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Jaguar XJS: Buying guide and review (1975-1996)

Jaguar XJS: Buying guide and review (1975-1996) Classic and Performance Car
Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton)
The Jaguar XJ-S (later XJS) was a rather shocking styling departure for Jaguar Cars. Previously Jaguars had been all feline and curvaceous and the XK-S was billed as the replacement to the most spectacular Jaguar of all time, the beautiful E-type.
 
It was launched in 1975, much more a grand tourer than a sports car, and based on comfort-biased XJ6 underpinnings. The styling, with its squared-off edges and those peculiar buttresses aft of the rear window, can be described as commanding, maybe even svelte, but rarely as beautiful. Yet the XJ-S had the silky 5.3-litre V12 engine under its long bonnet and performance remains impressive, with 0-60mph taking 7.6 seconds (automatic) and a top speed of 143mph. 
 
Jaguar’s timing was also unfortunate, as the XJ-S was launched into the teeth of the oil crisis, and its ferocious thirst proved to be a liability. So in 1981 the XJ-S HE (High Efficiency) was introduced to try to reduce the fuel consumption, with mixed results. In 1983 the new 3.6-litre AJ6 six-cylinder engine became an option, along with the XJ-SC cabriolet version, with its targa-top arrangement. The full convertible version finally arrived in 1998.
 
A major facelift coincided with a subtle change in nomenclature to ‘XJS’ in 1992, with faired-in bumpers, horizontal tail-lights and restyled rear quarterlights that worked better (to some eyes) with those buttresses. The six-cylinder engine was stretched to 4.0 litres and the V12 to a mighty 6.0 litres: the XJS had come of age at last and, in this final guise, had evolved into a fine grande routière. During its 21 years in production, 115,413 examples were sold, making the venerable XJS one of the most popular Jaguars ever.
 

Which XJS to buy? 

 
The XJ-S’s sales success thankfully means that there is a great number of them left on the road today, while the 21-year production run saw various different revisions and models through the years to suit various tastes. 
 
The earliest, and some would say purest cars, were only available with the V12 engine. These early models offer great value and styling, but it’s as the car matured, it became better-built and far better to drive. The introduction of the ‘High Efficiency’ (HE) version in 1981 brought in a much more advanced engine, capable of up to 20mpg. Minor styling changes include new wheels and more chrome. 
 
If you plan on running the car regularly, the option of one of the six-cylinder cars, launched in 1983, is an appealing one. Performance isn’t significantly reduced, but the smaller engine provides up to 30mpg (on a very gentle run!) and reduced running costs. 
 
Most XJ-Ss feature an automatic gearbox, although a handful were bought with manual ‘boxes. When it went on sale in ‘83, the AJ6-engined cars were only offered with a manual, so these are the most common three-pedalled cars, but auto was made finally made available in 1988. 
 
The Cabriolet version went on sale in 1983 with a roll-hoop, removable targa panels and a half-length fabric top, with the full convertible following in 1988. With an electronic hood, and the option of a V12, these later convertibles are far superior. 
 
If it’s performance that you’re looking for, then the limited edition XJR-S model is worth seeking out. With a new bodykit designed by Peter Stevens, and new Speedline alloy wheels, it looked substantially different but the engine initially remained unchanged. Chassis tweaks and improved steering made the TWR-fettled model far more capable in the bends, and a 6.0-litre version in 1989 also gave it a 160mph top speed. Monstrous Lister road cars are perhaps the ultimate, but these are very rare, expensive and difficult to find. 
 
A couple of facelifts in the 1990s again brought in various improvements, including 6.0-litre V12 in 1993, and an improved six-cylinder AJ16 powerplant in 1995. Last of the line Celebration models are perhaps the best of all the XJS models to drive, and are priced accordingly. The last models were also galvanised, helping them to stand up to the UK’s salted roads considerably better than earlier models. 
 

You could look at the XJ-S’s potential faults and accompanying rectification prices and see the model as a be-wheeled money pit. Buy a bad one and you will end up paying your ‘bargain’ price many times over. But the same can be said of any high-end car, and with this one there is simply no reason to buy a poor example.  
 


There are plenty of good cars out there, and a number of specialists who deal only in excellent examples. Our best advice is either to buy through such a specialist or get them to inspect a potential purchase for a fee. 
 
 

Performance and specs


Jaguar XJS HE Coupe (1986) 
Engine  5343cc all-alloy V12, SOHC per bank, two valves per cylinder
Power 299bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 318lb ft @ 3500rpm
Transmission Three-speed GM400 automatic, rear-wheel drive
0-60mph 7.5sec
Top speed 153mph
Insurance group   -
Fuel consumption  17.0mpg
Price when new  £77,891
 

Dimensions and weight


Wheelbase              2591mm
Length 4872mm
Width 1791mm
Height 1265mm
Weight 1750kg
 

Common problems

 
• The galvanised Celebration models stand up much better to the rigours of weather and road salt. Even so, it is worth checking all years of XJ-S for rot around the lower seatbelt mounts and at the scuttle panel that runs in front of the windscreen. 
 
• If there’s rust bubbling up in front of the screen’s lower rubber, then the scuttle panel will need repairing. To do this properly, the screen has to come out. The front wings sometimes have to come off as well to cure creeping rust. 
 
• While those are the big-ticket corrosion jobs, don’t leave your bodywork inspection to these areas alone. Check over the entire body, dwelling a little longer at the rear arches that are potential rot-spots on the pre-galvanised cars. 
 
• Look out for signs of accident damage, including poor body panel alignment and mismatched paint. 
 
• Jaguar recommended Pirelli P600 and, later, P6000 tyres for these cars. The P6000s are still available new. 
 
• While parts supply is generally good, certain components, such as the front headlights, just aren’t available new. Dealers will charge up to £250 for a good used lamp, so look hard for chips in the lenses and add any damage to your mental money-off list.  
 
• All the XJ-S engines are pretty much bulletproof. The V12 is wonderfully unstressed and will hum along at 70mph with just 2000rpm showing on the rev counter. 
 
• The engine should be incredibly smooth – even one running on fewer than 12 cylinders can still sound a lot happier than the average four-pot. Happily, most misfires are caused by nothing more complicated than failing plug leads or distributor cap. 
 
• The AJ6 engine’s timing chain can get rattly but won’t break like a modern cambelt. Often the fix is as simple as replacing the chain tensioner. 
 
• Oil coolers are prone to failure on cars that have been sitting for a while, so if you come across a low-mileage barn-find keep an eye out for any oil leaks.  
 
• Exhaust manifolds on the AJ16 units fitted from 1993 are prone to cracking. This is caused by worn gearbox mounts that allow the engine to move against the rigidly-mounted manifold, cracking it in the process. 
 
• Make sure you have a good look at the radiator. Overheating can cause a lot of damage and a new rad should be fitted every nine years or so.  
 
• No inspection of an XJ-S can be complete without a really close look at the underside. The front subframe is a prime rot spot and its replacement, factoring in new dampers, bushes, springs and lots of labour, can exceed £4000. 
 
• If the jacking points have rotted out, replacement can be done from £400 a side. But it’s common for the rot to spread from the jacking points, which form part of the complex sill structure, and repairs can easily run to four figures.  
 
• Take a good look at the interior, as re-trimming to the seats can be costly. While the wood trim on the dashboard can be repaired, again this is not a cheap job.
 

Model history 

 
1966: The XJ-S’s flying buttresses first appear on Malcolm Sayer’s XJ27 prototype 
1975: XJ-S coupé arrives with a 5.3-litre V12, gearboxes mostly automatics 
1981: HE (High Efficiency) V12 released, offering reduced fuel consumption 
1983: AJ6 3.6-litre inline six-cylinder introduced with five-speed manual gearbox only. Cabriolet version now available in both engine sizes 
1988: Full convertible XJ-S arrives. Automatic gearbox available on AJ6-engined cars 
1989: Jaguar becomes part of the Ford group 
1991: XJ-S loses its hyphen to become XJS and the model is facelifted, losing plastic rear side window surrounds and metal door window surrounds. Six-cylinder engine taken out to 4.0 litres. 
1993: Big, colour-coded bumpers take over from slender chrome. AJ16 four-valves-per-cylinder, 4.0-litre, six-cylinder engine replaces AJ6 
1994: XJS Celebration models with galvanised bodies, AJ16 sixes and a new 6.0-litre V12 launched to coincide with Jaguar’s 75th anniversary 
1996: Jaguar XK8 replaces the XJS after 115,413 models have been built. 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites 

 
• www.jec.org.uk – The Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club 
• www.jaguardriver.co.uk – The Jaguar Drivers’ Club 
• www.jaguarownersclub.com – International club and forum 
 

Summary and prices 

 
The days of the rubbish £2000 XJS are nearly gone, and there has also been a definite upsurge in restoration. Early V12-engined cars can be picked up from £10,000, although great cars can command from £20,000-£30,000 for something extra special. Early manual cars can be worth an extra 40 percent.
 
Prices for the 3.6-litre XJ-S come in at £8000-£15,000 for a reasonable example. If you’re feeling brave, projects can still be picked up for around £2000. Top models command £20k-plus. 
 
The most valuable model is the XJ-S V12 Cabriolet, which can command up to £40,000 in top condition. Usable examples range from £10,000-£20,000, while projects start at £5000. Post-1991 Convertible cars with extra chassis bracing still carry a small premium.
 
While the galvanised bodies and higher specification of the post-1994 models are making them very popular right now, earlier cars can be significantly cheaper and still make a good buy – as long as you choose with care.
Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton) Jaguar XJ-S (Images: Justin Leighton)
Last updated: 27th Jul 2017
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Jaguar XJS
9000 34995 GBP
  • Jaguar - XJS V12 5.3 - 1986

    €6,500 - €8,450 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €6,500 - €8,450 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €6,500 - €8,450 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €6,500 - €8,450 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • Jaguar - XJS - 1988

    €10,000 - €13,000 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €10,000 - €13,000 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €10,000 - €13,000 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €10,000 - €13,000 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • jaguar xjs

    £9,000 £9,000

    3.6 Coupe. Colour Tuscan Full MOT. 112,000 miles. Excellent condition. Last owner 23 years. Always garaged. Selling as moving house Offers around £9000. 07563 302649/ 01903 369676 Lancing

    For sale
    £9,000 £9,000
  • Jaguar XJS

    £29,000 £29,000

    This beautiful Jaguar is in excellent condition and is a credit to the previous owner. Having covered only 35828 miles with MOT’s going back to 1993 to confirm this in the history file. The car has had just 3 owners from new the last owner purchasing the car in 1995. We have carried out an inspection and the car has been through our workshops so it is now ready to cruise along in comfort wherever you wish to go. Please contact us to arrange a viewing/test drive.

    • Year: 1989
    • Mileage: 35000 mi
    • Engine size: 5.3
    For sale
    £29,000 £29,000
  • Jaguar XJS

    $20,000(£0) $20,000(£0)

    Black on black 6-cyl. 1993.5 XJS coupe.

    • Year: 1993
    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 4
    For sale
    $20,000(£0) $20,000(£0)
    Guillaume LN
    Guillaume LN
  • Jaguar XJS V12 6.0 Convertible

    £34,995 £34,995

    Equipped with a fully rebuilt six-litre V12 the engine bay is in pristine condition. Since restoration completed the engine has covered little over 1,600 miles. Accordingly the under-bonnet area retains a perfect appearance, with absolutely no signs of wear or corrosion to speak of. The pristine V12 is mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox. The engine pulls effortlessly through the rev range and the gear changes are silky-smooth.

    • Year: 1990
    • Mileage: 1700 mi
    For sale
    £34,995 £34,995
  • Jaguar XJS 1988

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Jaguar XJS V12 Cabriolet 1988 48.000 kms fully original This is a fully original European delivered Jaguar XJS V12 cabriolet from 1988. Car is special order silver grey delivered by the Jaguar Dealer. 48.000 kms from new, this car is in a excellent extra ordinary quality. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1988
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Jaguar XJS 1989

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Jaguar XJS Cabriolet burgundy red 1989 very good condition Very good condition 1989 Jaguar XJS Cabriolet, colour burgundy red. Car is very well maintained, has good body and great paint. Interior very good condition, softtop good condition. European version. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1989
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Jaguar XJS 1993

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Jaguar XJS Cabriolet 4.0 1993 in very good condition 1993 Jaguar XJS 4.0 ltr 6 cyl 4-seats convertible in very good condition. Both body and interior are very well maintained. This XJS of the third generation has the 3980 cc 6 in line 226 hp engine. Runs and drives marvellous. The car has a lot of luxury : leather interior, electric adjustable frontseats, electric windows, electric roof, etc. Really a beautiful 4-seats XJS in the colour Westminster Blue which drives excellent. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1993
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Jaguar XJS Celebration Convertible

    £29,995 £29,995

    About this Jaguar XJS Celebration Convertible The Jaguar XJ-S (later XJS), a luxury grand tourer, was produced by the British manufacturer Jaguar from 1976 to 1996. The XJ-S superseded the E-Type (also known as XK-E) in September 1975, and was based on the XJ saloon. It had been developed as the XK-F, though it was very different in character from its predecessor. Although it never had quite the same sporting image, the XJ-S was a competent grand tourer, and more aerodynamic than the E-Type. In 1995, the final specification changes were made and the car was referred to as the Celebration model to celebrate the 60th year of the Jaguar company. Celebration cars feature diamond turned wheels, Jaguar embossed seats and a wooden steering wheel. By then 115,413 had been produced during a 21-year production life. The model was replaced by the XK8. We at Arun are in the unusual position of being able to offer two very similar examples of the Celebration Convertible, the last of the line and therefore the most valuable and collectible. Both finished in Turquoise with Ivory leather and with 61,000 and 78,000 miles and in superb condition. Please ring our Sales Staff on 01798 874477 to discus

    • Mileage: 61000 mi
    For sale
    £29,995 £29,995
  • Jaguar XJS C V12 TWR Edition

    £14,995 £14,995

    About this Jaguar XJS C V12 TWR Edition Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) were closely associated with Jaguar, a relationship which started in 1982 with the successful entry of the Jaguar XJ-S into the European Touring Car Championship, chalking up a number of wins that year. The relationship continued and by 1988, TWR-Jaguar had taken its first Le Mans victory in a V12-powered XJR-9. Further success followed with a Le Mans win in 1990. This very good Jaguar XJS-C V12 was first registered in April 1987 and presented in Arctic Blue with Saville Grey Leather. It would appear that the first owner recorded around 60,000 miles during the first eight years of the car's life. Thereafter, three subsequent private owners are recorded. The most recent keper acquired the car in 2001 with approximately 70,000 miles recorded. There are sixteen Jaguar Main Dealer stamps in the service book the majority of these with Appleyard Rippon. This car is one of 710 home market automatic cars, less than half of these cars are believed to remain either on the road or SORN; as a TWR Edition this will be one of a very small number of cars that remain on the road today. With TWR options of Speedline Sports Wheels (

    • Mileage: 75000 mi
    For sale
    £14,995 £14,995
  • JAGUAR XJS 4 LTR. FACELIFT 1993.

    £17,995 £17,995

    FACELIFT 1993. Kingfisher Blue with Magnolia hide interior. Alloy wheels. Four owners. 55,000 miles only from new. Full service records and quite the most comprehensive MOT/service invoice history you could ever wish to find. Air conditioning, electric seats and other usual refinements. Superb example. £17,995

    • Year: 1993
    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    For sale
    £17,995 £17,995
  • Jaguar XJS 5,3 Cabriolet

    €25,700(£0) €25,700(£0)

    Jaguar XJS 5,3 Cabriolet Equipment: Super fin stand El Kalesche flot farve kombination Prisen er ekskl reg afgift ca 120.000 kr ring for info

    • Year: 1990
    For sale
    €25,700(£0) €25,700(£0)
  • Jaguar XJS Coupé 5.3 V12 HE White '85

    €17,950(£0) €17,950(£0)

    >>>>> Oldtimerfarm specializes in consignment sales of vintage and collection cars and we are proud to present you this car. Oldtimerfarm is located in Belgium, 9880 Aalter, Steenweg op Deinze 51C, where this car is in our showroom. We are open from Tuesday to Saturday 10-17h (also without appointment). We are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Mondays on appointment only. Make sure you scroll down to look at the extensive photo report (100 pictures). Of course, a more detailed description can be obtained by telephone. Contact us: Xavier: 0032 472 40 1338 (NL, FR, DE, EN, IT) info@oldtimerfarm.be Olivier: 0032 473 11 7300 (NL, FR, DE, EN) olivier@oldtimerfarm.be Oldtimerfarm from Aalter would also like to sell your classic car or car collection. For more information, please contact Xavier. Exhibitions where you can find us: Pictures of the car:

    • Year: 1985
    • Mileage: 138083 mi
    For sale
    €17,950(£0) €17,950(£0)
  • Jaguar XJS TWR

    £21,995 £21,995

    Make: Jaguar Model: XJS TWR First Registered: 07/01/1985 (B) Mileage: 29,944 Miles Previous Owners: 1 Engine: 5.3 Ltr Transmission: Automatic Paint Colour: Claret Trim Colour: Tan Leather Carpet Colour: Tan Doors: 2 Seats: 4 MOT: 12 Months TAX: TBA HPI: Clear Warranty: 3 Month Cover Included - Upgrades Available

    • Year: 1985
    • Mileage: 29944 mi
    For sale
    £21,995 £21,995
  • Jaguar XJS ON SALE NOW

    £19,995 £19,995

    ONE former keeper Jaguar XJS convertible presented in White comes with a full history and the following specification; Saville grey leather, heated seats, cruise control, electric windows, electric mirrors, Navy electric hood, Toad alarm system and 15" Latice wheels. This example comes with a comprehensive history and original tool kit. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Convertible Transmission: Automatic Mileage: 93,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 1990 (G) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 5.3 Finished in: White

    • Year: 1990
    • Mileage: 93000 mi
    For sale
    £19,995 £19,995
  • Jaguar XJS

    £34,000 £34,000

    Excellent condition having covered just 31000 miles from new. It is in a great colour combination of Arctic Blue with Cream leather. Owned by a Jaguar Driver’s Club member since 2006 this car has a good history file with every MOT from 2001. We have carried out a full inspection and the car has been through our workshops so is now ready for the new owner to drive and enjoy. Please contact us to arrange a viewing/test drive.

    • Year: 1989
    • Engine size: 5.3
    For sale
    £34,000 £34,000
  • JAGUAR XJS HE 1981

    £9,995 £9,995

    Rare opportunity to own a low mileage 2 Owner Jaguar XJS in great condition, found in garage stored in a carcoon for ten years, which benefits from Main Dealer Service History, lots of old MOT's and will be supplied with 12 months MOT. This car is HPI clear. No doubt you already know these are appreciating at a good rate and are tipped to be the next E Type classic, Part exchange welcome. Most vehicles have additional pictures, a video and specification information on our website www.nuneatoncarsales.co.uk Our showroom in Hinckley is open 7 days a week. The majority of our vehicles qualify for the same day delivery, finance can usually be arranged within a hour or you can apply online by visiting the vehicle directly on our website www.nuneatoncarsales.co.uk, then go to the finance section at the bottom of the page.

    • Mileage: 77651 mi
    • Engine size: 5.343
    For sale
    £9,995 £9,995