Jaguar XJ-S: Spotted


Manual XJ-Ss made up less than eight per cent of total production. So, by that token, does it make it worthy of Spotted material? We like to highlight the rare and unusual in our classifieds, and a Jaguar that forces you to change your own gears is as unheard of as a Jaguar owner having to pay for their own dinner.

The XJ-S was already 10 years old by the time this example was built, and it was more of a car for the head of a company - or a BL executive picking from the company car scheme. It came with a thirsty V12, which was definitely the perfect engine to have off the back of an oil crisis. Jaguar also needed to put some development miles on its new AJ6 straight-six engine before it went into full-scale production in the XJ40. So, some bright spark at Jaguar thought that it would be a good idea to put it in the XJ-S.


And to be fair, the 3.6 engine is lighter than the 5.3, which meant that the six-cylinder car was less nose heavy. It also meant that Jag could reduce both the spring and anti-roll bar rates at the front, and that no doubt brought benefits to ride comfort - a Jaguar hallmark. The manual version would make more use of the engine's power. This meant that performance figures not a million miles away from the V12: 7.4sec to 60mph compared with 6.5 of the bigger engine.

The trouble is, the manual isn't as good as it could be. The shift action - when it was new - was reported in the 21st April 1984 road test of Autocar to be 'notchy, heavy, and certainly baulky if hurried'. So, it isn't really an everyday car, but if you are spending £20k on a low-mileage example, I don't think you would be.

And if you compare it with contemporary rivals, the XJ-S stacked up rather well. If you wanted a Porsche, you would need the four-cylinder 944 and that had a lower top speed. Audi had the Quattro, but that was a £1,154 more expensive and wasn't as powerful. The closest rival was the BMW 635CSi with its silky straight-six engine, comfortable ride, strong performance and much better Getrag gearbox. Trouble is, it cost a not inconsiderable amount of money back then - nearly £25k! The XJ-S, by comparison, was a bargain.


So, while the manual XJ-S might not be the best version to have, it doesn't stop it from being an interesting classic. I mean, we still like Austin-Healeys and AC Cobras despite them being a little difficult to drive. No, this is a rather nice, unusual XJ-S in an excellent colour that really stands out. Plus, there's even air conditioning to prevent you building up a sweat while changing your own gears.


SPECIFICATION - 1985 JAGUAR XJ-S 3.6

Engine: 3,590cc, straight-six
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 228@5,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 240@4,000rpm
MPG: 17.6
CO2: Gases out the paupers
First registered: 1985
Recorded mileage: 26,000
Price new: £19,248
Yours for: £19,999

See the original advert here.

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (20) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Hugh Jarse 04 Feb 2018

    Chap has one at work, looks wonderful.
    A rare thing, unique styling that has never been copied.

  • richs2891 04 Feb 2018

    My dad had a manual XJS - the V12 version, an old T reg one so 1978 or 1979. Bought from new and it was terrible by today standard, but mostly clouded by BL attitude to cars.
    On delivery 3 matching wheel badges and 1 odd one. Passenger window had the electric window motor missing. Week later window wiper burnt out. 8 weeks for replacement parts. BL attitude was tough - thats what it is.
    The actual car - when it was going was Ok but lots of electrical issues. Various engine issues, It had 2 gearbox rebuilds in the time we had it, might have been the driving style - not sure. Its long since rusted away

  • TR4man 04 Feb 2018

    I'd love an XJS but one of the later 4.0 litre models. I starting looking for one a couple of years ago when I sold my Stag but realised that one wouldn't fit in my single garage - for a 2+2 they are big cars!


  • JohnG1 04 Feb 2018

    "The closest rival was the BMW 635CSi with its silky straight-six engine, comfortable ride, strong performance and much better Getrag gearbox."

    Didn't the XJS manual use a Getrag gearbox? Was there a different, better Getrag box used by BMW versus Jaguar?

  • dantournay 04 Feb 2018

    TR4man said:
    I'd love an XJS but one of the later 4.0 litre models. I starting looking for one a couple of years ago when I sold my Stag but realised that one wouldn't fit in my single garage - for a 2+2 they are big cars!
    They're not a great deal larger than a modern family car now but they are small on the inside and the back seats are for no one over 10 years old. That said I've found mine, which I use as my daily, surprising practical though as it has a cavernous boot.
    l've managed to cart the wife, 2 small kids, a six man tent and our camping stuff for a week without too much fuss a couple of years ago.
    It stood out a bit on the campsite among the sea of silver Zafiras and Picassos


View all comments in the forums Make a comment