98 XK8 49K miles; timing tensions failure. Replaced the engine; $10K. Jaguar said too bad, out of warranty. I have copies of Technical Bulletins - Jaquar were aware of the defect - first solution was "dampener" to cover up noise, then redesigned plastic tensioners twice until a change in 2003. Dozens of other owners with same exact situation on the web. I intend to bring this to public attention through media exposure.
I just posted a review about my newer Jag, but I'll tell you about my 1997 XK8:
To start it off Jaguar builds beautiful cars (in my opinion) no matter what you say. Although the S-Type, not so much.
I got my 1997 Jaguar used with about 58,000 miles, from my uncle so I thought I was safe... I was dead wrong.
Here's a few problems I had with it.
When I had the car parked in my garage for about 3 days in winter because the snow was terrible, about 5 inches. After that 3 day period I went to start my car, nada, all the gauges would go all the way around, and the clock hands would spin completely around... Every time you opened the doors too, the windows instead of dropping a little bit for entry, would drop about an inch to two inches and stay there, and just keep going farther and farther down...
So what do I do? Of course call the local Jaguar shop; what they told me blew my head off, they don't have the electrical diagrams for a 1997 XK because the electrical system was completely revamped in 1998, and they just don't have a copy of the 1997... So what I could do would be drop the car off and they would manually try to diagnose the problem at a reduced rate of $90.00/hour... What do I do next? Call Jaguar of North America; they were absolutely no help siding with the dealership... I tried to be as nice as possible, to these people, and not be rude, just make sure they knew I was serious... All I wanted to do was get my car up and running again...
Then I had a friend who told me to take it to our local mechanic. Luckily there's a guy in my town who specializes in foreign cars; only Jag, Mercedes, Audi and BMW... I had to have the car towed to him, but once there it took him about 3 hours he had to replace the battery, and some of the harness wires leading to the battery under the back seat were loose and he fixed em, total cost $150.
Anyway that was just one problem, the ABS light would just come on and go off when it wanted, the car would sometimes refuse to start... If any car I did have had a mind of it's own it would be this.
Also the exterior lights liked to play tag. With so many lights it always seems one is burnt out. If it's not a front fog light, it's a rear fog light, or a headlamp or a tail light, or a side marker... it goes on and on.
Pros: The car is beautiful, the leather inside was still great when I got the car, definitely some wear on the driver's side, but that's expected.
The heated windshield is amazing, and I can't believe that only a few cars I've been in actually have electric windshield defrosters...
Overall good car, avoid the 1997 model year though...
I own a 1197 XK8 conv. I bought from my father's estate. He had owned the car for 2 years, and since then I have added 5 more to the tally, the odometer now reads 111,000ish miles.
The car still glides down the road with, if anything, a softer albeit less controlled ride than when I started driving this car 50,000 miles ago. I have been warned that the suspension in this car is so good that even performing poorly, it doesn't feel that bad, until it is properly sorted out.
I have replaced the engine mounts, (70,000 miles) ABS module (75,000) front bearings (85,000) and, of course, the cam-tensioners (107,000) along with some suspension bits and bushings, and brake pads and rotors.
More maintenance than the average car, but then it holds its value better than the average car, and rides and performs well above average. The top is original, and at nearly 15 years old it still keeps the weather out just fine, although it is beginning to look a bit faded.
It is as quiet inside as any hardtop with the top raised, except for a gear whine that I suspect is the rear end. Best of all, I still get folks complementing it and expressing surprise when informed that the car is a 1997. I'll keep it.