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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

 

Tony Middlehurst
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Author Discussion

mrpenks

Original Poster:

97 posts

41 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
X300 is a lovely thing. Worth the grand just to look at it. Take this next to the newer stuff. This has distinctive styling, new stuff might as well be Hyundai or Kia inspired...

Rawwr

14,500 posts

120 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
There's something about an X300 in that colour that just seems so right.

Monty Zoomer

1,459 posts

43 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
laugh

Why hasn't this thread got a title?

Dr Interceptor

2,619 posts

82 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Identical in colour and trim to my X308 - lovely combination smile

Megaflow

4,820 posts

111 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
IBTT!

hehe
Advertisement

MichelV

118 posts

38 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Are you high on Tulips?

I thought shed meant troublefree motoring for at least 6 months under a grand.

If you like this car simply buy it in modelcar. Resin preferably cause if it is 1/18 white metal it might start to rust.

Michel

Hub

2,751 posts

84 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Where's the title?

Anyway, a fairly 'stereotypical' SOTW! Run out of ideas? wink

StoatInACoat

833 posts

71 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
My dad has just traded in his 1998 black example of these in for a newer 2004 XJ. He has it 10 years and did nearly 100k in it with nothing like the problems in the write up and in fact it was an amazingly reliable and strong car. Good memories of that car what with family holidays to the South of France and helping me move furniture on a roof rack with it when I got my first house. When he bought it it was only a few years old but even then was the same price as a nearly new Mondeo and even when it was old and tired it still got looks and still looked pretty in metallic Black amongst the German dishwashers in the car park. When I get a job nearer to home and can afford the juice I will have one.

Although his new Jag is very good he still misses the elegance of his old one, the straight six and the ride. Doesn't miss 17mpg though.


Edited by StoatInACoat on Friday 25th January 08:36

pSyCoSiS

1,878 posts

91 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
BEAUTIFUL!

Just my cup of tea!

Lovely machines.

I have said those two things many times in the past:

  • Nothing wafts quite like an XJ Jag
  • Everyone should own an XJ atleast once in their lifetime (after which, they shall own many more).
The X300 models had bullet-proof engines.

Electrical gremlins can get annoying, but they're not overly-complicated to work on.

I think the X300 has more presence than the later X308 models, which (to me, anyway) felt slightly inferior and less 'special' than the X300 (perhaps it was the Ford-style switch gear in the X308s?).

I love the widescreen effect windscreen, and the 'cocooned' feel inside the cabin.

There are plenty out there, and you can even pick up the X300 Superchargers for this sort of money (albeit, not as clean and well-kep as this SOTW).

Top work!

Edited by pSyCoSiS on Friday 25th January 08:37

Fartgalen

4,993 posts

93 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Typical and worthy shed.

OpulentBob

4,464 posts

66 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Those dash-mounted computer controls are the coolest.

And there's something so regal about those wheels.

And the cam covers look pretty classy in burgundy.

Very good shed, I like.

wildcat45

3,828 posts

75 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all

I sniff round these now and then. So much potential heartache, so much to love.

The only problem is my wife hates Jags like this. She associates them with Minder and dodgy old blokes in camel coats.

That's a good thing surely? Apparenlty not. I came across an reasonably good 1996 XJR a few months ago. and about a mile from my house, there is a gorgeous, moody old R reg Daimler X300 LWB. Light met blue with cream hide. It may even be one of the last V12s....I think they put them in the X300, but I could be talking rubbish there.


pSyCoSiS

1,878 posts

91 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
StoatInACoat said:
My dad has just traded in his 1998 black example of these in for a newer 2004 XJ. He has it 10 years and did nearly 100k in it with nothing like the problems in the write up and in fact it was an amazingly reliable and strong car. Good memories of that car what with family holidays to the South of France and helping me move furniture on a roof rack with it when I got my first house. When he bought it it was only a few years old but even then was the same price as a nearly new Mondeo and even when it was old and tired it still got looks and still looked pretty in metallic Black amongst the German dishwashers in the car park. When I get a job nearer to home and can afford the juice I will have one.

Although his new Jag is very good he still misses the elegance of his old one, the straight six and the ride. Doesn't miss 17mpg though.


Edited by StoatInACoat on Friday 25th January 08:36
It depends on how well they have been looked after. They are not the cheapest things to maintain correctly. However, IF looked after and you keep on top of everything, the little goes wrong.

Problem nowadays is tat you pick them up so cheap, people tend to skimp and save on servicing and maintenance. These big cats do love a little TLC, and will reward you if you give them it!

DO IT MATE - BUY ONE. Like you also said though, the worst problem is probably the fuel economy. It's the only car I've had where I have seen the fuel guage actually going down whilst sitting in traffic!

Edited by pSyCoSiS on Friday 25th January 08:45

CBR JGWRR

6,358 posts

35 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Megaflow said:
IBTT!

hehe
Plus 1...

pSyCoSiS

1,878 posts

91 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
wildcat45 said:
I sniff round these now and then. So much potential heartache, so much to love.

The only problem is my wife hates Jags like this. She associates them with Minder and dodgy old blokes in camel coats.

That's a good thing surely? Apparenlty not. I came across an reasonably good 1996 XJR a few months ago. and about a mile from my house, there is a gorgeous, moody old R reg Daimler X300 LWB. Light met blue with cream hide. It may even be one of the last V12s....I think they put them in the X300, but I could be talking rubbish there.
They did put a a V12 in the Daimler, think they were the Double Six models?

pSyCoSiS

1,878 posts

91 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
And I love the 'dodgy' image these cars have!

Something sinister, yet ministerial about these old beasts...

Andy ap

1,093 posts

58 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Our wedding car was one of these, in the same colour. I loved it and still do thought it was such a lovely car to sit in. Wish i could of driven it. frown

The experience was such a revelation from the white goods on wheels we have today. I want one.

Loplop

1,599 posts

71 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
This is only down the road from me...

Back in a sec, insurance quote time!

ETA: That didn't go how I wanted it to... Bagger frown

Edited by Loplop on Friday 25th January 08:59

StoatInACoat

833 posts

71 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
pSyCoSiS said:
It depends on how well they have been looked after. They are not the cheapest things to maintain correctly. However, IF looked after and you keep on top of everything, the little goes wrong.

Problem nowadays is tat you pick them up so cheap, people tend to skimp and save on servicing and maintenance. These big cats do love a little TLC, and will reward you if you give them it!

DO IT MATE - BUY ONE. Like you also said though, the worst problem is probably the fuel economy. It's the only car I've had where I have seen the fuel guage actually going down whilst sitting in traffic!

Edited by pSyCoSiS on Friday 25th January 08:45
In fairness his did go to the garage every time it had a funny noise as we were under no illusions that it would need to be maintained properly. OE tyres and parts etc. Having said that I tend to do the same with my cars (although do the work myself usually) and the Jag was lovely to work on compared to the French tin boxes I'm used to so that doesn't worry me too much. I think an oil change on this engine is about 8 litres worth though!

Alfa159Ti

475 posts

43 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
My Alfa indie wafts around in a V8 one of these in the same 'old-man-cherry-metallic' paintwork. He absolutely loves it.

He very kindly lent it to me for a few days whilst working on my Spider so I had a means of conveyance.

Sure, there was a certain ambient charm about the cabin, but the thing was definitely not for me.

I feel it gave me a good insight into true wafting though. However far you depressed the throttle, the oh-so-lazy slush box pretty much refused to provide any additional thrust. The car drove at its pace and you had very little control over velocity. Stabbing the throttle just seemed to result in more noise, not more propulsion.

Then there was the fuel consumption. John reckoned it was pretty frugal, but in my hands even wafting with a light right foot, the thing was the most terrifying fossil fuel devourer I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

It made the Busso V6 in my 156 appear to be at the cutting edge of frugality.

I would guess I averaged circa 15 mpg over a few days of mixed driving... Ouch.

So in summary, the cars are massive, heavy, slow and thirsty as hell, but with nice ride quality!

Not really my bag...


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