What's your view on transparency in car ads? Do you believe in the 'warts and all' technique, confessing to all the issues up front to attract only genuine buyers and minimise the amount of wasted time for all parties? Or do you favour what some might call the old-school method of car selling, which is basically to skirt around your car's flaws in the ad and then hope to smooth-talk your way around them when the punters pop over?
The vendor of this £900 Jaguar XJ6 Sport has gone for a hybrid approach, diligently showing us the scrapes and lost paint on the car's offside rear but then not really revealing the extent of the bolster damage to the driver's seat. Even from the passenger door you can see it's pretty banged up. You could accept this as part and parcel of old Jag ownership, or you could hunt down a slightly less hammered replacement on eBay. Would it be worth the effort though?
Many would say yes. This is an X300, which on its 1994 launch was the first all-new (sort of) Jag under Ford's ownership. So as not to frighten the horses too much, Ford didn't tamper with the XJ's classically curvy body style, but to show that their influence was going to be positive they put in a lot of work to boost quality without losing any of the 'Jagness'. Jaguar's venerable six-pot AJ6 was whizzed up with an electronic ignition and traction control and renamed the AJ16. It produced 216hp in 3.2 guise and 245hp as a 4.0-litre. You could get it with a five-speed manual, but the majority of X300s had the J-change four-speed ZF auto. Sport models like this one got firmer suspension and bigger alloys.
The enduring XJ hitches were a lack of space in the cabin and, as the years went on, a tendency to rust. Which brings us back to our Shed, a car that has done just 15,000 miles in the last ten years. Although these X300s can crumble in the sills, wheel arches, door and wing bottoms and around the windscreen, the c-word has not been mentioned on any of our Shed's MOT reports dating back to 2005. Most of the fails/advisories in that time relate to suspension ball joint covers and deteriorating brake lines, with a few wheel bearing issues here and there.
You do need to check the electrics generally, specifically the dash computer, seat memory, boot lock, radio aerial, and (if it has them) the autodim mirror and electric steering wheel adjustment. Heaters play up and brake discs warp, often as a result of owners leaving the car in gear after they've come to a stop and keeping their foot on the pedal, causing local heat build-up on the disc. Suspension mounts and bushes do wear out, and a rear-end clonking is not that easy to sort.
Engine-wise, though, the AJ16s are good. The start-up timing chain rattle that was a cause for concern on the later V8s was far less worrisome on the sixes. Even transmission rumble wasn't that much of a problem. The drivetrains on these late sixes were strong. X300 alloys were notorious for dissolving, but the wheels on this one look perfect.
From the Putney stamps in the service booklet we can see that this Jag has been a London car since 2008 at least, and very likely for longer than that given that it's only had two owners in its 23 years. City life may explain the scrape to the offside rear wing and the crinkly trim piece above the bumper. Paint flaking off the bumper is very common on these, and it's happened here. Shed is insisting that the apparent 'scratch' on the boot lid is actually a reflected contrail, because he loves these old Jags and always wants to defend their corner.
A year after our Shed was built, the sixes were replaced by V8s and all the manual gearboxes disappeared as the XJ6 became the XJ8. Today, these X300 sixes are fondly regarded for a level of reliability that at least matched that of the 'quality' German marques. Indeed, it's said that the early V8s took a step back in terms of ownership satisfaction relative to the late X300s.
Even though the 4.0 is arguably the default X300, offering that extra 30hp and more torque without much of a penalty at the pumps, the 3.2 has a certain sweetness of its own. MPG figures beginning with a 3 are possible, and because this one is pre-2001, the tax isn't too punishing at £265. Although the cosmetic issues give this particular car a tired appearance, Shed reckons that it's better than it looks. With an MOT till next October, a full service history, and in a good colour, £900 or less after haggling doesn't seem so bad. And Christmas is coming...