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Good Daily Driver? 1992 Jaguar XJS

The premise of using a classic car for a daily driver is one that often inspires much debate. The more sensible among us will likely cite the challenges associated with owning an older vehicle that is put through its paces on a daily basis, from unexpected mechanical issues to the availability of spare parts when the need for repairs inevitably occurs. However, if a car has been maintained to a decent standard, couldn’t you make the argument that the rewards outweigh the risks, especially if you get to daily a car as classy as this 1992 Jaguar XJS listed here on eBay?

This handsome V12 cat is listed with no reserve and bids currently sit at just above $1,000. The seller claims that the car is in good order with no rust or electrical issues. The XJS often gets labeled a maintenance nightmare, and while some of those claims are justified, much of it likely stems from how many Jaguars of this vintage end up as tired, neglected luxury cars with on-board systems that demand ongoing upkeep to ensure that they work as they should. However, in an era wherein nearly-new vehicles can be totaled out due to an electrical glitch that is tied to its central operating system, a car like this XJS seems blissfully simple.

As a 1992 model, this V12-equipped XJS benefits from a few worthwhile upgrades. For starters, the injection and fuel system got an overhaul, along with new spark plugs. The transmission was the reliable GM-sourced 4L80E, a monstrous unit that could handle far more power than even this beefy V12 could dish out, making it a largely under-stressed unit. Of course, this is why the Chevrolet V8 swap is so popular in terms of an upgrade if you end up with an XJS with tired mechanical bits. However, if the seller’s claims hold true that this one comes with a stack of paperwork, I’d say you’re likely to enjoy that V12 for years to come.

And just look at that interior! Obviously, I’m a guy who believes firmly in the value of driving old cars, but I cannot fathom how you can look at this and then peer inside a new Tesla and not want to drive the Jaguar every day and twice on Sunday. Acres of leather, bucket seats with supportive bolsters, handsome woodgrain trim, and an instrument cluster than isn’t a glorified iPhone – it’s all so wonderful. Factor in some of the cosmetic upgrades that come with the later model XJS models, such as the tinted taillight panel, and you have a daily driver that will still turn heads in the Costco parking lot.

Comments

  1. Todd J. Member

    As someone who has dealt with the quirks of an XJS, I found out that it’s true, that JAG really does stand for “Just Another Grand.”

    Like 13
  2. BUFCLE

    I have a ‘95 coupe that is a joy. 135k miles and runs like a top. Easily the most trouble free of my older cars. Most people who complain about Jaguars have never owned one.

    Like 9
    • Terrry

      Like the author says, the Jags that give the most trouble are those whose maintenance has been an afterthought. That’s true of any European car. Neglect them and they’ll make you pay.

      Like 13
  3. Cam W.

    I always liked these, and had several, buying my first one in the mid-80s, and last about 20 years ago. One was a V8 (Chev 350) conversion, and the others were original. As Bufcle, and Terry say, they can be very expensive if neglected. If you have some mechanical skills, they can be owner-maintained at reasonable cost. There are a number of suppliers and small specialty shops that can supply parts (and guidance) at affordable prices. I really appreciated the wood/leather interior, handling and looks.
    In my opinion, these cars are very undervalued, and will likely always be so.
    In my area, there are currently several XJS models of this era for sale. There is a ’92 coupe, not quite as nice as this for $2K, and a fairly decent convertible for $7K. They range from about a grand for a project, to low teens for really nice ones. They are hard to sell. I often see them listed for sale, (at an initially high price) then watch the price drop over the following weeks, months, or longer. Many are sold for a fraction of what was spent on them in maintenance. The XJSs with needs are frankly worth significantly more as parts. Many are for sale because the owners are tired of paying, or know of a lurking major issue. For example: While the aluminum engines are generally robust, they can be quickly destroyed by overheating.
    I would not recommend buying an XJS unless you have the knowledge, skills, and parts-sources to maintain it.
    If you are a newbie, make sure you have a Jag-guy inspect it first.
    The car for sale here looks like a good driver, and if bought cheap-enough, might be fun. It is a high-miler though, so any major failure could make it not economically repairable.

    Like 10
  4. John Reitz

    I used to work for a place that repaired these.
    We had one customer who spent many thousands of
    dollars on his.
    Once he had a $3800.00 repair bill and paid it in cash. (He always paid in cash.) As he handed me the notes he said “NEVER tell my wife how much I spend on this car”.

    Like 5
  5. Glemon

    I thought all the wires in the middle of the vee were vacuum lines, it think it is all plug wires. I have never had the little number tags on mine, but probably makes sense here. I am watching this auction, never owned a jag or a V12, must scratch off the bucket list.

    Like 0
    • JimZ Member

      For your first XJ-S, Glemon, this would be a good one from all appearances! Not everyone is meant to own one of these, so don’t let naysayers discourage you. I’ve owned 8-10 of these in the last 15 years, and still think they’re a fantastic ride. As been said, the V12 (especially the later fuel injected ones like this) are essentially trouble free. Change the oil regularly and be sure the plugs are gapped no more than .025. As a non-smoker, the only modification I might make is to replace the original ‘ski-slope’ containing ash-trays with one featuring cup-holders. There’s a fellow in FL here that makes them. Picture attached of cupholders in my ’92 ragtop Jag. Enjoy!

      Like 6
  6. Big C

    Daily driver and Jaguar. There’s an oxymoron.

    Like 6
    • Kim in Lanark

      Many are sold for a fraction of what was spent on them in maintenance. Back in the old country, this is what we called a red flag. They weren’t good daily drivers new. Per Big C, you may want an oxy moron as a passenger to help push it home. Keep in mind with stereotypes, where there’s smoke there’s fire.

      Like 2
  7. Troy

    Daily driver? Only if you have a tow truck on speed dial. I have never known these to be that dependable and the parts are expensive for this fuel thirsty machine

    Like 3
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

      They are fuel thirsty, that’s true. They also do develop electrical gremlins and you’d do well to know your way about a car if you own one. That said, my 1990 OTS is a joy to drive, especially at speed.

      I’d love to find a parts car. I bought mine more than 10 years ago from a guy who had bought it for his wife. He was Catholic and she was Mormon. She decided that she couldn’t get to heaven unless she was married to another Mormon. She divorced poor Gene, move from NC to Utah, found a Mormon and married him. It took almost 2 years for Gene to reduce his price to mine, but when he did, I bought it. It had issues, but I fixed the major ones, and I live with the minor ones intending to get to fixing them sometime. It’s not my daily driver, but as a retiree with a number of cars and trucks, I don’t need it to be.

      Like 4
  8. MKG

    Don’t drop any tools around the engine compartment. They will be lost forever, LOL!

    Like 2
  9. Doug M

    I don’t know why they bothered to rear seats in these, they are useless for carrying passengers over 2 years old

    Like 2
    • JZ Member

      My understanding is that insurance companies rate a 2-seater much higher than a car with a back-seat. Go figure!

      Like 3
  10. JCH841

    If my ex brother in law was still in the Jag business I’d think about this. Always liked the looks of this car.

    Like 1
  11. GlennH

    I had a 90 XJS convertible for a number of years. It was red, low miles and in pristine condition. Never drove it that I didn’t get a compliment from someone! I’m pretty competent in electrical, mechanical and hydraulic and that all comes in handy with an XJS. With internet searches for electrical schematics and a downloaded copy Kirby Palm’s XJS book I never had a problem I could not solve. The scariest part for me was the distributor and plug wires in the valley, right under the fuel rails. If I bought and XJS all those fuel hoses and connections would be the first thing I would replace.

    Like 4
  12. Scott

    I did have a ’90 a maybe ten years back as a daily driver. Someone had traded it in on a New Beetle at a VW dealership. $6500, 50,000 miles, nice and clean. Drove it two years every day and sold it for a bit more. I had about $1,000 of work done on it when I bought it. After that, not much. That said, it was a complex car. I never did access all the spark plugs. Thought I would service the AT, then realized one had to drop the exhaust system and remove the rear transmission mount to remove the pan. Never did that.
    There’s a reason why these are under-maintained. But, if I kept my foot in it, it would shift out of second at 80 miles an hour, was fantastic on the highway. !00 felt like 65. What a car.

    Like 4
  13. charlie Member

    These are wonderful cars when well maintained. The inline 6 had over 16 quarts of oil, so oil changes were neglected by the previous owner, every 5000 miles. I drove my $350 ’60 XK 150S daily, except when there was salt on the roads, and when it did not run. AAA towing, and a Chevy for backup, made it work. Over four years and thousands of miles, it only got towed twice. She had the good graces to breakdown slowly, or at home.

    Like 1
  14. Mike Roman

    Bought my 89 coupe as a 50th birthday gift to myself ! This XJS was my great dream car. She was like driving in rails on winding roadways. The kickdown at 60 mph went to 100 with no effort. She never liked stop and go traffic at 100 degrees, so a tow truck was usually on call. The interior was Rolls Royce quality. Body lines were pure Jaguar. I loved this XJS. Everyone should have one to experience what a real car feels like.

    Like 3
    • JimZ Member

      Mike Roman- Wondering if you’ve added a rear stabilizer bar and beefier front stabilizer bar? If not, you should add them to your list of upgrades. You’ll be able to take the highway ramps half-again as fast, car will stay flat as a board! Best of all the rear bar mountings are already in place from the factory. It was the best money I ever spent on mine!

      Like 0

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