Less Than 5,000 Miles: 1988 Jaguar XJS Convertible

Besides being a Jaguar XJS convertible modified by longtime coachbuilder Hess & Eisenhardt, this particular XJS is notable for its exceedingly low mileage, clocking in at a mere 4,936. Before Jaguar made the XJS droptop a regular feature of their vehicle lineup, they turned to the aftermarket to ensure they had a folding roof model in the rotation. Whether that makes this example more desirable is a subjective discussion, but the seller believes this may be the lowest mileage XJS in existence – is that purely an opinion, or is the claim possibly true? Hard to say, but it is in mint condition. Find the Jaguar here on craigslist with an asking price of $27,500.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find. Credit must be given to Hess & Eisenhardt, as they did a bang-up job of making any number of convertible conversions look like it was performed on the factory assembly line. They’ve taken some incredibly mundane models and made them look the business courtesy of a cleverly modified drop-top. Looking at this XJS, you’d never suspect it was performed by anyone other than a factory-trained technician. The wire wheels are a take-it-or-leave-it affair, but they are totally mint in this application. I’ll be honest – I’m distracted by the seller’s garage. It looks pretty sweet in pictures.

As you’d expect with a low mileage specimen, the interior is absolutely a time capsule. Leather seating surfaces, wood trim, door panels, dash – all of it is impeccable. This is a big deal in an XJS, as the acres of opulence that came standard in these V12 coupes and convertibles can look pretty downtrodden if not kept up with. The leather really does look as soft as it likely did when it left the factory, so kudos to the seller for ensuring his restraint with regards to limited outings in his V12 convertible has paid off in terms of the Jaguar presenting as-new 32 years later.

The 5.3 litre V12 is paired to a three-speed automatic transmission, and the seller notes that the Jaguar has been kept in climate-controlled storage since new, “…like all of my cars.” These were maintenance-hungry cars within a few years of leaving the dealer showroom, so buying a tired example is often more trouble than it’s worth. This XJS convertible makes sense if you’re looking for possibly the lowest mileage example left in existence, and one that you can drive without too much fear of electrical gremlins or issues stemming from deferred maintenance interfering with the bliss of top-down cruising. As the saying goes, find a better one.

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  1. Howard A Member

    I can’t resist. Shows how ba-kokked this hobby is. Here you have one of the finest machines on the planet, for the same price as a beater 1st gen Bronco,,,Coo-coo, coo-coo, ( spinning finger around ear) A fine Hag-war indeed, AND, you just might make some new friends at the Jaguar dealer,,,

    Like 9
    • Max

      You’re going to make some new friends at the Jag dealer, no doubt. Because you’re going to be spending a lot of time in their garage.

      Like 8
  2. ccrvtt

    I remember being terribly disappointed when these emerged as the successor to the E-type. By that time, however, the E-type had become so butchered that it no longer had its original cachet.

    That said I’ve heard nothing but praise for the XJS driving experience. And I agree with Howard that the price is a bargain compared to what else you can get for the same dollars.

    Nice find, nice garage.

    Like 7
  3. Lumpy

    It’s hard to rack up the miles on a car that spends most of its time in the shop…..

    Like 6
  4. JohnfromSC

    I had a friend whose ailing father bought one of these new, and 5 years ago when I drove it to assess it for him, only had12K miles on it. Every year his father had taken it in for its routine service whether or not he had driven it. The car was elegant and performed flawlessly as new.

    These are not Camrys, nor are Ferraris and other performance cars. ( The love of Porsches continous even with almost 10 years of downright scandalous defective IMS bearings.)Yet because they sold in larger numbers, those Jags in the used car market more often than not, were abused. Not to say that they didn’t have major issues. However, these issues are exacerbated by lack of maintenance.

    Don’t ask me to defend current Jags in comparison. I am utterly confused by a rationale which appears to be a sell and support for 5 years, then punish owners once out of warranty and cut off parts availability after ten years, leaving support up to salvage yards. Ask me how I know.

    Like 8
  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Since it didn’t come from the factory, Hagerty doesn’t have a valuation for convertibles. But, the seller has it priced at the top of the market – #1 Concours – for a coupe.

    Might be a bargain.

    Like 2
  6. charlie Member

    What killed many of the 6’s (XK 120 through the E Type) was the 20 quart oil capacity and the recommendation that it be changed every 3000 miles. The first owner of my 1960 XK 150 S appeared to have done this, the second owner had not, and so the engine smoked a little, and used oil, but the car died of rust, not engine failure. One week on the road, three in the shop, waiting for parts, before the internet they were hard to find, had my ’56 Chevy for reliability. 4 or 5 months on the road, one day in the shop, and never, in 14 years, did it quit on the road – flat tires, blown out brake cylinders or lines, and busted valve springs, but that was it, all could be fixed by me, or it would still drive home. Oil changes recommended at 1500 miles, I stretched it to 2500 as the years went by and oil got better.

    Like 2
  7. Rich.

    Predictable remarks from Max & Lumpy.

    A 150MPH, V12 OHC engined, luxury car that needs proper maintenance. What a shocker!

    Oh, you mean just like a V12 Ferrari or Lamborghini – but without the up front price tag… Just because Jaguars were more affordable than the Italians, it doesn’t mean that they can be neglected. If you want to neglect a car – buy a Chevy (that should upset the purists…).

    Keep to the schedule, spend what it needs and have no more problems than any other car – from a very happy, serial owner of V12 Jaguars

    Like 7
  8. Rich

    Hey Charlie,

    Re your reliable ’56 Chevy – take a look at the relative prices between that and an XK150S these days. You should have kept the Jaguar – it might buy you a house today….

    Like 1
  9. Jim Z Member

    Having owned several of these, I’d say this one’s a beauty. Not necessarily $27k of beauty, I’m guessing high teens. Still gonna have to replace aged rubber (tires, belts) and other items that degrade with time. Wonder if it’s got the optional rear sway bar, I’ve added it to all my Jags, makes a world of difference in handling the curves.

    Like 2
  10. Dennis M

    These are the epitome of the GT class. Comfortable cross country tourers at speeds you would find hard to accomplish under todays conditions. I have owned two of them and loved them both!

    I’ll second what Rich said. People that knock the reliability of these cars are just demonstrating their lack of understanding of what the vehicle really is.

    Like 1

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