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.