A Mostly British Obsession


1984 Jaguar XJ-S

This Jaguar was bought on a whim, probably for too much money, and cost me an arm and a leg for the year or so I owned it. When it was working right, it was a lovely car…there’s nothing quite like the V12 engine. When it went wrong, even seemingly minor jobs ended up costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars

Once again, I bought the car courtesy of a loan from a friend of mine, Tony. Why my friends fell for this gig I have no idea. I’m grateful, though I’m fairly confident Tony is not!

If I can offer some advice on buying any used Jaguar, especially one of relatively recent vintage, it’s this: buy the best you can afford; accept that it will plummet in value; get one still under warranty if your budget stretches to that; and if you have the car inspected by a professional, actually listen to their advice. I had this car inspected by Michael at the Jaguar Shop in Kirkland before I bought it, he told me exactly what would go wrong over the next year, and I ignored his advice to walk away. For the next year, I paid him to fix the things he found, not by choice, but by necessity…sigh. Stupid is as stupid does.

However, the car was intoxicating on the freeway. Endless surge from the 12-cylinder engine, and it felt like a tank. Handled well, too, though it was a pretty heavy car.

When the transmission mount in the rear went for the second time, I decided enough was enough. By that point, I was happy to be seeing the backside of the first Jaguar I owned. Within two weeks, I wanted another.


  1. Janice

    I recently bought a beautiful black ’84 with wire rims… I hope I don’t have the problems you had. I’ve wanted one of these cars since I was a little girl.

  2. Andy Rupert

    I was told the same thing by the Jag expert in Cleveland. He said things like, “If they pay you $2000 to take the car, refuse the offer,” and “I just saved your marriage with that advice.”

    But as you say, the car is intoxicating to drive. The V12 isn’t quite as quick as modern day cars, but it still has that something special about it.


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