16K Miles From New: 1989 Jaguar XJS Coupe

Jaguar’s iconic XJS coupe is one of the prettiest shapes to ever grace our shores, but high cost of ownership and frequent neglect have banished these cats into used car lot hell and self-service parts yards. Too often, years of deferred maintenance gives the Jaguar a reputation of one to avoid, but this low-mileage example here on eBay is the one to buy if you’re on the fence. For $13K, you’re effectively buying it off the showroom floor. 

In many cases, we can make justifications for buying slightly ratty examples of project cars, especially if the best ones trade above our pay grade. In this case, the asking price isn’t that far off from what a scruffy but running driver would command, making the XJS a car you should absolutely spend a little more on up front. The body on this car is immaculate, and thankfully it hasn’t been saddled with the cheap Lister knockoff spoiler so many seem to have.

Likewise, the interior is as you’d expect for a low-mileage car, and thankfully this XJS wears the ideal combination of red over black leather. Wood trim is immaculate and the radio remains a factory unit. One upgrade we’d recommend is the wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel that many XJSs of this era seem to wear, as the stock leather-wrapped unit always looked out of place. The 3-speed automatic won’t excite, but it’s a fine match for the V12.

Now, the V12 has been the source of anguish for many owners, and also the reason SBC swaps became an actual answer to costly engine repairs. In this instance, however, the low mileage should encourage the next owner to simply maintain and enjoy. This XJS was bought and sold new in North Carolina, where it still resides today. If you’ve been looking for an XJS that won’t become a paperweight in your garage, this could be it.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Bill

    The low mileage reflects the few number of times the car would start….

  2. Jay M

    Beautiful car in excellent condition.
    I’m no Jag expert, but it seems like a lot of car for the money.
    Tempting…

  3. John T

    This looks like a really nice low mileage (the 6-digit odometer displays 017411) Jaguar XJS V12 Coupe that is being offered for what seems to be a very fair price. If I am reading the ad on EBay correctly, the selling dealer is even offering a 90 day 3000 mile warranty and a limited return policy. While I am not crazy about Jaguars (I am just plain crazy), I would think that there is a Jaguar admirer somewhere that would scoop this Jag in a heartbeat.

  4. dwilson

    My ex sister in law bought one of these off the showroom floor. it was a great car when it was running. never any major issues with the powertrain but the elec. system was a nightmare. there was always a sensor out or not working causing all kinds of issues. I can say though when it did run it was a great running and driving car and for a V-12 it got decent mileage as long as you kept it under 75 mph.

    • Eric_10cars

      As the owner of a 1990 XJS convertible, I can attest to the complexity of the electrical systems. Their designs and too clever by half. My convertible top system is ridiculous in its unnecessary complexity. I about to give up and directly wire the top motor and separately wire the quarter windows to gain some reliability. The electric door locks have a mind of their own. The cruise control refuses to work, and the A/C is a nuisance. Other than that, :-), it’s a great driving car and a lot of fun. I bought mine with 72K on the odometer.

      • Keith

        Eric sounds like you have my 90 XJS convertible! haha. Mine had the exact same problems with the top, I finally just gave up and would open it annually. Door locks…same issue, locked and unlocked whenever it felt like it (click-click!, click-click!). I was always scared to even try the AC. The radio? “buzzzzzzzzz”. But man, when it drove….what a ride.

  5. 86 Vette Convertible

    Regardless of personal preferences, that’s an attractive automobile IMO. Are those stock rims on it or aftermarket? I really think it would be a knockout with wire wheels. I’ve only had them on a bike and they did take maintenance, but I think they’d really look sharp on this one.

    • Dennis M

      Yes, those are stock rims, and yes, they are a royal pain to keep clean. Probably worse than wire wheels! At least the rear discs are inboard so not as much brake dust on the rears. My ’90 “Special Edition” had those rims with the inside surface of the honeycomb painted red!

  6. John H from CT

    I had a friend in CA whose had one of these with under 10k miles in it. The car was always maintained and was his pride and joy, until illness intervened. My friend asked me to drive it and give him my opinion. I was taken back by how well the car drove and handled. If this car has been well maintained, this is a great price.

    • Eric_10cars

      Prices on both the coupes and convertibles tend to be all over the place. You can get a rough one for around $1500 and a really decent one for $4000 or less (I know that for a fact :-)). There are also those with an asking price of over $8K but I don’t know of them selling at that price. Check out the auction results in one of the collector car mags…they rarely get more than $5K.

  7. Oldcarsarecool

    That’s a stunning automobile in a great color ! But the year would scare me. I am thankful that my XJS is a ’96 because, a) that was the last year for the XJS and all of the significant bugs had been worked out by then, and b) it doesn’t have those miserable inboard mounted rear brakes. The idiot(s) that designed that setup should not be allowed to work in the auto industry . . .

    • Eric_10cars

      The inboard brakes were a legacy from the E-type which the XJS replaced. They were mounted that way intentionally to create a greater center of gravity for racing.

      • Pete

        More to reduce unsprung weight. Works well as long as it is properly maintained but does not tolerate hamfisted clotheads or chepskates.

  8. Cap10

    After my 86 Honda Accord’s trans died, a friend gave me his 1986 Jag XJS. His DD was an 86 Jag XJ6, by the way.

    It was the weirdest 8 days of car ownership I ever experienced.

    I’m a car guy (or I wouldn’t be on this website, right?) and do most of the maintenance on my cars, but this thing was beyond me. When it ran, it was everything you ever heard a Jag would be: fast, nimble, smooth, drop dead gorgeous… but when it was dark the lights didn’t work, when it rained the wipers didn’t work, when it was cold the heater didn’t work… in short: if it was hooked to a wire, IT DIDN’T WORK!!

    After three separate trips to the head mechanic of the nearest Jag shop, he turned to me and said, “You can”t afford this free car!”

    I traded my 86 Accord with a slipping trans, an 85 Accord with an iffy starter, and my beautiful, but electrically untrustworthy 86 Jag.

    Be careful what you wish for… you might just get it! d:-(
    Cap

  9. SuperSport

    i think that the 4.3 versions with manual trans are the way to go with these cars. the v12 is just a nightmare….it barely fits in the enginge bay….there’s no after thought on access to the engine components on these models.

    • Eric_10cars

      I beg to differ. The early v12s had issues with the head design when they used 4 SU carbs. The later v12s, all in the XJS I believe, fixed that with the switch to fuel injection. The 12 is heavy, yes, but it’s a beautiful design and when not emissioned to death, a really hot number. I get about 15 mpg on the highway with the GM automatic transmission. As to the SBC conversions, I’ve yet to see one that wasn’t a botch job (admittedly a limited sample size in my case). I did see one at a car show in Douglaston, GA 5+ years ago with a Viper V10 swapped into it along with a Tremec 6-speed manual. It was a beautiful swap. However, the v12 can be tuned to be a screamer, if you know what you’re doing. Didn’t they win LeMans a couple of years running with it?

  10. jimbosidecar

    Prettiest shapes? Really??? You must be confusing it with the XK-E

  11. David Miraglia

    A lovely animal. Would love to get my hands on one.

  12. Clay Byant

    First Jag I’ve seen advertised with 3rd. row seating………………..

  13. Ben T. Spanner

    Eric is correct in many ways. I had a 1990 Collection Rouge which had slightly different interior trim and the red wheels. That was the last of 6 old Jags I have owned. Keeping it running was not that difficult. Be carefull of stated miles, as the odometers often work intermittantly. Old British cars don’t sit well they deteriorate in the garage.

    If this has low mies, its still over priced by half. Someone willing to spend $6500 will have their choice of many.

  14. Keith

    Regarding the prices yes they are all over the place. I had an 85 XJS hardtop I bought for $1000 and sold for $2000 running driving but needed a lot of work. I bought a 1990 XJS convertible for $6200 sold it later down the road for $6200 and it was in beautiful condition but not showroom. Had an XJSC that was way more work than I could handle bought for $1500 sold it for $1200. So there are a few real world prices for you.

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