Buying an early XJS

Okay, so you acquired the late 70s or 80’s V12 XJS before doing the homework because the price was so low you could not resist. So now what? First take the love of your life out for a great movie, or dinner before you begin your cost analysis of a car with no documented history or service records.

You must change out all of the fuel lines including those on the injectors even if they look good. This is the reason the V12 would catch fire. I bought my 87 XJSC from a guy who maintained it very well and it spent it's entire life in a climate-controlled garage and had 33,000 original miles and the car looked new everywhere in and out. I had a jaguar, Mercedes, Rolls and Bentley service business when I bought my 87 XJSC. If you can service this car yourself you can start by downloading a $400 value for free, the full set of factory service manuals I have posted here on the home page, then prepare for buying everything that has rubber on it including the ball joints and all suspension seals as they will fall apart and if not replaced right away, will cause much more damage to the car and other parts. The rubber on mine being original was hard and broke off like pieces of plastic. If you are not or cannot perform the work then prepare to pay out several thousand for starters. Then you have all the stitching on the seats that will most likely be dry rot and as soon as you start using the car, it will separate and the foam on the seats will start disintegrating and you will see the pieces on the floor and the seat will collapse. 

This is for you the person who does not know any history about the car, which is a big mistake when acquiring any classic car even if free. I have seen this happen too many times and it never ends happily unless you just for some reason had to have the car and are ready to dish out at least another $10,000 plus to make it a safe and proper Jag. The bottom line is this, There Is No Such Thing As A Cheap XJS.

I am more than happy to answer any questions to help along but please understand this, no one can intelligently come to a diagnostic conclusion from a distance without really inspecting the car, and most of the mechanics that had shops who knew these cars are retired for the most part or passed on. So be sure to stay away from anyone who says they can figure anything out because they may but it will be your nickel that will be paying for an education that you still may not get the result you want. We just sold an extremely rare ignition harness this week to a shop who is sorting out such a car which is a 90 and someone who escaped from an asylum went bananas on the harness. Many of these cars end up in such a case becoming the property of the shop as the owner just gives up as they break into the children's piggy bank for extra cash and there still is not enough. You are now asking yourself what have I got? I enjoy helping people solve as many XJS problems as possible and make and write this weekly blog and so many times it leads to the question of acquiring an early XJS or not. I love the brand and invented a Seat Extender for tall XJS drivers that I created for myself on my 95 back in 2006 and I am an XJS parts specialist and have been since 2005 and so many people would buy the car for the too good to be true price then when they contact a supplier for parts, reality sets in. There is always a reason a great car is put away and unfortunately, it is normally the cost of service or the lack of knowledgable people to service them. One thing for sure, if you love adventure, the XJS to me is tops as a grand tourer.


  • Love my 77 XJS, stripping it down for a full restore, recommend a good parts supplier, you seem to know the ropes, cheers

    Brent Tyler
  • Purchased my 1990 XJS convertible 12 cyl in 2004. It had 89k miles. paid way too much. Everything you stated was true. Spent a lot of money on car. New top, tires, seats redone. After Marelli meltdown, more $ pulling engine, grinding heads, etc. Car now in great shape. New Pirellis. Wish I had read K. Palm’s book before purchase. Still has annoying, but not serious oil leak(s) 105,000 miles now. Your statements are absolutely
    right on. No such thing as cheap XJS. Lucky if I can sell it for half of purchase price. Love car, but no longer able to drive.

    Thomas Williams
  • You are so right! I now have 2 95 xjs 2+2 convertibles. I bought one as a parts car, but the 2(early & late) have different braking systems. At least they both run and are registered. I tinker with both.

    Harvey Golumbic
  • your comments about parts/prices rings so true. The shocker on my 95 I hadn’t counted on.
    Tail lights.
    When I bought the car I didn’t see anything wrong with it I couldn’t fix. Heck, most of the parts I had lying around from other XJ projects. But it needed all three sections on the right side tail light. No big deal.
    $475 later and a two month process “shopping” on ebay I had all three sections. XJ6 tail light?…$45. XJS?…$350.

    Bill Fleming

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