Low-mileage, one-owner and classic Jaguar sedan

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Jaguar certainly has a storied history. Multiple victories at Le Mans. Praise of the XK sports cars, for the C- and D-types, and even for sedans such as the Mk 2. The company certainly lived up to its “Grace. Space. Pace.” tagline.

However, there was a time, in the 1970s, when Jaguars were thought to be among the most unreliable in the world.  Jaguar Motors had been acquired by British Leyland and the first thing that happened was a decline in quality. 

Over the decade, things got worse as British Leyland penny pinched the cars and the labor force that built them, causing every kind of reliability and fit and finish issue you can imagine. 

Just ask an original owner of a Series 2 XJ6 about problems and get ready to fill a notebook with their answers.

Something had to be done and happily that something involved the hiring of John Egan to run the company. Egan got British Leyland to approve an 80-million pound development budget for a new sedan to replace the aging XJ6. This was the most money Jaguar had ever spent on a new car development program. 

The car, known as the XJ40, also was the last car that Jaguar founder William Lyons would have a hand in creating. 

The new car required retooling and modernization of the Jaguar assembly line. An additional assist came from the most unlikely of places, Detroit, as Ford would purchase the Jaguar brand and spend millions of dollars to improve quality, tooling and, with Egan’s strong leadership, basically save the Jaguar brand. In the process, the XJ40, or XJ6 as it is known in the U.S., became the best product the company had built in years.

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These cars were a head-to-head competitors with the BMW E34 5 Series cars and the design, while not loved when new, has aged quite well.

Our Pick of the Day is from the best era of the XJ40. It’s a 1990 Jaguar XJ6 Soverign located in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

According to the seller, a collector car specialist dealership in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, advertising the car on ClassicCars.com, this one-owner car has been driven only 33,000 miles. It is completely original and seemingly flawless.

Finished in it’s original White Onyx paint with a contrasting Sapphire Blue Connolly leather interior, the car is stunning and appears as nice as it did when new. 

Soverign was higher spec than a standard XJ6 and received inlaid walnut wood trim on door caps and nice red and blue pinstriping on the exterior. The Soverign also received a self-leveling rear suspension. 

These cars were originally slated to receive a Rover V8 but happily that was vetoed and the XJ40 is powered by the Jaguar AJ6 5.o-liter DOHC inline 6 rated at 240 horsepower and 289 pounds-feet of torque mated. The engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission with the signature J Gate shifter that was introduced with the XJ40. 

The XJ40 was capable of a 0-60 mph sprint in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph, not bad numbers in 1990 for a sedan that weighs just short of 4,000 pounds.

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The asking price of this Jaguar time capsule is only $12,995. 

These cars are starting to be on collectors’ radars more and more. Rob Sass, the editor of Porsche Panorama magazine, and I have been discussing these cars on a monthly basis and I would not be surprised if both of us end up with one sooner than later. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The car brings back memories as well as a few jokes. When you buy a British car you buy them in pairs. One to keep in the garage and the other in the shop. When do you know when it’s time to check the fluids? When you don’t see any more spots on the ground. I’ve had a few jaguars and you would think you’d learn a lesson after the 1st one. Hopefully the Prince of darkness is seeing a brighter future.

    • Funny you should say that about fluids. I have a 97 xj6l with 77k and the way I know it needs power steering fluid is when I don’t see a stain on the driveway

  2. I’ve always loved the look of this sedan but as a former owner of an ’84 XJ6 who could fill one of those notebooks with all the problems it had I want to understand your comment that you expect to own one some day soon. Do you mean this specific model, vintage and engine, the Sovereign with the slant six?

    • One thing: these cars are the best possible recipients of an American V8 engine swap,as long as the other next 10 things that go wrong have been addressed. The second thing is that it is a shame these cars are so well known for what they are not (reliable, low-maintenance, good resale value, well designed accessories) as what Jags used to be known for (good power in class, great handling, real comfort). I guess that’s why I haven’t seen a Mark 10 or 420 on the road in the last 15 years.

      • There is a good lessons for cars manufacturers in your words: when the costumers and markets give your products a negative tag,it takes a huge work and hard times to recover their trust!!

  3. I had 12 years of ownership of a 1988 XJ40 and found it to wonderfully reliable, extremely comfortable and reasonably thrifty on the highway (but not around town).
    The car’s only fault was an external fuel pump mounted too near the exhaust that would cause vapor lock on extremely hot days.
    I have owned both a `95 XJS 6.0 and a `95 XJ12 and both of those cars were a joy to drive and very reliable. I currently still own the XJ12 and I drive one of the aluminum-bodied XJ8s with the 4.2L and it too has been very reliable.
    I plan to purchase an XK coupe because I loathe the styling of the later XJ sedans (saloons).
    30 years ago I had a `67 E-type 2+ and had great service from that car.
    I’ve never owned a series 1, 2 or 3 XJ6 so I cannot comment on those models, but I’ve owned several Jaguars and loved them all. Though I research before buying so I knew what to avoid except for the `88 which should have been trouble but it never was.

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