The flying buttress roofline on today’s Nice Price or No Dice XJ-S is the model’s most iconic design element. Let’s see if that, and the car’s smooth as silk V12 engine can buttress the rationale for its asking price.
When it comes to luxury automobiles, it’s a generally accepted fact that most other car companies take a back seat to Britain’s Bentley. That’s fitting since Bentley’s history is filled both with cars intended to have drivers (i.e. chauffeurs) and those that were meant to be driven.
Idealistically, the 2007 Bentley Continental Flying Spur we looked at on Friday offered both options, with its cosseting leather and wood cabin and the 552 horsepower W12 engine under its bonnet. That jack-of-all-trades capability came with a $22,500 asking price and that sure seemed to resonate with most of you in both the comments and the vote, the latter ending up in a solid 66 percent Nice Price win.
Friday’s Bentley may have carried a traditionally British nameplate, and, as it was a 2007 model, it was actually have been built in Crewe, England. However, that model was rife with what one might call foreign influences. Those influences included bodywork designed by a Belgian and mechanicals that were both engineered and built in Germany.
The number of V12-powered cars that could be called wholly British can be counted on one hand. Hell, you pretty much only need two fingers, much as did Winston Churchill when gesturing V for Victory. Those two cars are the Jaguar XKE V12 and the subject of today’s consideration, its follow-up, the XJ-S.
Yes, we could potentially also consider the Rolls Royce and Aston Martin V12-powered cars here, but honestly, the Rolls engine is BMW born and bred while the Aston engine was predominantly developed at then-parent Ford’s Engine Manufacturing Development Operations (FMDO) facility in Allen Park, Michigan.
Ford would, for a time, also own Jaguar, but this 1990 Jaguar XJ-S coupe is representative of the model prior to Ford’s involvement. The redesigned model that would debut the following year showed Ford’s influence and is generally considered a better car as a result.
That’s not to say that the earlier cars are crap. This one, in Signal Red over a black leather interior still looks as elegant as the day it rolled out of the Coventry factory. There are 112,500 miles on the clock and aside from some yellowing of the backup lamp lenses and a bit of crazing of the driver’s seat leather, it really doesn’t seem to show even those.
Power here comes from a 5.3 liter SOHC V12 engine that in this generation used what was known as the “High Efficiency” (HE) head, designed by racing driver Michael May. The redesigning of the combustion chamber and repositioning of the spark plug resulted in not only better fuel economy — if such a thing can even be claimed about any V12 engine — but also a bit more power. In American market spec, the engine made 262 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of twist. The most endearing aspect of the XJ-S V12, though, is how it makes that power. It comes on low and then builds in a steady freight train-like fashion until you’ve hit the car’s nominal top speed of 143 miles per hour. There’s little muss of fuss from the engine or the ZF-sourced four-speed automatic transmission along the way.
The seller doesn’t give us much to go on, offering only a brief description of the car and the standard “runs and drives excellent” as a description of its current state. The ad does note that the red over black color combo is seemingly rare. Adding to that is the burlwood on the dash, console, and doors which gives the car’s cabin a warm English drawing-room appeal. If you’re not into wood in your cars you’ll have to look elsewhere. Wheels look to be aftermarket Dayton-style wires which, honestly, don’t do the car any favors. The tinted windows are also a bit garish but probably aid in keeping the interior from being sun-worn.
Another potential fly-in-the-ointment is the car’s registration. Yes, the ad does note a clear title, but if you take a gander at the car’s shapely rear quarter you might note an orange registration tag on the license plate. In California, that color is used in years ending in 3 and 8. That implies this Jag hasn’t been registered since 2018, and unless it’s been under non-operational status since then, the intervening years’ registration will need to be paid. The car will also have to pass an emissions test both for general registration and for the title transfer.
Take all that into account as you mull over the car’s $9,995 asking price. Does that seem like a good deal for this handsome Jag with its V12 engine? Or, does that price imply a car that would have much more muscle under its fur?
Los Angeles, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Doug Regan for the hookup!
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