Radwood Ready! 1985 Jaguar XJS

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As an unabashed Jaguar XJS fan, I was pleased when fellow Barn Finds writer Scotty G. alerted me to this gorgeous find submitted by reader Pat L. Not only does this XJS appear to be in beautiful shape, it features a rare TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) body kit. Very 80s and ready for Radwood today! The XJS is advertised here on craigslist for $14,000 and is located in Long Island, New York.

While the XJS disappointed many marque purists who were expecting an E-Type replacement, when it’s considered on its own basis it was an extremely successful grand touring car. This car is a particularly nice one that has obviously lived a carefully garaged life for its 70,000 claimed miles. The paint is shiny and presumably original, and the painted “mesh” wheels are factory. I owned a cosmetically similar Lister XJS and I can attest from personal experience that few cars turn more heads. You either love or hate the styling, but you certainly notice it, especially in this color.

The TWR fiberglass all appears to be undamaged, including the rear spoiler with the hole for the electric aerial. You can easily reach speeds in an XJS where the aerodynamics actually matter — not that I would admit to having done that, of course! I will say that these comfortable coupes (do not make the mistake of thinking those rear seats are anything but an upholstered shelf) come into their own at triple-digit speeds.

Jaguar wanted everyone to know that there were twelve cylinders up front. After living under the hood of two XJSs long enough that I should know better, I still maintain that the 5.3 liter V-12 is the smoothest engine I’ve ever personally driven, and one of the best. It’s just that everything attached to that engine seems to be built, well, to a price. And there’s a lot of those things. All of which can fail. Expensively. Sigh.

Moving on to one of the best parts of an XJS — the interior. Although very period in design, just like the exterior, the inside of an XJS really makes the occupants (two only, remember) feel as if they are in a much more expensive car. The twin ashtrays in the center console can now be replaced with cup holders if desired. The walnut veneer in this car appears to be in spectacular condition. The only thing that lets this car down is the poorly repaired headliner. It’s not as bad a job as you think to replace, however, I did that in my first XJS for less than $20 and an afternoon’s work. Hint: good quality felt is very, similar to the XJS headliner material and sticks well with contact adhesive.

The appearance under here doesn’t quite match the rest of the car, but I don’t see anything that worries me. Scratch that, I see everything that worries me. I liken my former XJS ownership to my racing cars; periods of agony working on it that yield ecstatic moments of driving pleasure. Are you up for an engrossing ownership experience? If so, this XJS appears to be one of the best available!

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    Nice one, Jamie! None of us believe that you drove your Lister XJS at anything but the posted speed limit at all times (cough). HA, a rare public lol issued on the last paragraph!

    Like 6
  2. Derek

    I was never that keen on the XJ-S; a bit of a wide-boy car. The headlights remind me of the Corvair twin ones.

    Like 0
    • Nglshmn

      You can, of course, replace the Federally mandated twin headlamps with the ‘proper’ faired single housing as on ROW cars. Much better looking IMHO.

      Like 0
  3. qmmq

    I’m in the it’s a beautiful club. I may be biased, since my parents have always had a Jag. Just very afraid to own one for myself. I think we all know why.

    Like 7
  4. JulesMember

    The color may be original, but it just doesn’t say “Jaguar” to me. Team British-Racing-Green here.

    Like 4
  5. JCAMember

    Back in the day, also on LI, I worked in a shop where we swapped a Getrag 5spd into a V12 Jag like this. That one was British Racing Green. Really cool swap, hopefully it’s still out there…

    Like 1
  6. robin

    Major problem with these is that the wiring becomes extremely brittle = engine bay fire. There is someone in Italy able to reproduce these harnesses. That would be the first thing I’d do. (Former XJR-S owner). robin

    Like 1
    • Nglshmn

      Replace crappy Lucas electrics with crappy Italian ones? :-)

      Like 0
  7. pacekid

    I am on the love it side of the fence. The only jag I ever owned was a 74 XJ with a Chevy Tuned Port Injection 350, coupled with a R4 700 auto. It went like a bat, but stopped like a rat! That means bad under-braking power.. I did however drive one in V12 regatta and you know it was extremely smooth with a nice ramp in power, but not a tire shredding monster by any means.

    Like 0

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