1996 Jaguar XJ Sovereign Auto


  • Only 38,000 miles from new
  • Three-owner car
  • Comprehensive history 

The Appeal

For over 50 years, the XJ was the definitive Jaguar. It was the flagship limousine each time it was launched, setting the template for more the accessible models below in style and technology. The ‘X300’ generation of 1995 was the first XJ developed wholly under Ford’s ownership of Jaguar Cars, taking the bare bones of the polarising XJ40 and giving it fresh muscles with much better build quality and more gracious curves all around. The X300 is primarily differentiated from the later ‘X308’ update of 1998 by its six-cylinder engine, the AJ16.

 A development of the AJ6, the all-aluminium AJ16 features a General Engine Management System (GEMS) ECU along with a new cylinder head, revised inlet and exhaust ports, higher-lift cams and electronic ignition being the headlines amongst a claimed 100 updates for the X300 era. It stands as the last straight-six to power a Jaguar XJ, ending a car-engine combination that debuted with the 1968 original (although Ford-derived V6s appeared in the 2000s).

This example is a 4.0-litre Sovereign model, featuring extra chrome on the outside, an integrated toolkit in the engine bay, ten-way adjustable front seats with memory function, plus cruise control and automatic climate control. It’s suitably well-appointed inside for a top-level Jaguar, in other words. The exterior sets an equally classy tone in wine-like metallic red with hand-painted pinstripes and 14-hole alloy wheels of a modest 16-inch diameter with pillowy 60-section tyre sidewalls. 

The History and Paperwork

  • V5 present, MOT until March 2024
  • First registered 10th July 1996
  • Personalised registration from new, included with the car
  • MOT certificates dating back to 1999
  • Acquired by the seller in 2015
  • Maintenance history with JLR specialist Tom Lenthall
  • Only the one invoice (from 2010) was previous to the vendor's ownership ownership

The Interior

  • All-original cream & brown full leather interior
  • Sovereign-spec piped seat upholstery
  • Perfectly taut headlining
The interior environment befits a car as grand as a Jaguar Sovereign, with piped leather seats and deep-brown wood trim visible from every angle. The light-beige seats and main door trims are complimented by caramel-brown leather on the upper sections, steering wheel and handbrake handle. As usual, the most wrinkly panels of leather are on the door-side driver’s seat edges, but really all four shaped seats (and the pew for a fifth person) are in fantastic condition for a 27-year-old car with no blemishes to be found anywhere. 

The headlining, often something to watch out for, also remains straight and true all around. In the boot, you will find an immaculate spare wheel, warning triangle, a branded mat and a proudly displayed six-disc CD autochanger – the height of musical luxury in the 1990s!

The seller found it frustrating on night-time drives that the original radio/head unit has no backlight, so replaced it with a different Jaguar OE unit… which sometimes decides not to start-up when you switch the car on. The original, unlit head unit is included in the sale if the buyer would rather reinstall it. The only other condition point is that the front passenger door’s safety light causes a faint ticking sound when only that door is open (opening another door too stops it). This should be a simple fix.

The Exterior 

  • Dark metallic red with 16” alloy wheels
  • All original paintwork
  • Front grille & headlight trims updated with OE parts
The exterior presents exceedingly well overall, the rich red hue suiting the traditional Jaguar lines in a dignified yet characterful way. The paintwork itself shows minor contact marks on the extreme passenger-side corner of the front bumper, of the driver-side rear bumper and the outermost point of each door mirror, but otherwise remains in excellent condition – as is the vast array of chrome brightwork. On the subject of condition, there is unfortunately a chip in the windscreen towards the bottom-right corner (see photos), but we are told this has been holding well for some time now without becoming more sinister.

The seller decided to swap the largely rectangular front grille for that of a different XJ model with rounder, upswept lower corners – which also required fitment of equally reshaped headlight surrounds – but the original pieces are included with the car. Also included with the car is the registration, which was fitted to the car from new for its original owner, a Dr. Roller. That someone called Roller went for a Jaguar instead should speak well of what the X300 offered at the time!

The Mechanics 

  • Original 4.0 straight-six, 4-speed auto
  • Service stamps from 1997 to 2021
  • Under 39,000 miles in 27 years
The invoices with the car tell the story of an XJ that has rarely if ever asked for anything major from its owner, with routine services and MOTs done by Tom Lenthall in Finchampstead offering no notes on any condition concerns. One invoice dated 2010 previous to the seller acquiring the car in 2015 shows servicing and refurbishing of the brakes and suspension, with the brake hoses and front wishbone bushes being replaced at this time and both front hub bearings being cleaned out and re-greased as well.

 Other than this, there is very little to report. The Sovereign started up freely without smoke multiple times during photography and the seller said that, other than the radio’s intermittent functionality, there is nothing out of sorts about how it drives.


The X300 represents a lot of car for the money and one of the more trustworthy used Jaguars one can hope to find, given then-parent Ford’s determination to improve the brand’s image the hard way with improved quality and reliability.

This low-mileage 4.0 Sovereign is a fine example of the breed, cherished throughout its life and wanting for very little in the meantime. As a way to cover serious miles or simply waft suavely around, it remains exquisite.

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This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1996
  • Make Jaguar
  • Model XJ
  • Colour Red
  • Odometer 38,358 Miles
  • Engine size 3980
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Crowthorne
  • Location Berkshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
26 bids
  • gd•••• £7,500 21/09/23
  • da•••• £7,499 21/09/23
  • gd•••• £7,400 21/09/23
  • da•••• £7,300 21/09/23
  • gd•••• £7,200 21/09/23
  • gd•••• £7,100 21/09/23
  • da•••• £7,000 21/09/23
  • gd•••• £6,900 21/09/23
  • da•••• £6,800 21/09/23
  • gd•••• £6,700 21/09/23

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