Earlier this year, my compadre here at TTS gathered five V8-powered sedans that appeal to the enthusiast mind and whose entry fee shouldn’t immediately decimate your bank account (that comes later). While he nailed the 1998-2003 Jaguar XJ8 – a very pretty and not-horrible sedan pasted together with Ford-backed British stiff-upper-lipped diligence – he missed that car’s hotrod-in-a-tuxedo sister, the supercharged XJR of the same era.
As I’m forever entertaining the next daily runner, I’ll now openly ponder an X308 XJR. Witness this 2001 example, for sale in completely inaccessible Hawaii and from a seller asking what is probably all the money and then some. Given it seems to be a clean example – and this is important, since many are very much not – let’s examine what one should look like.
The first thing you have to remember is that this is, minimally, a ten-year-old British car. Indeed, the newest one is going to be 11 years old. There seem to be two kinds of XJRs: high-mileage Craigslist frequent flyers with swirly paint and shabby leather owned by persons better suited to three-year Kia lease deals, and low-mileage creampuffs like this 2001 looked after by the same doddering (probably) owner since new (or close to). At this point, you’re shopping based on condition, which translates to reasonable or better miles and complete service history. Like so many other flagships, buying a cheap example is actually the most expensive path of ownership. Best to just step in front of the speeding train now.
To begin, this example just hits on all aesthetic levels. It doesn’t hurt matters that the X300/308 iteration of the classic XJ bodywork is genuinely pretty. Not handsome, like a Mercedes-Benz or BMW. But really beautiful, with a mix of heritage and modern cues that the newest models have completely forsaken. The only color the XJR doesn’t look great in is white. The Titanium gray sets off the Minilite-style spoke wheels perfectly. The earlier (six-cylinder) “dish” wheels, while nifty, scream 1990s.
“I shouldn’t have light-colored interiors,” says the guy with parchment leather. But this car’s Oatmeal and walnut interior – seemingly without any flaws whatsoever – could convince me to stay the beige course. Leather, leather everywhere, and bun warmers for all. Perfect color combination? Lord, there are so many, as long as we’re staying away from solid black or the aforementioned white. British Racing Green on Oatmeal would be lovely, thank you.
Being British, it will have more problems than… well, wait a minute. Will it really have more problems than a late E38 BMW 7 Series, last made in 2001? Will it really be as wallet-melting as a late W140 or early W220 Mercedes-Benz S-Class? It seems most of the common foibles either apply to the earlier X308s – Nikasil engine blocks – or are areas where the enthusiast community has taken the reigns and effected commonplace solutions. As we’ve said before here at TTS, behold the power of the Internet.
The seller of this example has had a compression test done and changes the synthetic oil based on time. Best to check the water pump – it’s a weak point – and the timing chain tensioner, which should be okay given the mileage. Everything is said to work, which is amazing given how often all those electrical accessories are likely exercised. Rust can be an issue, especially in salt-soaked Hawaii, so even though the dealer has looked it over, I’d still have a pre-purchase inspection performed above and beyond the compression test.
What about driving fun? Is it a backroads bruiser? Will it smoke a new whatever’s hot right now?
Probably not. I predict it’s a point-and-squirt car like a W210 E55 AMG. Fast when it needs to be, competent enough when you spin the steering wheel. The earlier, six-cylinder cars were available with a 5-speed manual, something not offered on these V8s. Surely, there must be a solution for that. Regardless, with close to 400 horsepower from its blown V8, I can’t imagine this car isn’t some kind of party.
And for my daily running around, encompassing groceries and daycare, that sounds just about right.