14 October 2013

Jaguar Market Spotlight: XJ Saloons

Jaguar E-types are remembered for their stunning looks, their sporting performance, and for one of the most famous quotes in all motordom, penned by Henry Manney (“The greatest crumpet-catcher known to man”). Jaguar saloons of the 1970s and 1980s, on the other hand, are most frequently thought of in the context of what they are not. Namely: an E-type. Lately, however, buyers have come to cast a more appreciative eye on four-door models from this era.

Outside of Blue Chip Jags like the C-type, D-type, and XKSS—cars that are simply unattainable for most enthusiasts—the biggest movers in the Jaguar market during the past 16 months have surprisingly been XJ saloons. While the E-type (Series I to Series III) has increased in value at an average of 12%, the XJ has climbed 26%. The average XJ price today is nearly 12% higher than it was in 2008, and is at its highest price since Hagerty Price Guide was first published in 2006.

The thing about XJs is that the market has stopped knocking them for having two too many doors—for the moment at least—and instead noted that these cars carry many of the positives of their more sporting brethren at a 20%-50% deduction in price. Early XJ-6s have the famed 4.2-liter inline-six XK motor that is so celebrated in E-types. XJ-12s likewise benefit from the smooth V12 that makes Series III E-Types such fun to drive. The cars obviously have completely different lines and driving dynamics—they are family cars after all—but the characteristics of the motor are preserved in the larger model. In a lot of ways, the visceral charms of the motor still shine through in the sedan, even if performance is dampened by the car’s greater weight.

In terms of collectability, early Series I cars are best as they have purer looks when compared to Federalized models and offer a more classic interior. Series II models are generally safer due to their side-impact beams, as were Series IIIs. Both the first series V12 and 4.2-liter models offer performance that is not out of place in today’s traffic, with 0-60 times at 7.4 seconds and 8.8 seconds respectively.

Make no mistake, XJ sedan prices are not primed to overtake E-type coupes, nor will they be unimpeachably collectible in the long term. Market tastes change as do prices, and high build numbers and an inherent bias towards two-door models work against the XJ in general. Recently, though, prices have been on the move, even outpacing Coventry’s most famous model. Smartly buying a Jaguar XJ today for a few years of service looks like it could end up being a free ride when it comes time to sell down the road.

Brian Rabold is the editor of Hagerty Price Guide.

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