They rot

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Rust­proof­ing of early ex­am­ples wasn’t great and a bad one isn’t worth sav­ing, so ex­am­ine the sills, door bot­toms, whee­larches and the seams of the front in­ner wings. Mud trapped be­neath the whee­larch lin­ers rots the rear lower sec­tion of the front wings. Look around the fuel filler and sun­roof open­ing, and don’t be sur­prised to find bub­bling in the lead­ing edge of the bon­net and edges of the boot lid. The good news is that pan­els, new and sec­ond­hand, aren’t hard to find.

Watch for mois­ture

Pay at­ten­tion to the A-pil­lars and front bulk­head. Sort­ing the lat­ter might re­quire en­gine or dash re­moval, and se­ri­ous rot in ei­ther area could send a car to the break­ers. The boot needs par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion as it could be prone to wa­ter leaks, rot­ting the floor panel; if the boot lock has failed, pre­vent­ing ac­cess, be very wary. And if you’re tempted by the sport­ing XJR, check the con­di­tion of the unique body kit as re­place­ment parts are scarce.

Is it leak­ing oil?

Spe­cial­ists con­sider the en­gines to be bombproof, and they’ll cover big mileages if main­tained prop­erly. The six-cylin­der AJ6 units are es­pe­cially durable, but check for oil leaks and misfires, the rat­tle of a worn tim­ing chain (which points to in­fre­quent oil changes) or bro­ken ten­sioner, and signs of a leak­ing head gas­ket. The V12, on the other hand, is com­plex and needs to be treated with cau­tion. In­her­ently re­li­able, it’s trick­ier and more ex­pen­sive to fix, so a car with­out de­tailed ser­vice records is a po­ten­tial money pit.

It shouldn’t sound clunky

Var­i­ous trans­mis­sions were used de­pend­ing on the en­gine fit­ted. Man­ual cars got a five-speed Getrag ’box, while the four-speed au­tos were by ZF (six-cylin­der) or GM (V12). None are es­pe­cially trou­ble­some, but reg­u­lar oil changes – prefer­ably ev­ery 30,000 miles – are the key to longevity. Back axles were by Sal­is­bury or Dana, de­pend­ing on age and model, with the for­mer con­sid­ered the more ro­bust. Ei­ther way, lis­ten for clunks or whines and check for signs of oil leak­age.

Jags shouldn’t sag

The weight and per­for­mance of an XJ40 puts a strain on the brakes and sus­pen­sion, so look for ev­i­dence of reg­u­lar work. Front wish­bone bushes don’t last long, with pulling to one side a sign of fail­ure, while the A-frame bushes around the dif­fer­en­tial last around 50,000 miles. The self-lev­el­ling rear sus­pen­sion in early cars can be trou­ble­some and needs check­ing for leaks and sag­ging. Many have been con­verted to the con­ven­tional spring/damper set-up fit­ted

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