∙Only four previous owners ∙An impressive service history record ∙Excellent opportunity as a rolling restoration
Originally launched in 1986, the 4.0 Daimler Sovereign version arrived to take its place in 1989, with a much-improved dashboard and news feedback that Jaguar had banished the indifferent build issues that plagued the early cars. The car is based on the Jaguar XJ Series, known as the XJ40 to differentiate it from the original XJ6, and signifies the brand's purposeful rise back to a profitable company.
Inheriting the same handling and ride qualities of the XJ40, the Daimler Sovereign managed to set itself apart from other Jaguar models, thanks to the fluted top of the radiator grille and was only fitted with the bigger engines. Fitted with heated seats and air conditioning, the car was well placed as the ultimate symbol of success.
This car was registered at Harvey Hudson Jaguar Daimler main dealer in 1991, and spent much of its life in the London area registered with a private plate. Each successive owner has kept on top of the servicing and it appears to have led a charmed life, but like all the best examples seen today, was regularly used. The car appeared at an auction in 2020 re-registered with an age-related number plate and caught the eye of the current owner. As a fan of the Jaguar brand, he saw the potential and viewed the car as a project, albeit as one he could drive home. He states that he’s not particularly mechanically minded, which considering the good overall state of the oily bits, was not an issue. As a further sweetener, it came with some good history and on the face of it, only needed attention to the bodywork. However, he’s had a bit of rethink due to lack of space and has decided to place the car back on the market as a rolling restoration that needs a little time and some attention.
The car comes with its original handbook and service booklet. There is also a file detailing the spending over the last decade, which includes receipts for a battery, front shocks, bushes, power steering pump and tyres. It also comes with an impressive number of service stamps right up to 2017, which is reassuring news on an elderly Daimler. The car has seen a mixture of main dealer, independent and a satisfying number of Les Pauls stamps which will give the next owner confidence that this car is worth the love. The car has a current MOT and runs until July 2021.
This is where the Daimler shines. Obviously being an '80s design, the car has an authentic ‘80s feel but with the benefit of a superior aspect of quality. The magnolia leather does show a fair amount of wear around the driver's side of the cabin but it has aged in only the way a Daimler can, and seems to retain its quality without looking tatty. The driver's seat has a significant amount of wear on it but is remarkably free from rips and tears. The black piping is intact. The seat itself hasn’t sagged too much either. A good deep clean could improve the driver seat visuals without the need to renovate. The other seats have fared better and show a more typical representation of light 30-year-old use.
The carpets are in good condition, with the passenger side and rear footwells in particular, looking well kept. The driver's side mat would benefit from a bit of TLC, whilst the passenger item looks like a sumptuous aftermarket item. The front footwells appear to be dry. The driver door card shows typical signs of wear, with discolouration and signs of loose stitching on the armrests which is aligned to the condition of the driver's seat, but the actual door card is in good condition. All of the wood finishing throughout the car is in remarkably good condition, which also includes the rear picnic tables which are fully functional and ready for scones and tea, or whatever '90s execs got up to back in the day...
The steering wheel and gear shifter have worn the years very well, with no specific issues that would be a concern. The dashboard condition has also resisted the years well, and aside from the expected age-related use, the facia and leather and burr finish are in decent condition. The general condition of the controls, switches and dials are good and are all said to be functional which includes the electric window operation and the electric sunroof. The plastic trim has been well preserved throughout the cabin. The car comes with the original car phone too which is a nice touch. The rear headlining has seen some hasty repairs, and although it is mostly wear-free, it will require some level of renovation.
The boot condition is generally good but has a little more wear than the cabin carpet. While structurally the boot well is largely intact, there is some possible water ingress. There isn’t a big build-up of water which might point to the recent torrential rain shower being the issue, rather than a long-term leak - either way the XJ40 has picked up a reputation for boot leaks and will need further investigation.
The handsome lines of the body have not been diminished by time, and the stance and general presentation of the car are good. The panel gaps are even throughout and the body is free from significant damage, albeit with the expected marks evident. However, the Daimler is in need of someone who is prepared to look into the cosmetics of the car. The main issues are focused on the lower half of it, with corrosion appearing on the lower sections of the front wings and bubbling under the wheel arches. Both sills would require replacing too. There are a few examples of small rust bubbles appearing on the boot, A and C posts. The rest of the panels - such as the doors, roof, rear and front valance seem to be good on first impressions. The bonnet has rust clusters developing on the right-hand side. One of the great things about the XJ40 is the relative ease and reasonable costs of obtaining panel parts from reputable companies, so the rust issues should not be viewed as an obstacle. By way of contrast, the engine bay and floor pan are in very good order, with no obvious issues with the structure of the car. The inner wings and bulkhead appear to be in relatively good structural health too.
The attractive Kingfisher blue paint is evenly applied throughout the car and still holds a decent amount of finish and shine, but some areas would benefit from some attention as the lacquer is crumbling on some surfaces, most noticeably the flat top areas. The exterior chrome trim areas are in comparatively good condition, with limited evidence of blemishes or corrosion and go some way to help the overall presentation of the car. There are a couple of missing items, mostly confined to the rear back window chrome.
Both bumpers have seen action over the years, with a collection of scrapes and bumps rather too evident. They’re not unsalvageable, but worth factoring into a possible restoration cost. The chrome work and lights/reflectors on the actual bumpers are good, which perhaps lend themselves to renewal rather than replacement. The wheels distract from the presentation somewhat, but it is the ageing process of alloy corrosion rather than careless ownership that is responsible for the disappointment. Restoring these wheels back to scratch could instantly transform the car and won't cost the earth. The Pirelli Cinturato tyres are all in great condition with well above legal tread and appear to have been fitted at the same time in 2017. The glass is in good condition, with no issues with fogging or damage to the laminate, and there are no cracks or chips observed on the windscreen either. The rubber trim around the glass looks to be in good condition and is said not to leak.
The straight-six 4.0-litre Daimler engine is another one of the positives of the car, thanks to its paperwork which pertains to its maintenance and upkeep. The engine itself is in good overall condition, and all the pipework, ancillaries and wiring is in good order. It’s in a slightly ‘workman-like’ visual condition but could clean up nicely. The engine starts up well, with no hesitation or drama, the engine comes up to temperature without any issues and there are no significant signs of smoke or burning oil, after the initial condensation. The exhausts are in presentable and fully operational condition with no leaks or significant damage. The running gear/underside components shouldn’t cause any headaches, judging by the overall attention to the other mechanical elements. The brakes are in good condition, with a visual inspection of the brakes and suspension not suggesting any problems. The brakes are said to perform with no issue and display no signs of noise or juddering. The self-levelling suspension does not project any unwanted noise while in action.
Registered in late 1991, this car has only seen 4 owners over its 30-year history and comes with an impressive number of service stamps and paperwork to support its remarkably solid floor pan and well-kept interior. Finished in Kingfisher Blue with an appealing magnolia leather interior, the car does need cosmetic improvements to bring it back to its former glory, but all the right things are in place and the potential for this structurally sound car is worth serious consideration, at a more than reasonable price. It offers more leather and metal than your average rock band.
The Sovereign name has long been applied to the top-end spec version of Jaguar models, acting as an obvious sign of badge engineering, but fully justifying the additional costs by the virtues of its extra furnishing, equipment and added kudos. Part of the XJ40’s appeal is the wide variety of engines available but also that every other Jaguar made prior to the XJ40 have seen hikes in value, which suggests that it won’t be long before these cars start becoming assets.
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