When grandpa’s V-12 sedan still purrs like a big cat, for the most part.
1980–92 Jaguar Series III XJ prices remain a four-figure bargain
Jaguar’s flagship XJ sedan is two years past its 50th birthday, perhaps a step slower, and maybe even graying a bit at the temples. Yet the old “eXperimental Jaguar” can confidently say something that few of a similar age would dare to utter: I’ve still got it.
Originally launched in 1968, the iconic four-door XJ6 replaced all the Jaguar sedans that preceded it. Its signature 4.2-liter DOHC six-cylinder engine delivered 180 horsepower and the car was given anti-dive suspension, power rack-and-pinion steering, power disc brakes, and either an automatic or manual four-speed transmission with overdrive. The XJ’s handsome good looks proved so attractive that Jaguar barely changed the model from year to year—not quite to the extent that you can’t tell one generation from another, but updates arrived in subtle ways. That all changed in 2009, when the XJ underwent a complete makeover to become its more-rounded and modern-day self.
Among classic XJs is the 1980–92 Series III, which received understated styling changes provided by legendary Italian design house Pininfarina. A couple of years ago, enthusiasts began taking notice of these third-generation XJ6s and XJ12s (with a 5.3-liter V-12), and although that growth has slowed a bit, prices are on the uptick. The ’79–92 XJ has a current Hagerty Vehicle Rating of 61.
The Hagerty Vehicle Rating uses insurance quoting activity, the number of newly issued policies, sales data, auction activity, and other metrics to rank vehicles compared to the overall collector car market. Based on a 100-point scale, a vehicle keeping pace with the market will score 50. Ratings above 50 show above-average interest; vehicles with a sub-50-point rating are trailing.
In other words, Series III cars aren’t smoking hot, but they’re on the warm side, which is where you want to be.
“Few, if any, Jaguars from the ’80s and ’90s have hit true collector status,” says Hagerty valuation analyst James Hewitt. “The XJ Series III is one of those.”
The problem, Hewitt says, is 1980–92 XJs suffer from the same malady as other British sedans of the era. “Buyers often look at the rock-bottom prices of ’80s and ’90s British sedans and become curious, but the fear of big repair bills keeps the number of buyers low and entry prices even lower.”
The Series IIIs have managed a healthy HVR, however, thanks to higher Hagerty Price Guide values and a slight auction bump. Quoting and insurance are relatively flat or down slightly since the previous HVR, so perhaps these cars are still flying way under the radar.
The 1980–92 XJ’s overall rating of 61 is higher than many of its contemporaries. The 1980–98 Bentley Mulsanne, 1980–98 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit/Silver Spur, 1984–92 Bentley Eight, and 1985–97 Bentley Turbo R all have lower HVRs than Series III XJs, yet they’re comparatively more expensive. And they don’t have the XJ’s longevity.
Few automotive nameplates have lasted for 50 years without interruption, and the third-generation XJ offers an inexpensive avenue to Jaguar ownership. Some may say they’re a bargain.