I have owned and cherished this car for the last fifteen years. The time has come, however, for it go to someone who has the time to drive it as it deserves to be driven, because this XJS is something of a rarity among surviving examples: it is a truly drivable car in excellent mechanical condition, ready to be taken out for hours at a time, even on long road trips. Cosmetically, it is presentable, even eye-catching, but it is emphatically a runner rather than a show car. Although professional detailing could probably work wonders on its its aging paint job, I have always opted just to drive it and not worry very much about the various little nicks, scratches, and clear-coat swirls.
As you might guess, keeping an XJS in such driving condition has been a labor of love. I purchased it originally from Motorcars Inc. in Hartford, CT, a well-known Jaguar specialist, and they continued to maintain it for the first seven years of my ownership until I moved away from CT and resorted to various other mechanics, often at Jaguar dealerships, where the occasional XJS expert can still be found. I also learned to do many things myself. I have fifteen years of service records, which will come with the car, along with all three original keys (see photo). In addition to routine maintenance (oil, brakes, fluid flushes etc.) and necessary repairs over the years (new exhaust piping, a snapped cable to from the shifter to the transmission), I have also carried out some elective renovations/improvements, such as replacing every rubber bushing in the entire front suspension, including the motor mounts, and, at the same time, removing, sandblasting, and repainting the front subframe to ensure that rust never appears there (as it happened, none was there in the first place, nor were the original bushings as worn as I feared they would be after 25 years). It also received new stub-axles, shocks, upper and lower ball joints, tie rods, and a steering rack. The springs were removed, cleaned, and painted. Basically, the suspension is as tight and clean as it can possibly be. Many other, smaller projects, too numerous to mention, have been completed as well. Given the restored suspension, flawless health of the engine, and fully functioning electrical system, I am confident in stating that this car drives very much as it did in 1986.
Still, there are a few things that could use future attention. First, the power steering pump leaks. I bought a new gasket set at one point but never got around to doing the project, in part because it is easier just to top off the fluid from time to time. If you were not content to do the same, I might recommend just replacing the pump with a remanufactured unit (an easy job, and less than $100 for the part). Second and more significantly, a small spot of rust is starting under the chrome trim piece of the driver-side rear window, which I attempted to capture in a close-up photo. It is not big or even noticeable from any distance but naturally should be attended to sooner rather than later. Third, some of the stitching on the passenger’s seat has deteriorated and fallen out. I never bothered to have it restitched because I am usually driving alone. The leather itself is in excellent condition and retains the distinctive Connolly smell, one of the charms Jaguars of this era (and Rolls Royce).
The main charm, though, is the driving itself. An XJS is no Porsche in the corners, as you probably know, and modern cars are faster off the mark, particularly given the car’s the three-speed transmission, but still there is something special about the way the XJS feels at speed – how light and nimble and unstressed. Accelerating from 70mph to 120mph is eerily instantaneous, just a tap on the pedal, and accompanied by scarcely any road or engine noise. One can easily understand why the XJS was the early king of the coast-to-coast “Cannonball run” races. Few other cars can do 100mph+ all day so easily and comfortably. It is a superb and underrated car and I hope to own another someday when I have more time for pleasure driving.
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Location: Middleburg, Virginia, United States