All XJRs are cool; some are even cooler than others, though…
By Matt Bird / Wednesday, March 23, 2022 / Loading comments
There aren’t many other websites that will bang on about the joys of a manual gearbox quite like PH. We love them, you love them; sometimes it can feel like the last resting place for three-pedal enthusiasts. Not least because we have to suffer the removal of a manual option from another performance car on what seems like a weekly basis. Take manufacturers like Toyota, Porsche, Mazda and Honda out of the equation and you’re left with precious few. Yes, automatics are better than ever, but there really is nothing to beat the enjoyment of a good DIY gearbox. Even a bad one, to be honest.
The real reason, of course, for the demise of the manual gearbox is that precious few people opt to buy them. Yes, the success of the manual-only GR Yaris is great, but there are many other cars where, given the option of both transmissions, the auto has vastly outsold the manual. So, what are manufacturers to do?
This isn’t a recent phenomenon, either – just look at the manual Jaguar XJR. Yes, it really did happen, back in the mid-1990s with the X300 generation. But this is PH, you knew that already. What you might not be aware of is just how few were sold, with most estimates suggesting only 100 five-speed, right-hand drive XJRs were ever made. Even for a luxury saloon, that’s a pitiful number – and just 40 or so are believed to be out there now. This was at a time when autos were much worse – the contemporary GM ‘box in an XJR had just four speeds – and manuals more popular than today. Still Jaguar couldn’t shift them.
But as is always the way with these things, what wasn’t popular new now looks mighty intriguing. Because here’s a 320hp, rear-drive, straight-six Jaguar sports saloon, with a Getrag manual gearbox. It won’t be as sorted in terms of handling as a new car, of course, but it promises an experience that won’t be easily replicated elsewhere. If great classic cars are about celebrating the best of what can no longer be bought, how much more old school cool is there than a 150mph supersaloon with a manual gearbox?
Moreover, this seems to be a superb Jaguar XJR even before considering the appeal of the transmission. With its current owner since 2000, it’s covered just 71,000 miles since first registration in 1997 and comes with a “comprehensive” service history. Some might think the numberplate is brilliant; some might think it’s a disaster. At least it might be worth some money for those in the latter camp. But there’ll be no arguing about the condition, with paint, leather, wheels, carpet and chrome all looking supremely well looked after. No doubt there are plenty of ‘wood’ and ‘knob’ jokes to make about a shifter that looks much longer than it needs to be, but we’ll leave those to you…
If there’s one thing that’s always united all Jaguar XJRs, it’s frightful depreciation. An X300-era car like this made it Shed of the Week as recently as 2018. But good ones are now coming out of the other side, and the manual ‘R is certainly in that camp, with a £20k asking price. Which is easily the most expensive X300 we’ve seen, and more than later, lower mileage X350s from the mid-2000s, but the demand is clearly increasing for the real old school Jags. A pristine version of the V8, X308 that replaced this XJR could cost £15k. And there wasn’t a single manual version of that car. So if you really, really love a clutch and a lever, here might just be the Jaguar for you…
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