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Shed Of The Week

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Friday 25th January 2013


SOTW: JAGUAR XJ6

Shed tempts with an apparently beautifully presented Jag for less than a grand


Shed will never forget when Top Gear - the original one - tested the first ever XJ6. Back in 1968, this Jaguar was a genuine mould-breaker. It gave the large exec market (at that time owned by Mercedes, and to a lesser extent BMW) a good old fashioned Blighty boot up the fundament.

What could go wrong with that? Since you ask...
What could go wrong with that? Since you ask...
In terms of chassis dynamics, desirability and value - prices started at four bob under two grand - the XJ6 was light years ahead. It was a massive success on both the home and export markets. Waiting lists were luxuriously long.

Trouble with it, of course, was that it made the Germans angry. They upped their game, recapturing the high ground by delivering a more rounded package of ability and quality - a combination that the British Leyland-hamstrung XJs couldn't deliver with anything like the same consistency. Even after BL cut the cord with Jaguar in 1984, old habits died hard.

As a result, a lot of folk nowadays will never touch an XJ. That's a shame. Shed's view is that everyone, even the young and pipeless, should sample a Jaguar saloon at least once in their motoring lifetime. The Series 3s and early XJ40s were a bit trying, with their Joe 'Prince of Darkness' Lucas electrics, Commodore 64-level computers and self-ruining rear suspensions, but by the time Jaguar reached the X300 in 1994, it had become clear to most that this was a smashing car let down more by poor components than poor design.

Late-model engine should be sturdier
Late-model engine should be sturdier
Which brings us to this week's Shed. There is no shortage of XJs on the market, representing all extremes of the quality rainbow, but this one looks clean and honest.

Let's start with the good stuff. The heater pump has been reconditioned, original parts being No Longer Available, and post-1995 XJs like this one were much better protected against rust.

OK, now it's time to look at the slightly longer list of things that can go wrong.

Radios, speakers, door and brake light switches, clocks, auto-dimming rear view mirrors, heated/memory seats, boot lock barrels, headlamps, J-gate lights, seat frames, loose trim panels, steering wheel motors, cables generally.

Then there are leaky cam cover seals, O-rings and head gaskets, radiator mounting bushes, thermostats, crankshaft position sensors, fuel senders, oxygen sensors, power steering hoses, exhaust manifolds, idler pulleys, ABS modules, corroded/bubbling cam covers.

Lashings of leather? Check. Walnut? Check.
Lashings of leather? Check. Walnut? Check.
Or how about rattling suspension bushes, sagging headliners, uninformative information displays, more dodgy bulbs than you'd find in a Dutch drug dealer's 'tulip field' ... hang on ... this is surely the choice of a madman.

But these are mere bagatelles when set against the syrupy splendour of the XJ driving experience. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but Shed's personal beholdment is that the X300 is the best looking XJ of all, especially in this colour scheme. Even now you will struggle to beat the depth and quality of the mica paint on these cars. Shed recalls taking part in a three-way group test featuring a car exactly like this and the contemporary equivalents from Mercedes and BMW. The German cars' paintjobs looked all right in isolation, but they were very orange-peely next to the Jag.

Perhaps the most revealing memory Shed has of that test was what happened at the end of the first day's shooting.

It's got to be worth a grand of your money...
It's got to be worth a grand of your money...
It was already pretty obvious that the Germans cars were going to share the test spoils, with the Jaguar coming in an honourable third. That was just the way things were at that point in the XJ's life. And yet, when the keys were pooled together before the drive to the overnight stop, the Jaguar fob was the first one to be picked out of the hat, accompanied by a big show of sighing and martyrdom by the pickee. That was because, irrespective of its test blob score or rear legroom in millimetres, there was nothing quite like an XJ to soothe away the travails of the day. It's still a uniquely magical Jaguar ingredient that cannot be quantified on a blueprint, or specified on a build sheet.

The usual cover-all-bases 'vendor SEO' that queers up many a hastily scribbled ad these days has created an aura of vagueness around this car's age, but Shed's research points to it being first registered sometime between August 1996 and July 1997. That makes it one of the last of the straight-six AJ16-powered X300s - by which time most of the major XJ bugs had been ironed out. You hope.

Here's the ad in full. 'Full' perhaps not being the best word in this case, but there's often elegance in economy. There's no shortage of elegance in the car.


Jaguar XJ6 Executive FS
full MOT TAX on date of sale (6 months)

All usual Jag refinements. Bargain at this price. No rust just drive it away. New upper wishbone bushes, heater pump rebrushed. 122000 miles