Jaguar XJ40 Review

Maybe buying a Jaguar XJ40 could be a cheap route into Jaguar ownership? Why not check out this buyers guide.

To drive a good jaguar XJ40 today, is a real experience. If you`re lucky to locate a decent car, it`ll provide the legendary Jaguar feel, with a mix of smooth ride, with sure footed progressive handling when put into action. The Jaguar XJ40 is a real Jaguar – it`s smooth, powerful, comfortable and well made to cruise effortlessly with speed. The XJ40 is not a sports or performance car as such, so there are limits to its acceleration and its handling capabilities.

It is however, a better handling car than you`d expect. In a way it’s a much more refined equivalent of the American muscle car. There’s much more to the Jaguar XJ40 than just comfort. I mean the steering, its tight and it delivers plenty of feel, the manual gear change is nice and chunky and reassuringly precise. At pace its low roll handling and sublimely controlled rear end make it a surprisingly capable car.


Check the lower extremities, to include the door skins; these will corrode from their frames, so check the door bottoms for any damage. Bonnets can corrode right along their front edge. The bootlid and the wheel arches are other favourite rot spot, as well are the door sills. The rear window pillars are known to fill with water, and then rust from the inside outwards, so do check the very crude joint that is covered by the trim right at the bottom of both rear window pillars.

Now, with all Jaguar XJs, it’s so important to get a real good look at the vehicle structure underneath. The Jaguar XJ40 can have a rotten front sub frame, as its foam filled, it can`t be welded. The boot seals can often give up, causing many structural problems towards the rear, the inner front wings are candidates for rust. If you’re looking at one that has badly corroded inner wings, you need to walk away.


So the entry level engine was the 2.9-litre version, which was replaced by the 3.2l. The larger 3.6l that was originally offered was soon superseded by the 4.0l version. The 6.0l V12 variant only arrived in 1993. Headgasket issues and coolant problems are not uncommon, more especially if the car`s been really neglected, so do check for any white residue at the engine oil filler cap and coolant cap. Both are warnings of a potential problem.

Excessive white smoke / steam coming from the exhaust, that’s even when its fully warmed up though is yet another tell-tale sign. The timing chains can often suffer sometimes with broken tensioners, again a sign of a poorly maintained vehicle. This could cost hundreds to put right again. The Jaguars carry lots of sound deadening in their engine bay, so do fire up the engine when the bonnet up, just to listen for nasty noises, knocks or bangs.


Jaguar XJ40s had both manual and automatic boxes, and these have survived very well as long as you change the transmission fluid regularly. The gearbox fluid is actually cooled by heat exchanger that’s mounted on the nearside of the radiator. These have been known in service to crack, thus causing the fluid to find its way into the coolant, so do check for this. Reconditioned gearboxes are readily available should you find the worst has happened.

The front and rear Jaguar suspension is made up of a great number of rubber bushings. Now over time these will start to fail after maybe 50,000 miles and will need replacing.  Some Jaguar models, like the Sport and XJR models come with much firmer suspension so the failing components are likely to be further highlighted.

Do check the speed rating of all the tyres, particularly on the XJR models, as cheaper replacements could`ve been fitted.. The alloy wheels do corrode quite easily, often starting from a stone chip, and will let down the smart appearance of a presentable car – easy reconditioning is always possible as an option, but keep an eye for replacements, as a set could be a cheaper option.