The XJ40 ush­ered in a new era, re­plac­ing the XJ6 that was in pro­duc­tion for nearly 20 years

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - Richard Dredge

‘Re­ally good cars are get­ting rare, so buy­ing on con­di­tion rather than spec is def­i­nitely ad­vis­able’

Clas­sic Jaguar sa­loons have al­ways been ter­rific value, but any­thing built be­fore the ar­rival of the XJ40 in 1986 is now be­com­ing very col­lectable and less af­ford­able as a re­sult. So if you’re look­ing for a lux­u­ri­ous fam­ily clas­sic, look no fur­ther than the el­e­gant sa­loon that saved Jaguar.

The XJ40 was launched in the UK in 1986 and was avail­able from the out­set with a choice of straight-six en­gines: a 165bhp 2.9 OHC; and a 221bhp 3.6 DOHC straight, both de­riv­a­tives of the AJ6 slant-six unit. The big­ger en­gine was su­per­seded in 1989 by a 235bhp 4.0-litre unit then in 1990 the 2.9-litre was re­placed by a 200bhp 3.2-litre en­gine. We’re dis­re­gard­ing the 6.0-litre V12 here be­cause you’re un­likely to find one, and some of the mod­i­fi­ca­tions men­tioned here won’t be nec­es­sary.

All XJ40s are com­fort­able but some are more sport­ing and bet­ter ap­pointed than oth­ers. Re­ally good cars are get­ting rare, so buy­ing on con­di­tion rather than spec is def­i­nitely ad­vis­able.

The en­try-level 2.9-litre en­gine is prob­a­bly best avoided be­cause it has to work so hard, but it’s not dif­fi­cult to swap it for some­thing big­ger. How­ever, you’ll prob­a­bly need to change the dif­fer­en­tial and front springs to suit and en­gine swaps can lead to is­sues with the DVLA. Start­ing with a big­ger-en­gined car will al­ways be less has­sle.

As well as the mods be­low there are lots of cos­metic tweaks avail­able for the XJ40, in­clud­ing body kits and ad­di­tional chrome trim high­lights.

But the ul­ti­mate XJ40 up­grade en­tails trans­plant­ing the run­ning gear from an X300 XJR into a stan­dard car. It’s a big job, but as long as you’ve got a suit­able X300 donor car it’s more straight­for­ward than you might think, be­cause the X300 and XJ40 have a shared cross­mem­ber and the brakes fit straight on, too.

THE HIGH­LIGHTS £60+ Some XJ40s got ob­long head­lamps, oth­ers four round lights. Nei­ther is bet­ter than the other but they re­ally change the car’s ap­pear­ance. It’s an easy swap – even the ded­i­cated bulb fail­ure mod­ules just slot straight in. FISH­ING FOR CHIPS £245 Each dis­tinct XJ40 en­gine ECU leaves room for im­prove­ment. AJ6 En­gi­neer­ing of­fers mod­i­fied ven­turis and ECU re­pro­gram­ming to in­crease power by 15 per cent; a re­designed in­let man­i­fold can boost this to 30bhp. BRAKE FORCE £271 Look­ing for stronger an­chors? The eas­i­est op­tion is to buy a set of EBC discs and pads di­rect from www.ebcbrakeshop. There are many op­tions but the costli­est kits cost £224 for the front and £170 for the rear. BREATHE EAS­IER £60 One of the eas­i­est and cheap­est ways to lib­er­ate more power is to re­place the av­er­age stan­dard air fil­ter with a freer-flow­ing one from the likes of K&N or Piper­cross; all en­gines re­spond well to one of these sim­ple con­ver­sions. WHEELY GOOD £200+ Some XJ40s came with steel wheels and early al­loys were met­ric, so later im­pe­rial wheels are pop­u­lar. You can’t fit Se­ries 3 or XJ-S wheels be­cause the off­sets are dif­fer­ent but some X300 and XK8 wheels do fit the XJ40. SUS­PEND DIS­BE­LIEF £300 Some XJ40s came with self-lev­el­ling rear sus­pen­sion, which can be hideously un­re­li­able and costs well over £1000 to fix when it goes wrong. Con­vert­ing to a stan­dard spring/damper set-up is a good idea. EX­HAUST­ING £695-£1225 Stan­dard ex­hausts fo­cus on re­fine­ment rather au­ral ap­peal and aren’t not as ef­fi­cient as they could be. AJ6 En­gi­neer­ing’s ex­trac­tor sys­tem and tubu­lar man­i­fold can boost midrange torque by as much as 12 per cent.

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