BF Success Story: Jamie’s 1988 Lister-Jaguar XJS

One of the great things about following Barn Finds on a regular basis is seeing the success stories sent in by our readers. I now have the pleasure of writing one of those on my own purchase! In case you missed it, I wrote a post about a 1987 Lister Jaguar XJS back in October; you can read it here. I actually chose to write the car up (I did not find it myself) in a misguided attempt to not go after the car. Obviously, I failed to listen to myself! After a little bidding on eBay the big cat was mine!

While I have purchased cars from a distance previously and the seller seemed very forthright in his communications, I was still nervous when my daughter and I took off to Buffalo, race trailer in tow behind the trusty Dodge Ram. The trip up was a nice time together and as we pulled up in front of the seller’s house I was almost quivering with excitement. He had the car and accompanying parts ready to go in his garage. The Lister was spotless and started from cold at the first turn of the key!

The car seemed smaller than I remembered from my old XJS.  Perhaps it had to do with the lowered stance, or maybe it was just that I had spent so long driving the truck! Either way, the big cat purred into the trailer without issue, barely warming up after sitting in the driveway for 20 minutes. The deal was done quickly and it was on to see my aunt and uncle, who were the real reason for picking the car up ourselves. It had been way too long since we had seen my family!

Because it took me a while to be able to leave work for a few days, I was able to start my collection of mini-XJSs as I do for every car we own. Does anyone else do this? I include Aurora Thunderjet vintage HO scale slot cars as one of my hobbies and it is my hope to eventually cast a few XJS bodies for my home track from one of these. The small red one third from the top with the incorrect door pillars is close to the correct size. Anyone else still into slot cars?

The picture above was taken the very first day I drove it to work. Completely unbeknownst to me a co-worker had an E-Type passed along to them and chose that day to be his first day to drive it to work! How cool is that?

My wife and I have now driven the car over 700 miles and are completely enamored with the XJS! It was represented very fairly in the ad and seller communications and if anything is in better condition than I was told. The five-speed manual and Lister suspension tweaks completely change the character of the car and we are both looking forward to some more long, fun drives (as long as I don’t pay too much attention to the perfectly functioning vintage trip computer that tells me I haven’t hit 15 mpg on a tank yet!) The car accelerates with the same turbine-like feel my old XJS did but with much more urgency. I can only imagine what the European-spec Listers did with their twin turbos! Oh, and if you look closely at this picture, you’ll see the five cats at home like it too! What a wonderful car!


  1. Josh Mortensen Staff

    Congrats Jamie! What a beautiful machine. I once looked at buying an XJS, but couldn’t get over the automatic transmissions painfully slow shifting habits. Had it been a Lister like yours, I have a feeling it would have come home with me.

    Like 10
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Thanks, Josh!!

      Like 1
  2. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Congratulations on not having enough restraint, Jamie! I think that you would have very much regretted not nabbing that beautiful car. I can’t wait to see it!

    Like 7
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Thank you, Scotty! You are welcome anytime!

  3. canadainmarkseh

    Hi Jamie I don’t know much about British cars but I have to say this is a great looking car and I hope you get to enjoy it for many years. Nice score.

    Like 5
  4. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Looks fantastic! Nice one and Happy New Year!

    Like 4
  5. 86 Vette Convertible

    Congrats on the car. My only British car was a nightmare, so I hope you have much better luck than I did.
    That one definitely looks a lot better than what I had.

    Like 2
  6. John Holden

    Beautiful! Great car, Jamie – happy driving in 2019!

    Like 2
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great job! The two Jags are a great sight! Enjoy, and am sure you are going to have a great New Year! Take care, Mike.

    Like 2
  8. lynn finlayson

    if your looking for another 87 lister with 5 speed manual, my buddy has one in his garage. his brother bought it new back east and moved to California. he said, road and track did an article on it. his brother died, so it was transported back here to western nebr. its black with gray leather. the seats need repaired. body and paint are real good. spent most of its live in California.. its for sale..

    Like 5
    • Ian

      Ian @ 604-618-2537

      Like 1
      • Rocky Finlayson

        Howdy…I’ll print this out as a reminder to check on the one in York, NE (unless you’re interested in the one pictured in Alliance only). The one in York is a ‘really’ nice tan one that was for sale. Brother Lynn has the contact information for his buddy’s car in Alliance.

        Rocky Finlayson
        Central City, NE

  9. lynn finlayson

    so, whats a ball park value on this lister?? my buddy hears all sorts of values, high and low..

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Lynn, mine went on eBay for less than $9000, and it’s a low mileage relatively coddled example. Hope that helps…

      Like 1
    • Martin Horrocks

      Lynn, are you sure that is a Lister? From the little I can see in the photo, I don’t see the Lister skirts and body kit.

      LISTERS are valued in UK and Germany.

  10. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Thanks to all of you for the nice comments!!!

    Like 1
  11. Rocky Finlayson

    Jamie…brother Lynn just left you a post about the same car I was thinking about. Saw another one here in Nebraska not long ago. Way neat cars that just about don’t exist (don’t see them on the streets anyway).

    Actually…there was another one at a customer’s shop in York, NE this summer that was for sale & in ‘REALLY’ nice condition (sort of a soft brown/copper color). If you’re interested in a mate for the one you have…I can get you his contact information.

    As to the H.O. Scale stuff? I don’t even want to venture a guess…but guess I will. I likely have in excess of 4,000 cars (1,500 complete/2,500 in process). Started out in 1962 in Sheridan, Wyoming with brother Steve mostly (with 11 yr older brother Lynn watching on). Every so often I’d collect some more cars/ parts/track…which drifted off into the 1/24 & 1/32nd scale stuff. Then I started collecting the ‘fringe’ hi-perf stuff…’til the post office thought I’d bought up everything that existed on the planet. It got pretty stupid with what I drug home!

    Just a 62 yr old fat man wanting to start a winter racing league. Been off duty for a lot of years & looking to set things up after many moons apart from the miniature world I used to live in. Besides…workin’ on each one doesn’t cost me $5,000 minimum to make it road worthy & reliable…& I don’t have any issues moving parts (or storing them).

    Let me know if you want to keep in touch. I’m in ‘the book’ (the actual phone book). Enjoy your British Gem! Rocky Finlayson/Central City, NE

    Like 2
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Rocky, I will be in touch!

  12. Rocky Finlayson

    Jamie…fired the computer up & saw a response from a guy named Ian…then another post to my brother that the one he’d posted wasn’t likely a Lister. I’m not up on these things…but almost sure the one I know about in York is like the one brother Lynn knows about (almost sure it doesn’t have skirts & the other jazz (which I didn’t know). I was just going off of brother Lynn’s description of what a Lister was.

    I’ll do a little research if you get back to me…and pursue it when I’m on the run this week or next. Hope this helps (& if you want to get back to me on what you’re looking for (in general or specifically)…that would help. Thanks Rocky

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Hi, Rocky! I can only place one Lister at the moment (the one I have) but we can certainly get the word out about the car! I agree that it does look like the original one that appears in all the magazine articles at the time (R&T, C&D, etc.)

  13. lynn finlayson

    I just talked to my buddy, roger bunnell, who has the black lister. its a real lister. his brother bought it new in boston. he had the magazine article it was featured in. his brother david, was some big wig in silicone valley of san fran sicko, calif. he said, it had the skirts, etc, but they got damaged on all the crazy streets, so took them off and ordered new parts, but never put them on. he died and the car has been sittin in rogers shop, for a long time. roger said, the parts are probably still in his brothers wifes garage, in calif and they aren’t talking anymore, so whoever gets the car, will have to deal with that.. roger said, all lister jags, had manual transmissions and all v-12.

    Like 2
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Hi, Lynn, thanks for the details! If your buddy is interested in listing the car through Barn Finds be sure to point him here! One will do for me for the moment!

  14. Richard Greene


    I’m nervous myself NOW as I bought another Rolls Royce Silver Shadow from California sight unseen. It’s being shipped to NC and expected this week. The seller seemed extremely honest, but I’m extremely nervous until I get it! I’m very happy you are enjoying your XJS. You patiently waited. Continue to ENJOY!


    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Good luck, Richard!!!

  15. Jim Z Member

    Nice ride, Jamie!
    I’ve never had the pleasure of owning a Lister, but have owned a dozen or 2 XJS’s. Always get a kick out of listening to the nay-sayers about how difficult the V-12 was to work on. I must admit though that my last one with the 6.0 was probably the smoothest of the bunch. There used to be a GREAT forum for XJS’s owners on Yahoo groups, may still be there, might want to check it out.
    Owners from the world over contribute their knowledge and experiences.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Jim, I’ll check it out — your cars look great!

  16. Wrong Way

    Nice car from the outside! Jamie, more pics would be nice! LMAO! I have a question for you, isn’t there supposed to be some black rubber on the bumpers? Hopefully you got those too!

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Hi, WrongWay, I’ll post some pics of the inside as well in a day or two. It’s pretty decent, not perfect but nice. The black “rubber” was color-coded (painted) on some Listers, and this is one of them. As per the original post, some folks like the monochromatic look from the 80s, some don’t. :-)

      • Wrong Way

        Okay, I wasn’t sure about the bumpers, so now I know! Thanks Jamie!

        Like 1
  17. lynn finlayson

    I forwarded this site to roger, the guy with the black lister. he has health problems, so not real active right now. he has had some really neat cars, over the years, just like me, and still has a restored, niki big block nova. … I had a chopped, black, 50 ford, for 25 years. was my all time favorite car. sold it and its still alive and running in scotts bluff, nebr..

    Like 1
  18. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Off subject (sorry) how does one send details of a barn find to the writing team?

    This is interesting:

    Back on subject, it is very dangerous reading this. The Jaguar XJS itch i have had since I was a young boy and this really makes me want to itch it.
    I will be surprised if i make it through the year without pulling the trigger.

    Like 1
  19. lynn finlayson

    welp, the red lister started this thread and next thing you know, 2 more show up, in the middle of the united states, Nebraska..

  20. lynn finlayson

    welp, its over there plus shipping. at least, we don’t have to pay a terriff like they do.. I don’t think??

  21. UK Paul

    It’s in Florida?

    • lynn finlayson

      guess I didn’t look down far enough. sure enough, says florida.. ill pass the word on to my buddy who has the black lister and doesn’t have its ground effects..

  22. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Confusing thing is I think its listed on…

  23. lynn finlayson


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