Guide price: £18,000- £25,000
・One of the very last XJSs in full-fat V12 flavour
・Lots of recent expenditure
・Excellent condition throughout
・Rare 20-spoke alloy wheels
Grand tourer? Luxury Coupé? Dinosaur? Anachronism? Call it what you like, but by the end of its 21-year production run in 1996, the grandiose and wonderfully complex Jaguar XJS was a car from a very different era to that which it entered.
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.
It had a lukewarm reception, but as it evolved it improved substantially. By the end of its production tun in 1996, the XJS was a very different beast – but then so was society. By then we had New Labour, Britpop, Euro ’96, Trainspotting, ECUs, traction control and small capacity, turbocharged four-cylinder engines that developed the same sort of power as the Jaguar from eight cylinders fewer.
The XJS was a relic of a bygone era, its hairy-chested V12, crude rear-drive chassis and gentleman’s club interior a far cry from the modern, metrosexual, floppy haired boy bands that defined the 1990s. And boy, was it wonderful.
Yes, there was a strong argument that the XJS should have been put out to pasture a decade earlier, but even with Ford investment Jaguar had no development money in the bank, a new saloon was job number one in the brand’s post-Ford renaissance, and so the XJS was reinvented as a super-luxury grand tourer. A car that could be made as classically posh as humanly possible in order to generate as much profit per unit as possible.
A 1991 facelift brought in smoked rear lamp lenses, airbags and an improved interior, along with an enlarged but more efficient (though everything is relative) V12, developing 306bhp. These late XJSs were outdated from the offset, but on the flip side they were charming, adorable cars for which the old-fashioned aura was a key part of the appeal.
There was nothing like the XJS on sale at the time. And today, there still isn’t…
This example must be one of the very last XJSs to be registered, being only first registered in February 1996, two months before the last XJS rolled off the Browns Lane production line.
Although production figures are hard to find, according to Nigel Thorley's "Jaguar: All the Cars" book, by 1996 these V12’s were only available by special order and nearly all of them were LHD for the American market and only two 2+2 coupes were made in 1996. Make no mistake, this is a rare car, with a level of equipment only seen on the very last cars, including twin airbags, cruise control, heated electric seats, a CD changer and biscuit-coloured doeskin leather.
The current owner is the car’s fifth keeper and has owned it for six years as part of a collection of British Grand Tourers, prior to which it had a long term owner in London. He’s a huge car enthusiast with an obvious fondness for large-engined British classics. He’s selling it to make room for some new metal.
The vendor bought the XJS from a well-known dealer in 2015, who had himself acquired it as part of a deceased estate. Sadly, that meant that a lot of the early car’s history has been lost.
It hasn’t wanted for much since, though, with the biggest bill in the current owner’s tenure being for almost £3,000 including a full service, along with rectification of a misaligned window, replacement oxygen sensor, new belts, bushes and suspension mounts among others. The work was carried out within the past 500 miles.
There are also a selection of other bills and receipts from the current keeper’s ownership including a new headlining, a brake overhaul, coolant system repair and a minor body repair to correct some rust bubbles on the front scuttle panel.
It comes with a UK V5C and an MOT valid until August this year.
Finished in Sapphire Blue, the XJS looks absolutely fabulous – the 1991 facelift really bringing out the car’s shape while at the same time modernising it to not look quite so twee.
The colour really suits it, as do the absolutely wonderful 32-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels. These were only fitted to very late cars (including the last ever XJS) and are sought after among enthusiasts – and for a very good reason.
Whichever angle you look at it from, this is a handsome and beautifully presented car. Both bumpers were stripped back and repainted by the vendor to make it perfect, along with the aforementioned scuttle repair, and it wants for nothing. The only minor imperfection we could find was a small rust spot inside the engine bay, plus the tiniest of scratches on one door.
We were also able to get the car up on a ramp and can confirm that there are no areas of concern with the car’s underside. The sills and floors have never been welded and are still in terrific condition.
Jaguar cabins are always hugely inviting and the late model XJS is certainly no exception. Whether it’s the walnut veneers or the supple biscuit leather, the car practically lures you in.
And once inside, you won’t be disappointed. The seats, carpets and veneers are superb and the rear seat looks as if it has never been sat in (it probably hasn’t), while the dials and controls all work as Jaguar intended. Nice touches include fully functioning air conditioning and a removable Alpine radio-cassette player, with Jaguar printed logo, although the vendor has said that although this works, it is temperamental. There is also a Multi CD changer located in the boot.
The vendor had the headlining completely renewed a couple of years ago as it was doing the age-old Jaguar trick of drooping slightly, so there really is very little for the next owner of this car to do but enjoy it.
The car is supplied with its very own unique, monogrammed interior car cover, alongside the original tool kit and manuals.
As well as increasing the engine’s capacity by 680cc in 1991, from 5.3-litres to 6.0-litres, the facelifted XJS also got that ultimate of 1990s additions – a large, plastic engine cover.
Given that the V12 is a work of art in itself, a lot of XJS owners removed them, preferring instead to marvel at the confusing but alluring mass of pipework that sits atop the V of the engine.
The owner wanted this one to be just right, though, so spent weeks sourcing the correct engine cover, which is impossible to find these days. It’s up to you if you leave it in situ, but whatever you do, don’t throw it away…
Given the amount of work the car has seen in the vendor’s ownership, it’s no surprise that it fires up straight away and sounds wonderfully smooth and responsive. It holds perfect temperature and oil pressure and the owner reports that it’s a ‘delight’ to drive.
After years of living in the shadow of the E-Type, the XJS has seen a rise to prominence in recent years, with some pretty impressive sale prices of late.
This one is a fine car made all the more interesting by being one of the very last examples built, the majority of which were hand-finished by Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations in Browns Lane, Coventry.
It’s an amazing car to look at, has an incredible engine and is especially desirable with these wheels and in this colour scheme. It’s an adorable and very classy thing and a lovely example of the swansong XJS, making it the perfect addition to any Jaguar collection.
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