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Jaguar XJ-S

Jaguar XJ-S Published: 8th Feb 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XJ-S
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It’s sure taken its time, but finally after several false dawns this misunderstood E-type replacement, is now a true classic Coventry cat that’s worth owning. More a GT to be fair but a very fine one that’s hard to better if you buy a good one rather than a cheapie.


Few deny that XJ-S go much better than they look, and it’s easy to forget that, in its prime, this Jaguar was regarded as one of the world’s greatest cars. Performance isn’t an issue on any and the excellent six-pots can perform as well as the V12, yet are a lot more economical, if not so smooth. The 4.0-litre, especially in later 240bhp form is the best, thanks to added torque over the original 225bhp version, and some owners report almost 30mpg on a quiet, brisk run – the 3.6 isn’t a bad performer in manual gearbox guise either.

At the other end of the scale there are some scalded cats such as the TWR, JaguarSport and Lister models. The XJ-S drives like the XJ6 that it’s based upon, meaning that special Jaguar blend of handling and ride rivals rarely match even if for some, perhaps the suspension is a tad too soft and the power steering over-light and lacks feel unlike a less comfy Porsche 928 it competed with.



With an XJ-S you invariably get what you pay for. You can still pick up a runner for around a grand, but you’re really chancing it as there’s too much dross out there even on average cars. The betterthan- average sell for around five figures and it’s money well spent in the long run. At the top end of the scale, there’s the last of the line Celebration model at £35,000 and above while early pre-’80 cars are attracting the money if really good, and preferably a manual. Convertibles are worth more over the coupés but the odd cabrio SC is usually hard to clearly value, ditto the special TWRs Listers, etc.



1975 Launched and based on a shortened XJ6 platform, XJ-S was V12 powered with a choice of four-speed manual (but still no overdrive) or automatic

1978 After a GM auto was fitted in ’77, manual is dropped

1980 Almost killed off, the intervention of owners’ clubs saved the cat

1981 Fully revised, it ushers in HE V12 retune for better economy

1983 Long awited AJ6 six cylinder engine arrives

1984 quirky styled two-seat cabrio (XJ-SC) with folding hood section by Tickford

1987 TWR versions out

1988 SC gives way for full convertible; ABS option

1991 Massive facelift; 4.0 engine replaces 3.6

1993 V12 now 6-litres, inboard brakes dropped

1994 Better 4.0, Special run out models made


Best models


The XJ-S started off as a V12 and ended it. Sure it’s juicy but if you cover little miles, it hardly breaks the bank. Original manuals are very collectible


This is no second stringer to the V12 because it provides ample pace and is easier on the gas, plus a pleasing unit to use; best in later 240bhp tune


Considering how they improve the standard car and had factory blessing it’s odd they don’t command more interest. SC values holding go

Top five faults


Most pre-82 cars will be rotten. Generally, facelifted cars of the 1990s are the best, although some people say that, between 1991-93 were the worst, due to cheaper steel being used


Were never that robust and ropey cockpits common. Look for damp damage, ruined veneer, split trim and sagging headlinings, and these membranes are becoming harder to source


AJ engine is generally reliable, although cams can clatter, due to wear or sticky top tensioner. Early 3.6-litre units more prone to head gasket failure but that’s about it

Running gear

Diff leaks a perennial weakness of all Jags, spewing all over the brakes. A multitude of compliance bushes age and ruin the driving experience. Wheel bearings knock out quickly. Replacement is a dealer or specialist job. The same can be said for the front wishbone bushes


Chronic! MoT trouble spots include the sills (inner and outer and can be bad), front footwells (ditto) and corrosion around those big hollow C-pillars. Bulkhead rots at base of the screens

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