Why we love the… Jaguar XJ40

James Copp-Taylor on the Jaguar XJ40…

So, you’ve been driving the very best British 80’s executive motoring has to offer, you know all there is to know about un-reliable electrics, rust on earlier examples etc, you’d think I’d learnt my lesson, and would be moving on to something sensible, and boring. An Audi V8 for example.

Oh no. That’d be too conformist, too ‘the right path to take’ so the next British Icon for my motoring saga, is the ‘Jaguar XJ40’ .

Released in October of 1986, the XJ40 was an instant success. Boasting all new features, 15 years of development behind it, and one of the nicest shapes in the business, and advanced technology made the XJ40 series an icon of the 80’s. The digital dashboard display smacked of gimmickery and 80’s excess. The square headlights on Sovereign models, seen as ugly by some, but definitely fashionable at the time, and the Jaguar seen by many as the last ‘real’ Jaguar, that means rusting bootlids, six cylinder engines and in-adequate rear space!! It was also the last Jaguar to be designed under the British Leyland umbrella.

Nowadays, they’re seen in a mixed light. To some, they’re un-reliable, electrically problem ridden, rusty. To others, they’re a good entry point to Jaguar motoring, to a 23 year old crazy about British Motors, they’re fantastic! Not without their problems, you can’t help but love the little foibles. The brake pad and bulb failure warnings, the digital displays for fuel, oil, charge and temperature, all glowing a ghostly green from their Cathode units. The big VCM unit, displaying all major warning icons in a dot matrix display! The car has character. They say that a true enthusiast will praise a car for it’s faults, they’re not perfect, but that’s what makes them good; they have personality.


you waft along in your own world, with handling
that could disgrace many sportier cars. You
press on and the big cat really does dig its claws
in. Making this barge, handle like a sporty saloon

They’re also a lot better than people think. Get a good early one, maintain it and you’ll have many years of happy motoring ahead! The 3.6 AJ6 24 valve lump is a modern classic, based on half a Jaguar V12 block, this all aluminium lump is a peach.

So what really floats my boat? The slightly Arthur Daley image? He had an XJ40 in the later Minders!! If I were to put my finger on it, it has to be the amount of car you can buy for the money, the surprisingly reasonable running costs and the reliability if maintained, they make an excellent car. The looks, presence and performance also appeal, plus I have never been in a car that has turned so many heads. I can waft around in my XJ6 knowing it originally cost me £200, and no one is the wiser.

I was lucky and got one that was solid in the main body, sills and rear wings, some cash and panels later and I have a mint example.

What else? The driving experience, drive a Jag, and everything else seems so rough, you waft along in your own world, with handling that could disgrace many sportier cars. You press on and the big cat really does dig its claws in. Making this barge, handle like a sporty saloon.

To conclude, they’re going to be a classic car, no doubt about it. Why? Think about it. Last real Jaguar, a car of many technological firsts, the first Jaguar you could buy second hand, and actually afford to run! So many good reasons to buy one, and with prices so cheap, what you waiting for?

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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