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6,554 Genuine Miles: 1988 Jaguar XJ-SC

The Jaguar XJ-S suffered the same fate as so many cars to emerge from the strife-torn British Leyland concern. That problem was that when it was new, it wasn’t particularly good, and by the time it was good, it wasn’t anywhere near new. This was a shame because the XJ-S deserved far more than this fate. Thankfully, by the time our feature car rolled off the line, the myriad of early problems and issues had largely been addressed. This 1988 XJ-SC looks like an absolute beauty that has led a very pampered life. After only accumulating 6,500 miles during its 31-year life, it is ready to find a new home. Located in Lebanon, Tennessee, it is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the bidding to open at $18,700, but at this point, there have been no bids submitted. There is also a BIN option, which has been set at $33,500.

This particular XJ-SC would have been one of the last of the cars that featured what was referred to as the “Targa-Style” convertible top, as this was replaced later in 1988 by a full convertible model. The condition of the car is immaculate, and it looks about as good as it would have the day that it rolled off the production line. The panels and paint appear to be flawless, and the soft-top also appears to be in immaculate condition. I could be wrong on this, but I don’t believe that the wheels are original, as the spare in the trunk is different, and is one of the distinctive 5-spoke alloy wheels that were introduced as the standard XJ-S wheel in 1981.

As befits a luxury British car of this era, the interior is trimmed with lashings of leather and timber. The timber trim is Burled Elm, and it all looks to be in fantastic condition. The leather upholstery is free of any stains, rips, or stretching, and once again, it looks like it did the day that the car left the factory. The overall condition of the interior seems to reflect the fact that the Jaguar has only covered 6,554 documented miles since new.

To open the hood of a V12 XJ-S is to delve into the stuff of nightmares, with a maze of wires, pipes, plumbing, and cables. Delving into there is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it does appear that any poking and prodding under there has been undertaken by appropriately trained professionals. The car has lived its life in a climate controlled garage in Florida, but it has been regularly serviced by a local Jaguar specialist. The car is said to run and drive really well. The only aspect of the car that I would hold a question mark over is the cleanliness of the engine bay. There is quite a bit more accumulated dust and dirt on places like the inner fenders than I would have expected on such a low mileage, well-preserved car. That’s something that I would probably want to investigate a bit further.

This Jaguar XJ-SC would not have been a cheap car when new, and the “Targa-Style” cabriolet was not a real marketing success. However, this was not solely a problem with the cabriolet, as the reputation of the XJ-S had been badly tarnished by the legion of quality control issues that afflicted the early cars. To give you an idea of the extent of the ongoing problems that hurt the car, it is a fact that in the first 5-years of XJ-S production, Jaguar earned more money from the sale of spare parts for the XJ-S than they did from sales of the car itself. By the early 1980s, the vast majority of these problems had been addressed, and cars like this 1988 model were quite good cars. If you really have a desire to own a classic British car with very impressive performance, then a well maintained and cosseted example like this one would seem to be a fairly decent bet.


  1. Ralph

    “I say Nigel….what are we going to do with all these Triumph Stag roof’s we have laying around?”

    Well….I have one idea……

    Like 11
    • Haig Haleblian

      Good one Ralphie boy! Today’s phrase that pays!

      Like 2
  2. Will Fox

    A car built before the end of Jag’s littney of production and quality control problems; no thanks. Nice paper weight though…..

    Like 4

    RUN AWAY………………………Fast

    Like 3
  4. Eli

    Sour Milk Doesn’t Get Sweet. It was never a good car.

    Like 3
  5. Frank

    This car was bid to 21k on BAT this week and failed to make reserve.

    It’s a nice example, very nice for sure but I thought $21k was all the money for one of these. Really nice, sorted examples are still easy to find under 10K so I think this seller is going to have a very hard time getting close to that buy it now.

    Like 5
  6. Maestro1

    Frank is correct; I know of one here locally (Left Coast) who is asking $9000.00 for one with more miles and needs tires, but is otherwise in very good shape. And he’s having trouble selling it.
    The cars were cursed by their history.

    Like 1
  7. Ian

    Good to know there are still dreaners in this world.

    Like 1
  8. PatrickM

    Yeah. I’ve known a couple guys that used to work in Jaguar dealer garages. The HATED re-setting the valve timing. And I do not like sun roofs. Beautiful looking car. Runs great…for a while…until the valve timing needs adjusting. But, not for me.

  9. JBD

    Mine is a 47k mile ’87 SC, one family owned. The Dayton wire wheels were a $2k option. There were only approx. 500 and 800 in 1987/88 imported and all were v12s. Early SC cars were modded at the Aston Martin Tickford plant.
    Probably the lowest mileage SC around. My friend’s dad was a Dr and ordered one, waiting a full year for delivery. Hagerty says that a #1 condition car should be worth this kind of money.

  10. Robert White

    Yard art, or man cave art, but don’t expect to actually drive it anywhere unless you really have a lot of money, and a spare mechanic plus spare parts in the trunk. Also make sure that you can leave the car with the mechanic for an eight month stretch at a time. And forget winter driving so count on maybe using it every second summer for a week or two, maybe?

    Frankly, and we all know the historiography, the guy above that mentions running away from such a deal is spot on.

    Greater fools, for some reason, always end up owning cars like this.

    When purchasing any car always ask yourself if you are that greater fool before looking for bondo with your magnet.


    Like 2
  11. JohnfromSC

    Just a couple of years ago I was asked to check a simular car with 5K miles on it in the San Jose area. My friend’s father bought it new, rarely drove it but meticulously maintained it each year at the Jag dealer. Unfortunately, his father had become incapacitated.

    It was an absolute pleasure to drive and the throttle response was akin to fuel injection. Gorgeous car.

    Prices are on the slow rise. But, even with that, tough to get more than $25 large for one, even in this condition.

    If you don’t have to sell, my advice is hold on a little longer.

    Like 1
  12. Steve

    I had a low mileage 84′ back in the mid 90’s. It was pretty and by far the quietest car I’d driven. It was a gigantic money pit however. They did not sort out their quality control issues in the 80’s. I would never, ever consider owning any Jag with a V12 in it these days. In my experience the only reliable Jaguars were the last of the straight sixes from 95-97. I ran a 95 XJ-R for years with no trouble at all. That car was a pleasure to own.

    Like 2
  13. JIm Z

    It continues to humor me, the people who’ve never owned one of these marvels are the ones spanking the brand the hardest. I’ve owned probably a dozen over the years, and am still enamored of their unique style and grace. Here’s a pic showing my last 3….

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