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Home British Car Reviews The 1990 Jaguar XJS V12, Simply An Over Rated Complex Time-bomb With...

The 1990 Jaguar XJS V12, Simply An Over Rated Complex Time-bomb With Leather

1990 Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible. Yes its a labour of love or should we say simply Hard Labour

1990 Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible Evaluation

Make / Model: Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible

Year: 1990

Description: An exceptionally long and elegantly crafted splendid example of British engineering from a day gone by. Yes the Jaguar XJ series and especially the XJS V12 was a car Baby Boomers dreamed of possibly owning as we saw them slip quietly down the road on rare occasions. Owned only by the elite in the town the XJS was the envy of many in its day. Let's see if it's still the same circa 2019.

Year Reviewed: 1990

Mileage At Review: 27,800

Engine Size: 5,300cc V12

Transmission Auto/Man: Automatic

Exported To : Absolutely nowhere

Average Cost In Japan: 200,000 ~ 2.0 Million JPY

Tell Us About The Drive/Parking/City/Highway: I had a brief opportunity to own this car for approximately 1 year. The excitement of taking ownership of the car was excruciatingly fantastic as I had always wanted a V12 Jaguar car since I was in my 20s.

My car was collected from auction by yours truly as the anticipation was far too great so I collected it personally.

Upon starting the large V12 engine you immediately notice how quiet this car is. It's so quiet that even with the soft top down talking is easy.

Heading away from the auction my new Jaguar which shows less than 30,000 Klm on the speedo is showing some suspicious signs of I have done a few more kilometers than I am displaying here. I hadn't been drinking so it wasn't a case of 1 beer too many. The leather looked a little cracked on both seats and the dashboard was just not right. The seatbelts also had more shoulder wear and dirt than one would expect. However, the greatest sign was that the gear change was so slightly jerky with a very audible whirring noise in first.

I also have some warning lights that would not extinguish until the car had become slightly warm. The fuel gauge also did not work.

The drive home was approximately 110 kilometers which was an absolute pleasure to do. Driving in the city prior to entering the expressway I noted just how long the front of this car really was and you could physically see it bob up and down as you went from acceleration to braking on those occasions when you have to do so.

Moving in and out of traffic required some tenacity as this is a large slow car that loves the open road more than it does city life. It prefers a chase the neighbor to rubbing shoulders with the neighbor. With its many blind spots and need to have space to get momentum, it's far easier to stay in the steady flow of traffic over fighting the traffic.

Looking forward to the faster life I moved the big Jaguar XJS out into the traffic and accelerated into the fast lane. With ease, we glided past little Japanese cars like they were stationary. This V12 wanted to be driven and driven moderately hard it was. We spent a good 40 minutes out on the open road as the car quietly lumbered along never missing a beat. The gearbox was fine at higher speeds and not a problem was found.

Coming to a standstill from speed is always a challenge for this car so give yourself ample stopping room.

On e moderately warm summer day after about 450 kilometers of kilometers added to the clock, my car started to feel sluggish and was misfiring as we were driving along. I had heard of this happening but could not believe that my lovely old cleverly designed, overly engineered British made beauty would fall victim to it. We were having a Mirelli Meltdown.

Never again would we be doing zero to 60 times of 9.7 seconds. We limped into the nearest 7/11 carpark and watched as smoke billowed out from the catalytic converters.

It was over and my 1990 Jaguar XJS V12 ownership smashed. At that point, I had a beer or 6 to console myself knowing that I lived in Japan and the cost of repairing a Mirelli Meltdown is similar to buying plutonium.

My car was repaired by a friend and ran back through the auction. It never ran the same after the meltdown and the fear that this could happen again due to bad initial engineering made it a scary proposition to hold onto. Never again happily.

Reasons To Buy Or Not To Buy: If you buy one of these cars you must honestly dislike having money in the bank and a clean floor in your garage.
The best reason to buy a 1990 Jaguar XJS V12 is that it's glorious. The lines and wood interior not to mention the smell from the leather is enough to droll over. Look under the bonnet once you learn how to open it and look at the maze of plumbing that keeps the car alive and marvel at how the hell it all works. Drive the wallowing ship down the road and people look at you for longer in this car than they would do if you're in a Ferrari. (I can testify to this). It's fun. Its hell. It an elderly British stately aristocratic experience to be cherished on good days with sherry afterwards if you make it home.

Car Age At Testing: 29 Years

Keywords: Jaguar,V12,XJS,Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible, Marelli Meltdown

Zero To 60 Times: 9.7 Seconds

Fuel Type: Gasoline (lots)

Video thumbnail URL:

Overall Score 0= Bad & 100= Great


  • Design - 91%


  • Performance - 66%


  • Reliability 0 Bad, 100 Good - 48%


  • Used Car Cost - 29%


  • Drive - Open Road - 78%


  • Drive - City - 23%


  • Exterior Style & Spec - 80%


  • Interior Style & Spec - 88%


  • Value For Money 2nd Hand - 90%


  • Technology at That Time - 22%


  • Good Or Bad Re-Sale Value - 50%


  • Does It Look In My Driveway - 97%


  • Do We Like This Car - 50%


  • Safety Features At That Year - 20%


  • Economy - 35%


  • 2nd Hand Reliability - 28%


  • 2nd Hand Running Costs Per Year - 40%



Comments Rating

(1 review)

The 1990 Jaguar XJS V12 is Adorable

With its classic looks and dimensions, the 1990 Jaguar XJS V12 coupe or convertible is a car to be admired from afar and you should send the owner your condolences as he has balls of titanium to own this car and at the same time, he would probably never part with it. Jaguar and Daimler owners of this generation car and older will never flinch and I am proud to say I am not one of them. Hats of to you all.


Exquisite lines

Fabulous comfort

Exceptionally quiet

Value for money

Will never date



You need to be wealthy

It will break down

Very slow

Loves fuel

Gremlins everywhere



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