Junkyard Gem: 2001 Jaguar XJ8

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After Ford bought Jaguar in 1989, the bosses in Dearborn finally got their hands on a storied luxury brand that would be taken more seriously than Lincoln outside of North America. A fresh infusion of dollars worked wonders to improve the quality of Jaguar’s engineering and assembly, and development of a modern DOHC V8 engine immediately took a high priority. That engine made its debut in the 1997 Jaguar XK8, then went into the engine compartment of the very first production Jaguar sedan to get factory V8 power: the XJ8. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of that first generation of XJ8, found crashed in a Colorado self-service boneyard.

The 1998-2003 XJ8 lived on the final iteration of the mid-1980s-vintage XJ40 platform, the X308. While this means that the X308 had chassis ancestry stretching back to the British Leyland era, Ford’s money ensured that it would be built better than its predecessors had been during the cash-strapped bad old days.

Exterior styling wasn’t much changed from that of the XJ300.

Inside, the old XJ40 dash finally went away for good, replaced by a design more appropriate for the new century.

Jaguar couldn’t compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz on leading-edge chassis engineering, but its heritage was hard to top.

The engine is a 4.0-liter DOHC V8 with variable valve timing, rated at 290 horsepower and 290 pound-feet. Ford should get credit for funding Jaguar’s own engine instead of simply stuffing some member of its Modular V8 family in here. If you wanted a manual transmission in your XJ8, the answer was a firm no.

In fact, Ford ended up using the 3.9-liter version of this engine in the Ford Thunderbird and Lincoln LS.

The MSRP for the base 2001 XJ8 was $56,355, or about $98,725 in 2024 dollars. The 2001 BMW 740i listed at $62,900 ($110,190 after inflation) and the 2001 Mercedes-Benz S 430 cost $70,800 ($124,030 now). Perhaps the $51,745 BMW 540i and the $56,050 Mercedes-Benz E 430 ($90,649 and $98,190 in today’s money, respectively) were more realistic sales rivals for the XJ8, though.

This car’s interior is a bit grimy but appears to have been in nice enough condition when it arrived here. What happened?

This happened. On a near-quarter-century-old European luxury sedan, body damage like this usually results in the insurance company declaring the car totaled.

Remember when Dennis Tito paid $20 million to become the world’s first space tourist? Jaguar could have saved him some money.

You’ll never, ever lose it in the parking lot.

It was a new breed of Jaguar.

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