Used car buying guide: Jaguar XJS


Buyer beware…

ENGINE – Check condition of cooling fan blades, hoses, the radiator and the air-con condenser. A rattle on start-up could be the timing chain. Hunting from cold after 20-30 seconds could be the auxiliary air valve (expensive). Check for misfires on the V12 by holding a bank note over the exhaust pipes and watching for uneven fluttering. Also look for oil leaks from the cam cover gaskets and oil pressure sensor.

TRANSMISSION – Listen for the rear diff whining (about £500 to replace) and fluid leaks. It can spray fluid on to the inboard brakes on pre-1991 cars. Feel for smooth auto gearchanges and test the kickdown.

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES – Listen for knocks and bangs (worn shocks and bushes). Check the car pulls up straight under braking; brake calipers can seize. The handbrake calipers seize too.

BODY – Check jacking points, subframes and crossmembers for rust. Check the doors haven’t sagged on their hinges. On ungalvanised pre-’91 cars, check for rust on bottom of front wings and doors, bootlid edge, sills, front window scuttles, rear buttresses and rear window (usually terminal), and rear wheel arches. Check backs of chrome bumpers for heavy corrosion.

INTERIOR – Seatbelt mountings rust, headlining sags, water ingress wrecks control modules, veneers peel off, and air-con flaps and motors stick.

Also worth knowing:

A division of JLR called Jaguar Classic Parts ( provides parts for XJS models from 1987 to 1996. Also try independent suppliers such as the XJS Club.

How much to spend:

£1500-£4995 – Choice of runners and project cars.

£5000-£8995 – Some decent post-1991 coupés as well as 1980s 3.6s and 5.3s.

£9000-£11,995 – More post-1991 4.0s with reasonable mileages and good histories, including Celebrations. Also bullishly priced late-1980s 3.6s.

£12,000-£14,995 – Low-mileage late-1980s 3.6 coupés plus clean post-1991 4.0 coupés, but also the cheapest late 4.0 AJ16 and last 5.3-litre convertibles.

£15,000-£16,995 – More late 4.0 and 6.0-litre convertibles with highish mileages.

£17,000-ON – Pre-facelift and refreshed examples trading on model’s ‘classic’ status.

One we found:

JAGUAR XJS 4.0, 1991, 82K MILES, £5500 – A rare example of a nice, post-1991 XJS without a ‘classic’ premium. Only two previous keepers and fully restored five years ago by a private seller, who worked on everything from new fuel tank to new roof lining, plus major mechanicals in between.

John Evans

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