Looking to buy my first Jag

Hi all, my name is Warren and I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I have always wanted an XJS and am looking to purchase one in the next couple years. I’m pretty set on a coupe, Series II, and have been looking at quite a few online.

I’m not looking for a concours level car, something more in the good level (looking to spend about 5-10k for my budget). I want something that is drivable, I don’t have the room or time to fix up a project but want something I can enjoy and improve on over the years. I have noticed that There isn’t a lot of selection in my neck of the woods and I would likely have to buy elsewhere. I have read up on some of the problems one should look out for and possibly using an Escrow service but was wondering if there are other tips to buying a car out of province and possibly sight unseen?

Warren - welcome!

Pretty nice place you’re living in, don’t wan’t to turn you down, but thinking you don’t need a room for additional fixes may be slightly off-course with XJS product.
Primarily i suggest to do a lot of research on buying guides, example one attached below:

Apart from that, not sure about Nova Scotia, but in UK the only chance to buy something with good value to money - is to buy project or dramatically overpay… Unless your commitment is to perform every repair in the workshops (£££££)
The beauty of the XJS model is it’s community and massive amount of information available. Not the car itself :wink: That includes guides, improvements, repairs and spare parts.

I think your budget will get what you are looking for in a XJ-S, problem being that there just are not many like that for sale.
I have an ‘88 coupe; no rust, repainted , new interior, newer tires, in excellent mechanical condition with 98000 miles- I would think it is worth $6-7000 USD
Problem is finding one like that for sale in your area…

Most I see for sale out there are projects (What I bought) or parts cars. Once in a while (like right now here in Seattle on Craigslist) I see an original owner XJ-S that looks quite good. But even that one will require some work, as many things will have been neglected.

These cars are high maintenance. The only way to own an XJ-S if you don’t have time or room to work on it is to buy one brand new. But you’d need a time machine and a lot of $$$ :wink:

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Thanks for the responses guys.

XJSBanger - Thank you for that buying guide, that will be most helpful!

I should clarify, I do have room (double car garage) to store one and do some work. I just wouldn’t have room for a full on restoration. I also have two children so not a lot of time right now to devote to a car. I would be hoping to keep this purchase for awhile and am interested in a car that while drivable, does require some degree of improvement. Hoping to spend more time as the kids grow up.

I do realize that these are maintenance heavy cars, and have seen that there is a fair bit of resources out there.

Just for example, here are a couple I had been looking at in Canada.

This one is a Texas car brought to Canada. Looks to be in decent shape with a newish interior


and this one out west that looks well taken care of


I guess my biggest concern would be looking at purchasing something far away, doing my due diligence to get it checked out as best I could and getting it shipped by rail or something if I was to purchase one.

It is a dilemma At one end you have the real project case - lots of time and effort, at the other end you have the fully restored, trailer queens. It mostly comes down to money - do you want to pay it all up front now for a fully sorted car, or slowly leach money away to restore something over time. I’m in the later camp, and fortunate to have an example that I can work on as a rolling restoration. Sounds like you are looking for something similar.

If you have the money, I would pay for the best possible example you can, but it sounds like you don’t have much of a local selection to work with in either case. Any chance that a local jag-lover close to a prospective car could at least give you an informed opinion? (You are new here, be warned that there will be many opinions - informed or otherwise :grin:)

How far would you travel to get what you want

For me, i had a lot of time and eventual money. But not a lot of money up front.

So i bought a $2000 project. I can do almost everything except
engine rebuilding, trans work, and body work. So i waited until i found one that had excellent rust free body, engine and trans were good, but needed a lot of mechanical TLC.

Two years later, I’ve got it 75% restored, and it runs great. I have put $8000 parts into it over these last two years. But the important things are new, and i know exactly what has been done. I’ve even improved it a bit with new exhaust system and shift kit. Its been an amazing journey, so buying a fully restored one would not be as sweet.

And i waited until my kids were teenagers :wink:

I would love to find some local jag lover but wouldn’t know where to start. This was the first place I thought I’d try.

If your choose “the journey” of doing as much stuff as you can yourself, it makes it your car, more special than just spending money.

Scrimbo, I’d like to stay in Canada if possible. I already found some shipping services that would ship by rail clear across the country for about $2k, but if something reasonable came up in the eastern states, I’d consider it (though not while we are in a pandemic).

I would agree, just trying to get as much knowledge as I can first.

Hi Greg,

I would agree. I wouldn’t have the skills or resources to rebuild an engine, trans or extensive body work. I’m be ganme to try and tackle just about everything else. If I can find a good car like you described, I can pick at it over the years. That’s half the reason, to find a new hobby!

from what I have read, the transmissions seem to be pretty robust, the rear breaks are a pain to change, is it basically the engine, electrical system and the body rusting that are the three biggest issues? I realize those are three big ones…

That’s a pretty fair assessment. Most electrical stuff can be traced down once you have a schematic and some basic test gear. Bodywork issues are pretty obvious and you don’t necessarily need a Jaguar specialist, just a decent bodywork shop, to fix them. The engine issues can be problematic, that’s pretty much a lot of what you will read here.

Good luck!

Don’t worry 5-10k and concours will never be connected to an XJS.

Realistically, what type of condition would you expect a 30 year old drivable car to be in for 10k? Would you be willing to put the same amount of money that you purchased the car for back into it going forward?

If you are hell bent on getting a Jag I’d suggest looking for a six cylinder car to help ease the pain of the sucking sound that’s going to come from draining your wallet.

I know that I’m being critical, but it’s just my way of trying to throw you a lifeline before you enter the water. I may even be way off base because I don’t know what your standards are? Some people are perfectly fine with what I may deem to be subpar.

I think that one of the problems that you will face today is the price vs value. A good rust free, runner can no longer be had for $2,500 today. And, what tends to make things even worse IMO is that the average person that owns one of these cars are in the low to no maintenance category. So, no matter what the car looks like or what’s being told to the buyer is generally far from the reality.

As others on this forum well know, I am redoing my entire suspension because it needs it, but the funny thing is, the previous owner delivered the car along with one new ball joint. Can you imagine that someone would be willing to install only one ball joint? Laughable.

All I am saying is, if you want to step into Jaguar world be prepared to go the distance because as far as I am concerned this is probably the lowest entry point into super car status.
If the interior is in need of work just walk away. Scratch that, run away.

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regarding interior, not necessarily. Odds are the wood paneling and header will be trash, they just don’t survive, as in most cars. I got a new header with fiberglass backing for about $350, installed myself. And I’ll eventually get all new wood panelling, about $500. Not the end of the world.

Luckily my seats and doors and dash were fine. But I’ve seen decent interior seats and such show up on craigslist, lot of XJ-S’s still being parted out.

The thing to walk away from is RUST. There will be some surface rust, but you need to get underneath and make sure the underside body and frame aren’t rusting away.

My children are playing with electric relays thinking those are Lego. Playing football with old alternator. I must admit that I caught them dissolving pony in the bucket of phosphoric acid, but hey, there is always some space for improvement. Younger one loves to remove rust with angle grinder, he’ll become a decent dentist…
Double garage sounds like go for it. You’ve won my vote.

Can’t argue with you Greg, but you are speaking from an enthusiasts point of view, which is totally different than that of a regular car buyer. We don’t really know where this guy is at in terms of ability or know how.
To me, 5-10k is an arbitrary number and necessarily even close to the real number.

Thank you gentlemen, you certainly have given me a lot of tips and information to think about. I’ll have to brows through the threads here as well.

I have been reading up a lot on the XJS since back in the spring and do realize this will be a maintenance pig. I have worked with small engines before my current job, and deal with ATV’s, boats, outboard engines and other equipment in my current job, often having to deal with mechanical issues in the field. I’ve worked on my own cars a fair bit since I was a teenager doing oil changes, head gaskets, heater core replacements, brakes, fuel tanks. Had an old Ford F-150 that was a $1000 nightmare that I was able to keep going for awhile so I think I could handle some work. I’m not the greatest when it comes to electrical work but am fairly good with mechanical stuff. I realize it would not be a money making car, not looking to flip it. Just looking for something I can enjoy and have the hobby of maintaining it as well.

One other question I have been wondering is a car with a Mareilli ignition. Was this ignition only offered 1989 and later and should a car with one be avoided? From what I’ve read, I see they tend to start fires.