No Reserve: 1989 Jaguar XJS Convertible

As most of you know, I’m a Jaguar XJS fan. However, after previously resurrecting one from the dead (don’t buy one that’s been sitting in a forest for 15 years) I’ve decided I have better things to do with my time and my second one was a pretty decent car to begin with. This project, however, would be a great place to start if the price stays low like it is now ($600 with no reserve!). It’s listed here on eBay and is located in sunny Chiefland, Florida.

The faded badge lettering on the right is the magic of the XJS — where else can you find a V-12 powered convertible for potentially under $1,000 starting cost? Of course, you will be spending more money (exponentially more unless you have lots of time and skills) than that before you are driving the car, but — it’s a V-12!

You’ll need to either spend a lot of time hand-stitching a temporary repair or just purchase a new top (<$500). Of course, if you’re in the position of being where you can just leave the top down, that’s not a problem. Given the sun bleached appearance of the interior of this car, I suspect that’s been the case for most or all of it’s life.

The seller explains that they have had the car in their barn for around seven years and that they drove it there when the transmission (a GM-sourced unit) wouldn’t go into high gear. The one spot of rust is pictured above and is just in front of the left rear tire.

It’s amazing what a thorough re-dye job (not spray in a can) can do to revitalize old leather, but this is probably right at the edge (and may well be past it where the seams have separated) of what can be salvaged. The 140,740 miles are believable and it is not uncommon to see seats from later XJSs transplanted to rejuvenate old interiors.

Somewhere down in the depths of what you see near the firewall is a heater hose that I’m currently trying to replace on my car without having to pull the engine to do so. I have 5-1/2 hours in so far into replacing the three hoses and have managed to remove all three (gee). After buying a new set of hose removal pliers I’m hoping for better results. If you made it through this paragraph, you have a idea how complex these engine compartments can be to work on. Thankfully, the engines themselves are relatively reliable (yes, I mean that) and don’t need to be rebuilt for a long time.

Here’s a small portion of the original window sticker for this car. Two important points: 1) $57,500 to <$1,000 is colossal depreciation. This was a really, really nice car when new and the price reflected that. 2) That gas guzzler tax — it’s well-deserved! Let us know if you’re interested in this bargain V-12 convertible and better yet, if you buy it yourself!


  1. Jay


    Like 2
  2. OhU8one2

    A V-12? Parts from the factory are becoming obsolete. Unless you want to go used. Looking at the photos tells me there is some costly items to purchase.Unless you can do most if not all the labor, this car will take your money faster than an ex-wife. If you really want an XJS, I would look for one in better shape. This car is worth more in parts than fixed up. How do I know all this? I’ve worked for Jaguar for the last 15 years.

    Like 5
  3. Coventrycat

    Sitting in the corner like that means it’s one step closer to being a storage shelf.

    Like 3
  4. Rodney - GSM

    Euthanize this cat before it bites someone else. It has had a nice life and now it is time to go.

    Like 2
  5. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    I’m surprised at your pessimism, folks — no one interested in taking a chance on this cat?

    Like 1
    • Kevin Harper

      The problem is Jamie is that you can get a pretty nice one for 8-10k and an immaculate one 14k. Also while the 12 has bragging rights I would more likely take the straight 6 in the 90 to 94 version. Even if you buy the best one you are still going to have to do maintenance on it, and that is not easy or cheap. Sadly this one has fallen to parts car status.

      Like 2
      • Eric_13cars Eric_10cars Member

        Kevin, you can a nice one for a lot less. I paid $4000 for my 1990 XJS convertible. It has a few electrical gremlins and I did have to rebuild the steering rack and pump (MAVAL in Ohio…great folks!!!), but it has been reliable. About 72K miles on it and no rust. BRG paint, biscuit interior and tan top. Very pretty. I did have to find the correct beehive wheels for it. At 90-100 it feels like 60. Great road car.
        A guy in Wake Forest put it for sale for $5K. I called and asked if he was negotiable. He said no. A year later he put it up for $4500. Again, not negotiable. A year later he was at $4K. I said I’ll take it. He asked me what my obsession with his car was. I asked him what his obsession with posting and not selling was. He later told me that he bought the car for his then wife. She was a Mormon and he was Roman Catholic. She decided that she couldn’t get to heaven unless she married a high Mormon, so she divorced him, moved to Utah, and married her Mormon. True story.
        If the instance car was closer, I’d bid on it. They’re over engineered by half, but they sure are fun with all the comments you get from passersby. This one is kind of tired, but it wouldn’t be too hard to put it back on the road and enjoy it.

        Like 2
  6. Ben T. Spanner

    What Kevin said 2X. I started messing with Jaguars in the 1960’s, and I owned a V12 XJS. The soft trim and the body work is always more expensive than expected. The very complicated fuel tank, pump and lines must be completely redone. This has been sitting for years This one is toast.
    The basic rule still apples; buy the best you can afford. I live in Southwest Florida and good examples are available for way less than the cost to make this hulk even presentable.
    This is a Turbo-hydramatic 400, but the case is specific to Jaguar. You cannot bolt in a transmission from a donor GM car.

    Like 2
  7. Kurt Member

    I realize it sounds blasphemous but…could you put a small block Chevy engine in this?

    Like 1
    • Eric_13cars Eric_10cars Member

      For engine swaps into Jags (XJS, XJ6/40, even XKE), the SBC is the most common. I believe it’s Johns something in Texas who sells the adapters. About 10 years ago I was at a car show in Douglasville, GA with a buddy of mine from Atlanta, and there was a black 89 or 90 with a Viper 10 cylinder and a 6 speed manual transmission. It was truly cool and a beautiful installation. I still keep the photo above my desk at home. However, the Jag 12 cylinder, while much maligned in common parlance, is a really stout engine with incredibly smooth torque. The early 12s with the 4 Strombergs had head issues, but the later 12s with the fuel injection are sweet running engines, albeit hot running (a rodded radiator and good electric fans do a good job, but you can feel the heat when idling). I’ve often wondered whether a good cold air intake system would be beneficial to them. They do suck up the gas, whether you stand on it or are easy on the pedal.

      Like 2
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      People do it all the time. There are even kits available to make the job easier.

      Like 1
  8. Bing

    The man to see for your swap kit is Johns cars in Dallas, Texas. I did one of these (xj6) about twenty years ago. He advertises in Hemmings..

    Like 1
  9. pacekid

    I had a Johns Cars conversion in my 74 XJ6. I had a 350 sb Chevy with 350 turbo. Whenever I pulled into a gas station for work they said take that home we don’t work on Jags, then I showed the engine. They were much cooler. The local jag shop in my town of Boulder called it an abomination and would not talk to me. When the 350 wore out. I replaced it with a Corvette tuned port injection motor and 700 R4 auto. The biggest problem was not fit. It fit perfectly, the issue was the gas tanks. Fuel injection needed a return line. Actually two, one for each tank. If fuel went into one tank faster then it was being used by the engine, that tank would overflow. Yes if you said yikes, perhaps you know this car.

  10. Jim Z

    All items very repairable, although at more cost than what you’d imagine. As many of these XJS’s as I’ve owned, and as many spare parts as I have, this cat could easily be restored to wonderful…but the high mileage kills the deal for me. Sigh!

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