(first posted 8/11/2015) It seems even the ugliest Jaguar is still a beautiful rolling sculpture of a car. The British luxury brand has manufactured some of the most gorgeous sedans and coupes over the years, almost always boasting sumptuous wood and leather-lined interiors, luxurious ride quality and athletic handling. With the bar set so high and the pedigree so strong, “lesser” offerings like the XJ40 Jaguar of 1986 end up receiving scorn. Jaguar’s first new car of the 1980s, codenamed XJ40 but sold under the XJ6 and XJ12 nameplates, represented Jaguar’s effort to stay modern while preserving some measure of old world charm. Now, it remains an overlooked classic, bookended by the desirable and long-lived Series III XJ and the slinky X300 of 1994.
The Series III XJ6 had led a resurgence of the Jaguar brand, and sales volumes had risen considerably. Reliability and assembly quality had improved immensely under the reign of Chairman Sir John Egan, helping to eliminate one of the major hurdles to more widespread Jaguar ownership. The Series III may have experienced a late-in-life boom in popularity, but it couldn’t last forever. A new sedan was needed, and on its shoulders would rest the fate of the Jaguar brand. It had to be good, because the XJ6/12 series was Jaguar’s core model.
Although the XJ40 may have arrived in the middle of the 1980s, development had commenced all the way back in October 1972. A multitude of factors contributed to this huge delay between conception and production, including a lack of funding and direction from British Leyland. Sir Michael Edwardes and Sir John Egan helped separate Jaguar from its sickly parent, and by the 1980s the XJ40 program was finally running on all cylinders.
The exterior styling had similar proportions to its predecessor, being lower and slinkier than its rivals and boasting gently arching haunches, but the lines were much more angular. Lower trim XJ6s retained the heritage round headlights, but those bearing the Sovereign, Vanden Plas and Daimler nameplates had modern, rectangular headlights.
If the exterior was somewhat of a shock to the Jaguar faithful, they would have been relieved to see the interior. An abundance of burled wood trim and sumptuous Connolly leather made for a gorgeous and warm interior. However, in another nod to contemporary trends, early XJ40s received digital instrumentation. This feature would be axed after 1990.
During the XJ40’s lengthy development period, the world had seen two major energy crises. Jaguar’s sales during the 1970s had dipped due to the lack of smaller engines in the range. Accordingly, a V12 option was given little consideration. Instead, the XJ40 would debut with two new, smaller inline six-cylinder engines: a SOHC, 12-valve 2.9 and a DOHC, 24-valve 3.6, both with an aluminum block. The former had 165 hp and the latter a hearty 221 hp (189/195 hp in North America, depending on the year), and both were available with a four-speed automatic. The 2.9 was a fairly small engine for such a big car though, and performance was mediocre. Consequently, it wasn’t introduced in North America, nor was the five-speed manual transmission.
Those seeking a V12 XJ40 would have to wait until 1992 – or 1994 for North American consumers – when a V12 option finally arrived. The old Series III actually remained on sale in many markets until 1992 to fill that gap in the lineup. The new XJ12 had a 6.0 V12 with over 300 horsepower and commensurately poor fuel economy.
In the US market, the base XJ6 initially received only the 3.6 inline six. List price in 1988, its sophomore year in America, was $43,500; the even more luxurious Vanden Plas added an extra $4k. This priced the XJ40 series between the BMW 5 and 7-Series, and smack bang in the middle of the Mercedes E-Class lineup. It was also a price jump of around $4k from its Series III predecessor. Cheaper XJ40s were available in its homeland: you could purchase an XJ6 with cloth seats, wheel covers and a manual transmission. A base XJ6 2.9 was £17,000 in the UK, which was actually £2,000 cheaper than the new Rover Sterling.
The XJ40 may have been sized between the BMW 5 and 7 Series sedans, but actual interior room was average. A wide console up front and a tall transmission tunnel in the rear of the cabin made the interior feel somewhat cramped compared to its Teutonic rivals.
The XJ40 was met with critical acclaim, some magazines declaring it the best sedan in the world. Its sophisticated independent rear suspension, manually shiftable J-gate automatic transmission and smooth inline six engine meant it was a delight to drive, although some remarked the steering was overly light. The interior was warmer than its German rivals and its pricing was sharp, and there was still that sumptuous ride quality Jaguars were renowned for.
It wasn’t perfect, though. The digital instruments, that most un-Jaguar aspect of the XJ40, were notoriously unreliable. Indeed, all of the electrics in early models were prone to premature failure. After Ford’s purchase of Jaguar in November 1989, quality control improved, especially after an extensive renovation of the antiquated Browns Lane factory in 1993. However, many XJ40s would eventually rust in peculiar places (at the base of the headlight and in the corners of the hood, for example) and the available self-levelling rear suspension could be temperamental. Like the digital instruments, this feature was also dropped during the XJ40’s run.
There were other positive changes made to the XJ40. An enlarged version of the 3.6, now displacing 4 liters, was introduced for 1990 and offered 15 more horsepower. The European-market 2.9 made way for a bigger 3.2 mill with 35 more horsepower. A long-wheelbase variant was also introduced for 1990.
Neither improved quality control nor gutsier engines could help arrest the XJ40’s sales slide. In 1988, just fewer than 40k units were manufactured. In 1990, 30k XJ40s were produced, and in its last four years of sale it only surpassed the 20k mark once. In the US market, the XJ40’s debut year saw 17,271 units sold, a couple of thousand fewer than its predecessor in the year prior. Sales would dip slightly for 1988 but remain fairly steady until its penultimate year. It wasn’t a sales disaster, but those numbers weren’t terribly impressive either.
The 1994 X300 shifted to a less original representation of the Jaguar design language but underneath it was much the same as the XJ40. But while the X300 was instantly recognizable as a Jaguar and featured exquisite, classic lines, it boxed Jaguar into a design corner. Its X350 replacement would feature technologically advanced aluminium construction and adaptive air suspension, but it so resembled its forebears that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just the same old Jag with a few botox injections. It took Ian Callum’s striking 2010 X351 to finally shake up a design language that, although beautiful, was becoming repetitive and just a little bit stale.
In a way, the XJ40 was like the current X351: it was Jaguar’s attempt to embrace contemporary trends, like more angular styling and digital dashboards. But where the X351 makes a clean break visually from its predecessors, the XJ40 took a more conservative approach and attempted to retain the same proportions but with new design elements. Setting aside its styling, the XJ40 was an immensely capable sedan. But when you are talking about a company so renowned for its beautiful cars, you sometimes can’t set aside styling.
N.B. The featured Jaguar XJ6s were photographed in Brisbane, Australia and New York City, respectively.
Curbside Classic: 1984 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas
I’ve always found this generation Jaguar XJ6 the most attractive of the Jaguars, except for the single rectangular headlamps. They’re not the most attractive part of the car.
I actually prefer them with the rectangular headlights!
I liked the XJ40 and had a new Daimler Sovereign, as a company car at just 23! It was a replacement for an XJ S that was the absolute worst car I have ever known. The Sovereign was very good though – only issue was not much space in the back for a big car. Indeed, even in the front legroom was limited by that very wide console.
The X300 did not thrill me, but either an XJ40 or X300 would look nicer than the current XJ, which to me is just a mess. Not so bad at the front, but the side -especially the c pillar – and the rear are just horribly wrong…..and the other Jag sedans look like Lexus models. Bring back a unique look!
I remember riding in the back seat of one of these once and how cramped it was for legroom and headroom.
My Mazda 323 probably had more space in the back.
You, Mike, must be confusing your models. My 1990 XJ6 (US version) has a back seat big enough to be a New York City apartment!
My BIL was a parts manager at a Rover Jaguar franchise these cars were more reliable for parts consumption than most people believe, Rover SD1s had terrible electrics worse than almost anyting else on the road apparently, very profitable for the dealers but the Jags werent bad at all.
My father in law had one of these when it was probably 5 years old—it was probably a 1990 or so. It was constantly in the dealership service dept and (maybe not so) shockingly expensive on most trips. I remember the exterior door handles were a chronic problem and he was left on the side of the road more than a couple times with unexpected breakdowns. It did have a remarkable interior and was a truly great car for a road trip, though. It was the first and only XJ that I spent any time with/in and it left a strong impression as a lovely car with serious flaws. He loved it, but ultimately had to let it go–just too unreliable and expensive to maintain.
Sounds exactly like my Mom’s 1983 Cobalt Blue XJ-6 – A gorgeous road car plagued with serious electrical issues and design flaws (one being the climate control system which constantly gave us problems)
It still looks good in profile, I have never warmed to the nose or tail styling of the XJ40. The former looks awkward, the rear just generic (a problem shared with the late facelifted XJS). The Series III got the proportions and detailing so right that doing anything just to make it different was likely to fall flat, but I don’t think the XJ40’s nose looks good even on its own terms, particularly with the round sealed beams.
The British press went head over heels for the XJ40 at launch, mostly because of its aggressive U.K. pricing. It might have been a better car than the Series III XJ6, but it was less tempting. I can’t see choosing one over the E34 5-Series, certainly.
“The British press went head over heels for the XJ40 at launch, mostly because of its aggressive U.K. pricing.”
That, and after 18 years of XJ production the prevailing attitude was likely, “Well, it’s about damn time!” 🙂
I agree with your thoughts on the design, and never liked the front or rear even when new. To my eyes, the car has also aged really badly, whereas a BMW 7 Series from the same era looks classic to me in a good way.
I definitely remember the gushing accolades the car received from the British press. One of the entertaining oddities in my collection of car literature is a book on the XJ40 released around the time of the car’s launch. The book is overflowing with praise, including a write-up from Margaret Thatcher on how great the car was and that it was a stunning example of British know-how. Germans, what Germans?
Even politicians chiming in?? Now that’s pathetic; it reminds me of the satirical ’60s film “The Mouse on the Moon,” where a British reporter noted that the Grand Fenwick astronaut was wearing a British watch.
Better to be silent & thought a fool…
I wouldn’t call it pathetic so much as strategic. Thatcher was also quoted in the British press as saying the new Rover 800 was much too expensive (which compared to the British-market XJ6 it was, TBH). The XK40 was released by a company the Thatcher government had just re-privatized with great success while the Rover was a product of a still-struggling company that Thatcher’s Labour predecessors had nationalized. The political implication there was not hard to decipher…
Industry & politics, what a mix. In America, there was Carter’s B-2 vs. Reagan’s B-1. Irony is, the old B-52 ✈ they were supposed to replace has shown both up by having much higher availability rates & longer loiter time, given the sort of conflicts we get mixed up in now.
OK, I had a chance to get to my “car book man cave” (aka my attic) and found the book. It’s fun to see it again, and the writing is just as effusive in praise as I remembered.
Here’s the note from the “Iron Lady” herself that leads off the book.
It is strange that this comes from Lady Thatcher rather than Queen Elizabeth. It seems that has head of state it is her job to talk up British industry. From Thatcher, it almost seems there should be a rebuttal from Niel Kinnock. “The right, honourable Lady is as usual incorrect, the XJ40 stinks.”
And anger all those Labour voters building Jags? I suspect he wouldn’t have. One thing both ends of the political spectrum agree upon is the duty to buy domestic (AKA consumer nationalism).
Some more scans from the book. Here are some styling proposals from 1976.
Interior and exterior treatments from 1978.
That interior is what I’d expect the Japanese competition for the XJ40 to look like, not the Jag itself
I picked up this book recently. Its an enjoyable read, but as you say perhaps suffering from a bit too much boosterism for this car. The first chapter includes some great stuff about William Lyons method of styling; he had a retinue of woodworkers to create dummies of his shapes instead of clay sculptors. Once he had left, they literally had to start from scratch with new methodolgies. The Italian efforts were… interesting. Giugiaro submitted a reworked Maserati Medici. In all Bertone, Pininfarina and ItalDesign all contributed. Can’t have been cheap.
The praise heaped on the XJ40 by the British press also seems to be repeating some 25+ years later with the new XE. To me, the car looks a day late and a dollar short: basically a boring, resized XF that mimics yesterday’s BMW 3 Series in a market that is moving on. The MB C-Class, to name but one, seems to be a much more exciting, modern design. But to read about it in the buff books, you’d think Jaguar had reinvented the wheel. I can’t think of another brand, except maybe Alfa, that journalists are so fixed on praising whether the product warrants it or not.
I think the British press can be forgiven for their over the top reception. At this point, and probably back in 86, they are surprised and ecstatic that Britain is back in the game with something new
The British motoring press will blindly lavish praise on anything British to an extent laughable to everyone else in the world. It’s toned down now since there aren’t any UK-owned volume manufacturers anymore, but it was egregiously bad in the 80s.
… as does the German press when their own cars are concerned. One ought to take all these articles with a grain of salt.
The British magazines also find it increasingly difficult to say anything bad about ze Germans, sometimes to absurd degree.
The British magazines also find it increasingly difficult to say anything bad about ze Germans, sometimes to absurd degree.
The Brit mags have probably been co-opted by advertising money, the same way the US mags are. Having read MT and R&T through the 70s, I only remember three really negative reviews: Triumph Stag, Austin America and Austin Marina. All the others raved, then when some aspect of a model changes a couple years later, they would rave about the change because, they said, it was so much better than the horrible earlier version, which they had earlier decreed to be perfectly fine.
I remember one test where they were raving about the ergonomics, which were so much better than the horrible arrangements in another, unnamed, model they had recently tested. I could tell from the description that they were complaining about a Renault 17, but in the Renault test a could months earlier, there were no complaints about the ergonomics.
Consumer’s Union always boasts about not accepting advertising. While their puritanical Naderism can get annoying at times (with their reflexive calls for more gov’t regulation), this is probably as impartial as one can hope for realistically.
Much of what passes for news is corporate or NGO PR. Austrian Edward Bernays wrote a classic about the art of propaganda back in 1928:
This is why we eat bacon for breakfast & women shave their legs.
It is hard to replace a classic. I wonder if the new drivetrain, airbags, and anti lock could have just been added to the old body. Perhaps that would have worked out better.
I prefer these over the S3. A better shape only let down by details; fussiness on the bumper corners and reflectors, and on the quad headlight models, the headlight setting should have been chromed and not body coloured which is why I prefer the rectangular units. Caught a Daimler the other day. My new favourite.
I like the basic shape, but the detail fussiness is too much for me, especially around the windows – the photo in the article of the rear seat shows the chrome rear door frame, then a thin chrome divider, then the chrome C-pillar window surround. The B-pillar was just as bad with just as many vertical lines. Compare it with the simplicity of a 420G’s glasshouse/pillar design: ol’ fatty G looks far better.
My short wheelbase X300 XJ6 was a beautiful car…tiny interior for something as big, and a bit of an oddball for the US market…short wheelbase, no sunroof, basic stereo with cassette but no CD player, kind of a stripped-down model, relatively speaking. A minor front impact killed it…$1300 radiator and $400 lower radiator hose and other costly parts made it a total loss.
There’s a tired XJ40 for sale up the street for $600…I can only imagine what’s wrong with it and I don’t dare stop and take a look, or the dumb thing might follow me home.
Great history on this car. The XJ40 was a very good looking car with a clean, contemporary design; a lot of folks don’t recognize that only because it had the misfortune of being preceded by a classic.
If I’m not mistaken, your last picture (the one from New York) is of a very limited edition Vanden Plas Majestic. It was available for only two years or so in the very early 1990s, and was identified by the dark red paint, matching wheels, and an interior with matching dark red seat piping. It was mainly a trim package; mechanically it was identical to the ‘standard’ Vanden Plas. I think only a few hundred were produced, so that’s quite rare, even by Jaguar standards.
I believe you’re right about the Majestic. The interiors are quite striking, too.
The Jaguar XJ40 looks like a Series III that decided to become an Audi but got stuck about one third of the way through the transformation. The detailing and open seams surrounding the four round headlights are a mess.
Love the ad showing the XJ-40 parked outside Tiffany in Bond Street. If you really would rather go unnoticed, probably best not to leave the car spread across a zebra crossing…
I once read how many parts it took to make the old front vs the new (more than 50 vs three).
And the XJ40 you could get with tweed seats. (the cheapest model).
With hindsight, Jaguar may be stuck too closely to the original XJ6/12 styling template – this never looked like a modern car, just a different Jaguar.
It never caught our imagination in the same way the Series 3 did, and the subsequent developments were always visually incomplete as well. Technically, it was solid in concept if you accept the compact, comfort oriented concept against the German luxury saloon model.
The fact that the 2002 car more closely matched 5/7 series and E/S series template tells you all you need to know.
This is now a very overlooked car in classic circles in the UK – a series 3 or XJ-C will always get an audience, this car sometimes struggles to achieve classic recognition
I am not sure how well a new style would have worked. It was a large task to both reimagine both the big inline 6 and to modernize the body enough to look new but still recognizably Jaguar.
If a new template had been tried, say large backseat to attract China and the former Soviet bloc were the owner was still likely to have a driver, that might have worked.
Independent Jaguar was ever on a shoestring and could not afford an outright failure. It must have been quite scary for Jaguar for the XJ40 not to outsell the Series 3 in the first year in the USA.
I wonder when exactly William Lyons retired, I know he died in 1985. I wonder if he had done any work on what an XJ6 successor would be like?
Sir William stepped down as managing director in 1969, although he stuck around as a member of board until 1972, I think retiring a few months before the XJ40 project began. The last new models with which he was directly involved were the XJ-S and the XJ12. (The XJ12 was supposed to be added in 1968, but was delayed because the V-12 wasn’t ready yet.) At that point, the original XJ was only a couple of years old, was doing very well, and had been effusively praised, so replacing it was not yet top priority. A very different climate than when the XJ40 finally appeared.
The 1st year for the US version was 1988. I never liked the straight edged nose and bland blocky tail lights… Very Un-XJ6.
Like the ad said about the previous generation Series III XJ… “The Best Jaguar Ever.”
They were right about that, with it’s timeless styling.
This one was a disappointing successor and the XJ’s swan song, IMO.
Beautiful cars with timeless styling (except for the ones with the rectangular headlights) and sumptuous interiors. Too bad they had such bad quality and so many issues with the Lucas electronics. Nice to look at but I wouldn’t touch them.
I really like the “classic” XJ6 styling. Its the kind of styling the critics might say is stodgy and long in the tooth, but honestly, if they still made Jags that looked pretty much just like the old XJ6 but with the new Jag’s supposed reliability, I’d be seriously looking at one. The new ones are nice enough, but look too much like all the other luxury cars out there at first glance. Only the big XJL’s really stand out.
Now, as to stodgy, digital dashes are something I’ve never liked. They are faddish and horribly dated, like 60s church architecture. I drive a 2004 Deville for work, and the thing I dislike the most about it is the stupid digital dash. You can’t see it if you get sunlight on it, the green with black background looks like old calculator graphics-cool for circa 1988 but dated like all get out for 2004. Dials are older, but much more timeless and classy.
In my less-rational moments, I entertain the thought of getting an old Jag sedan. It seems like the end-of-run S3 and end-of-run XJ40 both have the potential to be dependable semi-daily drivers. (I’d love to own a 420G someday, but that’s probably more “classic” than I can handle.)
I’d love a 420G too – I’ll go you halves on one! 😉
I don’t really follow Jaguar developments, so I always blamed the simplified bodywork, rectangular composite headlights and plain rectangular taillights on Ford’s influence during their ownership of Jaguar, and they did the Jag a dis-service by making it look too much like a Crown Vic. Apparently not the case, since this article says the introduction of the XJ40 predates their Ford era.
If Ford only could’ve bridged the gap between two big cats: The unexceptional but cheap-to-own Panther & the exceptional but costly-to-own Jaguar. Or maybe this is Mission Impossible for Anglophone carmakers.
To me the XJ40 always looked like an anglicized Pontiac…
Please, don’t insult the Pontiac Le Mans, like that. 🙁
Pontiac Le Mans is good! I am consuming the third one…within circa 20 years 🙂
Did Keith ever post the final disposition of his Jag project? Last I recall, he had mostly given up on direct replacements for the gas tanks and was going to toss something in the spare tire well.
Posted by Paul on June 23, 2015:
“He got a new job that was very demanding (tv station chief engineer) on another city, and last I heard, Project XJ6 was just sitting and he was going to sell it. He put a VW gas tank in the trunk, so it could be driven. I tried to talk him into selling it on CC, in the hopes another CCer would take it on, but he never got back to me. Bummer.”
Posted by Paul on June 23, 2015:
Thanks. I may have seen that as I remember the bodged gas tank. Too bad Keith never gave us closure on what had been an interesting tale.
I think the problem with the new XJ-6 was that following a car like the previous XJ-6 that had been produced for so long, was so striking and so timeless, that no matter what you did to the new XJ it would be frowned upon.
In 1988 my Mom’s ’83 XJ-6 was in for routine service and my Dad and I went to pick it up. In the showroom was a new ’88 black/saddle XJ-6. My Dad sat in it and thought the interior was beautiful but the exterior was boring. I think that most felt the same way about the new XJ.
It’s exactly the same problem that the XJS had. Both were beautiful but you can’t replace an icon without making some people unhappy.
Otherwise, I think that the rectangular front headlamps are much better than the rounded one. A friend will probably get one with the 4 liters 6, can’t wait to see it.
Exactly. And then a friend of the family bought a brand new 1989 XJ-6 off the showroom floor and had problems from day one with the electronics and dashboard. Dad was veeerrrry happy he didn’t buy another one of them.
The squared headlights are looking better at all paired with the Daimler styled wavy-edged chrome grille. But the four rounded headlights paired with the smooth-surfaced grille is just okay. I’m planning to replace the regular Jag grille to a Daimler’s wavy…as well as the wavy trunk handle. The 4 Litre InLine 6 is just a smooth rider which’s fuel economy is just okay for an engine of its size. I don’t know if there’s any major difference between the Jag and the Daimler BUT by my opinion the whole appearance of a “same” Daimler expresses some additional elegance. This mid ’90’s body generation is maybe not so british but is a bit more proportionate than its predecessor’s. The bumpers are assembled from “countless” pieces. It’s a kinda nightmare (for me) to choose and collect the right replacement parts for a lightly damaged rear bumper. Needless to say the proper disassembly and reassembly… Only thing that I’m missing from these are the doubled fuel inlets which were fitted on the previos gens of Jaguars/Daimlers…
…as of course we know that those newer models from 1986 till 1994 were the products of manufacturing costs rationalization. Thats why the curves had disappeared from their hoods and it was a reason why these came out with (only) one fuel inlet.
The round headlights on these always made me wonder what Jaguar planned to do when they finally ran out of that supply of leftover 1970 Chevelle headlight bezels they had obviously gotten hold of.
Never worked for me- modern in all the wrong places, dated everywhere else. The detail design was shockingly bad, and Jags were all about the details, at least to me. That tacked on bit of chrome at the base of the c-pillar….
I can remember waiting to see this and the Rover 800 to debut in 1986, and being so disappointed when they did. The relentless ‘British is Best’ hype by the British press was a real turn off too.
If driving on the salty road, they really rust horribly. The rust will extend all the way from rear wheel well to the C pillar.
I could never make myself like the XJ-40 or any of its successors: I simply found the effort to repackage themes from the original XJ sedan tiresome. It didn’t help that the evolution of high-dollar German competitors in the 60s-80s was overseen by some of the best in-house auto designers of the time, in Paul Bracq, Bruno Sacco, and Claus Luthe-Ercole Spada.
But for its roofline, the series 3 XJ6 was really the last of the late 40s-early 50s style from the Mark VII+ and the Mark 1-2. In my opinion those Jag forms did not resolve well into the wedgier, 80s type of aero styling seen in cars like the Audi 100/200/5000s. The disparate aero-retro ideas in the XJ40 just made the cars seem indecisively, insipidly designed. It didn’t help that depreciation seemed to put them early into the hands of people who flogged them like taxis, sad, broken-sprung, faded cars.
Hmmm… did we not get the round headlight XJ40 in the U.S. or are they just exceptionally rare?? This car looks very unfamiliar to me.
I like every generation of XJ, including the current one (which I like a lot), although if I had to pick a “least favorite” it would probably be the XJ40. Just by a smidge, though. Unlike earlier XJs, they really need to be in tip-top shape with a shiny coat of paint for the full effect of their beauty to come through. The older ones can be beaten and battered, painted all in primer and they still look incredible.
Xj40s are considered junk in the UK. Some pristine XJ6 Series 3 coming in from Japan.
XJ300 the posh “beater” car!.
Say what you like, but the drive-train – if maintained – is tough, particularly the dohc engines (and the ZF auto box once they sorted it out). I worked on those a lot to support myself during my studies and cars hitting 200,000 Km without major problems were common. The problems were almost always with the electronic du-das but if you were persistent as an owner you got to a point where the issues were all known/irrelevant/solved. And it could cruise at over 100 MPH on the Autobahn without blowing up, unlike the archaic XK-engines in the prettier previous model. Handling was safe and sporty enough without being bone jarring in the German way. We used to go to the UK with a van or a truck, score the English scrap yards for bits and sell those in Austria at a profit (and even at that, they were still competitive with BMW/Audi/MB prices). Of course, in Austria (and I assume in the US) they suffered from being away from the home market where mechanics understood them. But I re-stress, if you knew your way around them, they were in fact easier to maintain than the FAR MORE complicated Teutonic competition…
Georg Kacher wrote the initial review of the XJ40 for Automobile magazine. He called it the best car in the world. The article appeared in the same issue as the initial review of the E32, which actually was a serious candidate for the title of best car in the world.
I worked at a Lexus dealer when C4C was in effect and had an ’89 XJ6 traded in for C4C, a 70k mile car in beautiful condition. Saddened me quite a bit knowing it was going to be destroyed.
Ah, the XJ40. As beautiful as the SIII or the X300? No. But I still think they were fine-looking cars that only suffer by comparison. The detailing on the quad round-lamp model is *so* fussy though–the rectangular lamps suit it much better. Should have been the way they all came, unless they could have troubled themselves to design a more cohesive round-lamp model.
I had a 92 Sovereign and a base 94 model(and yes a big Bronco). Put some hard miles on them. I didn’t even realize the 94 was a X300 until I read this post. Yeah the 92 definitely had its share of Jag gremlins and the years weren’t kind in the cosmetics department. But mechanically I’ll have to hand it them both, strong engines. The 94 had more growl than the 92. Had to put them both down, LOL.
I know this is a six year old post, but the lead sentence confused me. I thought it was going to be about the “ugliest Jaguar ever” but it was all about XJ’s, nothing about the Mark X and 420G.
Ford had to write down most of their multi-billion purchase price and then spend billions to modernize Jag manufacturing, just as sales plummeted. The prestige wasn’t worth it.
I have a jaguar in my drive way he was planning on restoring the car.
He past away.
This is my favorite generation of the XJ6 partly because I waited in eager anticipation of its arrival reading various motoring magazines depicting the heavily disguised test mules undergoing evaluation in the heat of Arizona and the cold of a Northern Ontario Winter. It was a painfully long but worthwhile wait unquestionably.
The Series III was one of those few cars where the facelift is infinitely more attractive than the previous models. I well remember the 1989 back and forth battle for Jaguar ownership between Ford and GM bids as chronicled in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. I was very much enlighted to learn that Sir John Egan, a brilliant business leader, had wanted the buyer to be Toyota. At the time, Japan incorporated was baring the wrath and resentment of Americans for its success, so I don’t know how that would have worked at the time. Today, it would be a non-issue with multinationals operating and manufacturing globally. In retrospect, that would have been a dream match for Toyota to not only eliminate most of the problem areas, but as the Lexus LS400 of the time showed, Toyota leadership guidance would have made the company a powerhouse.
The XJ40 looks timeless to me, though it does exude the 1980s success and good times image. The Ford-influenced replacement X300 XJ6 was a disappointment to me. I first saw it in the metal on a street in Toronto while visiting, and the lowered and widen grille accentuated the width negatively from my perspective. On this X300, the quad headlights were all the same size rather than the Series I through III models with two slightly larger outboard units. The front end simply did not work for me. As well, I find the 90s interior curves and overly-padded steering wheel rather excessive. In its defense, the car certainly improved quality and drivability over the long-in-gestation XJ40. The XJ40 feels a bit older, whereas the X300 feels very much like a modern car (or a modern car of a couple of years ago).
It is honestly impossible for me to use “Jaguar” and “ugly” in the same sentence. The X300, the XK, and the X-Type lacked the purity of all of Sir William’s designs (the XJ40 was not designed by him, but he was consulted regarding its looks and did approve of it) while Ian Callum’s designs were able to break away from the rut Ford had placed Jaguar in by insisting on “ye olde English” looks rather than capitalizing on fresh, clean, modern British design that Callum pursued. These latest Jaguar cars were not what older owners were familiar with, but under TATA ownership and Callum’s design leadership, Jaguar shifted into the new Millenium where it belonged.