Barn Find Targa: 1987 Jaguar XJ-SC V12

The Jaguar XJ-SC is one of those automotive curiosities that I would love to add to a collection if I had dollars to burn. It’s such an interesting car, with an overly-complex roof system that was seemingly concocted to respond to an invisible demand for half convertible, half hardtop coupes. Jaguar was not alone in creating such hybrids, but it does seemingly speak volumes that we don’t see automakers investing in similar designs today. This rare 1987 Jaguar XJ-SC V12 is said to be a barn find that certainty presents far better than most forgotten British cars, and there are even some trophies in the trunk. Find it here on Facebook Marketplace in Barre, MA for $5,900.

I used to spend a good amount of time in Barre where I had a project vehicle stored, and it was also home to one of my favorite junkyards that has since been turned into a solar farm. This Jaguar is a long way from being junked, but I actually saw this exact model – yes, the rare targa top – in a wrecking facility not too far away on Massachusetts’ south coast. It wasn’t even rusty, so I suspect the running gear costs or a disinterested heir is what led to it being sent to the scrapper. If anyone local buys this clean XJ-SC, get in touch and I’ll point you to where the parts car is, which still had all of its complex roof equipment the last time I saw it.

The V12 was a thumper of an engine, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to live with. Of course, I feel the XJS was one of those cars that may have had its issues but wasn’t nearly as bad as the armchair quarterbacks made it out to be; it’s not all that different from the Maserati Biturbo of the same era, which would be a fairly competent car if the second and third-owners chose to maintain it to the level that the manufacturer demanded. The seller of this XJ-SC reports that despite being found in some sort of prolonged storage arrangement, it’s been showered with love and attention over the past year by a local Jaguar specialist and now runs and drives as it should.

What’s amazing is that someone found a V12-powered Jaguar of this generation as a barn find and chose not to swap it with a small block Chevy V8. It’s honestly refreshing, as not all of these cars need to immediately lose their original engine simply because the internet told them to do it. The XJ-SC looks to be an incredibly clean example, and judging by small details like the trunk carpeting and spare wheel, someone loved this targa-top curiosity before it went into storage. Kudos to the seller for rescuing it, and also asking a very modest price for the privilege of becoming the next caretaker.


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  1. Ben T Spanner

    I like them, I have owned one, and i may own another some day. This prce seems about right if the AC works, and the interior is up to snuff.
    I was replacing the spark plugs on mine, when my then neighbor said i would never get it back together. I replied that it was easier than on a modern V8 SUV.
    This example will require lots of maintenance but lots of information is avilable on the web. If you have to pay someone $120 plus per hour, stay away.

    Like 2
  2. Edward

    I had an XJS and the mechanicals were every bit as bad as you’ve heard. Replaced several radiators and alternators, dropped a valve seat due to overheating, vapor lock problems.

  3. wizzy

    I had an ’88 XJ12 and never had a spit of trouble with it. Drove it every day until I moved to the desert. Fabulous car.

    Like 3
  4. FrankD

    This Jag never made Showtime! Low or no bids at car auction that I frequent.

  5. JimZ Member

    I have a weakness for these cars, having owned several. (More like 10-12 over the years) Showing a pic of the last 3 convertibles I owned.
    If an XJS has been ignored and the body/interior left to rot, yes, they can be a nightmare. However, if they’ve been loved as this one appears to be, may be worth a look. BTW, a ‘thumper’ refers to a long-stroke motor, these are short stroked, if I recall.

    Like 5
  6. GlennH

    Had a 90 XJ-S Convertible. I’m very mechanically and electrically handy and have restored and refurbished many classics. Those British electrical systems, and many of the plastic parts they use, will test anyone’s skills. As someone else commented, if you have to pay someone else to do the work, think twice

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