By on April 9, 2012

Wait, straight, unrusted XJ-Ss get crushed? Yes, indeed, I see solid examples of Jaguar’s V12 statusmobile at self-service junkyards all the time. This car listed at $39,700 when new (nearly 80 grand in 2012 dollars), but couldn’t even fetch above scrap value at an auction today.
That’s why we see quite a few XJ-Ss in LeMons racing, and why we always believe the car was built under the required $500 budget.
The idea of getting a cheap XJ-S runner and driving in V12 luxury for a while always has great appeal, but dealing with any mechanical problem tends to be expensive, time-consuming, or both.
So, it’s 1987. You can get a base 911 coupe for $38,500, a Corvette coupe for $27,999, or an XJ-S for $39,700. Without knowing that the Porsche and Chevy would hold on to a double-digit percentage of their initial value while the Jaguar would be worth 1% as much in 25 years, would you still have bought the Jag? Hell, even buying one XJ-S worth of new ’87 Chevettes (i.e., seven Chevettes), you’d have held on to more of your investment today (scrap value of a Chevette is about $250 nowadays).

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54 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1987 Jaguar XJ-S...”


  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I can see it getting the winning bid from a dismantler. It’s worth a small fortune in used parts. Or would you rather spend one on one?

  • avatar
    jg3arrow

    This was on Car and Driver’s Ten Best list, I believe. A car with charisma. And uncorrectable mechanical faults. It had more electrical problems than a BMW 7-Series – despite having about six miles less wiring than the bimmer. I see the V12 is going to the crusher with it. That’s gotta have something to do with this particular car’s demise. I remember the engine was designed with two 10-cent freeze plugs in the back of it. They rust out, or just pop out, regularly. To replace them you have to remove the engine. Ah, British engineering…

  • avatar
    Rican5.0

    Ah, these things are the stuff mechanical nightmares are made of.

  • avatar
    Morea

    4760 lbs! Body must be made of lead.

    Edit: Sorry that’s gross weight, curb weight is “only” 3660 lbs.

    • 0 avatar
      roger628

      You don’t know how many arguments I’ve gotten into with various nitwits over the years WRT those certification stickers. “My 1976 ****** weighs 6600 pounds! I tell ya, they was made wit real steel!”.
      Any attempt at explaining that GVWR means full passengers and luggage was usually met with vehement denial or blank stares. B…B…but thet thar sticker sez 6600 pounds!.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Look at that mess under the hood. No wonder my friend’s dad cursed his XJS back in the day. But these were, and still are, beautiful cars. If there ever was a candidate for the LSx swap…

    • 0 avatar
      Downtown Dan

      +1 on this. Someone save this beast through the magic power of the SBC.

      A John’s Cars conversion kit runs about $1000, plus figure another $1500 for an LT1 and a GM gearbox. Buy another scrapper XJS to finish off the interior, and you’re rolling in British luxury for something like three grand.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Many people considered these to be hideous cars when current, perhaps because they had the misfortune of replacing the E-type, perhaps because they were hideous.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    The rear-wheel-drive British-made 1987 Jaguar XJS is equipped with two engine options. The 223-horsepower, 3.6-liter in-line six-cylinder engine generates 277 ft-lbs. of torque, which gives the car its acceleration. Its bore and stroke is 3.58 inches and 3.70 inches, respectively. The six’s compression ratio is 9.6:1. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual Getrag, with the four-speed ZF automatic an option. The six earns about 22 mpg. The 5.3-liter V-12 HE (High Efficiency) also powers the XJS, with a 3.54-inch bore and 2.75-inch stroke. It generates 295 horsepower and 320 ft-lbs. of torque. The V-12 equals the six in fuel efficiency at about 22 mpg. The six can achieve zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, with a top speed of 136 mph. The V-12 can accomplish zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, with a top speed of 153 mph.

    Read more: 1987 Jaguar XJS Specifications | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_7383642_1987-jaguar-xjs-specifications.html#ixzz1rSW6CtKf

  • avatar
    tonyola

    If I had the means to buy a luxury coupe in 1987, I would have bought a Mercedes SEC though a 911 would have been tempting. C4 Corvettes were just too problematical in the 1980s and I hated the Atari dash. The Jaguar would have been at the bottom of the list, and not just because of its heavy, fat-banana looks either. In the early 1980s, I dated someone whose mother was spending $6,000 per year keeping her 1978 Jaguar XJ12 running and maintained. I’m not surprised to see this Jag as scrap – the cost to resuscitate it would far exceed its value.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that while automotive beauty is only skin deep, engineering ugliness goes right to the bone….

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      That is a sentiment that needs to be more present on car blogs. People seem to think cars drive like they look.

      • 0 avatar

        Nothing wrong with the way the XJ-S drives, when it runs. It’s mechanically very similar to a regular XJ sedan. I think the suspension subframes are nearly identical.

        I want to buy a XJ-S with a V12 and use it as a donor car for a Locost Se7en. I’ll call it a 7+5. Build a space frame to connect the two Jaguar subframes and mount the drivetrain. The idea of a V12 powered Seven, particularly a V12 that’s kind of on the porky side, is just too silly not to do.

  • avatar
    roger628

    That’s some hobson’s choice you’re giving us there. Never liked 911s because I hate rear engines, wouldn’t be caught dead in a mullet-mobile Vette, and the Jag is unreliable crap. Knowing what I know now, I’d have bought a diesel Golf and put the rest of the money into Microsoft and Apple stock. We are talking post Oct ’87 black tuedsay, right? back to the bottom of the market.

  • avatar
    DeadFlorist

    Hey, it has the same front marker lights as my ’73 Midget! There’s one nice thing about British cars, parts interchangeability between manufacturers, between decades.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I think the kinds of people who buy these cars new don’t care much about the 2-5 year retained value, much less what they will be worth in 25 years.

    Wonder, on average, how long original owners held on to these cars… Anybody have, or know where to find, stats on that?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    My sister in law bought a mid 80 Jag with this body style around 1995. After a year, she finally gave up and traded it. It was an expensive lesson in the cost of unreliability.

  • avatar
    MZ3AUTOXR

    If memory serves from my retail auto repair days, these had inboard disc brakes. Which is okay if you want to do a quick pad slap. But if you need to change out the rotors, the rear driveshafts had to come out. Book labor was somewhere around 6 hours. It wasn’t unusual to quote a $5-600 brake job just for pads and rotors, and that was in the mid-90′s.

    Of course, by that time, most of these cars had depreciated to where they were on their third owners who expected to come in for the $89.99 brake special and had an immediate heart attack, followed by the usual claims of price gouging and such. Then they got a quote from the Jag dealer….

    Edit – Just looked at the pics – this definitely does have the inboard discs.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yep, my XJ-6 had those. Great for improving ride and handling by reducing unsprung weight…not so fun when it’s time for new pads. Judging from the forums I used to read, dropping the rear end is pretty easy once you’ve done it a few times. Fortunately I sold ours before I got to enjoy that experience.

    • 0 avatar
      monomille

      The rear looks exactly like the one my ’67 E-type had. Probably still has the same little needle bearings in the lower suspension (lateral) arms. Each bearing point (8 total) had washers, seals, needle bearings, etc. with grease points – worked ok for a while until water got in and it all got crunchy! All the engineering sophistication of one of those lawn and garden machines made of “stock” parts. Primitive inside but so beautiful.

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        These are the rear end of choice under Aussie hot rods. IRS, inboard discs and usually most of it chrome plated.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        The rear is basically the same design as the etype but has a different track. Andnot really that primitive at all when you consider BMW had retarded trailing arm iRS up to the 1990s.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Semi trailing arms worked pretty well in practice(E30 M3, for example) and didn’t have the durability issues of Jaguar’s irresponsible design decisions like using driveshafts as control arms.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      Later ones had the outboard brakes of the XJ40

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Pretty much an admission that inboard brakes weren’t a good idea for road cars. While the reduction in unsprung weight was nice, the maintenance expenses were joined by oven-baked differentials, luggage, and passengers in the debit column.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      The first time I saw a Jag rear with inboard brakes I thought “who would design such a difficult to service brake system?”.
      Then I was told it was a Jag rear and that answered the question straight away.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    One of the stupidest things I never did was buy one of these when I was on a co-op student’s income. There was a mint example at the Jag repair shop-cum-dealer down the street and I could just have swung purchasing it, but the novelty jar of electrical harness smoke in the back shop put me off.

    I bought a Power Macintosh instead. Probably a wiser investment.

  • avatar

    They are wonderful GTs when everything’s working. Love ‘em. But when things aren’t working, which is almost always, parts and labor are priced very near exotic-car levels. Truly scary.

    In your hypothetical purchase, I might have hit Hemmings and bought a late ’70s Ferrari 308GTS with carbs, which you could do for $24k-ish in 1987. That car, well-kept and maintained, would be worth $30k-ish now.

    Alternatively, plowing $40k into AAPL and MSFT would have worked out well.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Still love the pre-2009 Jaguar styling. I have heard that the XJ V8s from about 2000-2008/9 aren’t quite the electrical/mechanical nightmare that the Jags of the 1970s and 80s were. But the depreciation is still silly steep, I do see the later models on auto trader all the time with much less than 100,000 miles, and prices much less than $20,000… god help me if I stumble on a British Racing green model with a tan leather interior…

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      I’d target an XJ from 2005-2009 or so. 2004 was the first year of that restyle, but the subsequent ones are anecdotally pretty decently screwed together.

      And yeah, BRG is so damn pretty. As is that Emerald Fire color they used….

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If you can go a little downmarket, the S-Type is probably the best choice: it shares a lot with the Lincoln LS and, while it’s not cheap to keep, isn’t nearly the Princess Wallet-buster that the XJ and XK are.

      It’s also a nice-looking car, to boot.

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      Ahhh……don’t worry about it….I’m sure your fiance will say, “No effin’ way…!”…..

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        No that would be the ex-wife which is why she’s the ex-wife.

        The automotive standards this one has is that you be able to drive stick shift and don’t dare pick up a sports or muscle car that’s automatic equipped!

        She even supported me participating in a local fleet auction on the possibility of picking up a project car. (I didn’t win though.)

        Oh and tomorrow I’m picking up the cat back dual exhaust system for my F150. She’s very happy that I’ll be able to drown out the ricers next door. (Did I mention I love that woman…)

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I saw one of these engines installed in a “restored” 30s Packard. A guy out there makes
    “V6″ intake manifolds for these with 2 bbl Holley carbs. One for the front six cylinders one for the rear. This made it a reliable runner. He may have had a better ignition system in it too. Apparently there is enough demand for people to make after market parts for them. At first glance it was a definite WTF moment.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    My dad had an XJ-S, a ’96 which was the last year of them. GREAT seats with real old school Connolly leather. The leather in the seats of the XK8 he replaced it with felt like plastic in comparison.

    That was pretty much the only upside. The driving position was atrocious, handling was nonexistent, and it would snap-oversteer with even a slight prod of the throttle going around a corner. It was a convertible, and the wind buffeting was comparable to an open cockpit airplane. The top would only operate with the handbrake on, and the handbrake lever would get stuck. Electrics were about as reliable as you would expect.

    You might be able to swap in a SBC, but the chassis just can’t handle anything more than about 200hp.

  • avatar
    AlienProbe

    Can we have all of your future number crunching done to the value of “chevette” from now on? It really has a nice ring to it.

  • avatar
    smallenginesmakemesad

    I was working in a prestige car dealership in the early 80s. People were trading their old E types on these and getting a few grand for them.
    I bet they are all regretting that now.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Does anyone know what the gauge to the right of the speedo is? Rotating temp gage? lol

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I see these on the market in decent running condition really cheap anywhere from $1500-6K but the question is is it worth having a grand touring money pit or easier just finding yourself a nice SL,SLC or post 96 XK which are far more reliable.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    I know they are POS (I have had several Jags from the 70′s and 80′s) but man do I want one.

    That kitty clearly didn’t lead a good life — here is one (in the same colour!) that must have died in a garage!

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/WE-FINANCE-1987-Jaguar-XJS-Convertible-38K-PwrTop-V12-CLEAN-CARFAX-PowerWindows-/270951146670?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item3f15f264ae#ht_16331wt_1010

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    My father bought one of these brand new in about 1995 or 1996 and his biggest regret is selling it. It never had a problem of any kind, returned mpg in the 20s (it was the 4.0 straight six) and it was comfortable and nice to drive. As well as (in my opinion, at least) beautiful.


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