1996 Jaguar XJS Celebration 4.0 AJ16 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Jaguar's finest build quality ever, squeezed into a four seat convertible

Faults:

Central locking, just occasionally, locks me out with alarms ringing. It happens once a month or so.

Starter motor "grips" for a second longer than it should when cold.

General Comments:

I started out looking for a series 3 Jaguar saloon because I wanted a "proper" Jag. Then discovered the last of the XJS Celebration convertibles. Fifteen years newer, with a whisper-quiet 248 BHP 4.0 straight six engine, coupled to a switchable 4-speed auto box. Lovely.

It's a Tardis in reverse. Huge on the outside and snug interior, though with a big boot/trunk. Tricky to park in a car park and then open those long doors to actually get out.

The car has an amazing quality interior. The best car seats I have sat in, acres of soft cream leather. A bit of walnut to exude class. Thick overmats on thick wool carpets. Triple lined, colour matched, mohair roof for near silent convertible motoring with the hood up. Electric everything. Heated seats take a while to warm up - not like a modern car - five minutes?

The auto box is a real character. 3-way switchable for Sport, Normal and 1st gear isolated (for winter driving - you need it - it's easy to spin the wheels even on a damp greasy road, let alone with ice added).

I love it. Though nearly 18 years old (and the XJS itself is now forty years old) my car, sold through TWR Oxford, had every luxury fitted and some stunning alloys, which I have seen on the 6.0 XJS but never before on a 4.0. It all works, even the quirky rear mirrors, which tilt downwards when you engage reverse.

A huge car in every way for less than the cost of a Ford Fiesta.

I'm running it as a daily driver for a year or two whilst I decide what to do with it. Though mechanically very sound with a full Oxford Jaguar service history, there are a couple of niggles in the bodywork, so I will either take a big hit and sell as a restoration project, or spend a few thousand on rectifying teeny rust bits before they take over. There are bubbles on the driver's sill, below the windscreen rubber and on the bottom of the driver's rear wheel arch. Only tiny blisters as yet, but...

Nobody dislikes the car. I've had other silly cars where passers-by sneered, laughed, or muttered about killing the planet with MPG. Everyone smiles at the XJS.

Oh, MPG... I drive fast but never furious (I try to avoid the brake pedal). The nice thing about the XJS is that you can hang well back from other cars/lorries but still overtake easily. I get 21 MPG.

Overtaking... this car was made for it. Acceleration 0-60 is not much, eight seconds on paper, but mine feels slower? You don't burn people off at traffic lights in a Jag though; not that kind of car. But acceleration in the 40-100+ zone is mind-blowing. Put your foot down anywhere from 40-90 and the sprung weight of the car hits you with those soft leather seat backs. The front end of the car lifts up. And you are already well past the obstacle and at risk of losing your driving license on just the one speed camera...

The only time I have been stopped by the plod (84mph on a dual carriageway) they were more interested in the car than me. I grovelled, pleaded I had only just bought it and I was let off.

It feels strange going "back" to big engine + rear wheel drive after twenty years of front wheel drive or all wheel drive. The XJS does NOT hold the road around bends (and mine has a very good suspension set-up). You have to seriously pilot the beast. The power steering is very light compared with a modern car and has less "feel". Either get used to sedate driving, or to the fact that the rear end is always trying to overtake the front end of the car in anything but a fairly straight line.

If you are considering a choice twixt the 4.0 six and the 5.3 or 6.0 V12... bear in mind that the 4.0 has all the torque you will need for road driving and that the 4.0 engine (AJ16) knocks out between 238 and 248 BHP. In fact mine has a better power/weight ratio than my "modern" 3.0 V6 AWD Jag. To compare, the 3.0 V6 is quick, the XJS is fast. Very different.

I drove quite a few 4.0 cars before choosing mine (it took six months to find "the one" and I had to raise the budget from £10,000 to £14,000 to buy it - one owner from 1998, garaged from new, and FULL service history seemed worth the extra £4,000). I was surprised at the differences in interior trim, goodies fitted, handling, performance, everything. Don't buy one blind, and don't assume because you drove one last week you know how they feel. By now they are each unique cars.

As I need a practical car and I will never take it to a race track, it'll do.

What was their marketing slogan in France? "N'oubliez le pouvre du Jaguar?" Never forget the power of the Jag.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd January, 2014

28th Aug 2014, 07:07

Update on the above. Just done a full service, new rear trailing arms, and new front bushes and shocks. It goes around corners now, and the steering feels much happier. 6000 miles and nearly a year in and OH and I love it. The sticky starter motor did indeed free itself after I last posted, and the central locking was a loose terminal.

Just now my only issue is that I reversed into OH's Landrover and cracked a brake light. Ouch.

1996 Jaguar XJS Convertible 2+2 4.0 liter 6 cylinder from North America

Summary:

So far... I love it! (I'm 75 yrs young)

Faults:

Nothing...so far!!

General Comments:

Bought from Jag dealer is FL., the day the original owner was trading it in.

One owner; I have all service records; 44900 actual miles at time I purchased it.

Car is EXCEPTIONALLY clean... no dings; no chips on windshield; no marks on the beautiful creme color leather.

Exterior color is Jade Green & in excellent shape... top is in VG shape and Tan color.

No areas, anywhere, show any wear... It is in Mint condition! Car was always garaged.

Engine runs beautifully.

New Michelin Sport A/S tires at 38900 miles.

MY QUESTION... What should I have paid for this car in US dollars in December 2007?

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

Review Date: 28th March, 2008

31st Mar 2008, 15:12

I have seen them sell for $15,000 to $19,000 for ones in your XJS's age and condition. V12s go for less.

3rd Jan 2014, 05:15

I've just bought a very clean two owner 1996 4.0 convertible with 85,000 miles fully documented, always garaged.

Paintwork has a couple of tiny, tiny dings in the bumpers and no rust. Interior is superb. As a hedge against my enthusiasm, I sent an RAC inspector who described it as "like a two year old".

Paid £14,000 from a dealer.

I looked at "mint" 25,000 mile and 35,000 mile examples for big money (£20,000+) and they didn't look any better cared for. Not sure, with a reliable 4.0 engine, why low miles matters. Certainly it doesn't matter by more than £5,000.

It seems these cars are a bit less money in the USA than here in the UK.

3rd Jan 2014, 23:48

Whenever you buy a used car, you are inheriting someone else's troubles, particularly a low mileage Jaguar. Do yourself a favor, buy a new car that you can afford.

9th Aug 2014, 17:04

You get amazing value and spec with a used Jaguar. A new car comes with 5k per year of depreciation and looks similar to most other cars on the road.

And the fuel consumption argument doesn't stand up either; you would have to do a lot of miles to use 5k worth of petrol.

Get a good old Jaguar as an investment.

1996 Jaguar XJS Celebration Edition 4.0 litre from North America

Summary:

A near perfect classic Jaguar

Faults:

Complete rear-end failure at about 60,000 miles.

Driver seat wearing prematurely.

Overheating required radiator replacement at about 70,000 miles.

General Comments:

The 1996 XJS Celebration Edition had several cosmetic enhancements that make the car truly beautiful (both interior and exterior).

It is great for long distance touring at high speed. It is not a pocket rocket and will not win any drag races.

The top works perfectly and very quickly.

I am 6 feet 4 inches tall and the car is still very comfortable.

My wife loves it as much as me. She is a much faster driver.

What I enjoy most about the car is the way it brings out the best in other people. At a gas station, stoplight, or in a parking lot, many people come up to talk to me to comment on the car or tell me a story from their life that involves a Jaguar. One young gentleman working at a car wash surprised me by telling me the history of the XJS (quite accurately), which he knew because his father owned one (which the young man adored).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th December, 2005