How to inspect a convertible XJS before buying.

You have always wanted a convertible and for various reasons, never purchased one, but every time you see that XJS around town, you try to control your enthusiasm. You always seem to be in a lane in the opposite direction that prevents you from turning around in time to chase this person down. But does that prevent you from trying? heck no! you find your way in the direction that car was going, you look in every parking lot and driveway you pass. You even get on side streets looking, looking and looking. You ask yourself why is it that this driver always appears to be a phantom? You know you saw it because it is not the first time! You have seen this car with the top up and down and each time, it gets your motor running and all you want to do is talk to the person. Well, you have had enough of this and finally decided you are going to find one and purchase it.

But say to yourself, I have never owned a convertible not to mention a Jaguar XJS! The very car that so many people get all fuzzy about just at the mention of one. So where do you start? You do not know anything about convertibles and especially a classic one. You search online and many tops look like reclaimed canvas from world war two and the sellers must have all taken a course in the use of, just needs a little TLC. So here are some things you should know beforehand that will keep you from buying that XJS with the very questionable convertible top that just needed a little TLC, then when reality hits, you feel as if you are handed a book of matches and told you must set your own house on fire! 

Inspect the canvas for worn areas and holes around and below the rear glass as this will need to be replaced and will cost around $2800. On occasion, we have a respectable gently used one for around $800. In the trunk/boot is the spare with a color-coded cover matching the floor and inner panel. On the right side, there should be a matching cover over the convertible top pump assembly and there should be two turnbuckles on the front of it to fasten it to the battery tray.

If the cover is missing it will cost around $100 and are rare. If the turnbuckles are missing they are rare but we sell them for $15 each. Please note that the top pump assembly on 93 and older is located in the storage box behind the passenger seat. The reservoir for the top pump should be 3 ¼ full and the fluid in it should be green, not red. For years so much miss-information has been spread about using transmission fluid. I know some Jaguar dealer parts and service dept staff who tell customers this.  Well here are the facts: the green oil is the proper oil to use and it is mineral oil and is the same used in Rolls and Bentley.

I know from owning and servicing these cars. The only differences are the labels on the bottles. Transmission fluid causes the seals in the pistons to swell and disintegrate then leak inside the car and when really bad, saturate the rear carpet and ruin it. Ask me how I know this? Wow! What a mess! The top pistons/cylinders are located behind the rear panels where the quarter windows come up and go down. So if the fluid is red and low, then you will want to pull those panels to inspect.

They are held on with plastic clips on the front of the panel and a couple on the front of the panel right behind the doors. Even if the fluid is red and to the full mark I would still inspect as someone may have seen it low and filled it not knowing that this was the result of a puddle on the floor under the rear seat where the pistons fluid will end up. We sell the proper fluid but please understand that if the transmission fluid has been in the car long enough, the damage may already be done so no one knows. The replacement of the pistons will cost around $160 each.


  • I always read your tips and comments and find them very informative as being a novice to the XJS convertible.Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.👍🇳🇴

    Jon Tore Jacobsen
  • Check under the back seat I had one years ago that had 12 ×12 sq inch hole in the floor, rusted completely through- here is Australia !!!!!!


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