RE: Jaguar XJR (X300): PH Used Buying Guide

RE: Jaguar XJR (X300): PH Used Buying Guide

Tuesday 1st May 2018

Jaguar XJR (X300): PH Used Buying Guide

It's easy to be tempted by a cheap supercharged Jaguar - but there are a few things you need to bear in mind



If you're shopping for an older high-performance saloon, or just fancy a lot of metal and motor for your money, you've no doubt cast an eye over the early supercharged XJRs. After all, a few clicks usually reveals a handful of these Jaguars on offer for less than £3,000. The XJR is a notable car, too, adding to its appeal - as well as being the company's first supercharged production car, it rivalled the likes of BMW M5.

This iteration of Jaguar's performance-focused saloon, which arrived in 1994, was based on the new X300-generation XJ and benefitted from a plethora of upgrades. Technical tweaks included sports suspension and a limited-slip differential, while cosmetic alterations ranged from subtle trim changes through to a set of 17-inch wheels.

The most substantial modifications, however, took place under the bonnet. Most prominently, the stout four-litre AJ16's intake was now pressurised by a compact Eaton M90 supercharger, resulting in 326hp and 378lb ft. In some cases, because of the straight-six configuration, you'll occasionally see these XJRs referred to as XJR-6s or X306s, in order to differentiate them from the later V8-engined X308 XJR that arrived in 1997.

Both manual and automatic XJRs were offered but most rolled off the production line with the optional automatic transmission. Other straight-six X300s used a ZF four-speed automatic gearbox but, in the XJR, it benefitted from a heavy-duty four-speed GM 4L80-E - also found in the Bentley Turbo R and Hummer H1. 

Despite a hefty kerb weight of 1,875kg, an automatic XJR could reputedly sprint from 0-60mph in 6.6sec. Flat out, it'd clip to an electronically limited 155mph. All in, it was a compelling luxury saloon with some serious muscle. Even today, an XJR makes for a cosseting and gratifying cruiser that can still surprise many away from the lights. They're also relatively easy to work on and most parts are readily available, meaning you can maintain one at home without breaking the bank.

Some caution is required, though. If you're looking at a cheaper car that's not been maintained well, or one that has some underbody rust, the cost of sorting it out can quickly outstrip the original purchase price. Consequently, it's best to buy an example that's been looked after. That said, if you go in with your eyes open, there's no reason that you couldn't net yourself an affordable, serviceable Jaguar that only requires a little titivation. 

Read on to find out what's worth keeping an eye out for if you're considering a supercharged straight-six XJR.

Search for XJRs in the PH classifieds here.



Bodywork and interior

XJRs, as is the case with most X300s, routinely suffer from rust. Common corrosion points include the front and rear arches, the edges of the front and rear screens, the shock mounts in the engine bay, the sills and the floors. Take a decent torch to any XJR viewing and carefully inspect the underside and visible areas inside the engine bay, as repairs can quickly become involved and expensive.

It's quite easy for an XJR to get tatty, cosmetically, if not cared for. For example, it's not uncommon to find cars with peeling, cracked or patchy lacquer. Proper repairs can be time-consuming and costly, so tread carefully. Check for signs of panel replacement and accident damage, too; one giveaway is mismatched pinstripes, which can indicate a replacement panel.

Bumper brackets fail and can cause fitment and noise issues, as the bumper comes away from the car and can bounce around. Replacements can be had for around £35 a corner. 

There's plenty to be mindful of inside, too. Besides checking the driver's seat for wear and tear, check the condition of the headlining.  They tend to sag when they get old but aren't overly expensive to replace - with all-new linings costing less than £200. Alternatively, upholstery pins can be used to tack it out of the way. 

Check that all of the electronics work; operate the mirrors and windows, cycle the climate control through its settings, and test the trip computer, electric heated seats, stereo and the aerial. Also make sure that minor components, like the air vents, all move smoothly and aren't damaged.

Other notable failure points include the clock display, which can be repaired for less than £30, and the auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The caustic fluid inside them can leak out, leaving an obvious mark on the mirror. This fluid can also drip on the console below and cause damage. Replacing it with an undamaged second-hand unit, or a plain mirror, is the most sensible option.

Engine and transmission

The supercharged 4.0-litre AJ16 used in the XJR is, at its core, a strong and reliable powerplant. Major problems are rare, as a result, provided it's serviced properly. If the car's done over 100,000 miles, do consider changing the supercharger oil along with routine servicing. 

There are some minor, but often frustrating to fix, issues to be mindful of; the throttle shaft and blade can gum up, which results in an odd-feeling accelerator pedal and an erratic response from the engine. Getting to it from above is a pain, as it involves lifting the intercooler and intake manifold. Fortunately, you can just about access the throttle body from below - and dousing the linkages, springs and shaft assembly with cleaners and lubricants may just do the trick.

An odd ticking noise from the front of the supercharger may be a tired coupling. If there's some side-to-side play in the pulley, budget around £15 replacement part. 

If there are signs of coolant leaking, be wary. Many of the XJR's coolant hoses are difficult to get at and replacing them is a convoluted, annoying job. Set aside plenty of time if you want to have a shot at doing it yourself.  

Exhaust manifolds can crack, leading to a blow. You can either repair them or replace them with good second-hand units. Check the remainder of the exhaust carefully, too, as back boxes can rot out and the Y-pipe that leads to them often crack in the middle.

The XJR's throttle and accelerator cables - which meet at the traction control actuator, in the engine bay - can stretch or be misadjusted. This means the throttle may not open fully when commanded, resulting in sub-standard performance. Ten minutes adjusting the cables, using the screw-in fittings and an inexpensive OBD dongle and diagnostic app to monitor indicated throttle position, can restore a considerable amount of punch.

Standard five-speed manual cars are incredibly rare but the transmissions are durable. Most XJRs have the optional GM 4L80-E automatic which is similarly tough and shifts unobtrusively. Ideally, the transmission fluid should be clean and red in colour. If it's brown and filthy, budget for a fluid and filter change. If it smells burnt and is dark, there could be a serious problem. 

You'll have to try hard to break the XJR's 'Powr-Lok' limited-slip differential. Do listen for any odd noises, though, and make sure it's not leaking excessively from the pinion seal or output shafts.

There are many upgrades available, ranging from a revised crank sensor bracket - which was designed by former Jaguar engineer Andy Stodart and safely advances the ignition timing by five degrees - through to different supercharger pulleys and upgraded charge-cooling assemblies.  

Suspension and steering

The XJR is not a light car. This, in conjunction with age and mileage, means that many suspension components may be past their best. Besides visually inspecting parts for damage, listen for any odd noises during the test drive that indicate tired bushes or bearings.

If an XJR exhibits intermittent heavy steering, there could be a fault with the relay that controls the car's variable-assistance Servotronic set-up. Second-hand replacement relays usually cost around £10. Check the PAS fluid level, or renew the fluid if there's no recent evidence of it being done, before progressing further if a new relay hasn't fixed the issue. 

Wheels, tyres and brakes

Parts for the XJR's braking system are easy to come by and not expensive. A brand-name front disc set, for example, costs around £75. There's little else to worry about but do make sure the ABS functions properly; if it doesn't, faults can usually be repaired by a specialist for a sensible amount. 

The Jaguar's 8Jx17 alloys are shod with 255/45 ZR17 tyres. Suitable replacements will set you back around £130 a piece, from a mainstream brand, although cheaper alternatives are available.


SPECIFICATION - JAGUAR XJR (X300)

Engine: 3,980cc supercharged straight-six
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 326@5,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 378@3,050rpm
MPG: 22mpg
CO2: NA
Price new: £45,450
Price now: £1,000 upwards

 

Author
Discussion

SebringMan

Original Poster:

1,603 posts

128 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
There probably isn't a better time to buy one of these with less than 700 left on the road.

Speaking of which. I really need to get in touch with a bloke selling one of these wink.

pSyCoSiS

2,470 posts

147 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
Had a few of these.

Good cars.

Mechanicals are robust, but corrosion kills these cars. Lacquer peel and rot lets them down.

Definitely worth an investment if you can find a clean example with good provenance.

matbat

239 posts

187 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
Damn you!! Currently looking for one of these and now you've drawn attention to them biggrin

Perhaps you can do an Article on the Clio 182 Trophy (hint hint)

M666 EVO

1,099 posts

104 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
I had an X308 for about a year. It had an electrical niggle I never got to the bottom of and it started to rust badly.

On the plus side the performance is savage for a lounge!

tiptreegeek

20 posts

60 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
Chap I work with had one of these & then the later V8, both were lovely, only sold his last one as needed something for kiddie duties.
Rust will no doubt be an issue on any 20 - 25 year old car now regardless of manufacture.

Winge time:When can we go back to the old buying guide format, this newer version as stated many times is really very basic & 90% is common sense - come on PH, quality is key to keeping people interested.
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Jaguar steve

5,511 posts

152 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
The subsequent X308 V8 are better cars. They look pretty similar to this one but the two versions are absolute chalk and cheese to drive.

The V8s are lighter and have better body torsional rigidity, like for like engine size they all make more power than the sixes and are much more refined too and they also have a substantially improved gearbox.



Cardiff_Exile

255 posts

118 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
Really enjoyed mine and chopped it for an XKR - seeing them now I remember what a big old what lump it was!



Always felt like an extra from Snatch driving it

XJR500bhp

1,097 posts

152 months

Tuesday 1st May 2018
quotequote all
Love them - got several...and this one.....


Lewis Kingston

212 posts

19 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
XJR500bhp said:
Love them - got several...and this one.....

A much-admired project, that one. Enjoyed following your build thread from the start. New supercharger set-up looks superb, too!

Harry H

1,581 posts

98 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
Had one back in 96. Chopped in my 911 for it when the family arrived. Fantastic car. Bloody great limo that could occasionally play sports car. One of my favourites over the years.




grumpy52

3,870 posts

108 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
XJR500bhp said:
Love them - got several...and this one.....

What mods have you done ?

grumpy52

3,870 posts

108 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
This belongs to a mate .

V8RX7

17,597 posts

205 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
Jaguar steve said:
The subsequent X308 V8 are better cars.

The V8s are lighter and have better body torsional rigidity, like for like engine size they all make more power than the sixes and are much more refined too and they also have a substantially improved gearbox.
I've been told by several mechanics to avoid the V8 as the engine is a liability and the six is the safer option.

Jaguar steve

5,511 posts

152 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
V8RX7 said:
Jaguar steve said:
The subsequent X308 V8 are better cars.

The V8s are lighter and have better body torsional rigidity, like for like engine size they all make more power than the sixes and are much more refined too and they also have a substantially improved gearbox.
I've been told by several mechanics to avoid the V8 as the engine is a liability and the six is the safer option.
Yes the sixes will last forever. There are a couple of preventative maintenance jobs to do on the V8 and providing you've bought a well cared for example and carry on looking after it there's no reason for it to be considered any more delicate than contemporary engines from any other manufacturer.

The major upside of the V8 is a huge increase in refinement and significantly more power and a better fuel consumption when making reasonable progress compared with the 6. Driving fast and heavily laden I've seen about 19MPG in my 6 cyl XJ, but the V8 gets around 24 under identical conditions.

I've driven a 182k mile V8 which was still perfect and took my first one to some way north of 100k without any drama at all.


Harveybw

58 posts

36 months

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
quotequote all
I had an X308 one and Christ do I miss it. Went like stink and who doesn’t love a big Jag?

Got rid when I was on my second gearbox replacement, different issues each time. Can’t believe that for me it was the Mercedes gearbox that kept letting me down and not some of the shoddy British bits!

LewisR

668 posts

157 months

Friday 11th May 2018
quotequote all
Jaguar steve said:
The subsequent X308 V8 are better cars. They look pretty similar to this one but the two versions are absolute chalk and cheese to drive.

The V8s are lighter and have better body torsional rigidity, like for like engine size they all make more power than the sixes and are much more refined too and they also have a substantially improved gearbox.
Isn't the BIW identical between the X300 & X308 ?

Jaguar steve

5,511 posts

152 months

Friday 11th May 2018
quotequote all
LewisR said:
Jaguar steve said:
The subsequent X308 V8 are better cars. They look pretty similar to this one but the two versions are absolute chalk and cheese to drive.

The V8s are lighter and have better body torsional rigidity, like for like engine size they all make more power than the sixes and are much more refined too and they also have a substantially improved gearbox.
Isn't the BIW identical between the X300 & X308 ?
Nope, There's only minor cosmetic differences apparent between the two but there's twice the amount of high tensile steel in the X308 compared to the X300 and significant design changes to the under body. It's subtle but you can actually feel the difference in rigidity when driving the two versions back to back. .

TriumphStag3.0V8

343 posts

23 months

Saturday 12th May 2018
quotequote all
This was mine. Miss this car. Swapped it for (much newer) X type Estate as I was doing 100+ miles a day at the time



I part exed it at a small dealership - I noticed the other day that it is still (7 years later) exactly where I left it when I dropped it off. Really annoying as it was immaculate when I sold it with literally no issues. :-(

Edited by TriumphStag3.0V8 on Saturday 12th May 00:04

ALTO77

242 posts

84 months

Saturday 12th May 2018
quotequote all
Seriously? Dealer takes an immaculate car then leaves it to rot for seven years, the mind boggles, I would imagine they could have sold it even for a small loss at some point, nowt as queer as folk I suppose.

TriumphStag3.0V8

343 posts

23 months

Saturday 12th May 2018
quotequote all
ALTO77 said:
Seriously? Dealer takes an immaculate car then leaves it to rot for seven years, the mind boggles, I would imagine they could have sold it even for a small loss at some point, nowt as queer as folk I suppose.
I know, I was amazed (and saddened) he had it for sale (advertised locally) for a few months for a lot more than he gave me (and way too much) and i guess just gave up. I am still tempted to ask for it back but after sitting for 7 years it won't be the car I remember. I suppose it could have suffered some catastrophic failure after I sold it but I would find that very surprising, it was well looked after and the only reason I sold it was the distance I was doing each day to work and not having room for another motor at the time (daily, plus hers, plus the Stag) or I would have kept it - he gave me £2.5K for it, and tried to sell for £7k. He would have been able to get £4k for it easily I reckon.

Edited by TriumphStag3.0V8 on Saturday 12th May 08:59