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A stunning JAGUAR XJ-S Coupe - a very rare Pre-HE model with low mileage and full service history.

 

At a glance:

1976 Jaguar XJ-S Pre-HE 5.3 litre V12 automatic

Left hand drive - this car spent its life in California.

Correctly registered in the UK with a 'P' registration, long MOT and UK log book

Massive service history, with every receipt from new.

One owner from new in August 1976 until January 2018 when imported to the UK

62,019 miles backed up by full servicing history

Silver grey bodywork with dark blue leather interior.

MOT until 24th May 2021 - even though it is now MOT exempt

The model:

The Jaguar XJ-S (and later renamed as XJS), a luxury grand tourer, was produced by Jaguar from 1975 to 1996. The XJ-S superseded the E-Type (also known as XK-E) and was based on the XJ saloon. It had been developed as the XK-F, though it was very different in character from its predecessor. Jaguar decided not to replace the legendary E type with another true sports car, instead the XJ-S was always designed as a ‘grand tourer', so it was built to a very different set of parameters. Jaguar simply followed the trends of the time in considering that the age of the sports car was over. Changing ideas, with a significant emphasis on safety, particularly in the very important US market, meant that Jaguar, like many other manufacturers gave up on the two seat open top sports car concept. 

The XJ-S was launched on 10 September 1975. The development of the car had begun in the late 1960s as project XJ27, with an initial shape set by Malcolm Sayer, but after his death in 1970 it was completed by the in-house Jaguar design team, headed by Doug Thorpe.  Power originally came from the V12 petrol engine with a choice of manual or automatic transmission, but the manual was soon dropped as they were left over from V12 E Type production. V12 configuration cars were unusual at the time; Italian luxury sports car makers Lamborghini and Ferrari produced such models, but few other manufacturers had a V12 engine option. The specifications of the XJ-S compared well with both Italian cars; it was able to accelerate to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds (in automatic guise) and had a top speed of 143 mph, which was pretty impressive for the 1970s, and left its rivals in its rear view mirror.

The XJ-S certainly wasn't universally liked when it was launched in 1975, and it took some years to establish itself as a fine motor car in its own right. Poor sales and a thirst for fuel nearly caused its downfall during its first five years in production. However Jaguar's perseverance and dedication resulted in a re-launch and eventually a boom in XJ-S sales. This led in turn to an expansion in the range of available models, this included a cabriolet, smaller engine versions and eventually a fully-fledged convertible. Jaguar sales increased throughout the 1980's with the XJ-S still playing a very important part. This was backed up by its racing successes in the European Touring Car Championships against arch rivals BMW. By the end of the decade sales had reached their highest level ever. By the time production finally ended in 1996 the XJS had survived an incredible 21 years, with production totalling more than 115,000 cars. A classic even in its own lifetime, and now considered an evergreen, it is fair to say the XJ-S has earned itself a lasting place in the history of Jaguar.

These early ‘pre-HE' coupes are instantly recognisable by their bulbous, all rubber bumpers, GKN Kent alloy wheels, and by the absence of interior woodwork. It is interesting to note that they are now considered, certainly by purists, to be the most collectable versions. These are a real driver's car in every sense.

The history of this car:

This wonderful early XJ-S was built on 26th May 1976, despatched to the USA on 17th June 1976 and sold by Whittlesey Motors in Torrance, California on the 17th August 1976, almost 42 years ago. The first and sole owner, Mr Quiroz, lived in Gardena, a suburb in the southwestern region of Los Angeles. The car carried the exclusive registration number 'Q1' for the majority of its life and the original USA number plates accompany the car. Once in the UK, the car underwent a programme of checks, recommissioning and fettling before being registered for the road. The car has had only one owner up until 2018 when the car was purchased and imported to the UK. The car is now UK registered with all duties and taxes paid, has a V5 registration document, a 'P' suffix age related registration number and comes with MOT until May 2019, even though this is not technically required as the car is now MOT exempt. There is an accompanying picture of Mr Quiroz on the day of collecting his brand new Jaguar from Whittlesey Motors, showing the original dealer plates. Having owned the car from new in 1976 until 2018 - 42 years with the same wonderful car - if you owned a car as magnificent as this, would you ever have a reason to change?

The specification:

This car is the 1976 model year 5.3 litre automatic Coupe, with original black bumpers and GKN Kent alloy wheels. The original factory colour of silver grey was a non metallic colour which enhances the finesse of the original 1970s design. This is an ultra rare car, being known as 'Pre-HE', before the range was updated to the far more common HE model from 1981 (supposedly High Efficiency 'fireball' combustion heads) with more traditional wood laden interiors, chrome bumpers and 'Starfish' alloy wheels. These Pre-HE cars are now very scarce, and accordingly highly desirable. It has all matching original numbers for the chassis, engine and transmission as it left the Browns Lane factory for America back in 1976, the previous long hot summer as I recall. It has factory options as listed in the original specification sheet as shown below including extravagances such as central locking and air conditioning.

 

Availability:

According to Department for Transport figures there were only four XJ-S and two XJ-S Automatics from the 1976 production year still licensed on UK roads - just six in total with this car being one of them, and only another two which were registered in 1975. This gives you an indication of just how rare this car is, and how exclusive ownership would be. You are most unlikely to drive past another one.

Mileage:

The car has covered a very low 62,019 miles at the time of writing, an average of under 1,500 miles per year, supported by all of the accompany documentation.

Service history:

This car comes with a Jaguar Heritage certificate (see picture) plus a massive service history, the majority of which is from the original supplying dealership, and the car will be freshly serviced prior to collection by the new owner. It comes with a pile of receipts and bills to verify the low mileage.

Documentation accompanying the car includes;

Original letters to dealers asking for price quotes for a new Jaguar XJS with radio cassette instead of an 8 track

Original bill of sale showing the cars details and purchase price of $19,507.50 (see picture)

Original passport to service with stamps and delivery details.

Original owners handbook in Jaguar wallet.

A huge history file including every receipt for maintenance and repairs.

A picture of the first owner collecting his new car from the dealership in 1976 (see picture)

An excel spreadsheet of all works carried out over the years.

There is a veritable mountain of receipts and just a few of the notable recent works over the last few years include: 

Replacement air conditioning compressor

Front and rear shock absorbers

Full brake overhaul including new rear callipers

Automatic gearbox rebuild

 

On the road:

The car drives superbly and feels like a true luxury 'Grand Tourer' - it’s a real joy to drive any journey, be it long or short. The car starts first time and ticks over like a Swiss watch with very good oil pressure. The car has light and responsive steering, whilst the smooth engine and recently rebuilt gearbox give it a purposeful road presence. The car pulls strongly with a pleasing exhaust note and wafts along in a regal fashion. At the time it was light-years better than the competition. I am quite simply staggered by how well this particular car drives. You would be forgiven for thinking you were driving a five year old car. Having driven numerous cars from the 60s and 70s, most of them can be hard work and tend to show their age, but not in this instance. This XJ-S really does drive exceptionally well which is a testament to the meticulous maintenance, low mileage and wonderful condition. It's a fantastic grand tourer and I would be confident to drive across Europe in it tomorrow. These Jaguars can realistically be used as an everyday car or just as a weekend cruiser, perfect for those sunny days, perhaps even touring the continent.

 

Engine:

The 5.3-litre (5,344 cc) version had a 90 mm (3.5 in) bore and 70 mm (2.8 in) stroke. It produced 242 hp to 295 hp depending on emission controls and compression ratio, and 400 N⋅m (300 lbf⋅ft) of torque in fuel-injected form. Right from the start of production in 1971 for the Series 3 E-Type, the V12 engine had Lucas OPUS electronic ignition whilst the newer XJ-S had a Lucas fuel injection system which was based around the Bosch D-Jetronic system.

This version of the 5.3 litre V12 was used in the following cars:

1971 to 1974 Jaguar E-Type

1975 to 1981 Jaguar XJ-S

1972 to 1981 Jaguar XJ-12 (Series 1 and 2)

1973 to 1981 Daimler Double-Six (Series 1 and 2)

The car starts first time with a muted burble from the twin exhausts, ticks over with a refined note and accelerates smoothly and effortlessly. The Jaguar V12 engine was the pinnacle of automotive engineering and its basic design continued (albeit uprated to 6 litres) until the 1997 changeover to Ford derived V8s and V6s. Granada engine in a Jag..? This marked the end of a magnificent era of Jaguar straight six and V12 engines, whilst the new Ford derived V8s as found in the XK and XJ proved extremely troublesome in early years. Eventually the later model 1990s cars equipped with the original Jaguar designed engines are likley to become sure-fire and highly desirable classics.

Transmission:

The 3 speed Borg Warner model 12 automatic gearbox is very smooth and changes exactly as it should.

 

MOT:

The car has a long MOT which runs until 24th May 2021. There were a couple of minor advisories for steering components which are currently being addressed and will all be resolved prior to collection. The car is now MOT exempt, meaning the next owner can have it MOT'd on a discretionary basis if they wish.

 

Condition:

This is a well kept and much loved classic, in astonishingly original condition throughout. Corrosion can be the major Achilles heel of these classic Jaguars, but as this car spent its life in the dry state of California, the sills and structure are very solid with no evidence of significant or structural corrosion anywhere on the car. There are many XJ-S models which may look shiny on the surface, but may inevitably be hiding a wealth of structural corrosion, and the only way to guarantee finding an original unrestored car without major structural corrosion is to buy one from a hot, dry climate where they don't cover the roads in salt for several months of the year. The car is presented in its original 'survivor' condition. This shows the original paint, which has faded over the years and would now benefit from some improvement. 42 years of Californian sunshine has patinated the paint to the extent where some may be happy to use the car as is, whilst others may wish to go for a full paint renovation. The reason for offering the car in its current condition is so that the new owner can appreciate it in truly original pre-renovation condition to be assured of the genuine, straight, accident-free condition, whilst sometimes fresh paintwork can hide a multitude of sins. However, if the car fails to find a buyer in its current condition, it will undergo and programme of paintwork improvement and be offered for sale once completed, expected to be in the £25,000 to £30,000 range, although it will cost far less than the difference to carry out the renovation. However, this takes time and investment and then selling subsequently at a higher price point may take longer, hence the decision to offer the car 'as is' now.

All in all I think anyone with reasonable expectations will be delighted with this exceptionally rare car with exemplary provenance. It's always difficult to convey the condition of any car in words, this one is wonderfully original but not perfect (no 42 year old car ever is!) so it is always best to get in touch and come and see this lovely car in person to assess its true original condition.

 

Pricing:

The value of these cars can only go one way in the future. The rusty old examples are vanishing rapidly and the good ones are becoming far more scarce. With E-type prices at very high levels, sooner or later it was inevitable that the XJ-S became an appreciating investment, particularly the earliest Pre-HE versions. Many predict these cars are going to rise sharply in value over the coming years, as they have more than doubled in value in the last decade. This car is well priced and ready for immediate enjoyment, or with considerable headroom to add significant value to the car with further improvement, at £15,950.

 

Conclusion:

This is a superb classic sporting grand tourer, incredibly rare to find in any condition, let alone with such low mileage and comprehensive history, with original paintwork and body, excellent interior, and great mechanicals. It draws admiring glances all the time, with oodles of charm, character and style, and these days looks unlike anything else on the road. The colour is beautiful and shows off the flowing lines and finesse of the fabulous 1970s design. People literally stop in their tracks and look, as these wonderful cars are a less common sight on our roads. If I were forced to choose one of the current stock of vehicles to tuck into a barn for a decade and watch the value rise, I think this would have to be the one.

AUTOMATIC - 1976 - 5.3 LITRE V12 - Pre HE - 62,019 MILES - SOLD

JAGUAR XJ-S

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