Consensus on Buying a "Live" or "Dead" XJ6


There are a great number of 80 - 87 XJ6 S3 cars available within 100 miles of where I live. Several are on the road with higher mileage hence a Live car. Even more cars are in some sort of storage and have been off the road for years if not decades hence dead cars.

With the enormity of experience on this board what say those with the experience that matters with the XJ6’s.

To expand on this somewhat, one dead example that has stolen my heart is a 1986 Vanden Plas with 43k miles that has been off the road for a decade. The seller claims that he put in a battery and cranked it for minutes but it wouldn’t “catch”. He tried it 3 more times and has given up. It amazes me how many known so little about machinery especially automobiles. So obviously this entire fuel system including regulator and injectors will have to be disassembled and flushed of the varnish that has been pumped through them by a fool. Had he sought advice first…well then he wouldn’t be selling a beautiful condition low mileage Vanden Plas for pocket change.

Buy it!!!

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Any Series III I’d buy would get a very thorough servicing: all fluids, filters, and lubricants, new cooling and fuel hoses, brake system overhaul, bearing repack, and so forth, stem to stern. So, as far as that goes, living or dead doesn’t make much difference.

The obvious advantage to a living car is you can hear the engine run, check for excessive smoke, listen for horrible sounds, etc. And experience how the transmission shifts.

OTOH, taking a dead car and making it run again usually isn’t all that hateful for a decent DIYer.

If the dead car has extra nice paint, leather, wood, and chrome…and zero or minimal rust…that’s the one I’d buy. Mechanical repairs on these cars, assuming DIY labor, are generally not very expensive compared to the huge cost of restoring the cosmetics.



Much better if you know everything is working.

Seized engine, broken transmission, stuck brakes… not so good. Get one that moves, and the best example you can afford.
UNLESS you are proficient, have the time and find a really nice car that is not beginning to wear out. If the details look great what’s a broken engine…

Well you just presented the other side of the coin David. While in my head I’m hearing the same advice from my common sense my heart is telling me a different bit.

The cruel truth is running cars tend to have a great deal more miles on them and are still double to triple the price of a dead version. Condition varies to the extreme on both examples as well.

I’ve resurrected several vehicles in the past. Some that required as little as electrical patchwork from rodent damage to an entire fuel system drop and flush to complete drivetrain replacement. I also happen to be more than just a casual DIYer however physically the years are catching up to me with a vengeance.

It’s a great deal to ponder while I prepare for my new upcoming project in the next year.

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I just shake my head…“1986 Vanden Plas with 43k miles that has been off the road for a decade”
What did you say…off the road for 10 years…meaning…the xj6 is difficult to keep running…TRUE
What did you say…43k miles…meaning the xj6 odometer fails intermitenly…TRUE
What did you say…will have to be disassembled and flushed …FALSE

Bottom line…You need to be mechanical, be able to decipher info…and work, work, work on the xj6…
Then…you may be able to ENJOY what is likely the best car ever buildt

OR…have deep pockets…very deep pockets…it will be at the mechanic ALL the time…and this mechanic will need to have great mechanical skills and ability

FOOLISH…stating miles on a 37 year old car…thinking you can resurrect it…have enough money to keep it running

Note…it is not the engine, trans, suspension, rear end…it IS IS IS IS IS the FUEL INJECTION SYSTEM…A/C

PS…I keep mine around just to beat myself up…teach myself what failure is…got that failure failure failure…failed

AND really to hand push it back and forth every night to block my driveway (it is a gate) so THIEVES will have to move it to steel my other JAGS…this works.

I’m not quite sure I understand your post Mitch. You seem angry for some reason. If I wrote something that upset you I apologize.

I was just reiterating from the ad that I was reading. Yes I know Jaguars have their problems and issues that is a given. Also the fact that a vehicle is dormant will also guarantee undetected problems later on once reanimated.

What I completely don’t understand is your claim that the fuel system contaminated with 10 year old evaporated ethanol fuel which has turned to varnish doesn’t need to be disassembled and flushed. At minimum those gas tanks need to be boiled out, evey inch of hardline flushed all soft lines replaced the fuel regulator replaced and every injector flushed after pumping that garbage through the system. This to me is the greatest mystery about your statement. As a mechanical individual you should know all this.


I apologize…but so naive…things like ONLY 43k miles…you mention tanks…well, if it spent anytime outside the filler cap is recessed…so fills with debris then the rubber seal cracks and water drains into fuel tank…rust-thru plus humidity accumulates in tank heavier then fuel…fuel to bottom… rust thru…No flush…likely new tanks.
Not angry…not just a simple flush…the injection system is from '79/80…not usable. Some here have retrofitted these with carbs (tho linkage is a serious problem) and some have gone to mega squirt as example(now I have 3 miatas '90, 92, 95) for these miatas…by the 90’s time the technology was available so the injection works…and works (plus Saab had bosch injection in '79-87…it works…why did xj6 not use bosch…no idea)
Now, some here have persevered and made and can keep this injection system working…I TIP MY HAT…I can not.
I have not mentioned the brittle wires that go to the injectors…the brittle hoses that carry the high pressure fuel…being right above the distributor…one spark==fire (ask xjs owners or 300ZX or maxima…all from the 80’s
No not mad…seeing a lot of naive
Can it be done…yes

You seem to be capable of looking at a car and seeing what needs work. A true 43k car in nice condition that has not been improved upon by previous idiots is not bad. Don’t crank the engine before verifying that the valves are not stuck. The pistons get stuck too so I would bring a wrench and see if the crank moves just a little.
I bought a S1 with 69000 km and after rebuilding the engine it works great and is my favorite car. The injectors might need a little but the system on the whole is relatively bulletproof (I do prefer the SU carbs). Old fuel is old fuel, Ethanol or not, get rid of it.

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Look what David said, a series 1 (with carbs)…not a series 3 with injection
bought @69k KM…well that is 43K miles…he rebuildt the engine

As I said, the best car…with the worst injection system…AGREE


PS…I respect what David says

The S3 XJ6 used Bosch L-Jetronic.


I do not doubt you…I have an '85 saab 8 valve with jetronic…but jetronic K
BTW…great cars and the injection system works…drove another 85 8 valve from Colorado USA to the country of Panama (loaded to the gills wife 2 children strapped luggage to outside hatch with cargo carrier on roof…saab still in Panama (sold it)…tho it was in a flood…got it running for several more years. Gas tank is plastic…no rust


any no-run situation may have very simple, easy to find and cheap to fix solutions. Yet, even on this list there are stories about very reluctant non-runners - just check Max’ saga: today he is happy camper, but it took him quite some stamina and time to get there. So I guess this should be your turning point: do you have space to store the car and work on it regularly to have a plan B for a resisting non-runner - maybe up to buying a donor car with an engine to transplant.

Even if any SIII needs attention to all fluids, hoses and wear-and-tear items, as Doug writes, it’s a lot easier to listen to the car while you use it and satisfy its needs accordingly. Hence the markup in price for runners.

I’d always tend to buy a car that has been kept similar to my own habits: no trailer queen or show car, but fully functional and reliable, with reasonable mileage (anything under 80.000 will leave you many years until you run into head gasket issues) and maintenance, garaged and kept away from salt, waxoyled or similar, regular and serious drives, no drive-to-church car (except when the church is 20 mls away;-)

Buying dead cars risks to get you into shipwright’s disease and a full restoration endeavour. Fine, if that is your retirement project, but problematic, if you have to devote your time to your professional activities or the family, whatever …

At the bottom line, however - if you’ve got such a massive supply around: I’d go for the very best body and interior. A 40k mileage shows (not only on the odometer). Clean body (rear quarter panels and valance easy to be replaced, check out sills and wheelarches … rust often hidden under chrome finishers; windscreen corner rust!!), good and original paint, good and supple leather, good veneer) is what you’re searching for. Non-functional power locks and windows will lower the price, but are easy to fix.

The mechanics of the car are massive. On a low mileage car you can hope for good bushings and shocks even after 40 years. Easy to do with the right tools, patience and a lift.

The worst case scenario is a combination of fuel tank/pump issues, FI issues and bent valves … so If you’re ready for plan B (buying a rusty runner to transplant the engine) there’s nothing to object against buying a dead car.

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

Before the S1 I had the 84 S3 that barely ran when I bought it and had a lot of issues, maybe still has. The injection system is Bosch L Jetronic, licensed by Lucas. It’s analogue, and generally okay to live with. I didn’t like the wires and sensors though.

The reason that S1 had 69k is that the engine broke around 1976-77 and I had to rebuild it. The upside is that all the rubber is excellent and the interior pretty nice too. Very little rust in the usual spots and not the greatest paint, but very solid overall. Totally worth the year of cleaning and rebuilding.

The ran-when-parked, garaged, low mile XJ6 is a dream come true. When you say it’s a third the price, what are we talking here? $1500?

I’m just imagining the typical Tri State Area 80’s Jaguar XJ6 owner when new. Mid to late 60’s in the 80’s, owned a successful small to medium business. Has a favorite bakery he goes to on Sunday. Wouldn’t be caught dead in a car built by an Axis power. Was going to trade the car in, but the dealer wouldn’t give him bupkis. Parks it in the garage, and leaves the brand new Lincoln in the driveway instead. Before long he’s gone from late 60’s to late 80’s and the car has got to go. That’s a car I’d buy every time.

The engine has been cranked repeatedly by the owner in a misguided attempt at getting it to start. Not even considering the fact that gas goes bad after months of sitting let alone a decade. So if damage was done it’s in there already.

Advertised price is $3000 with a negotiable caveat. Grant you I haven’t seen this car in person but the photos show a dusty but seemingly perfect rust free body. Very detailed photos of the interior show what appears to be an absolutely perfect interior with photographic emphasis on the drivers seat bottom. No cracks no split seams no discoloration.

Amoung the other work required after sitting so long every piece of rubber will have to be replaced. Tires, cooling system and vacuum hoses and soft fuel and brake lines. All this expense will have to be considered when an offer is made.

What exactly IS YOUR PROBLEM? What makes you think I am so NAIVE that I can’t tell the difference between a car with 40 thousand miles and an attempt at a cheat. I suppose you are the only member of this board who has ever turned a wrench? I’m not going to waste my time with you in an attempt to convince you of my qualifications. All I’m going to suggest is to take your meds and keep in close contact to your mental health professional.

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This, maybe a compression test, and a little less than 3000 and you might get a good car?

That’s the hope David. If not this one than some other. Whatever fate hands me.