1985 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign 4.2 inline 6


Beautiful to drive, but know what you want, invest time for a good one, and don't be naive


We bought this car in May from a dealer who advertised it as "mechanically great - no work to be done, ready to drive". That should have been a red flag right there. But it wasn't a fixer-upper.

This review is in October - 5 months later.

(First Mechanic's Service)

Brake calipers had to be adjusted.

Opened up windscreen washer jets on the bonnet - they were clogged.

Replaced fuel injector hoses (that's why these things toast marshmallows from time to time - replace them if you don't want a bonfire).

Sonic clean of injectors.

Smelled remarkably like old caravan at first. Turned out the air conditioning pipe was blocked, and water had backed up and saturated the underlay for the carpets. Carpets easily removed and dried out; mechanic unblocked tube. No more problems.

(First Service: $1400)

(First Electrician visit)

Headlights went off sporadically over speed bumps. The Prince of Darkness (Lucas) was strong in this one. Electrician wired around the fusebox and fixed this.

Air conditioning regassed. Put in an override under the dash so it turned off properly.

Replaced air-con switch on the front panel - micro switches had had it.

Horn worked once. Apparently the steering columns collapse over time - only slightly - but this stops the horn working. Electrician put in override.

Heater assembly reviewed, revised and corrected.

Cooling fan thermostat went - cooling fan wouldn't turn off. Electrician replaced thermostat.

(First Electrician visit: $1900)

(Second Mechanic's visit)

Glass in passenger door slipped off rails when frustrations with Jag boiled over in slammed doors :).

Handbrake adjusted - apparently they're 'holding' brakes, not a 'park' brake; you shouldn't use them unless the hill's really steep.

Replaced thermostat in engine - had wrong thermostat fitted that wouldn't let it reach operating temperature, with subsequent "absolutely horrible" fuel economy. Would sit at 60 degrees rather than 90.

(Second Mechanic's visit:$400)

(Spares purchased)

Replaced antenna drive motor - old one had given up the ghost.

End trim was missing on end of dash ($10).

Replaced indicator light assembly in the rear bumper - old one had had screw holes stripped and the lens fell out on the highway (only $10, but took a couple of hours to fit with my elite skills).

Radio (old cassette player, must have been in since the early 90s) replaced with a cheapie radio.

Digital radio replaced the cheapie radio when we decided we were keeping the Jag (oh boy).

Switch to operate passenger window died - got a replacement easily enough ($5 per switch).

(Spares purchased: $600)

(Third Mechanic visit)

This was the OMFG visit (what, the others weren't?). Car was running rough on idle. Not good over speed bumps. Handbrake (ha!) gone again. Coolant leak. I'll note we received an estimate of $4,000 to do this work. Estimates don't mean much in Jag-world.

Power steering rack replaced.

All six shock absorbers replaced.

While it's up on the hoist, you may as well re-do the brakes - normally a $1300 job. So that was done.

Handbrake fixed - but instructed not to use it. Ever.

Cleaned fuel lines and drained fuel tanks. Got rid of all the sludge in the bottom of the bank. Apparently never cleaned in 26 years - there are drain hole covers that hadn't been touched.

Cleaned drain holes near fuel caps - water possibly seeping in through the fuel cap, as it couldn't get away through the drain holes.

Replaced ball joints. All ball joints.

Fuel sender unit for one tank was replaced. One of the tanks wouldn't tell you how much it had left in it.

All bushes, various rubbery parts and seals (leaking from brakes, coolant, power steering fluid, transmission) replaced. This car had apparently been let sit since an engine rebuild 5 years ago - these cars need to be run and keep lubricants up to those rubbery bits.

Basically the suspension is completely brand new now. I had expected to have to do this at some point; on the plus side it now goes well over speed bumps, and suspension is just great.

Washed windscreen.

Lots of other little things I've probably forgotten.

(Third Mechanic visit: $5963)

(Fourth mechanic visit)

Car 'squeaky' now after suspension rebuild. Probably new rubbery bits needing lubrication.

Four days after picking up the Jag from the OMFG mechanic's visit, the Jag broke down on one of our busier roads. Wouldn't fire over; still running rough and idling badly. Ended up getting it flat-bedded to the mechanic.

The wife's commentary to the mechanic was, I am sure, enough to make a sailor blush (recall that this was the reason we put it in on mechanic's visit #3 to get fixed - not suspension!).

(Fourth mechanic visit: $who knows)

General Comments:

Strangely, the list of things that have gone wrong - and the price tag - haven't turned me off this car. It must be the endorphins.

But it should be noted that this was not a fixer-upper. This was not a restoration project. This was sold as a car that was mechanically A1. We paid $A11,000, admittedly through a dealer, but that should have secured a good example.

The idea was to get a classic-looking luxo-barge to swan around in, rather than spending lots on a new Beemer or Merc.

We have been bitten - badly - by naivety and rose-coloured glasses. We wanted this car - God they look good and cruise better - and we have paid for it.

Oh boy have we paid for it.

We didn't have a mechanic's inspection (it was bought through a dealer). Our first mistake of many. Get one, or you are opening up a world of hurt you cannot conceive of. Dealer warranty, surprise surprise, plus $3.50 will buy you a cup of coffee in this town.

Walk away if there are any doubts - there are still plenty of these about that your example won't be precious.

Now there are some good points here. The interior is really good. That leather came up nicely after some leather dressing. Some cracks in the wood veneer, but really nothing major there. A patina of age that is just right.

Hoodlining had been replaced at some stage. No leaks from the electric sunroof that we can find (still works! Yay!).

The engine was rebuilt 6000kms ago, so the core engine should be OK (sigh).

The car was repainted in the late 90s and still looks adequate. It will need a refresh at some point. No rust to speak of. These are all good things.

When running, it runs well. The suspension - even before the refit - just floated. For a two-ton car, there was no body roll around corners and twisty bits. The turning circle for such a long car is just great; it's quite light and easy to park (mostly because it's quite narrow).

Fuel economy of course is just shocking for around-town trips. We've discovered - too late! - that we do many 5-minute trips. 5 minutes is how long the Jag takes to reach operating temperature - until that time it just pours petrol to the motor to get to operating temperature. On our usual 'short hop' commutes, we are getting around 20/21 litres per 100kms (it's got 2 45 litre petrol tanks - a hint in itself of poor fuel economy - so that's about 400kms around town before fill ups). If you drove longer trips, the thermostat will open up at operating temperature and you'll get better economy, around say 17l/100kms. On highway we have got it down to the 12l/100km. We did a little jig when we got that.

I swear though I could actually see the fuel tank gauge dropping as we drove along.

They say a Jag XJ6 makes the owner happy twice - the day they buy it and the day they sell it. That has been our experience. We have now dumped a metric ####load into this car and it doesn't run reliably.

Driving the car feels special, and you get comments from everyone who sees it (derisive laughter from those in the know). They look gorgeous and drive better. They are solid - they thunk the old-fashioned way when you close the door, and you won't crease the bonnet if you sit on it.

Get a good example, and I am sure you'll be happy. "Good" is going to mean it needs to have been used though and maintained regularly. That seems to be the key. Ours had paperwork - but unbeknown to us, some of that paperwork was for some stellar bodgework (e.g. the air-conditioning looked like it had been serviced - there were receipts - but it was for a bodgy override switch that burnt it out after twelve months).

Part of our problems relate to our lack of time and mechanical skills. If I was fixing it up in my spare time, perhaps the costs wouldn't be so bad. But even if I had the skill, I don't have the time, and in any case the $6000 bill was made up of $4000 worth of parts.

In a triumph of hope over experience I am still hoping to make this car work properly. But we are feeling punch drunk. If my mechanic can't fix the rough idling, and he tells my wife this, he may be punch drunk too. Maybe we should trade it on an econobox that will last all of six years before it goes to the crusher.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 10th October, 2011

15th Dec 2011, 04:12

Yes, Jags are like Alfas, beautiful and poetry in motion... when in motion.

When buying an old Jag, it should not be for reliable driving, expect to rewire them, blueprint the engine, and just about rebuild the car to correct all the manufacturing faults caused by lacklustre British manufacturing. Although expensive too, a big W126 Benz would've probably been more reliable.

1997 Jaguar XJ6 4.0


Outstanding value for money, surprisingly well built, superbly comfortable


Part of the LCD display for the climate control has dimmed.

Headlining is sagging over the back seats and needs replacing.

General Comments:

I've recently returned from overseas, and wanted an interesting sedan for my gentle 20 km round-trip commute, but didn't want to spend a fortune.

I found this car for sale in Queensland with just 66K km from new, an elderly owner retiring from driving and in beautiful condition. I had the car inspected and a very thorough service performed. They also fitted a mono-strut in the rear suspension to tighten it up a little a-la-XJR - the ride is still superb though. The car was then shipped across the Nullabor to Perth where I've now been using it very happily for the last couple of months.

I'm seriously impressed by the smooth ride, effortless performance (it's not fast, but it's not supposed to be - "rapid" and "unstressed" are better words and if you press the "Sport" button it will spin to the red line with a very satisfying but civilised growl), quietness and general quality feel.

It also looks superb in Carnival red with leather Oatmeal and Antelope interior. It's a very late (Aug 1997 build) X300, which has a high spec - although not the Sovereign model, it has fully powered front seats, sunroof, CD stacker etc. - and crucially since I have 3 kids, three lap-sash seat belts across the rear seat.

The interior space of my standard wheelbase model is not generous for a car this size, but we have a people-mover for when we need a load of room.

The only niggle for me (I'm fairly tall) is that the seat belt upper mounting could do with going a couple of cm higher up the track, but I find the seat very comfortable, and I can achieve an excellent driving position. The boot is actually larger than I thought it would be (the space-saver spare helps), and if you pack it carefully with different sized bags, it will hold a surprising amount of stuff. My friends and family can't believe what good value it was, or that it is over 12 years old.

I love the slightly old-fashioned feel of the car, mated to a reasonable level of modern safety technology. I really wanted the last of the straight six cars rather than a V8 for exactly this reason. The V8 in my 1967 Maserati Quattroporte was pretty special, but for some reason I keep returning to a straight six - all my favourite cars over the years have been straight sixes.

Even though I drive fairly sedately, I am only getting about 15.5L/100Km (about 18.2 mpg) which is pretty ordinary, but even a short open road run sees this improve to about 12.5 without trying hard. Still, that's at least 50% better than the Quattroporte!

Overall I'm very happy indeed. I've found a good workshop here that specialise in Jaguars who will look after the car for me, so I'm all set for a long relationship with this car.


I stand by every word I said about this car three years ago. It is now nearly 16 years old and I have added 22,000 Km in the last three-and-a-half years of (almost) daily use. It has been very reliable. I've had it serviced every 6 months at Roadbend in Perth who are an excellent independent Jaguar workshop. The only failures have been two cooling system hoses (and one of those went on my driveway - convenient!). Apart from that I've replaced the front brake rotors/pads, an engine mount bush and a couple of the coil-in-plug units. I had the headlining replaced, the wing mirrors resprayed where they'd picked up some scuffs, and got the bulb in the climate control display replaced. Last year I bought a new set of Yokohama db tyres, as the old ones were nearly 10 years old and had got hard - what a difference that made! And that's it apart from routine oil/filter changes etc. The XJ is far cheaper to keep on the road than our 2007 Land Rover Discovery 3 (although that too has been reliable).

I recently drove over 600 km in a day averaging just over 100 km/h and got 10.4 l/100km using premium 98 octane fuel. Outstanding.

I'll check back in another three years and give you a further update - I fully expect to be running the car still!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2010

26th Aug 2010, 23:25

Great to hear! Are you still getting trouble-free motoring from your big cat? I'm thinking about getting a Jag myself, and would be very interested to know how much it costs to maintain it per year. I mean, total cost of services, any replacement parts required, etc.

I'm presently driving a 1985 Toyota Corona (bought in 2004 with 186,000km on the clock), and over 6 and a half years, its cost an average of $600 a year to maintain. It's now got 251,000km on the clock and still going strong.

Anyway, I know a Jag will cost more to run than the old Corona... but how much more is the big question? Thanks in advance.