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Tom Walkinshaw Roots? 1987 Jaguar XJ-SC

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While there is no shortage of Tom Foolery when it comes to used cars, this 1987 Jaguar XJ-SC here on eBay may be the genuine article of a special edition created with the help of Tom Walkinshaw Racing, or TWR. Factor in that it’s a rare “SC” model with its unique targa-style roof and the supposed connection to TWR makes this recently unearthed example an intriguing variant in Jaguar’s famed XJS lineup. As we’ll get into, the big question is how far the TWR-sourced modifications went. 

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You can spot the small “TWR 5.3” badging just above the XJ-SC lettering on the left. The question is, what does that represent? The affiliation with TWR could mean this Jaguar received power modifications or simply a body kit. Certainly, the aero enhancements are considered desirable by XJS fanatics, but I’d want to know for certain what other tweaks (if any) this XJ-SC received before committing to buy. For my money, I’d want an example that received both engine and suspension modifications, as TWR was known for breathing some extra fire into the 5.3L V12 along with sharpening up the handling capabilities.

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Inside, it remains standard Jaguar. This is a bit disappointing, as a sport-style three-spoke steering wheel would have been a nice upgrade. It sound like this XJ-SC has been in storage for a spell, as the seller mentions the roof is damaged and the canvas top is torn – so I’m assuming it didn’t languish outside in Florida’s damp climate. The roof could be a pricey repair given its complexities: the XJ-SC models featured a center targa-style section with fixed cant rails above the doors. Basically, the top would come off and the back window could slide down, leaving the door frame and rear quarter windows in place.

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So, what do we all think this car really is? The opening bid of 99 cents seems to indicate the seller isn’t too worried about setting a record sale price (though there is a reserve), but what are you buying? I can get behind the idea of bidding to own a genuine XJ-SC with the the V12 engine, mainly because I like the fixed roof / targa-style design with 12 cylinders up front. The body kit would flow better if the car were lowered slightly on some classy Speedline wheels and not the chrome rollers it currently features, but those are easy tweaks. The horsepower and handling credentials, though – those are the possible enhancements I’d want to know more about before bidding.


  1. hhaleblian

    Bow Wow

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  2. Wayne Norman

    Not my cup of tea. The C pillar lines looks hideous. Yuck

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  3. jim s

    the TWR 5.3 looks misaligned. seller needs to post a copy of the pricing label and anything else that supports the claim. also more details about rear impact in 1996. i wonder what it would take to convert to manual transmission and could car pass smog after conversion. great find.

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    • Jeff Staff

      Jim, I got the same feeling from the badge – felt a little bit too home-brew for me.

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      • jim s

        but it could also be result of the rear impact crash in 1996 listed in vehicle history report. the body shop might have been able to get new replacement for the other badges and yet had to reuse the ” TWR 5.3 ” badge. seller has a lot of work to do, i think.

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  4. RayT Member

    My guess — since eBay’s computers and AutoCheck accepted the VIN — is that this is a full U.S.-spec car with TWR panels, wheels and badge applied later. No engine mods, as those would have had to have been smog-certified if either Jaguar or TWR imported the car. At the time, that was a Big Deal for both EPA and state motor vehicle departments.

    So what you have is a normal XJ-S with fancy bits that may or may not be to your taste. These are okay boulevard sports cars (I drove several back in the day), but neither terribly reliable nor especially valuable as collector’s items. The V12 is wonderful, but the rest of the car is not all that special, IMO.

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    • Jeff Staff

      Agree w/ most of what you said with the exception that the SC configuration makes this one a bit more interesting (albeit, fiddly). Most genuine TWRs had those aforementioned Speedline wheels, so the lack of those is a bit of a red flag for me too. Still nice to see these pop up not completely ravaged by time and neglectful owners.

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    • Dan Owen

      As the owner of a genuine TWR XJRs I have to disagree about the driving experience and the reliability. I’m always amazed at just how silly you can get in the car, and it just takes it in its stride – for such a big old beast you can carry surprising speed down twisty British B roads without it feeling oversized or cumbersome (ok it’s no Lotus, but it sure doesn’t feel like the 16ft land yacht it appears to be). It’s no accident that there is a thriving XJS racing scene.

      In terms of reliability, mine has never given me any major issues – they say regular use is key to the reliability of these cars, which I would agree with, but I was amazed that having had mine in storage for 2 years after charging up the battery it fired right up and off we went.

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  5. NoThanks

    Ugly. Those tasteless cocaine-fever induced body mods wreck the design. No surprise this is located in Florida.

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    • Rando

      I wish there were a “like” button on here. Exactly what I was thinking abou the skirts.

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  6. Van

    I was thinking that TWR got a 6.0 upgrade.
    Can’t escape the 5.3 compared to a chevy 327. The Jag has probably twice the weight. The fuel injection should have improved mileage. What’s faster a 1968 vett 327 -340 horse or the Jag.
    Would love to punch the jag up to 8 liter, yes it’s possible. You guy’s known I love jags anyway.

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  7. CanAm

    The “TWR” lettering looks like something out of a current auto shop supply.
    I’d be suspicious of the body kit too – may be an after market one based on TWR style.

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  8. Keith

    Saw an actual TWR for sale up in Upstate NY last year. Seller had the actual paperwork from TWR to prove it. He was asking $3500. I’d say if this one is the real deal, he may pull $5k for the car, but I agree with others it does look iffy.

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  9. dj

    I think the TWR had a different steering wheel as well. This is a New and Improved owner look a like wanna be. I like the XJSC and have had three of them but this one is a pass even to me.

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  10. Julles

    Have you ever had a car that just was so beautiful and the thought of it was just so appealing and then when you went to drive it, it just drove like s*** and it kind of ruined the car for you? That’s what the Jag XJS did for me. It’s so gorgeous from the outside but then you drive it and it’s like driving a brick. Sad to see. Kind of like a handsome man who’s as dumb as a stump, pretty to look at but you wouldn’t want to date him.

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    • Keith

      That can definitely happen! But I can say I had a 90 XJS convertible V12 and it was one of the most pleasant cars I’ve driven. Not FAST to be sure (I had expected a bit more out of the V12). But I would take it on 5-6 hour trips and be sorry to get out of it when the ride was over. Of course many factors come in to our experiences, mine was in very good mechanical condition so I’m sure that played a part in it.

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  11. Van

    The hot ticket is a lister jaguar.
    Big fenders, big tires, big power.
    I think the early body style looks best and the V12 didn’t seem quite as soft.
    I did drive one with a big block chevy. This car didn’t want to go into first until almost a full stop. I should have left it alone but I came out of a corner and shifted manually, felt kinda like a fork lift. I didn’t hit the curb, hurray. Cars that heavy are tricky to drift first time out.

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  12. Mark-A

    Got to say that the TWR 5.3 ISN’T anything other than a handful of cheap Halfords stick on letters they sell for about £2 in the UK per letter (but some people wouldn’t pay much more for a V12 Jaguar!)

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