Saturday 11th January 2019
At the end of 2019 I finally managed to pass the 200,000 mile mark in J258. I use the car as a daily driver and have been trying to use it more on longer runs as my commute is really rather short. Longer runs are a little more palatable now that the fuel economy is practically double what it was earlier in the year thanks to a new lambda sensor. 200,000 miles is a figure that a lot of cars won’t reach, and especially cars of this age and type which are now often being mollycoddled and only driven on the driest of days. The 200,000 figure does somewhat help to dispel the idea that an XJS is inherently unreliable, too, although that doesn’t mean it is a car you should try and run on a shoe string budget.
I thought that reaching this milestone might be a good chance to write about J258’s history, and also why if you’re looking to purchase a classic car, you shouldn’t necessarily be put off by a high mileage example. J258 having high mileage is one of the reasons that I like it so much. It isn’t a garage queen, and I can drive it as much as I like without worrying about any impact on the value. The car’s history file is very good and shows that it has been cared for, and the general condition is as good as most XJS you will see (although it could use some cosmetic tidying in places). Most classics and modern classics are known quantities in terms of general faults and issues, and its easy enough to find evidence of roughly how long you can expect components to last without major surgery. When I purchased J258 I expected that it could need some engine work around the 200,000 mile mark, so when the head gasket failed at 193,000 miles I wasn’t totally surprised (though I’ll admit I was hoping to avoid it a little longer). Buying a high mileage car isn’t especially different to buying a low mileage car, as condition and history are just as important for the average motorist. It is still important to do your research, and try and speak to someone with good knowledge of the model you’re looking at, as they will be able to give you a list of items to check when viewing a car. I’m a firm believer that classic cars that are used regularly present less issues than those that are used rarely. It is lovely to own a stunning example of a classic car that has low mileage and has been polished lovingly to within an inch of its life every weekend, but for me it is much more enjoyable to own a car which I can truly use and enjoy whenever and wherever I please. For me, knowing the character and foibles of a car is much more fun than admiring how lovely it looks in the garage (besides, have you seen how fantastic an XJS looks covered in mud and road grime??).
J258 was originally delivered on the 24th July 1992, and covered just over 17,000 miles in the first two years of its life. The service book carries on all the way to May 2002 when the car had covered 164,000 miles, which isn’t at all bad for a 10 year old car. It also shows that the car covered the bulk of its mileage in those first 10 years, and took the next 15 years for it to cover another 25,000 miles before it came into my possession. At one point someone had covered over 12,000 miles in just over 6 months, and I’m slightly curious to know what they were doing with it at the time.
Thanks to the DVLA I also know where the car has lived throughout its life. Sadly it is a service that the DVLA no longer offer (and with good reason). It would appear that J258 was originally registered to Jaguar cars, so it was probably used as a management car (although there could be other explanations, of course). The car was then registered to a company before being acquired by a private buyer in 1994 who kept the car for less than a year. The third and fourth owners kept the car from 1995-2002 and 2002-2015 respectively, and then the car was sold to Kelsey publishing and the car’s history improves from there as it was featured in Classics Monthly over a number of months, and was also featured in Jaguar World.
When the car was purchased by Kelsey Publishing it had been owned by a farmer and had been for sale for quite a while, with an original listing price of £5,000. The mileage of 181,000 probably didn’t help matters as a lot of buyers can be put off by it, especially when that mileage is on a car that is marred with the rumour of unreliability. The car had previously been the recipient of a fair amount of welding to the jacking points, seatbelt and suspension mounts, and proved to be solid upon inspection (fortunately the farmer had an inspection pit in one of his barns). Combined with this fact and that the car’s engine appeared to be strong and healthy with no untoward signs, Kelsey Publishing bought the car for £2,500, and set about completing a list of minor jobs that needed doing.
Fortunately the car came with copies of the magazine articles the car was featured in, so I have a history of the problems that were (often) encountered during the car’s time with Kelsey Publishing. One part that did make for interesting reading was Paul Walton’s twin test with J258 against his XK8. Both cars have their pros and cons and though the XK8 is obviously the more advanced car, Paul loved the XJS’ bigger character and roguish air. I’ll also add in a quote, as perhaps some people are more inclined to believe a less biased source than myself: ‘Although it has often been said – by me as much as anyone – that the XJS is more grand tourer than sports car, this 4.0 feels surprisingly agile for such a big machine’. I actually had the chance to chat with Paul about this car late last year when I offered it up to be a part of a photoshoot for Jaguar World, and it was nice to hear that he was a fan of the car too.
I’ve now set myself the challenge of covering 10,000+ miles before the next MOT, which is in mid-October. The previous MOT was passed at 198,194 miles and at the time I’m writing this, the mileage is just under 201,000 miles, so 208,194 should be perfectly achievable in the next 9 or so months.
Wednesday 18th December 2019
Today saw J258 receiving a new pair of rear tyres. The old ones were well past their best and with the cold weather its nice to have some fresh tyres on the car, especially on an XJS which can be a bit light on the back end. Finding affordable Pirelli P600s is impossible, but I managed to get these for £173 per corner, which is actually very reasonable considering you can find them for well over £100 more per tyre. I’m looking forward to seeing what differences (if any) I can feel in the car.
Tuesday 17th December 2019
On Saturday I attempted to make a Christmas style video using the Curfew XJ-S up at Warboys Airfield near Huntingdon. Due to the fact that Jaguar wasn’t ready to be MOTd I decided to use J258 for a small part of the video, as well as my transport there and back. The airfield we were using is an old WW2 airfield that still has some remaining one track roads and older buildings, it must have been quite the sight when it was operational. The roads aren’t all perfectly paved and there were some puddles which were more like lakes, but J258 plowed on with no issues and did me proud. The Curfew XJ-S isn’t in the condition it should be and doesn’t drive as well as I would like it to, so it is easy for me to say that J258 is the better car to drive hands down. I’ll also admit that I’m more than a little bit biased about this particular car, it is just my favourite.
There are now less than 100 miles until the car breaches the 200,000 mile barrier, and I’m going to need a new target!
Friday 6th December 2019
Last week the XJS decided to start dripping water from under the dash which resulted in a wet carpet and also a wet leg as inevitably it would always run down the inside of the dash once I started driving. Taking the car off of the road since then has obviously dented my chances of hitting the 200,000 mile mark before Christmas (but there is still hope!).
Today we finally managed to pull it into the workshop and remove the windscreen trim as it was the most likely place the leak was occurring based on where we could see the water coming from. I was expecting to find the seal had broken down but unfortunately we found some corrosion there too, which had evidently had a temporary fix previously, as there was a fair bit of silicone and also a couple of screws which don’t seem to be doing anything. As is always the way, I hadn’t really planned on doing any bodywork on the XJS just yet, and this could easily spiral into a big job if I let it. There is a lot going on in the workshop at the moment and other cars that have to take priority (sorry XJS!) so the plan is another temporary fix and then address it properly next year, along with a couple of other rust/bubbling issues that will eventually need attention.
Monday 2nd September 2019
Just a few photos from September, with a nice comparison between an XJ-S and an XJS (the facelift).
Wednesday 17th July 2019
I just thought I’d share an update on all the work the Jag has had in recent months. I’d booked for it to come off the road at the start of April to have all of its bushes replaced as there was some creaking and groaning over bumps and the car wasn’t driving quite as we as it should. But just like when a dog knows its going to the vets and starts playing up, the day before the Jag was due to go into the workshop it started misfiring. As it turned out later the head gasket had blown (a pattern part that wasn’t as good as it needed to be).
I had been hoping to avoid any engine work until passing the 200,000 mile barrier but obviously this development blew any chance of that and simultaneously increased the amount of time the car would be spending in the workshop. The head went away to be skimmed, as did the exhaust manifold, and the other work continued in the meantime. There was a small oil leak to take care of, and the front brake pads were also replaced, and of course all of those bushes needed to be replaced. This all adds up to quite an expensive bill reaching easily into four figures, but all of the work was necessary and none of it is altogether unusual for a car of this age and mileage. With a few parts supplier problems and other issues it was more than a month and a half before J258 was back on the road and I was certainly impatient to have it back by that time.
Getting the car back on the road was very much a mood lifter and though I was being gentle on the old girl it was easy to see just how much a difference all of that work had made. One thing that I’ve found surprises people is just how responsive an XJS is to being hustled down a B-road. They’re certainly not the smallest or lightest cars (or sportiest, for that matter), but they are relatively narrow and they handle well. My XJS is now feeling much tighter with those new bushes really making their presence known.
This engine work also provided an interesting experiment in regards to the fuel economy. I’ve never expected an XJS to be frugal, but this particular car always seemed to have poorer economy than other 4.0 cars (mine was getting between 9-10mpg on average and others seem to reliably get into the low 20s). In the 1,500 miles I covered after all of this work 15mpg was achieved without too much trouble, which is nice for added range if nothing else. It also makes me curious to see what the actual fuel economy of the 6.5l XJ-S is…..and there is only one person to blame with what has become a new obsession in tracking that sort of thing.
There are no other plans for major overhauls in the next few months so hopefully any further updates will just include lots of driving, and maybe even cracking that 200,000 mile barrier too.
Monday 4th March 2019
People who know me (or follow me on Twitter) probably know that I like an XJS more than most people do, and this is one of the cars that helped me to realise that. I’ve owned this particular XJS since September 2017, after buying it at auction. I spotted the car among the listings of an ECCA auction and one of the main reasons that it caught my eye was because it had a black interior, which is pretty rare for one of these. Before I bought the car I was convinced that I was going to swap out the auto gearbox for a manual one as I’d never kept an auto of my own and didn’t find them involving enough, but after living with it for a while I realised its quite well suited to an XJS (at least in standard form).
Another of the big selling points for this particular car was that it was previously owned by a Jaguar club judge and had also just been featured in ‘Jaguar World’ magazine for seven months, which resulted in a rather healthy amount of invoices and a car that had been treated very well and cherished. I’ll happily admit that I love going through paperwork for cars at auctions, as you really do never know what you will find, and it tells you a lot about a car’s own personal story. This car came with the magazines that it was featured in and much more to display that it has quite a rich history.
I bought the car for just under £3,500, which I think is something of a bargain for a well kept XJS with plenty of paperwork, even if it did have over 190,000 miles on the clock at the time. After that point I used it as a daily driver with no real issues until the MOT, which it failed on a few small items. The car was then sat up for a few months until I couldn’t bear looking at it sat forlornly in the corner of the yard. The work needed to pass the MOT wasn’t major, and mainly related to the diff seeping oil.
On paper a straight six, auto XJS wouldn’t usually be something that really appeal to me, but this car has plenty of character and does everything I ask of it with minimal fuss. The 4.0 doesn’t have masses of power, but with the gearbox in sports mode it does allow you to wring its neck a little and explore the upper reaches of the rev range, and also allows the Jag to be a reasonably fast car that is plenty of fun down a country lane. The suspension is very compliant and never uncomfortable or harsh (even when it bottoms out over a big bump) and the tall tyres help to provide a real GT quality that most modern cars now miss. It is one of those cars that you could easily spend all day driving and feel no worse for it. The handling is relaxed and enjoyable and that long bonnet stretches out in front of you in a rather lovely way. The XJS is still narrow enough that you don’t have to worry on country lanes, either, and that is one of the things I love about it. If there is a bug bear that I do have with the straight six Jag engine it is that it really isn’t all that economical. That isn’t something that usually bothers me but the Vantage is more economical and a V12 XJS wouldn’t be too much worse to run, and that is always a temptation.
As a final note I will include that after a few spots of oil were found repeatedly and growing bored of listening to creaking bushes means that the Jag now does have a short list of jobs to be completed, so I will update with a final cost in a later instalment. On the list currently is a full service, a lot of new bushes front and rear as they are quite perished (and I’m considering sports anti-roll bars), a new oil pressure switch, front brake pads and also sealing the bottom of the dipstick. I’m also considering a new set of tyres which may wait for a later date at the moment.
Sunday 15th October 2017
I thought I would continue writing some blog posts about my own XJS and all about owning one (both the good and the bad). At the moment the car is sat up in our workshop with a mystery fuel leak that will require the fuel tank to come out and the oil leak is also still present after the rocker cover gasket was replaced. I’ve also decided to have the car serviced since it doesn’t appear a service has been completed on the car since last 2015. The car is up on a ramp but waiting behind a few, more pressing jobs so it could take a while before it is back on the road. I did manage to break the mounting for one of the chrome trim pieces on the boot but that is all sorted now.
With the bad stuff out of the way, I can say that I’ve been enjoying using the car more and more, even if driving one of the V12s the other day did make me want a little more power. When the fuel level isn’t dropping like a stone because of a fuel leak the car doesn’t do too badly on fuel, 16-18mpg can be achieved easily. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but it is the better part of 30 years old, heavy and with a big engine, so you couldn’t really expect much else. I also discovered that the ‘sport’ mode that I thought didn’t do anything actually does have an effect. It holds the gears until the needle goes right around the clock rather than stopping half way and helps to transform the car into a somewhat fast car. I spoke to an engine builder I know (before I bought the car) who told me that he used to supercharge 4.0 manual XJS when they were new and they produced as much as 420Nm, which is pretty impressive and I wish I could have a go in one. I wasn’t sure that I wanted an automatic car simply because I prefer a manual car and it adds to the driving experience in these especially, but I am actually enjoying the auto box in this one and is perfect for cruising around when you’re not really driving for driving’s sake. Hopefully the car will be back on the road soon and I can give you another update (before it probably develops another issue).
Saturday 16th September 2017
I thought I’d write a post about my new runaround – this Jaguar XJ-S 4.0 Auto – and keep it updated with the ups and downs of living with an old car as a daily driver. Most people who buy classic cars don’t intend to use them daily (though there are still a few and thats awesome if you can), but a modern classic like the XJS should be able to provide you with a good balance between old and new. You still have a reasonably modern car but without so many of the electronic nannies that some people don’t like about new cars. I didn’t intentionally choose to buy an XJS, it was more of a right place, right time (and right price!) kind of deal, though I do like the XJS as a car and have more than a few in various states.
I should be driving my Mercedes 190e 2.5-16 day to day but it had its problems months ago and was left laid up in a corner of the workshop until someone had a chance to look at it (ironically it now appears that the problems may have been sorted). I’ve been driving a Navara day to day and I love that car, it has never let me down but it isn’t exactly what you would call a ‘sporting’ vehicle or one that you want to drive for fun. This XJS was for sale at an auction that I attend regularly and also one where I had a few cars for sale myself and it impressed me more than I thought it would. It is a car with great history and the general condition is also good. This car was heavily featured in a specialist Jaguar magazine for eight months and owned by a man who judges these very cars, what more could I want? The mechanicals of the car are all very good and serious money has been spent ensuring any problems have been taken care of, the only thing is the paint is somewhat shabby – but I’m beginning to like that too. This isn’t a low mileage car (190,800 at the moment) but I’m not one to be put off by that.
This car in particular has an aesthetic I really like, the black wheels set off the red very well and I’ve been considering dechroming the rest of the car with those parts being finished in a similar fashion to the wheels, but thats a potential project for the future. It is incredibly hard to find an XJS with a dark coloured interior and this one does, beige/grey/etc really tend to bother me and I would find it hard to live with one unless it perfectly matched the rest of the car. To my eye the post facelift coupes are better looking sheerly for the window shape that modernises the whole design, and when I took this car to Cars and Curry on Wednesday I couldn’t help but think it was one of the better looking cars there – and thats among the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.
Preferably I would have bought a manual rather than an automatic (We’ve got a couple of 3.6 manual XJ-S and it definitely transforms the car into something fast), but they are quite rare at this point and a lot more expensive than this one if you could find one in a similar condition. The automatic gearbox has surprised me though, I thought it would be slow and intractable but once you’ve learned to live with it a little you can get a good level of performance from the car. It isn’t a sports car, and definitely not by today’s standards, but it is a good sporting GT. Driving the car at any pace does mean that you’ll only be getting 16mpg (according to the car computer) so that is another factor to consider. The sport mode has no discernible difference that I have found but thats ok because the light on the dash can be a bit annoying.
This XJS is like any other old car in the sense that it has its own character and foibles that have been developed over its life. These can be both good and bad. You get the wind whistling when at motorway speeds because the window seals aren’t that good, though I haven’t gotten wet with the doors shut yet like I did the other day in the Alpine! The dash lights flicker up with a mind of their own and you have to pay attention to the car itself and use a little common sense, its an important lesson for someone who has never used and old car for any extended period. I’m a little tall for the car and can normally feel my hair brushing the roof plus there is nowhere for my left foot to rest comfortably (though there always is in the pre-facelift V12s which seems odd). I love that the car is so comfortable but one of my favourite things is the way the nose spins around a corner like you’re in a 70s TV car chase, its just fantastic. I’m sure there will be plenty more to come with this car and I will try and keep it updated along with any modifications I might make.