Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Jaguar XJ6 S3

Jaguar XJ6 S3 Published: 7th Feb 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XJ6 S3
Jaguar XJ6 S3
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

● Best XJ of them all ● Improved 4.2 engine ● Great value for money

In brief

Last of the original XJ line was best of all even though the S3 was a stop gap before the XJ40 surfaced. The Italian Pininfarinastyled S3 – the first time that an outside company had ever laid a finger on a Lyons cat – remains highly affordable – perhaps it’s something to do with its association with Arthur Daley? Forget all that – the S3 is a superb Jaguar and with prices so keen, you could be on a nice little earner, too.


Jaguar has always been picky over tyre choice and Browns Lane went to great pains to re-engineer the chassis to accept Pirellis over the original Dunlops. In today’s terms, the XJ’s steering is void of real feel and the handling seems soft, but driven like most classics are piloted, it feels special and highly rewarding.

The V12 remains magnificent, the base 3.4 with its 162bhp is sedate, but sweet and ideal for cruising. That said, most buyers will be happier with the far brisker 4.2 because it now kicked out an honest 200bhp yet is as frugal (if you can call it that) as the 3.4, yielding around 20mpg. And Jaguar at last offered a five-speed gearbox as opposed to the old fashioned overdrive although most came as autos.

The squarer cut body not only looks good but also liberates much needed rear headroom although space in the back is still tight and the boot not overly generous.

Best models

There’s a choice of three engines: the 3.4 and 4.2 XK plus the V12. The 4.2 was uprated with an improved cylinder head to take advantage of fuel injection – the 3.4 was still carb fed. The usual plusher Daimler and Vanden Plas cars were still offered plus Jaguar also became a Sovereign featuring Vanden Plas-like appointments. The last XJ6 was made in ’87, the V12 converted for lead-free fuel in’89, anti-lock brakes for 1990 with last XJ12 produced in ’91 but the Daimlers survived for another year.


The S3 slots in between the S1 and the S2 in terms of prices and desirability but in common with all XJs, lags behind the Mk2 making a good S3 remarkable value for money. That said, the days of them being bargain bangers is over, says S3 (and XJ-S) expert Chris Knowles of KWE Jaguars because the S3 is back in popularity in a major way – quite simply because it’s the best XJ by far in terms of refinement interior opulence and comfort, plus build quality was vastly better when compared to the SII.

It’s better to buy a lovely base 3.4 than a shabby Sovereign. And while you can buy something respectable for around £5000, the best cars can cost treble this; Knowles sources repatriated S3 from Japan where they have been looked after and incredibly strict MoTs ensures they are tip-top.

Buying advice

Initial poor build and paint quality afflicted early S3s. Panel supply is not as good as other Jag saloons; look for rotting floors, footwells and inner wing structures. The most serious areas concerns the transmission tunnel and rear suspension mounts. Watch for headlamp surround rot, and milkiness in the windscreen corners.. Bulkhead rot can be a big problem, too.

S3 used the ‘long stud’ XK 4.2 unit but it wasn’t the sturdiest, thanks to broken studs, failing head gaskets and even the block’s liners going wonky as a result. The fuel injection systems don’t like neglect.

The BW 65 and later BW 66 gearbox used on the XK-powered models is sturdy, but common to all are failing rear mounts. The rear axles are robust although leaks spewing onto the brakes is quite common, plus the diff can actually work loose. S3s were engineered to run on Pirelli tyres but cheap second-rate rubber (on all XJ6s) is very common and truly spoils the car.


User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%