Overall condition: Good
Number of owners: 2
MOT: 30th June 2023
The Jaguar XJ-S was produced for twenty-one years, and matured incredibly well from its controversial appearance and troubled launch in 1975, to become one of the finest and most popular examples of the Jaguar marque by 1996. The XJ-S replaced the famous E-Type, though its market segment was far removed from that embraced by its predecessor, as the new car was to become a true grand tourer. With the ability to waft across continents thanks to a 5.3-litre twelve-cylinder engine, a smooth automatic transmission, and a top speed in excess of 150 mph, the big cat was among the fastest cars in the world in 1975.
Featuring dramatic styling masterminded by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer, the XJ-S looked like nothing else on the road throughout its production run thanks to its low, wide appearance; feline headlamps, grille, and bonnet swages; and famous buttresses enclosing the rear window. Controversial as it was, as the car nears its fiftieth anniversary, the style is maturing by the day, and is now readily regarded as among the best-looking grand tourers of all time. Beneath the bodywork, the XJ-S’s suspension was heavily related to that of Jaguar’s highly rated XJ saloon, featuring double wishbone coil-sprung front suspension and Jaguar’s famous independent rear suspension, where the differential, inboard disc brakes, driveshafts, coil springs, and shock absorbers are all mounted to a cradle. Allied to this advanced system is the famous Jaguar V12, featuring fuel injection and producing 300 bhp in this ‘H.E.’ or ‘High Efficiency’ XJ-S, offering incredible smoothness in operation, and combining with its suspension to produce a car that, according to Car magazine in 1989, remained superior to the offerings of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. This car is a 1987 XJ-S V12 H.E., being produced mid-way between Jaguar’s privatisation from British Leyland and its purchase by Ford, in an era where the company increased its market share thanks partly to the XJ-S’s accelerated success and greatly improved component and build quality thanks to John Egan’s chairmanship of Jaguar.
As an original 1987 car, this XJ-S’s exterior features stunning Crimson paintwork and cross-spoke alloy wheels. As can be seen in the photographs, this car’s bodywork is in fantastic condition, wearing its indicated 50,000 miles and thirty-six years with pride. As would be expected with such low mileage, there are no stone chips present in the paintwork, the only imperfection being a small pictured section of lacquer peel below the nearside headlamp unit. All the badging and original coachlines are in immaculate condition, the glass is clear and is all-original, branded Triplex, and the car still wears its original Jaguar-branded mudflaps. The offside mudflap has a very small amount of damage, pictured, and the only sections of external rust are behind the nearside mudflap and sections of peeling paint between the rear wheel arches and the back of the car. There is a small dent on the nearside front valance, a small amount of underseal on the boot floor that has been chipped off, and a small paint blemish on the nearside buttress as it meets the boot. The sills and wheel arches are very clean, featuring no visible corrosion, and as can be seen in the photographs, all the panels are straight and glisten in the sunlight, showcasing the XJ-S’s dramatic beauty. Other than the number plates, the only modification are wheel centre caps featuring the modern Jaguar badge.
Under the bonnet, the incredible V12 engine is topped by its impressive fuel injection system, which is exposed atop the cylinder heads and inlet manifolds. All components are in very good condition, featuring their original stickers, and the engine starts with merely a flick of the key to a remarkably smooth idle. The suspension appears to be in very good condition, with all mounting points free of corrosion. Tyres are Hifly branded and have good tread. In the boot are a brand-new set of inner front wheel arch panels, the originals of which are not required to be changed, and the car is provided with its full original book pack, including dealer directory, owners’ handbook, evidence of used car purchase in March 1990, and original sale in January 1987. The car has a valid MOT to 30th June 2023.
Inside, the classic Jaguar characteristics of wood and leather are well represented, with a beautiful scent of the Biscuit leather as you click open the door. The two front seats are in well-used but very good condition, offering great comfort, and the rear seats are in incredible condition. The wood on the dashboard and door cappings is in very good condition and offers an ambience unmatched by many grand tourers. The two spoke steering wheel features no wear and sits in front of the comprehensive instrumentation, featuring a speedometer, tachometer, and four additional vertical instruments for coolant temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and battery voltage. The odometer reads 50,113 miles. The centre console features the original electronic trip computer for recording distance, speed, time, and fuel economy; as well as the original Jaguar-branded Clarion stereo radio cassette player. All electrical components, including electric windows and mirrors, function as intended, including the radio, though for practical reasons the cassette player is untested. One of the clips retaining the interior lamp has snapped, meaning the lamp does not fit flush in its housing. The minor trim, switchgear, and headlining are all in very good condition. At the back, the boot is lined with its original carpet, and the battery features an isolator. There is a small amount of surface corrosion on the battery holder, and a small amount on the inside of the boot floor itself, both pictured.
The XJ-S is appreciating to become one of the unsung heroes of the grand touring genre, and with its V12 engine and sublime suspension is finally being recognised for the brilliant car that it is. From a historical perspective, the XJ-S is a shining light in British Leyland’s troubled decade and is seen by many as the last ‘real’ Jaguar. This example, with the High Efficiency engine and 1980s revisions, can be seen as the ultimate XJ-S before it was heavily facelifted under Ford’s guidance.
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