The Jaguar XJ-S was introduced in 1976 as the replacement for the classic E-Type, a tall task indeed. The early cars were not beautiful and were plagued with reliability issues. Curiously, the first XJ-S was only made available in three colours, red, white and yellow.
The car was finally improved in 1981 when it was relaunched as the Jaguar XJ-S HE (standing for high efficiency) with a new 5.3 litre engine which used 20% less fuel than its predecessor. The interior was markedly improved with the addition of a lot of leather and wood. In 1984, a 3.6 litre engine was added to the range, soon after came a cabriolet and a convertible, which was hugely popular in the US.
A sporty 6.0 litre XJR-S model was released in 1989 but sold poorly. 1991 saw the release of the second generation XJ-S which was slightly restyled and available with a 4.0 litre V6 or a 5.3 litre V12 engine. Originally, the 4.0 litre was only available as a Coupé but in 1992 a convertible was introduced as well.
In May 1993, the 5.3 litre engine was replaced with a 6.0 litre V12 version. 1996 was the last year the used Jaguar XJS was produced and 'Celebration' versions of the 4.0 litre convertible and coupé models were released with an improved trim.
Bang for your buck
The used Jaguar XJS for sale is often thought of as a sports car but it really isn't. It's a touring car, smooth, graceful, silent and fast. It offers super-comfortable motoring leaving you feeling fresh and relaxed even after the longest of journeys.
What you'll pay
Although you can pick up an early used Jaguar XJ-S cars for sale for next to nothing, they represent a big risk. The XJS is a grown up car; it's complicated, big and likes to drink fuel. There are a lot of things to go wrong so we recommend that you narrow your search for a second hand Jaguar XJS to the second generation models, that is, from 1991 onwards. You'll find a huge range of prices even within this narrowed-down selection.
What to check
You don't really want to buy a Jaguar XJS without a full service history from a Jaguar specialist, the lack of one could cost you a lot money down the line. Choose your car carefully and if you can, get an expert to look over it for you before you buy. Insurance, services and repairs for the Jag XJS are expensive so you need to choose wisely. Check for rust along the sills, in the wheel arches and in the foot wells if the car is a cabriolet. Check soft tops for tears and discolouration.
Replacement parts for a used Jagua XJS are not cheap so take this into account when choosing to buy one. For example, A replacement clutch will set you back about £320 and a complete exhaust system will be around £935 – that's without the catalytic converter. A catalyst is about £335 complete with down-pipe. Front shock absorbers will be about £80 for a pair and a rear pair is around £100. A new alternator costs about £210 and a starter motor is around £350. A tail lamp will relieve you of £110, a new headlamp about £180 and a replacement front wing about £250. Front and rear brake pads are £60 and £45 respectively. A radiator will require about £200 and a replacement windscreen roughly £180.
How it drives
The instrumentation doesn't look great so let's get that out of the way first., its bright green computer trip looks like something from the original Tron, for example. The rest of the interior is generally great though and you get that unbeatable, real leather smell and lots of chrome.
The driving position is excellent, you feel more like an airline pilot than a driver, every instrument being nicely at hand. The drive itself is surprisingly light and the car handles well with plenty of grip around bends.
The cheap Jaguar XJS is not a sporty drive though, its spongy suspension sees to that. If you are looking for a more exciting drive, there was a sports suspension option fitted to some coupés, so try to track one down.
You can pick up a used XJ-S for what seems like a bargain price and they are great cars in many ways. But beware, these cars haven't been made since 1996 and there's a lot to go wrong with them so you need to choose wisely. If you can get a good one though, you won't regret it.