Number one concern for any XJ8 buyer is engine condition, as the Nikasil coating on 1997-2000 models could be eroded by high sulphur fuels. Most affected models will have had the engines replaced early on, or have passed on. Low compression, excessive blow-by and poor performance overall are the indicators. Cars with warranty replacement engines have a tag on the block. Across all models, timing chain and tension wear can be an issue. 4.0 engines are preferable to 3.2 for performance and economy.
Bubbling arches are common on neglected cars. Less common, but still worth checking, are door shuts, screen surrounds and front damper mounts. Neglect is a good reason to check underneath, as subframes and sills can
rust dramatically. This is more of a concern on high-priced, low mileage cars which have been standing for long periods of time. Always check MoT history for advisories and comments.
Introduced with the previous X300, the X308 benefits from easy to maintain outboard rear calipers. Check the condition of pads and calipers, as sticking sliders are common, and verify the ABS system works.
Check the trim codes to make sure the interior is that factory-fitted if buying for originality. Issues with age include sagging roof lining (easier to fix on LWB cars) and the usual wear expected on contact surfaces. Parts are not cheap new, but secondhand supply is good at the moment.
Supercharged models used a Mercedes-Benz transmission, most have a ZF gearbox that is particularly fiddly to check without a workshop. Check for flare and slipping, and unless the car is otherwise perfect or a bargain worth risking a potential £1500+ repair bill on, walk away. Either box will generally manage 100,000 miles without a fluid change, but knowledgable owners will have aimed for servicing every 40-60,000 miles.
The test drive should be a pleasure – sharp brakes, communicative steering and excellent ride quality with only the worst potholes breaking the spell. Any clonks, check the subframe mounts first, as these are both a common wear point and a serious rust issue. Just a worn mount can lead to expensive
RIDE OF YOUR LIFE
Give each button and switch a twitch to see they work.
corrosion repairs. Turn in should be sharp and precise. Replacement bushes are available from aftermarket suppliers, though originals will maintain the blend of refinement and handling that give the XJ8 such appeal. Models with adaptive suspension are worth the extra cost.