Rare Manual Transmission: 1986 Jaguar XJ-SC

This 1986 Jaguar XJ-SC is such a bizarre combination of rare features it almost defies description. Featuring the targa/convertible roof option – which saw very limited production amidst a low take rate – and the factory manual transmission, it is perhaps one of only a handful of XJS models to exist with this combination of options. Approximately 5,000 of these targa-style models were produced, and the manual wasn’t offered in U.S. models until 1993. Find the XJ-SC here on eBay with bidding at $3,600 and the reserve unmet.

The manual was a special order option for U.S. customers in 1993 and 1994, and records indicate less than 60 customers made the special order request. The seller notes he brought this XJS over from Europe, so he likely paid to have it imported after he was done using it overseas, or via a purchase made after the legal importing window opened up. The combo of British Racing Green over tan the ideal combo.

Pairing the manual transmission with Jaguar’s torquey inline-six certainly breathes new life into the driving experience. YouTube videos showing owners rowing through the gears adds a new dimension of appeal to an XJS, which is otherwise seen as an unreliable and uninspiring car to drive in anything other than 12-cylinder – and in those cases, even the best cars need loads of annual maintenance.

The seller has owned the XJ-SC since 1990, so it seems likely the car spent some time driving European roads before finding its way to Texas. I’d love to know if it’s a true gray market car, which would mean lighter weight due to fewer safety features, and better performance without the restrictive U.S. emissions equipment installed. An unusual and perhaps somewhat unrepeatable example of a XJ-SC.

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  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Having had a British car once, know all that goes with that this one is not on my list. If another British car was, I’d look this one over at a minimum. Whether it’s a good value or not depends on what it’s reserve is. The fact it’s a manual adds to the draw on the auto IMO.

  2. Achman

    “which is otherwise seen as an unreliable and uninspiring car to drive in anything other than 12-cylinder”

    are you inferring that the 12cyl is reliable?


  3. Matt

    @ 86_Vette_Convertible To suggest that every car from Britain, regardless of manufacturer or year, is unreliable, is jingoist nonsense… precisely the sort I would expect from someone who thinks an 86 Vette is cool.

  4. Billieg

    I owned a 1989 XJS which nearly bankrupted me with the V-12. One day it over heated (again) and I drove it to a used car lot and traded it for a 1990 Corvette. I’ve since owned 3 Jaguar XJ8’s, and a 2006 XK8 and all have been a pleasure to own. The XJS may look great but you’d better have a real thick wallet to keep one running.

  5. larry

    A major problem with the XJS was the wiring that was incapable of withstanding the heat in the engine bay. The plastic would crumble causing constant shorts. Replace the wiring and you have a reliable engine.

  6. Jaguar Jim Member

    Having owned more than a few XJS V12’s, I’ve come to realize how under-rated and how mis-understood their mechanicals were. Failure to follow the recommended maintenance by the original owners gives subsequent owners ammunition of ‘how poorly designed’ the Coventry Cats were. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you’ll never convince this to a person that experienced bad results.
    All that being said, the manual shift was desirable for the performance minded crowd for better off the line results. Their high rear-end ratio (2:88 IIRC) to meet pollution standards made the automatics a pooch at the line.

  7. Andy Member

    I’ve owned two XJ-Ss, a 12 and a 6. Jaguar JIm is right. These are vastly underrated cars. Big heavy, fast, sprightly. A pleasure to own and to drive. I had no major issues with either car. I may take a run at this one, I never did have a stick.

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