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Buying an XJ6 (XJ40).
Model history.The Jaguar XJ40, or XJ6/12 as those of us who don't work for Jaguar call it, came along in 1986 and was Jaguars attempt to drag itself into the new world, its range having soldiered on for years with the long in the tooth, but mightily handsome, Series 3 XJ6 saloon, and the swish but antiquated XJS (itself harking back to S1 XJ underpinnings from the late 1960s).
The 2.9 was the entry-level XJ option, just as was the 2.8 Series 1 of 1968, and as with the older Jaguar not a very popular choice. Any XJ is a fair hunk of weight to haul about, and a weedy 2.9 really doesn't make the Jag go as it should. With low sales it wasn't long before the 2.9 was ditched in favour of a new lineup, starting with the 3.2 (and the 4.0 replacing the 3.6). Head gasket problems are not unknown, so the usual checks for white goo in the oil filler cap and coolant should be made, which can be a sign of problems to come (and also a sign that a car may have done lots of short journeys and rarely fully warmed up, itself not a good sign). Excessive steam from the exhaust even when fully warmed through is another possible sign of trouble on the horizon, and a very good reason to run away very quickly. Timing chains can suffer with broken tensioners, another wallet-lightening experience, and a poorly maintained example can easily cost hundreds to get right again. When it comes to large cars I've always gone with the view that the best bet with a car thats been around a bit, is to go for the largest engine version there is, the theory being that it has worked the least hard for a given mileage. I've run Series 1 XJs and the V12 Jaguar I had was by far the best mechanically, same with BMWs, the V12s I've had are big lazy lumps that with care should soldier on to Mars and back with little effort. The same goes for the shortlived V12 XJ40, so long as coolant & oil quality (& quantity) is maintained there is every chance that it will outlive its smaller engined, and harder worked, brothers.
Jaguar tried very hard to build the XJ40 well, but many think that end of line S3 cars are in fact better than the early XJ40s (and the S3 was hardly hewn from stone either). While quality did improve during the XJ40s life, it is imperative to check it over properly as, sadly, the build quality leaves a lot to be desired when compared to a similarly aged BM 7 series for example. Firstly the visible stuff, take a good long look at all the cars lower extremities. Bonnets corrode along their leading edges, a problem found on earlier Jags too, and one which can often be traced to poorly lubricated hinges. Bootlids are another classic rotspot, and manys the dog-eared early XJ thats up on ebay for 200 quid with badly rotten bootlid corners. Arches rot as on all Jags, as do the sills, even on late-ish examples. Someone I know had an XJR and found the rear window pillars were full of water and rusting from the inside out, so check the crude joint (covered by a trim) at the base of the rear window pillars. At least the front wings are bolt on, but unlike earlier Series XJs give few rot problems, most are affected by accident damage if anything. Door skins will happily corrode away from their frames, so run a beady eye along the door bottoms for signs of the brown stuff. Boot seals often give way, causing structural problems at the rear, and the front inner wings can succumb to rust too in an alarming manner. Find one with badly rotted inner wings and it really is just a candidate for the next banger race meeting, go and find a better one instead. With all XJs its important to have a good look at the structure underneath. Just as with its Series predecessors, the XJ40 can rot in the vicinity of the front subframe, and, being foam-filled, cannot be MIG'd back together so be prepared to fork out anything upto 1500 GBP to have it professionally replaced. With XJ40 prices plummetting ever earthwards as they limp along in the netherland between modern car, and classic stardom, it isn't really viable to save a car that has many of these faults. A look on ebay will soon bring back plenty such wrecks in the mid-hundreds, just a few turns of the wheel from the breaker's yard.
XJ40s were available with both manual and automatic boxes. With most XJs having a suitable large engine, the autos are barely any slower than the Getrag manual boxed variety, and outsold the manual versions many times over, the consensus being that to shift ones' own cogs is at best unseemly, and not the done thing in polite company. Both gearboxes survive well if looked after, and recon boxes are available should something untoward happen.
Jaguar saloons have always been sold on the promise of a sporting, yet sumptuous ride. However 100,000 miles, and 1,000 collisions with sleeping policemen, later this may not still be the case, though to the uninitiated even a soggy handling Jaguar still feels like a magical experience when compared to the humdrum ride of many mass produced tin boxes around nowadays. Some cars have self-levelling suspension, in itself a fine invention but can be pricey to get it working again if something gives up the ghost. Normal items such as dampers and springs have a hard time keeping this old dowager on an even keel, so will need replacing every 50,000 miles or so, if not before. Suspension front and rear relies on the compliance of a great number of rubber bushes, when these start to break up after 50,000 miles or so prepare to spend some hard-earned getting them replaced, although DIY is a practical option if you're handy with the spanners. Some models, such as the Sport and XJR come with firmer suspension and tyre/wheel combinations, so any failing components with be further highlighted and require attention. Most XJ Jaguars came with alloys as standard, though some poverty-spec 2.9 and 3.6 models did come with steels as standard, though by now their plastic trims will probably be looking a little past their sell-by date. The alloy wheels fitted to Jaguars, even on more recent models, succumb to corrosion quite easily and let down the appearance of an otherwise presentable car - reconditioning is an option, or else keep an eye on the classifieds for a better replacement set instead. Some people retro-fit S3 XJ wheels just so that cheaper non-metric tyres can be fitted.
Exterior trim lasts reasonably well on the '40, although bumpers and other stainless parts can be costly to replace if they're received a biff. Door handles on early cars have been known to give way under heavy usage, and badges can go to look scruffy after a while too, although they're easy enough to replace (apart from those on the Jaguarsport XJR model). As already hinted at, some bargain basement XJ40s were ordered with cloth trim but now, as then, this is not a popular option and to feel like a fully-fledged Jaguar pilot you really need to hunt down a car with a nice leather and wood pack, otherwise why bother buying a Jaguar, just get a Granada instead and don't let the neighbours see it. The leather seats usually last well (if electric, check they still work fully fore and aft) but drivers side bolsters can wear after a few years of use. Another problem inherited from earlier XJs is the headlining, the lining in all my Series One has sagged at some stage, as did dad's Series Three, and the XJ40 is no different so have a good look up there - despite what some people say, the only solution is a professional repair or replacement of the headlining, a quick spray with contact adhesive rarely works well. While you sat in the pilots seat, have a good look at the wood for any signs of delamination of the lacquer, fraying of leather edges and so on, and check all the electrics (especially the whizzy dashboard on the earliest '40s) to make sure they work - a duff headlamp black box can relieve you of over a 100 GBP for starters. Daimlers generally has slightly higher levels of trim, and being rarer than equivalent Jaguars will be more difficult to find model-specific pieces of trim for.
Hard to find parts
The XJ40 is currently in its mid-life crisis phase, with plenty of average cars being broken up for parts to keep others on the road. Most parts can still be bought new from Jaguar, from 3rd party suppliers, or secondhand via classified adverts. Probably the hardest thing to replace, if you really want to that is, is the bodykit as fitted to the XJR versions (3.6 and 4.0) as prepared by TWR, but time has not been kind to these bolt on bits of plastic so its unlikely they'll ever be remanufactured. The rarest model is the long wheelbase Daimler Majestic, dragging up a name from the early 60s, as certain panels and trim parts will be unique to this stretched version.
Easy to find parts
Most things can be found, and with the number of specialists that now include XJ40s in their catalogues it really pays to shop around, although the quality of non-Jaguar parts can vary wildly so go carefully.
What to Pay
Real sheds, and worn out wedding carriage hacks in brightest Dulux white, can be had a for a few hundred pounds with anything from a days, to 12 months MOT attached. For peace of mind it really is best to go for something as late as possible, by which time many niggles found in earlier cars had been ironed out. Perhaps the safest way into Jaguar ownership is join one of the owners clubs and scour the classifieds for low mileage, nicely maintained example built after 1992. A very presentable 4.0 with history & plenty of life left under its treads should be available from around 4000, so buying a cheap wreck to do up is rarely wise.
XJ40 Books & Manuals
A quick look on Amazon will bring up a range of Jaguar workshop manuals and restoration books, have a look by clicking here.
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