Pre-HE + Euro-Spec Model: 1976 Jaguar XJS

This 1976 Jaguar XJS combines a few different letters of meaning for Jag enthusiasts, but the broadest way to classify it is as a European-market model packing a bit more power than its US counterparts. It’s also a right-hand drive example, signaling its origins as most likely a British market vehicle. Find it here on eBay with an opening bid of just $600 and no reserve.

The “pre-HE” designation that the seller references in the listing holds meaning for the Jaguar faithful, as it apparently packed better performance due to higher “flow rates” in the head. That’s according to a post on which seems like a knowledgeable group. You’ll note the right-hand drive configuration, which – after a month of driving around my RHD 1980 BMW 320 – isn’t all that difficult, especially in automatic form like this car.

The body doesn’t look bad, unless this is the cheap repaint I suspect it is and it’s hiding rot or previous bondo repair. The upright coupe body is still handsome today, even in battered cosmetic form like this car. As noted above, the interior has its share of issues and finding a RHD dashboard will require overseas parts sourcing. The car has been in storage since 2008 and hasn’t run since at least then.

Fun fact: the British still use MPH, just like we do. So don’t necessarily write this one off as having a swapped odometer just because you see MPH. The mileage still likely isn’t accurate, though the seller thinks low mileage is a real possibility. The seats do like decent enough, and if the claims about rust-free condition hold up, there’s a chance this otherwise rough-looking example is quite solid underneath. The low opening bid seems fair – is it worth a gamble?


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  1. UKPaul

    Rust free one of these here is rare thing .. prices going up now too.

  2. Solosolo Ken Tilly Member

    Jaguar V 12 HE (HE stood for High Efficiency)

  3. Lounge

    Growing up, my best friends grandfather had 3 XJS-HEs (yes, he was wealthy) – he used to say “one in every color” – black, white, and gold. Very complicated looking under the hood. And I remember them being broken a lot.

    Many of these ended up being V8 conversions. Not sure this engine would be worth the expense of resurrecting.

  4. Horse Radish

    From the ebay user name I assume this one escaped the crusher for now.
    Kudos to the seller for offering it as a whole for what he would get in bits and pieces recycling it.
    The usual story is that the elderly owner gave up or passed away, which leaves the ‘poor’ stressed out inheritors to call the junk yard.
    I just assumed this to be the case here as well.
    2889 miles less likely than 102889 .
    I got a US 1976 counter part for this.
    If one were to drive a Jaguar XJS most people would probably choose a more modern version, as they were made ’til at least 1996.
    And the last couple of years this was even offered in a drop top version !

    Like 1
  5. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    I don’t believe that the HE appeared until later sometime around 1981. It was a necessary suffix for that engine.

    The sunroof is a rare sight on this car. I’m wondering if this was a Jaguar Exec’s car?

  6. Black Cat

    These early cars are interesting, with their lack of wood trim and other market availability of a manual gearbox. But they also were not quite “ready for prime time”, beset with quality concerns and very thirsty before adoption of the “May Fireball” HE heads which applied lean-burn lessons to great effect. XJS was pulled from the US market for a year while the issues were sorted, and returned a much better car. Sunroofs were never offered here, and I wouldn’t want one on an XJS. Being RHD, one should carefully assess the understructure. I love a good XJS, and while giving stray cats a new life can be very rewarding, IMHO there are more deserving felines than this one.

    • Kitty Litter

      As a non-U.S. market model, it would likely have the higher 9:1 compression ratio yielding 285 DIN rated hp. The U.S. models suffered with a 7.8:1 compression ratio and were rated at 244 SAE net. There was a one year only pre-HE that had 10:1 compression in Europe/ROW and 9:1 in the U.S. but there were only a handful of those built before the HE engine replaced it.

  7. Adam T45 Staff

    These were cars that promised so much potential, not as a sports car, but as a grand tourer. They deserved so much more than to be built by a rapidly imploding British Leyland. Released during an energy crisis, and built by a company whose work force spent more time manning picket lines than manning production lines, almost anything that was produced by British Leyland was horrendously hit-and-miss in the quality department. That being said, if this is in fact a reasonably rust-free example, it would make a great starting point for either a full restoration, or a resto-mod with a more modern drive-train that would introduce greater reliability. It’s one that I would consider if I wasn’t on the other side of the planet (where we also drive right-hand drive vehicles).

  8. nessy

    First year of the XJS. Beautiful cars as all Jaguars were. Not so sure I like the new style Jaguars. I had several of them in the past and nothing but issues. The HE was new for 82 along with minor body updates. The biggest upgrade was from Lucus to Bosch. There was no 81 model. First generation was 76 to 80. Neat tidbit here, the only way to tell a first year 76 apart from a 77 or later XJS is that strip of chrome between the door and quarter windows. After 76, it was black.

    Like 1
  9. Steve R

    If it’s cheap enough maybe someone from England will buy it and bring it home. I’m sure rust free examples over there are few and far between.

    Steve R

    • BiggYinn

      FYI Britain doesn’t consist of just england you know

  10. alan

    I would say this is a UK market model and not a euro model as the rest of Europe uses left hand drive cars. Of course, it could be from another RHD market like Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, South Africa, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and maybe a few others I have forgotten.

    In its current state a parts car is what it really is regardless of market of origin.

  11. JagManBill

    the car is local. Been offered for quite a bit more on Denver CL than its starting bid. Starting bid strikes me a bit closer to what its worth given the overall condition. I bought a non-running 78 in much better condition for $500 several years ago. Time and condition I’d put this one at about the same money.

  12. healeydays

    Being that they had that V12 and came in automatic, I was never a big fan of these cars

    . I do remember a gentleman who owned a Jaguar shop converting his to a manual and that car was fun to drive as he knew his way around those engines and was able to get the most out of it.

  13. Joe Cat

    For a few years my only car was a 78 XJS V12. It looked great then (late 80’s, early 90’s) and it looks even better today. The V12 was quiet and ran smooth as a jaguar.

    • nessy

      Holy Moly Joe, I remember that car running around in New Jersey. I had a silver 76 XJS and I think we spoke about our cars. That brown made it stand out. It must be the same car I remember.

      • Joe Cat

        Nessy, What town(s) did you run around in?

        Like 1
  14. JRP

    Not really familiar with right hand drive. But wouldn’t you think the PRNDL would be on the driver’s side of the shifter? Could it have had the console swapped from a left hand drive? Just looks out of place. Someone enlighten me, please.

  15. AF

    It’s just scrap. Load it on a trailer, write “scrap” in white spray paint on doors and hope someone will stop you and claim it. They they can worry about this Jag not ever being worth anything.

  16. Tony B.

    RUN!!!! I have always held an affection (affliction?) for the XJS. Super-sexy cars… Back when I was in the market I did quite a bit of research on the pros and cons of ownership… I found an online manual that had been produced, on how to correct the ills of the XJS… It was a 1/2″ thick! These went beyond “enthusiast” cars… No excuse for a car ever leaving a factory with that many faults… Still…I’m afraid I’ll eventually get sucked into my buddies XJ-6 that he’ll let go for “only” $500. If only he could find the title…. :)

  17. raoul san giorgi

    dear fellow readers ,
    I drove XJS when new ,already back in early 80’s .
    Those were the HE versions,High Efficiency engines .
    Supposed to consume less petrol than the pre HE engines ..hmmm…
    I ever regretted having sold the last one .Antracite with black leather.V12.
    The car was faster than anything our Higway Patrol had ..
    Anyway , I am the buyer of the car mentioned here .
    Received it a short while ago ,here in my home country Belgium .
    It is a very much rust free example .
    There are some minor local rust areas , but easy to repair .
    The strong point of this car is its untouched nature .( the only thing added is the wood part on the dash).
    Engine matches the ID plate .The date of build is march 1976 .
    With the car came some paperwork. It came to the US early 80 .
    I am now in touch with Jaguar Heritage to see where it was delivered new .
    This car will be dismantled completely and then re assembled .
    The medium blue interior can mostly be saved and the missing parts replaced Engine now runs like a swiss watch .Seller told me it was overhauled 4000 miles ago .
    The car was not repainted . What you see is the result of the burning sun from Colorado…That ‘s why the body is so strong , but paint chipped off …
    I am convinced the XJS pre HE and also the HE but not the last models will be appreciating a lot more .But that is not the main reason to have bought it .
    The pre HE still has this pureness of design, no chrome ,just lines .
    the only thing I will change are the headlights ,they will become US style .
    JRP: the console is the correct one , no swap!!
    Look at all and every press picture / brochure from 1976 and you will notice same console for RHD and LHD !
    Thought it nice to share the above .
    ps. the sellers are simply lovely people!!

    Like 1

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