1989 JAGUAR XJS 5.3 ConvertibleView vehicle description
Built for over 20 years, from 1975 to 1996, the Jaguar XJ-S was a welcome addition to the brand's line-up of luxury Gran Turismo cars. As a spiritual successor of the iconic Jaguar E-Type, the XJ-S features flowing, elegant lines that look equally good both in coupé and cabriolet body style, as one would expect from a design penned by the great Malcolm Sayer, who unfortunately passed away before the car entered production, and further refined by Doug Thorpe. The car's beating heart is a massive v12 with 5.3 litres of displacement and a power output that ranges between 265 and 295hp depending on its version, with around 400nm of torque: numbers that can, and do propel this luxurious car to a top speed of nearly 240km\h. Unsurprisingly, chief engineer and technical director William Heynes had his sights set on delivering a product capable of taking the challenge to the Italian marques who were so keen on producing luxury GT cars in the 60s and 70s.
The car we are pleased to offer is a 1989 Jaguar XJ-S Convertible in Jaguar Racing Green and with beige leather interior and soft top. This car, built for the American market, belongs to the second generation of XJ-S, the last produced entirely by Jaguar before its acquisition by Ford. It is powered by an updated version of the original 5.3l V12 engine, dubbed "High Efficiency": an oversquare engine with a bore of 90mm and a stroke of just 70mm which benefited from the implementation of high-swirl design cylinder heads designed by swiss engineer, and race car driver Michael May. This design, along with an unusually high compression ratio for the era, helped the thirsty v12 become more fuel efficient while also increasing its power output, at least for the European version, from 265 to 295bhp. Surely a welcome upgrade for most buyers, given the how hard they were hit by the petrol crisis of the early 70's. Despite being marketed as a luxury gran turismo and a weight that reflects how Jaguar favoured comfort over sheer performance, the XJ-S is a joy to drive especially thanks to Jaguar's very refined independent rear suspension set-up, which sports two shocks per corner and a well-designed chassis that's definitely stiff enough even in the Cabriolet version.
On the Outside
This XJ-S Convertible, painted in the iconic Jaguar Racing Green, is in overall good condition, aside from some minor stone chips and some clear coat flaking over the wheel wells. Most of the minor scratches visible in the pictures could probably be removed with a thorough paint polish. The rear trunk shows some scraping on the passenger's side which extends to the taillight that, however, is in good working condition and doesn't appear to be cracked. There's some heavy orange peel on the rear panel and the trunk’s lower portion which leads us to believe that the part was hastily resprayed at some point in time. The top-upper portion of the right rear quarter panel shows a similar paint defect which the most demanding customers might feel the need to address. The front dual headlights, a staple of the American model look beautiful and are very well preserved. They show no signs of yellowing and the chrome bezel is shiny and almost void of defects. The fasteners are in very good nick as well. One of the front fog lights has some cracks but they don't seem to affect its functionality in the least. The huge red and yellow taillights, which complement the car's deep green very nicely, are bright and show no signs of fading. The one on the driver's side, however, has a minor crack and the right hand one shows the aforementioned scraping marks on its upper portion.
The rest of the chrome work, which enhances the car's appearance, is in equally good shape. The front and rear bumpers are shiny and bright, aside from some signs of pitting and small parking damage which only affects the USDM plastic over bumpers. The rear-view mirrors, the fuel tank cap and the door's chrome trim are well preserved, just like the windshield's frame almost looks like new. The small Jaguar emblems located on the front wheel wells are ok but show some flaking and signs oxidation.
The canvas soft top, which was probably replaced while this car was in the USA, is beige in colour just like the car's interior and has a glass rear window. The canvas is very clean, with no signs of discoloration and adheres well to its frame. It is, as you would expect on a Jaguar, electrically operated and the mechanism appears to work without hesitation.
The 15" multi spoke alloy wheels, which appear to be original, are well preserved aside from some nicks and curb rash. The chrome plated wheel nuts are nice and shiny and frame the hubcap's menacing jaguar emblem. The M+S tyres have plenty of life left in them and the new owner should be able to cover many miles before having to think about their replacement.
On the Inside
Moving on to the interior, we can say that everything looks to be in surprisingly good shape. The elm wood veneers which adorn the refined dashboard, the centre tunnel and the door cards are pleasant to look at given their intense colour and shine. The many switches and buttons are equally well preserved, just like the two chrome plated ashtrays. The automatic gearbox's shift lever consists of a mix of chrome plated steel and plastic and reminds us of an airplane's control lever. The two spoke steering wheel, which is also reminiscent of an airplane's yoke, appears to be void of defects despite its age, save from some minor wear marks on its crown.
The dashboard consists of two round gauges on either side: the speedometer sits on the left while the rev meter takes most of the right side. The vertical water and oil temperature gauges, along with the fuel gauge and a voltmeter boldly stand in the centre. Just like on many airplanes of the era the needle moves vertically and we must admit that they are a really interesting feature of this aviation inspired cockpit. The odometer reads 85749 miles, while the speedometer is in miles per hour, with smaller km\h values added to the outside of the dial's face. All these instrument are in good working order, however the owner would like to point out that the handbrake's warning sign doesn't show when the currently non-functioning parking brake is disengaged. This issue however doesn't affect the car's driveability in the slightest, although one would probably want to at least make the parking brake functional again before parking this car downhill!
The radio and on-board computer are both original and in good working condition, they both appear to be free of scratches and wear marks, a nice surprise given that this car is almost 34 years old.
The seats and centre armrest, which are wrapped in well preserved beige leather, have no apparent defects or creases. The driver's side seat has some stretched stitches near the lower bolsters but that's a mostly cosmetical upholstery issue given how comfortable and well-padded both seats are. The sun visors still move freely and are barely affected by their age. The carpet is intact and soft but could benefit from some deep cleaning to bring back its former colour, the same could be said for the seats.
Underneath the carpet the floor is in good condition, the only rust we could spot seems to be superficial and easy to address should the new owner wish to do so.
The door cards are in overall nick, however the JBL speakers appear to be a later addition and the right-hand door card has a small crack in the leather and some wear signs on the door handle. Both defects are well depicted in the gallery.
The soft top's frame shows no signs of wear or damage and its motor work just fine.
Inside the rear trunk, which houses both the car battery and a full-size alloy spare wheel is in good shape. Underneath the well preserved and stain-free carpet there's some superficial rust but just like with the floor it should be easy to repair. The left-hand taillight wiring doesn't appear to be original, however all the lights and indicators work as intended.
The capacious engine bay hosts the imposing 5.3l V12 "High Efficiency" engine in the 265bhp version offered in the U.S. Despite some hoses which show their age, everything seems to be in good order. There are, of course, some minor oil leaks here and there as it's often the case with any vintage car but the engine runs smoothly and still roars like only a V12 can. Since this engine has a timing chain, regular maintenance should neither be too complex nor expensive unlike its Italian contemporary counterparts which often had complicated timing belt sets. The whole engine compartment is actually in very good shape and we feel like the only item that might need to be addressed is the auxiliary belt.
Underneath the car looks clean and was subjected by a thorough anti-rust treatment at some point in time: a welcome detail for most Jaguar enthusiasts given how many mistreated cars tend to rot away. The double wishbone front suspension looks fine, just like the suspension parts and the steering rack. The independent rear suspension set-up with longitudinal trailing arms, a distinctive feature of many Jaguars from the 60s and 80s, looks equally well preserved, with only some minor superficial rust affecting the main arms. The twin rear shocks appear to still have plenty of life left in them and offer an extremely comfortable ride at any speed. The exhaust system doesn't show any appreciable leaks and is, for the most part, free of any meaningful signs of corrosions. One of the centre sections has been replaced some time ago, for reasons unknown to us.
Unfortunately, we don't have much information to share about this Jaguar's XJ-S first 32 years of life, which it spent in the United States. It comes with a Certificate of Title for a Vehicle issued by the State of Indiana that states: its VIN number (SAJNV484XKC), that it was built in 1989 and the odometer read 85680 miles. The vehicle was purchased in 2022 by the current owner from an American dealer. The car is currently located in Italy where it obtained a certificate of historical relevance (Certificato di rilevanza storica e collezionistica) issued by the Automotoclub Storico Italiano. We don't know when this car was last serviced, nor are we aware of its previous service history. Certainly the new owner will have to carry out a general check.
What We Think
The mark II Jaguar XJ-S, the first model to be offered as a cabriolet and with the upgraded "HE" 5.3 v12 engine, is a fast Gran Turismo that can reach a still respectable top speed of almost 240km\h without sacrificing comfort. Despite the paint imperfections we aptly noted this car is particularly desirable given how well preserved its interior is and how gorgeous the perfectly working electric canvas soft top looks. The v12 also sings beautifully and without hesitation. A sound we imagine the new owner will be able to enjoy when driving top down into the sunset, while being cuddled by the engaging, but never menacing, power delivery. While this isn't a Concours-grade car, we are confident that the right person could enjoy it for what it is: an understated icon of British class and style, packaged inside an extremely well-crafted convertible.
Price estimate for this Jaguar XJ-S Convertible: € 20.500 - € 30.000
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- Location: Siena, Italy
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 85,500 miles
- Chassis Number: SAJJNVDW4KP157351
- Engine: 5.3 cc 300 cv
- Gearbox: Auto
- Steering position: Left-hand drive
- Colour: British Racing Green
- Interior: Beige
- Estimated Price: €21,000 - €30,000