From its beginnings as SS Cars in the 1930s, Jaguar has always been celebrated for building cars which combine elegance, luxury and performance, and the XJ40 was the latest car to uphold that tradition when it was introduced in 1986. It was obviously a relative of the XJ6 and the XJ12, which Jaguar had been making since 1986 and which the XJ40 was intended to replace, with sleek styling which maintained a resemblance to the early XJs, while other cars were growing boxer and less stylised.
Its arrival was actually somewhat overdue. Development of the XJ40 had been started in 1972, but with the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent problems with British Leyland, Jaguar’s plans were delayed. Not that was worse off for it – the XJ6 continued selling well right up to the end of its life.
When it eventually arrived, the XJ40 had undergone more extensive testing than any Jaguar before it and, despite its understated, traditional appearance, it was a much-improved car in many discreet ways. Chief among the improvements was a vast reduction in the number of body panels needed per car, which allowed for a more efficient production process and a lighter, stiffer finished car.
The XJ40 utilised several different versions of the AJ6 (Advanced Jaguar six-cylinder) engine, the biggest and best of which was the four-litre version used in this XJ40 Sovereign. Resurrecting the name of the Daimler-badged XJ6 variant, the Sovereign was a decidedly upmarket model, boasting a lot of luxury features not seen on the base-level XJ40, including air-conditioning, headlamp washers, a six-speaker sound system, rear self-levelling suspension, anti-lock brakes and burr walnut interior trim.
Impressively, this XJ40 is virtually a one-owner car from new. Why virtually? Well, its first owner kept it until 2018, but the second owner was a dealership in whose custody it did more resting than driving, and its third owner is selling it after only a month of ownership as he lacks the time to properly enjoy it.
First registered in March, 1992, the Regency Red Jaguar was sold new through Westover Jaguar of Poole, Dorset to a Mr. Arvid Bohne of Ringwood, Hampshire. Mr. Bohne evidently cherished the car, as he took it with him when he migrated to Marbella in 1999. It was always very well cared-for in his ownership. He returned to Westover Jaguar every year for the car’s annual service up to 1999, and continued to get the car serviced in Spain until 2008.
When the XJ40 returned to England in 2018, it was acquired by the Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialist Hanwells of London, which retained it until the vendor bought it in June of this year.
As well as the V5, the XJ40 comes with an interesting paperwork file which includes, most notably, its original Jaguar Daimler 3.2-4.0 Saloon Handbook, Service Record & Warranty book, Radio Supplement, and Security System Operating Instructions. Additionally, there is an instruction manual for the more modern Kenwood radio which has replaced the original unit.
Inside the leather-bound, factory-issued folder are a few slips, including the Spanish import certificate from 1999. More recently, Hanwells has furnished it with two of its own folders, one of which contains quite an extensive collection of papers. This includes an MoT certificate valid until 24th May, 2022, which the Jaguar was awarded with no advisory points, and a Hanwells checklist confirming that the car is complete and fully functional.
The XJ40’s interior is a delightful place to be. Luxuriously trimmed in Magnolia leather with Cranberry piping, it offers a standard of luxury far exceeding most other cars of its day. With the exception of a more modern Kenwood radio, the interior appears to be not only all original but also in near-perfect condition. The leather shows only the most gentle signs of aging. As usual, it is the driver’s seat which shows the most signs of wear, but even that is limited to just a few insignificant cracks in the backrest. But of course, high-quality English leather like that doesn’t really wear, it matures. We suspect Mr. Bohne did not have children when he bought the Jaguar, because the rear compartment is exceptionally good.
The light brown carpets are in fine condition but, as if that were not enough, a spare set of matching Jaguar carpets is included, so the originals may be thoroughly protected. As far as the fascia, centre console and doors go, we could not find anything to fault. All the plastic and chrome fittings and the rich walnut trim appears to us to be as good as the day it left the factory.
As the upmarket model, this Sovereign benefits from a long list of creature comforts, all in working order, including a radio and CD player, heater and air-conditioning system, power seats and power windows.
The Jaguar’s superb state of preservation continues on the outside, where 20 years of the balmy Andalusian climate has no doubt been very helpful. We cannot see any evidence of corrosion and there are only the most minor paint defects. On the subject of paint, the metallic Carnival Red has really sparkles in the bright sunshine, the light dancing off all the metal flakes. The red is intercepted by a complementary gold coach line, which, likewise, is excellent with just a few minor defects.
The chrome trim is superb and the various accoutrements, like mirrors, lights and door handles, are immaculate. Unfortunately, the plastic front bumper has been scuffed at the nearside corner, but you’d have to look closely to spot that. The ‘teardrop’ alloy wheels are also very good, although one has some visible imperfections.
For the sake of future protection, the owner bought a brand-new cover for the XJ40, but he hasn’t had any cause to use it yet, and it is included in the sale.
Although there is no evidence of any major work having been done on this car, its life with one careful owner has probably ensured that trouble has been completely averted. With the 89,500 miles very likely to be original, a comprehensive service record up to 2008 and a faultless fresh MoT, it seems to us that the XJ40 is in rude health.
Its behaviour on the road certainly suggests a healthy engine, as it does not really drive so much as glide along like a phantasm. With such a quiet-running engine, it is difficult to imagine a more well-mannered and civilised car. The four-litre straight-six is, we expect, capable of a good turn of speed, and the four-speed ZF 4HP24 automatic gearbox moves through the gears imperceptibly. Of course, power steering is a feature, too, so driving the Sovereign ought to be a perfectly relaxing, hassle-free experience.
XJ40s were once a common sight on our roads but they seem to have suddenly disappeared overnight. Whatever happened? It’s a real pity, because they’re nice looking cars, and retained a very distinct character though the motoring scene was being gradually homogenised. While it was Morgan which upheld the British sports-car tradition into the modern age, Jaguar did the same for our luxury cars (though they did accept modern improvements to engineering and safety, of course).
Graceful and statesmanlike, this XJ40 would be the ideal car for anyone who wants something tasteful and stylish to waft around in, but also modern enough to be practical, and its wonderful originality is something to cherish. This is the ideal opportunity to own what is arguably the last of the traditionally-styled Jaguars. They’re classics now, and prices are only going to go up.
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