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I have always been drawn to cars that are a little bit different.
My first, in 1989, was a Marine Blue Volkswagen Beetle when most of my peers were driving Ford Fiestas and Escorts: good cars, no doubt, but back then the Beetle offered something more original and at
a price I could afford.
With a 1300cc engine it wasn’t the quickest, but it looked great and had that unique sound that only an air-cooled car provides.
It was cherished for a number of years until I finally moved on to another VW, a 1988 Mk2 Golf GTI, which was also a fun car for me – until it was stolen from Brighton seafront while I was on a night out.
Fast-forward 25 years and, after a number of relatively sensible cars, an opportunity arose to purchase something different again.
Working from home and covering minimal annual mileage, my attention turned to buying a classic and, with the prices of old Porsches climbing into the stratosphere, I turned to a car that had always been on my wishlist and was a surprise to most of my friends: the Jaguar XJS.
I have my father to thank for my interest in the XJS, because he owned a number of Jaguars over the years.
Great memories of travelling in GT luxury in two of those cars, a 1989 Solent Blue XJ-S coupé and a facelifted 1993 Regency Red XJS, ultimately led to my purchase.
With the long sweeping bonnet and those famous ‘flying buttresses’ providing the unmistakable, Malcom Sayer-inspired sleek appearance, my heart was set – especially because it was affordable at the time.
After conducting a good degree of research I decided to go for a late-model car, and eventually found a 1996 4-litre, one of 121 six-cylinder coupés registered in the final months of production.
Powered by the AJ16 engine, it provides the best in XJS refinement, still showing off the classic 1970s design and without the crushing fuel bills of the V12.
Being a final Celebration edition, the car is finished in Ice Blue metallic – a nod to my VW Beetle days.
Special items include embossed Jaguar leapers on the headrest facings, sapwood veneered woodwork, ‘aerosport’ diamond-cut alloy wheels and a half wood/half leather steering wheel – all standard equipment on the limited-edition model, which has now covered 109,000 miles since its registration on 1 January 1996.
While the car is almost a quarter of century old, however, it’s still fantastic to drive and having been kept overnight in a garage for the majority of its life has ensured it has remained remarkably solid.
Open up the wonderful 241bhp straight-six engine, a benchmark in refinement 24 years ago, and the car still delivers an exceptionally smooth drive even by today’s standards. It really does have an amazing way of making you feel good when you are behind the wheel.
My young sons Aaron, eight, and Joseph, 10, fit in the back – for now! – and love being driven in “Dad’s XJS”.
When an opportunity to buy a Porsche came up last year, I put the question to them – and “XJS!” was the resounding response. The decision was made to keep the Jag.
It’s a car that was originally pitched at customers considering GTs from Ferrari and Mercedes at its launch in 1975, and it continues to turn heads and receive comments of appreciation whenever we’re out, particularly given the distinct lack of XJSs now on the road.
I’m planning on enjoying the Jaguar for many years to come, and it continues to live up to the 1996 brochure’s opening statement: ‘A car offering more excitement, distinction and value for money than ever before.’
- Owned by Stephen Lynch
- From Cuckfield, West Sussex
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