By the mid-1990s, the Jaguar XJS was a wonderful anachronism. A grand tourer and luxury coupé from a bygone era that may have oozed class, but was woefully out of date.
Introduced in 1975 to a backdrop of the Bay City Rollers, three-day weeks, flared trousers and a hideous lack of investment, the British Leyland era XJS was a curious car that was never the E-Type replacement it was touted to be. But it was also incredibly cool in its own right and by the Nineties sold on its looks and presence rather than its technological brilliance.
Yet in 1994, near the end of its life, the XJS was made more efficient than ever with a tweeked AJ6, before the introduction of the AJ16 engine – a revised version of the AJ6 developed for the XJ saloon. It gave the XJS touring MPG in the high 20s and has gone on to be regarded as one of the most reliable Jaguar engines ever, making the late 4.0-litre one of the most desirable XJS variants.
At present, the XJS forms part of an extensive collection of classics owned by a car-mad couple in South Lincolnshire, but with a strict one-in, one-out policy they’re selling the Jaguar to make way for some incoming American muscle – a particular fondness of theirs.
As a result, the XJS has to go – and it’s a reluctant sale as it’s a car they’ve always wanted and which they both love a great deal.
In their ownership, the car has been meticulously looked after by a well-known Jaguar specialist in Peterborough, and has wanted for nothing. It received some localised paint work on the rear quarters last year but apart from that it has seen little more than regular servicing and maintenance, as that’s all it has needed.
Prior to their ownership the XJS was partially refurbished by a previous owner, who had the rear chassis professionally stripped, cleaned, welded and undersealed to a high standard.
This isn’t one of those Jaguars that you’ll buy on the strength of its history as there isn’t a giant stack of paperwork with it – just a few more recent receipts for important parts and recent servicing, all from well-known specialists such as Nene Jags, SNG Barratt and Simply Performance. All are relevant, though, and show the correct level of recent care.
It comes with a full V5C in the name of the current owners and an MOT valid until April 2022
Finished in an unusual and rarely seen Spruce Green, which is a dark bronze green metallic, the XJS has a subtle yet imposing presence.
The bodywork is extremely well presented with a deep shine and very few imperfections of any note. There are a couple of tiny creases to the chrome trim but otherwise the car is in superb order.
At the front, it has had a US-style quad headlamp conversion which in our view looks great but it's easily reversible if you prefer the more traditional single lamp units. It sits on five-spoke 'Sport' factory alloy wheels, which are shod with nearly new tyres all-round, while all the original badges are present and correct.
The interior of any XJS is special but this one is a particularly pleasing example.
It has gorgeous oatmeal leather, which is free of any noticeable imperfections. Even the driver’s seat bolster shows very little sign of wear – just a few slight rub marks from the seatbelt.
The grey carpets and light walnut veneers are all in exceptional condition with no major wear while the carpets are protected by factory specification oatmeal overmats.
A modern stereo head unit has been fitted in lieu of the original cassette deck. It’s a lovely place to sit – calming, relaxing and exceptionally pleasant.
The only thing the seller advises is the air con is not used as they prefer open windows, and to their knowledge it needs re-gassing.
This XJS is one of the last to be fitted with Jaguar's notoriously bulletproof AJ6 engine, prior to the introduction of the revised AJ16 developed for the X300. With a displacement of 3980cc and putting out 240bhp, it's a lively unit that really suits the XJS’s character.
The later AJ16 featured a distributor-less ignition and coil packs, but this late AJ6, with distributor, traditional HT lead setup and 'all on show' layout appeals to many enthusiasts as being the last of Jaguar's truly mechanical inline sixes that had been a staple of the company since 1948.
The engine starts easily and settles to a very distinct sounding idle which is typical of the Jaguar straight-six - a kind of muted wuffle that's almost waiting to be prodded from its slumber. Open it up and it sounds utterly glorious and exceptionally smooth.
Power is fed to the rear wheels via Jaguar's trademark J-gate transmission, using a four speed ZF automatic gearbox.
The owners report that the car is in fine mechanical order with no leaks or rattles, and no untoward noises from the suspension and steering, describing it as ‘gorgeous’ to drive.
Jaguar XJSs are in big demand at the moment and are going through a bit of a boom, so this is a great opportunity to get your hands on a smart, well-sorted and thoroughly charming example that’s also as usable as an XJS gets.
Being a 'final facelift' XJS, with outboard rear brakes and without doubt, Jaguar's toughest engine and transmission layout, makes this about as useable as an XJS gets.
It has a few subtle yet unusual features, such as the Federal-spec headlights and lesser-seen colour scheme, yet is also in fine fettle and perfectly capable of everyday use, should you decide that’s its calling. It’s a great car, in lovely order throughout.
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