How bad an idea is it to get an XJ6 as a first car?

(Tavish Laven) #1

So I really don’t have a lot of experience with cars, but I found this 1987 XJ6 S3 listed near me, and I’ve kind of fallen in love with it. I’ve never owned a car before, but I’ve really enjoyed the minor work I’ve done and assisted with. I can definitely provide more details about me and the car, if it’s highly dependent, but I just wanted to ask the question generally.

(Robin O'Connor) #2

Probably not the cars to jump into from cold, but if you are confident to wrench on the car then there is a wealth of knowledge on this forum to help through any problems.

(Doug Dwyer) #3

I agree with Robin.

The majority of these old Jags, despite the pretty face, need a fair bit of rehabilitation. Seasoned DIYers generally make out OK but it sounds like you’re starting from ground zero. It might end up more frustrating than satisfying. A more experienced assistant looking over your shoulder would be a real plus.

But, as mentioned, if you’re a willing student, many here will be happy to help.

Series III cars an be a real joy. Built like a tank, drive like velvet.


(tony) #4

you absolutely must make a thorough inspection for rust, especially around the windscreens on a S3, but also underneath, sills etc. Repairing screen rust alone can be more than the car is worth.

Its also a good idea to write down each thing that does not work…ie A/C, heating, horn, etc

then note if interior & chrome is acceptable

the engine and trans should be in good working order

if it passes those tests, overhauling and maintenance should be expected on a 30+ yr old car,
but quite manageable for a keen amateur mechanic, gets a bit expensive if you have to pay shop labor rates

(phillip keeter) #5

[quote=“Tavish_Laven, post:1, topic:375335”]
I found this 1987 XJ6 S3 listed near me, and I’ve kind of fallen in love with it. I’ve never owned a car before, but I’ve really enjoyed the minor work I’ve done and assisted with.

Enough said. These cars tend to rust around the windshield and back windows. If no rust, go for it. If rusty, walk away to fight another day.
Good Luck,

(Paul Breen pay palled it) #6

I agree with the other guys. Even the sound looking ones can be thin in the sills. Mine is a Series 1 and it’s had new outer sills and front floors. In about 2001 I started to cut out a small section of the rear RH sill to fit a repair patch - only to have the angle grinder zoom through the paper thin sill to the B pillar in the centre of the car. I would also be more tha a little concerned about the engine if there is any evidence of poor water circuit maintenance. Paul

(David Jauch) #7

I can do nothing but agree, the XJ is my second car (two years after the first) but I have done a few repairs before. I‘m getting along and find it rewarding; not too bad for a car that has had it’s last oil change ten years earlier. Still, way too many issues do pop up and that must be frustrating for many.
The 1987 being one of the last are said to be better in terms of paint so I‘d say you should definitely go and have a good look. I can recommend Peter Crespins‘ buying advice book for a good start with a few pictures. Do give us details about the car if you are unsure or just want comments. In general, they are good cars.


(Jan Broman) #8

I hate to say that but an older Jaguar is not a good first car. No 30+ car is, if you do not have a lot of experience of fixing cars. It can work if you have a good friend who can assist but it also requires a space and tools. This said with the curse that you do not have the money to let a workshop handle everything. Old cars need a more constant care than a new car needs. It especially the first time when it is not obvious that PO managed it perfectly. I myself have added 930 hours the last 4 years to the car. Partly on what was necessary and partly things that I wanted to raise the standard on, yet the car was still in pretty decent condition. No catastrophic rust. This despite it is being one of the nicest cars I owned. Driving it is like a dream.

(phillip keeter) #9

Ouch! You are giving mixed signals. The poor kid won’t know what to do.

(Andrew Waugh) #10

It’ll certainly build your character.

If you’re technical, and you get the shop manual, and buy the right parts, and do your repairs properly, then as long as the car isn’t a complete shed (i.e. rust) then you’ll probably enjoy it.

But you really have to like solving problems and getting your hands dirty.

(Paul M. Novak) #11

Jag-Lovers member Peter Crespin has written some “Essential Buyer’s Guides” for cars including one for the “XJ6, XJ12 & Sovereign”. You can find them for sale online including on eBay for about $10 US. Peter is a Jaguar enthusiasts (or should I say a Jagaholic?) who knows these cars and he has provided valuable information in his books for those considering purchasing one of them. I have owned two XJ6s and they are wonderful cars to own, drive, and work on. However, I am relatively handy, have a nice garage to work in, and have a lot of the necessary tools (and lifts) to work on my five Jaguars.

BTW, I have no business affiliation with Peter Crespin or his books although I provided him with lots of pictures of my Jaguars and he did include some of them in his books with attribution.

As others have pointed out, buying a good XJ6 is very important. The original owners were typically wealthy and had the work on their XJ6s done at the dealerships when the cars were new. For the last 30-40 years these cars have changed hands many times and owners have cut corners, compromised on maintenance and repairs, and in some cases did shoddy or unsafe repairs. It has been said many times on this list that you should buy the best XJ6 that you can possibly afford. Getting a cheap XJ6 that needs lot of work will probably be a lot more expensive than getting a more expensive one that has been properly taken care of. I recommend that you have a"pre-purchase inspection" performed on this car by a reputable shop that knows XJ6s so you have a list of known issues before purchase.


(Carl Hutchins, Jr. ) #12

No easy answer. Just what would be a good first car for a guy with limited experience???

Newer ones of any specie are complex!
Older ones might be simpler but good ones are not plentiful.

Good starter; 60’s six cylinder Ford Falcon or Mustang. .

I’d not rule out a decent XJ6. Lots of help. Plentiful. Good parts available,

My first car was older than I was. No it was a non running derelict ! It born in 23, I in 29!!!
I got it to run. learned a lot. After first year in college, it went down the road. 31 Studebaker four door replaced it. Closed car. Warm in winter. Sophisticated college chicks OK with it.

Carl . ,

(tony) #13

nothing wrong with a classic car, know a hot lady with a Maserati :heart_eyes:

however, do buy the best one you can find, do not buy a rusty one,
if they salt the roads, a complete under body check should be mandatory

really handy if you can do some auto electrics…almost essential, good guidance on this forum for that, auto electricians are not favorably disposed towards older Jags (any Jags probably)

An XJ is no harder to work on than most vehicles & less complex than most autos built in the 90s and later

(Carl Hutchins, Jr. ) #14
  1. For an “economical” starter car, I’d not rule out a rust bucket. so long as the rust was confined to tin and not suspension r the frame.
    Cheap to buy,. Perhaps even free!!! Learn about the basics and how to drive. Ruin it?
    Small loss, great benefit.

Carbs over EFI for tenderfoots… But, no four barrels, they are very complex!!!

Mover up a grade after it .


(Pete55Tbird) #15

OK, you did ask. I think it is a very bad idea. These cars are complex and parts tend to be more expensive than a Toyota or a Honda or a Chevy. There is a steep learning curve to understand
why the British did some things.
Before you decide talk to a garage about the price of a brake job for a Jag and another more common car and factor that into you decision. A s mentioned, these cars RUST. Check very carefully. Good luck. Pete

(Jochen Glöckner) #16


if you’re technically minded, ready and willing to really commit yourself to hours of on- and offline research, of - completely offline - physical efforts including losses of sweat and sometimes the blood of your knuckles this can be a totally rewarding experience.

Yes, you can learn on the job and advance from caring (cleaning, polishing and general maintenance jobs) to peripheral repair jobs and maybe to some serious work on cars. This depends, however, on the state of the car you begin with. If its condition mirrors pretty much that of a 4 - 6 year-old car, you stand a fair chance to match your learning curve with the curve of decay of the car. If the condition of the car is rather that of a 15-year-old used car, decay would probably be faster than you can ever get into what is necessary to keep the car on the road without throwing untowardly amounts of money at it.

You don’t mention where you’re located, but with a rust-free sand-belt US car and a mechanic who is not afraid of a DOHC engine - go for it. You’ll be able to tell your grand children who’ll grow up in self-driving cabs that you not only were driving a car with a combustion engine autonomously, but also fixed the fuel injection and the electric windows.

For anything less, i.e. a somewhat lost sample of the breed with rust at the windscreens, the sills and the front wings and no reliable mechanic by your side even the war stories won’t be worth the sacrifices.

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

(Paul M. Novak) #17

We must have scared him away with the challenges of XJ6 ownership. Other than the original post from Tavish he hasn’t posted again.


(David Jauch) #18

Somewhat intimidating, but I manage… :slightly_smiling_face:
Paul, I doubt that he has given up, (in fact, he is online, go for it!) but - should he decide to go for it, chances are he won’t regret it as long as he scores an example that is good enough for him. And of course it depends on the person as much as the car, but what the XJ can take it can give back. And if the price was good but his experience isn’t, he can flip it whenever he wants to without loss, and then start looking for another one; I think even a bad XJ can spoil you somewhat…

A friend who is a mechanic, and a lift or tools in case of larger repairs help with morale and the bigger tasks.
I ‚advanced‘ a little and now provide my friendly shop with troubleshooting whenever I find time to drop by; a win-win I wouldn’t have without owning the Jaguar.
Feel free to send pictures of prospective XJ‘s for buying advice, etc.


(kassaq) #19

I have to agree with the suggestions that the XJ6 is not a good “first car”. It might be a very good ‘second’ car, with the primary car being a low mileage ‘newer’ car, with minimal computer trickery. There is just too many places for a 30+ year-old car to leave you stranded on the side of the road, if not maintained like an airplane…many hours of preventative work to guarantee safe and sound performance on routine drives. The things we more ‘seasoned’ owners think of as normal, would have been beyond me when I bought my first car (a 1965 Triumph TR4).

(tony) #20

…if you cannot do the work yourself, you also face the horrible prospect of having to deal
mechanics, autolecs with older Jags, a rather unpleasant term comes to mind, involves an assault upon an area of the body… :nauseated_face: