1996 Jaguar XJS Celebration 4.0 AJ16 from UK and Ireland
Jaguar's finest build quality ever, squeezed into a four seat convertible
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.
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.