Something to cherish!
I've recently bought the car, so nothing has gone wrong yet - though I've noticed a few bits and pieces that will need addressing to get her 100%.
A common problem with all XJS models is the gearbox mount, which perishes over time, resulting in a knocking sounds behind the front seats when going over bumps - a cheap and easy fix.
I've noticed a light weep of oil from the top of the engine, probably the rocker box gasket - more of a pain to fix, as there are a lot of other items of pipework and wiring to remove to get to this area.
There seems to be a slight leak of oil from the diff at the back as well, which I will have investigated further.
On full lock (which should be avoided as much as possible on these cars to lessen the load placed on the power steering pump) there is a groaning noise, and there is also a clunk from the passenger side front suspension when bottoming out over speed bumps. It'll be interesting to see what the situation is when repairing/replacing the shocks, as they are unique to this car - it may need to be refurbished instead of replaced.
The important thing is, for the most part she is rust free - there is a slight bubbling to the offside rear wheel arch which is a priority, as rust is the biggest killer of these fabulous cars! I may treat her to a full respray and re-chrome as well - the paint is mostly good, but there are stone chips at the front and the bonnet has been replaced at some point, and shows signs of fading.
Another area to be aware of is that changing the timing chain on one of these engines is a big job, requiring a vast amount of labour. However, even when there's a rattle coming from the chain, you can manage thousands of miles of motoring before you begin to push your luck. When doing the job, it makes sense to replace the water pump and timing chain tensioners as well, as it'll save taking everything to bits again if one of them goes down the line.
Having said all that, for an old car, she's remarkably dependable - when I bought her I drove her 400 miles to get home, and she never missed a beat! She always starts first time, has never let me down, and responds really well to regular driving - in fact, it's sitting idle that will do these cars in! They're capable of huge mileages if well maintained, so there's no excuse for locking one away in a garage where no one else can enjoy it!
These cars are unappreciated classics, and due to their rarity, represent an excellent buy. I expect the value to rise over the years - though the car is so great that even if it doesn't, I'm still delighted to own one!
The power delivery is unlike anything else I have experienced - there's a relentless surge of power, like being pushed along the road by a tidal wave, especially when you're already cruising at a reasonable speed. Despite the size and weight, it's an eye opener to experience how effortlessly she'll hustle along a twisty B-road - you're always aware that you're in a big heavy car, especially when on a single track road with passing places (not fun!), but when you get a nice clear section of road, you can flow through the bends with amazing fluidity and precision, and the road holding ability is sensational! Clearly this is not a car to provoke, as it is a powerful rear-wheel drive beast with little by way of driver aids, but it'll take a lot of pushing before you will get it to bite back, so there's no excuse for stuffing one into a hedge!
The interior is charmingly old school, with a bakelite trip computer in the middle of the dash will illuminated green buttons, which will tell you, should you even wish to contemplate such a horrific thought, that when under hard acceleration you are achieving 1 mpg!
Fuel consumption is the elephant in the room with this car - while you will often be in single figures around town, on a motorway run mid 20s is easily achievable - in fact, my everyday drive is a Mazda RX8, and the Jag is only slightly more thirsty.
If you're looking for a discrete car, this is not for you! One of my happiest memories over the few months I've owned this car is looking in the rear view mirror and seeing an old man walk into a lamp-post as I drove past. It gets attention wherever it goes, people in other classic cars wave knowingly, and you can tell the car buffs, because they always crack a grin when they see you. I often get a double-take, as not only is the car a head-turner, I am also 25, and somewhat incongruous in the seat of an XJR-S!
I was amazed at how cheap the insurance was for this car - for a 25 year old who keeps it garaged, it cost me 180 GBP for a years fully comp cover with a 250 GBP excess - and they didn't even ask about no claims bonus!
All in all, it's a labour of love to keep a big, complex beast like this on the road, and the battle against the dreaded rust will never end, but the car more than rewards the effort. It's a cliche to say that whenever you drive the car, it's an occasion, but in this case it's apt. Firing up that big V12, and maneuvering the 16ft red monster off the drive and into traffic, always raises the hairs on the back of my neck, and makes my face ache from grinning. This is a car I will nurture all my life, and hopefully share with children and grandchildren.
If you can find a nice example, and enjoying lavishing love and attention on something a bit special, you will have to look a long way to find anything better than an XJR-S!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th July, 2010