Buying Classics Abroad
Jaguar XJ-S/ XJS
Although importing an XJS (or pre May-1991 XJ- S) can be expensive, you’ll hang on to your investment if you find a stunning example and preserve it. There are plenty of lovely cars – especially the later convertibles – in the USA (a key export market for Jaguar) and some specialists are bringing them in to the UK. The 4.0-litre model only became available in the States in 1993, so most are likely to be V12s.
But with conversion to right-hand drive difficult to justify ( you’ll pay at least £3000 using secondhand parts) you might not be able to enjoy the new-found taste for overtaking which a V12 inevitably brings. You’ll be in a similar position if you buy one in mainland Europe, but at least you’ll get a fun road trip out of it. Just don’t expect the weak pound – or the Jag’s notorious thirst – to count in your favour if you do end up driving one home to the UK.
Fortunately there are plenty of right-hand-drive Jags to be found in dry climates. Gary Robinson of independent Jaguar specialist, Swallows (www.swallows-jag.co.uk). Gary used to bring high numbers of XJSs from a dealer in Japan, and still raves about their rust-free condition and low mileages, but warns: ‘It can be fraught with problems. I’ve seen a lot of accident-damaged cars, and the Jag’s suspension rubbers suffer in the heat. Headlinings and dashtops often need replacing for the same reason and the radio and alarm frequencies are different, and can cause difficulties in the UK.’
Other right-hand-drive dryclimate markets where XJSs can be found include South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, but rust always depends on a car’s proximity to the coast. ‘I was in South Africa at the beginning of the year, and the cars I saw were rusty and far too expensive,’ says Gary.
If you’re buying unseen, always get the car inspected by an independent specialist before parting with your money. We’ve driven a couple of imported XJSs that don’t handle as well as they look, something that supports Gary’s warning about suspension rubbers.
You’ll find a few lovely examples in New Zealand and Japan, but Gary advises that prices are strong. Theo Ford- Sagers