I bought this 1997 Vanden as a backup car for my 2007 Jaguar Super V8. I then liked it more and more with every day I drove it.
The build quality is probably the one of the best. Chrome trims are everywhere, inside and out, and they are made of stainless steel, while I see a trend of using more and more plastic parts in the later models. Some might argue that it's for weight saving, but for a grand touring car I don't want to see plastics. For a little buff, the trims shine like mirrors. This is not possible for old plastic trims. I was in a need for some trim pieces, and found that the stainless steel trims normally cost 80 to 95% more than plastic ABS trims. I think this is the main reason for modern cars to go with plastic.
Jaguar's reputation is really on its stylish design. Almost every single version of Jag is collectible. In comparing the design, build quality, price with other brands of the same years, I didn't see a reason why I would not buy a Jaguar.
About the engine, 1997 is the last model year of the XJ6. This means it's the most matured version of the engine. No wonder it runs quiet and smooth like silk. The in-line 6 engine is also loved by many mechanics for its roomy space around the engine, easy to access and repair.
XJ6 Jaguar Vanden Plas is a real bargain luxury used car. Jaguars of the 80s had known problems with engine leaks due to poor materials used for the engine gaskets. With Ford acquired Jaguar in 1988, they went thru the design and corrected most of Jaguar's technical problems. This resulted in much more reliable Jaguar engines in the later years. Even so, Ford's reputation is not enough to rebuild the image of Jaguar. This resulted in real bargain used Jaguars. I got my 1997 Vanden Plas at $11k (only 31k miles at time of purchase) and the car condition was very close to a new car. The original invoice for this car was $64k in 1997. What a deal!