Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Rot­ten and bodged cars are the norm, so an­a­lyse all of the bodywork metic­u­lously, check­ing very care­fully for filler as well as cor­ro­sion. Key rot spots in­clude the bot­toms of the A-, B- and C-posts, along with the sills, rear whee­larches and valances. Also scru­ti­nise the spare wheel well, door bot­toms, rear ra­dius arm mounts and the arms them­selves, the screen sur­rounds and the bon­net hinge mount­ing points. The bon­net can cor­rode, as can the bootlid, the wings around the headlights plus the var­i­ous jack­ing points. The ra­di­a­tor sup­port frame also dis­solves, and, if left to fes­ter, rust then eats into the front chas­sis struc­ture. Front sub­frames rot badly and you can ex­pect to pay £2000 for a spe­cial­ist to sup­ply and fi­fit a used one.


Of­fered in 2.8- and 4.2-litre guises, the XK en­gine needs reg­u­lar main­te­nance or its life will be dras­ti­cally re­duced. Look for a ser­vice his­tory, make sure the en­gine doesn’t sound hol­low or rat­tly, and en­sure the oil is clean – walk away if it has the con­sis­tency of tar. The key is to bud­get for a re­build as soon as the en­gine is show­ing signs of wear; de­lay things and the bills will quickly mount, es­pe­cially if some­thing ends up break­ing. The XK en­gine has a cast-iron block and al­loy cylin­der head. Be­cause of the lat­ter, an­tifreeze lev­els must be main­tained scrupu­lously or else in­ter­nal cor­ro­sion is guar­an­teed. Even a well-main­tained en­gine will need a re­place­ment ra­di­a­tor ev­ery fi­five to 10 years, de­pend­ing on the level of use, so you may need to bud­get for this at around £220 plus labour costs.


Look at how much oil is on the car’s un­der­side, as the rear crank­shaft oil seal can fail. Once this has hap­pened the en­gine needs a com­plete re­build; a spe­cial­ist will charge £4000 for the priv­i­lege or you could do the work your­self for up­wards of £600 – but it’s an in­volved job.


Some XJ6s have a man­ual trans­mis­sion, while oth­ers have a Borg Warner unit that can suf­fer from jerky changes, even in good con­di­tion. In­spect the fluid for colour, level and qual­ity. If it’s black and smells foul, a £1000 re­build is on the cards. The man­ual gear­box is strong and most such trans­mis­sions were sup­plied with over­drive. If it seems slow to en­gage, it’s prob­a­bly be­cause the oil needs chang­ing or has fallen below the ideal level;

wear is un­usual. Dif­fer­en­tials are tough, but can leak oil all over the in-board rear brake discs; re­pairs are at least £1200. The seal of­ten leaks be­cause the brakes have over­heated, so you might need to re­build the brakes as well.


Tired sus­pen­sion and rear sub­frame bushes are com­mon, so check they’ve not split. Worn front tyres point to per­ished bushes in the front sus­pen­sion, which knocks out the ge­om­e­try. There are a lot of bushes through­out the car, and if they all need re­new­ing, the bill could be mas­sive. Also in­spect the dampers for leaks; re­place­ments cost £30 apiece. The hand­brake is of­ten poorly main­tained; it has its own calipers and pads, which seize. En­sure the car can be held on a hill us­ing just the hand­brake, as fix­ing it is a pain.


Much of the XJ’s ap­peal lies in its cabin, which is as lux­u­ri­ous an in­te­rior as you’ll find in any car. A tatty in­te­rior costs big money to fix, es­pe­cially if the car­pets and wood trim are tired; the po­ten­tial for ex­pen­di­ture into thou­sands of pounds shouldn’t be un­der­es­ti­mated.

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