In 1776 the American colonists routed the British. Two hundred years later, Jaguar debuted the XJS coupe with Lucas electrics and a thirsty V12, proving it's never too late for revenge.
Yesterday was filled with change- some of it good, some of it bad, and some of it found under the cushions of the sofa. The trophy-winning Dodge took home a well-deserved Crack Pipe prize, and Jalopnik Commenting 2.0 brought cheers from a hungry and appreciative commenterati. But today we're getting back to brass tacks. That's because brass tacks were what was used to build the interior of our Nice Price or Crack Pipe contender - a 1986 Jaguar XJS that has had more work done than Madonna, but is hella-more British.
Jaguar had an impressive run starting in 1949 with the XK120 sports car. Sleek, fast, and reasonably priced became synonymous with the brand's two-door sportsters. 1961 brought the legendary, and incredibly rewarding to drive E-Type which, through four iterations - concluding with the dachshund-like V12 - brought exotica to the masses. Replacing the long-in-the-tooth E was tough for cash-strapped Jaguar, and instead of developing a new platform for the next two-door, they used the underpinnings of the XJ sedan, already seven years old at the time. The result was the XJS, and its grand-tourer image stood in sharp contrast to the lithe sporting pretensions of the E-Type.
Like the E-Type, the 1976 model-year S was styled by Malcolm Sayer, and the story goes that it was the last Jag personally approved by Sir William Lyons. Despite being introduced at the height of the first gas crisis, the car was exotic in feature, if not in appearance. The 5.3 litre V12, which had first made an appearance in the E and XJ12 sedan, elevated the coupe into the same haughty league as Ferrari and Lamborghini, and was the only English V12 sold at that time.
Jaguar managed to muddle through the remainder of the disco era, and made some headway in the ‘80s, enough so that Ford envisioned eventual profitability for the brand, buying the company in 1989. Before that happened however, our '86 XJS left its Coventry birthplace, and first suckled at the petrol-soaked teat of OPEC's deliverers.
The seller appears to have been trying to unload this car for some time, and remarks that the auction reserve has been lowered "due to the recession". That can only serve to cut into his profit margin as it's evident that he has dumped some cash into making it both shiny and mobile. The paint is reasonably fresh, and pictures provide evidence that it was a bare-metal job. Not only that, but you get two of the H.E. V12 motors- one installed, and a spare - it is British after all. He has also installed a Hess and Eisenhardt Sunroof and has a complete set of Dayton 90-spokes in case you want to go full Cleveland. And despite his claim of being cognizant of the realities of our nation's current financial doldrums, he's still trying to sell this 23-year old, 9MPG boat for $40,000. That kind of wampum gets you all the goodies listed in the ad, plus a woefully claustrophobic interior and climate control that does little of what its name implies. Also, while later cars came as cabriolets and full drop-tops, this year only coupes were available so you can't enjoy the wind in your hair while watching that gas gauge roll over to E and will have to develop the "Lane Change Wince" caused by just missing the horn-blaring Kenworth which was hidden in the blind spot of the flying buttress.
But it's a big V12 coupe, and it has a presence, and there's a significant following to the marque so you'd run with a fun, and dedicated crowd. And it's veddy, veddy British, which is always a nice thing when you're justifying trying to track down which of the three fuse boxes (no, I'm not kidding) has the blown wiper fuse - in the pouring rain.
So, does $40,000 feel like the right spot for 24 cylinders of big cat scat? Or does that sound like a seller who's been sniffing more than just cans of B.R.G. Krylon?
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