1983 Jaguar XJS Review from North America

1983 Jaguar XJS 5.3 liter HE gasoline

Year of manufacture1983
First year of ownership2001
Most recent year of ownership2002
Engine and transmission 5.3 liter HE gasoline Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 2 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.6 / 10
Distance when acquired53000 miles
Most recent distance59000 miles
Previous carChevrolet Camaro

Summary:

V12 powered supercar looks at a Ford Escort price!

Faults:

Rubber parts started to fail at 54000 miles. Replaced lower coolant hose and all belts. These parts are not expensive if you steer clear of Jag dealers. Parts are available at large chain parts stores, but you have to call around.

Tachometer stopped working at 55000 miles. I thought it was a bad gage and ordered a used one from a mail order used Jag parts house. It cost $70.00. Here's a tip if this happens to you. Bench test the old part before buying another one. Most parts houses won't take back electrical parts. Take the tach out of the dash and, with jumper wires, hook the red wire to a good positive source. The transmission kick-down switch works well. Hook the black wire to a good ground (earth). Hook the yellow wire to the positive side of the ignition coil. Keep the gage insulated from touching the engine. I placed the tach in a small cardboard box on a shop towel. Start the engine. Tach should work if there is nothing wrong with it. Problem seems to be in the ignition box. I switched the feed wire to the tach from the ignition control box (white wire with green stripe) to the positive terminal on the coil. Works great.

Replaced tires at 56000 miles with Yokohama T4's size 215 70 15's. This is a T rated tire, but they look dynamite with an aggressive tread pattern. These tires show no wear at all, so far. While the speed rating is lower than what the manufacture calls for, who really drives faster than 100 MPH for sustained distances? If you do, shame on you!

My XJS has wire wheels with tubes (bladders). My tires would go flat often. I replaced the tubes with new ones when I had the tires mounted. It can be difficult to find a tire shop willing to work on automotive wheels with tubes. I don't know why. I watched the mechanic change the tires and it didn't seem that much more involved than regular tubeless mountings.

I have some rust on the bottom edge of the trunk lid. I found a rust free lid in California for 300 bucks.

At 58000 miles the generator went bad. I replaced it with a rebuilt Lucas unit, but I'm not sure it's charging at full capacity. The voltmeter likes to hang around 9 to 10 volts while idling in traffic. Rebuilt generator cost me $70.00, significantly less than a new one. If I have to replace it again, I'll change it over to a GM one wire unit. One other thing. Why couldn't the engineers put the generator up high and the smog pump down low?

At 55000 miles the power antenna stopped working. Replaced it with a cheaper mail order unit. Worked great for four months. Won't go down the last four inches now.

The wipers occasionally refuse to work and they won't return to the parked position when shut off.

The leather seats are a little scuffed and the stitching on the front seats has failed due to dry rot.

The engine and transmission leak from just about every seal, but not too bad.

I was surprised when I changed the oil and found out that this engine has an 11 quart sump! Where does all that oil go?

General Comments:

V12 powered supercar looks at a Ford Escort price! This car gets looks everywhere it goes. Other drivers will maneuver close on the freeway to get a better look. It's like driving a parade float!

This car feels bolted to the road! The rack and pinion steering senses every seam in the pavement. It corners nice and flat with a very neutral attitude. At the limit all four wheels drift with very little body roll.

Braking this car hard feels like a navy jet catching the wire with its tailhook. While my car does not have antilock brakes, it is very controllable even on slippery and uneven surfaces.

The cabin is small and cramped for anyone over six feet tall. I'm not, so it's fine. The door opening is very low and one needs to duck his head to clear the top when getting in. There isn't much wiggle room once you sit down and close the doors. The seats don't adjust much and have little lateral support, but still they are very comfortable and well sculpted to fit your backside. They are refreshingly free of electric adjustments that will just go bad after a while and add unneeded weight. I use my XJS as a daily driver and regularly carry children in the backseat. The backseats are fine for anyone under 14 years old. My kids have never complained about riding back there, even on long trips. The leather and wood is simply luscious! Even the door and rear seat panels are covered in cowskin! There is very little vinyl to come in contact with! The gear selector is a beautiful slender chromed tee handle in the center console that just begs to be caressed while driving.

My only performance complaint is with the engine and transmission. I expected a little more zoom from a twelve-pack. My Mitchel's manual says this engine makes a little less than 300 horsepower, but I'm not convinced it does. The exhaust system is over muffled in my opinion. I'd expect a sports tourer with a V12 to sound a little more exotic. This car is absolutly silent at idle and only whispers at full throttle. I'd like it a little louder, not too loud though. After all, this isn't a Z28. I'd like it just loud enough to announce it's presence.

The transmission is tried and true American engineering. The Jaguar uses the General Motors Turbohydromatic 400, a slushbox that has proved itself worthy in millions of New York taxis and police cars, not to mention it's popularity with American musclecar enthusiasts. In the XJS it shifts very soft, too soft for my tastes. I'd like it to shift a little harder and downshift earlier. This is an easy fix because it uses the same valvebody as Chevelles and Camaros with TH400's. Aftermarket companies make kits to change the behavior of the tranny to a more aggressive pattern. They don't cost much either.

Generally this car had been very reliable and a pleasure to own. I like it so much that I just bought an 89 Vanden Plas to replace my Taurus SHO.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th October, 2002

6th Dec 2003, 21:24

I couldn't have said it better.Your'e right on the money. I want to put Dayton wire wheels on mine, but I am told that the car is too heavy and that they will get knocked out of true at the slightest bump. Are you experiencing any problems with your wheels?

Average review marks: 6.6 / 10, based on 1 review