such an unreasonable figure to snare something exceptional and quite probably the cheapest bet in the long run and put condition rather than spec and trim first.


1986 XJ40 is launched, initially with 2.9 and 3.6-litre power and usual Jaguar and Daimlier trim

1988 Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) XJR launched; no added power but improved chassis and special body kit

1989 3.6-litre enlarged to 4-litres (223bhp), while old unpopular 2.9 is replaced by a twin cam – conventional instruments together with Gold and Sport models for 1993

1994 X300 takes over, identified by more traditional flowing lines, classic look cabin and general improvements all round, not least build quality

1997 X308 replacement, the chief change relates to the engines, which are all V8s; 237bhp for the 3.2 and 286bhp, 4-litre although manual transmission is dropped

2002 Sport and SE trims joins range, former with tuned chassis and wider wheels

Best models


A good XJ40 is something to savour and the rarity of the XJR assures classic status even though it’s chiefly a cosmetic job by TWR


Sparkling V8s – even the 3.2 is worth having – raises the Jag’s game; if truth be told, if you don’t need speed are better bets than XJRs


Jaguars aren’t best renowned for their roominess so if you need it, opt for LWB models which have it in spades and drive just as well as smaller XJ

Top five faults


Many of the problems stem from lack of proper care. Rust can be bad and even decent cars can be cosmetically compromised. Trim quality was never great, especially on XJ40, although there’s enough scrapped cars to ensure replacements


Electrics and the high-tech electronic gubbins, again (mainly XJ40), were a nightmare so see everything works – particularly the dashboard ENGINE Six-cylinder AJ6 engines are the sturdiest although the single cam 2.9 is the weakest link with similar problems to the old 2.8. V8s suffered from bore wear (corrected) and timing gear tensioners are still a weak point and cost £1200 to put right

Running gear

Differentials fail and the rear suspension’s geometry may be out of adjustment


If sitting low without a load suspect the self-levelling dampers are past it. Linked to the braking system, it’s fine when it works, costly if fails, later models reverted to normal dampers and a conversion is available from both Jaguar and Jag specialists

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