Something for the weekend – the Jaguar XJ-S

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The XJ-S could have expected a smoother launch when Jaguar introduced it in 1975. While the world struggled with a fuel crisis, the company’s owner (British Leyland) was having its own problems, eventually being nationalised. Worse still, the new model was expected by many to be a replacement for the iconic E-type.

The looks certainly weren’t well received by all, a leading magazine describing them as being ‘designed by a committee that had never met’.

The years have been kind to the GT, though, and styling cues that once looked peculiar and disjointed are now slender, stylish and elegant. Jaguar has a knack of making cars that age well and the XJ-S is no exception.

What was never in doubt was the way the big cat went. Lighter than the XJ12 on which it was based, the car’s spring rates were actually softened, while rear anti-rolls bars were added. It provided the ride you would expect, but with an added sporty feel.

Power came from a choice of a thirsty but powerful V12 or later (relatively) frugal in-line sixes.

For the money-no-option enthusiast, the V12’s the only choice and can be cheap to buy. That’s certainly the case with this example. The red-leather interior may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is luxurious. As a coupé, it also has the swooping buttresses that defined the XJ-S.

Or for greater outlay and less running costs you could opt for this 4-litre straight six. With more than 220bhp there’s still plenty of shove and the car comes with a fully stamped service book that should mean the engine has plenty of life left.

Potential problems on Jaguar’s range-topper include worn suspension and rust with most panels susceptible, although some later cars were galvanized. The size of the V12 makes them hard to work on and electronics became increasingly more complex.  

It's worth visiting the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, the Jaguar Drivers’ Club  and the XJ-S club for help, but the general consensus is to buy the best one you can afford.

Which leads us nicely on to this example. It has only 18,000 miles and is described as a time-warp car. As a convertible it does without the buttresses, but adds open-top motoring to the cruiser’s comprehensive repertoire of talents. A tag of Price On Application is our only worry.

So one of these gracefully ageing machines could be yours for next to nothing, but buy carefully – with the help of our free buyers’ guide – and it may be the best decision you have ever made.

Comments

Kenthepipe

Back in 83 I bought an XJS, It was a 78 model S reg, I have to say it was one of the worst cars I ever owned, It used to be compared at the time with the Porsche 928. In my humble opinion there was no comparison whatsoever, as the 928 is a far superior car ! That,s why I bought a 928, Iv,e now owned it 21 years, I guess that says it all .

Regards.,

Ken,

80, 928 S, 5 Speed

lisboa

I bought a 89 xjs two years ago, shipped to Italy from Japan. Purchasing it was quite daring, all history was in japanese, so totally uncomprensible... The car came with winter tyres, but no shadow of rust and very thirsty leather inside. The previous owner had to live in a very cold and dry region of japan...
I have been lucky, anyway: the car runs perfect and doesn't need but basic levels attention... Great car! And many thanks to the first owner, who really cared about it.
Leopoldo

Maurice Ital

Child of the Seventies that I am, I always thought that the car looked fabulous. Mind you, I also thought the TR7 was pretty fabulous too, and what's more I still do.

A man who was big in concrete in the south-west Wales village where I grew up had a yellow XJ-S on a private plate - 77 JW - and the car stole my heart as a kid.

(Actually, when I say that I always thought that the car looked fabulous, that's not strictly true. It was only in my teens that I started to buy into the general consensus that the car was a munter. Reading too many car magazines can do that to you.)

Looking at early cars now only the weird 'twin bumper' arrangement jars. Larding on the chrome for later variants didn't help it any, but the 1991 facelift was a missed opportunity IMHO - it lost the 'half-moon' rear light clusters - my favourite detail.

Love this publicity picture of Ian "The Saint" Ogilvy with his steaming XJ-S:

http://www.saint.org/images/ogilvy-behind-jaguar-1024.jpg

Meant to convey the air of an International man of mystery, it just looks like the car's suffered terminal head gasket failure and he's disgruntled with the wait for the AA.

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