1994 Jaguar XJ40 XJ6 Gold 3.2 from UK and Ireland
It's got a statue on the bonnet. What more do you want?
Mystery starting fault stranded me a time or two. Eventually I worked out that the sensor that stops the car starting if the gearbox is not in 'Park' was dirty. Cleaned it, and the problem never re-occurred. (For the record, three different garages couldn't find this problem. If you want to run a car like this, you really have to become your own expert.)
Head gasket blew at 145,000 miles. Warning signs beforehand included white residue in the oil and water leaking out of the water filler cap - apparently caused by high pressure.
Rear lights would occasionally fail. Traced this to a faulty relay. Replaced for about £5.
Heating never worked well at all. Traced this to a faulty fan motor. Replacing this would have required taking out most of the dashboard, so this was never fixed.
Rear shock absorbers replaced at 160,000 miles for £80. New ones totally transformed the handling of the car for the better. I thoroughly recommend doing this if you have the spare cash.
I have always been fascinated by the beauty and grace of Jags, and also dig their big-pimpin' image. So I took the plunge with a 1994 XJ6 Gold. I had heard bad things about pre-1992 model reliability, and so am happy to confirm that my 1994 almost never let me down in the 2 years that I owned it.
This was the last edition Jaguar did of the XJ40, before replacing it with the next-generation X300. However, a lot of the electrical and other body systems of the X300 made their debut in the XJ40 Gold, making it a sort of 'crossover' model.
Before going on, let me establish that this was no ordinary XJ40, with an aftermarket LPG conversion, 18" alloys, and a sports exhaust. Mine was professionally LPG-converted with a 60 litre tank in the boot. This allowed me to motor around for the equivalent of about 45 MPG; very important in today's world.
However, the LPG conversion also robbed the engine of much-needed low end power and torque. Added to the fact that the 3.2 is only just about adequate for this car (go for the 4.0) and a gearbox that never wants to downshift, and I ended up with a car that had no acceleration. I have been overtaken by HGVs leaving roundabouts.
Another important modification that had been made to this car was the addition of 18" alloys with low profile tyres. They looked cool as hell, but consequentially transmitted quite a lot of road bumps up my spine. A sports exhaust had also been added, which made a genuinely wonderful NASCAR-esque sound from idle right through to the redline.
The main plus points of the car start with the ride. It is beautifully composed in just about every driving condition you can put it through. The lack of road noise and shakes at 40mph is quite astounding; it really feels like being in a 1950s movies where the scenery is just being projected past you. The chassis was unexpectedly sporty for such a big car, and I never felt anything less that completely in control of each of its four wheels. There's another review up here which says that the brakes are only just about adequate to stop it. I found the opposite to be true - I found them to be the best brakes I have ever had on any car, with the ability to grab the car from 30 mph to a halt just about instantly.
The interior is very roomy, tasteful, and full of unexpected attention to finesse and detail. If anything, it's probably too roomy; if you have a passenger it can feel like they're in another time zone. Oddly there's no glove box. You have to get an X300 for this luxury.
I thought it was beautiful from every angle, as well. The paint is thick, deep and luxurious. It looks greenish-blue in strong sunlight, navy blue at dusk, and midnight black in the dark. Especially from the rear, the boot makes it look rather like a TVR Cerbera, my dream car. The Jag makes sure its British heritage shows.
It was surprisingly easy to park as well, probably because of the low quarters all around, and slim lines with lack of 'bulk' that you get on modern cars. My current car, a 2003 Volvo S40, is much more difficult to park because of its high rear quarters.
Bad points are mostly confined to frustrating mechanical failures that garages were clueless at fixing. As mentioned above, one garage wanted to replace my starter motor for £250 when the problem turned out to be a dirty sensor that I fixed for exactly £0.00. I had a heart-stopping brake failure at 185,000 miles that turned out to be a small plastic connector worth about 20p. The garage still charged me £120 to find and fix this. Working on this car yourself is difficult. The engine is tightly confined into the bonnet and lots of stuff gets in the way of accessing other stuff. The car that my girlfriend owned at the time, a 1995 Ford Fiesta, was almost absurdly easy to work on by comparison.
Acceleration is most certainly not what this car excels at. If you can get to 4,000 RPM there is a wall of torque and the car's 200 horsepowers make themselves known, but the gearbox is incredibly reluctant to let you do this. Sure, you can work the gearbox in manual override, but that seems very un-Jag.
The standard car stereo was fairly rubbish and I replaced it with aftermarket stuff as quickly as possible.
I have also briefly owned a directly comparable car, a 1997 Lexus GS300 3.0. The Lexus had a far better, revvier, sportier engine and a gearbox that actually responded to what you wanted it to do. Every single system and feature on the Lexus worked perfectly even at 110,000 miles, which sadly could not be said of the Jag. However, my Jag held the road better and also had superior brakes, making it more of a man's car.
My advice to potential buyers is - go for it. Get a well looked after 4.0 and you will have have some great times.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th September, 2010