We found this beautiful 59K mile British Racing Green over Tan 1988 Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible in April 2019 on Craigslist in Marlboro, New Jersey where the private seller is asking $19,995. Based on the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool for a similar coupe version of this car, the private seller has his car priced between the #1 “Concours” and #2 “Excellent” levels. Given the low mileage and overall excellent presentation, we feel the price is in line and accounts for the premium and rarity of the convertible conversion. Still, there may bit a bit of wiggle room for negotiation.
By the mid-1980s convertibles were back in vogue and naturally, Jaguar wanted to take advantage of this trend. In 1983, Jaguar offered the XJ-SC, which kept the door frames and rear quarter windows in place with a folding top overhead, similar to the convertible top seen on today’s Fiat 500. This design never caught on, so in 1986 Jaguar started offering a full convertible version available through some dealers that were coupes converted by Hess & Eisenhardt in the USA. The Hess & Eisenhardt coachbuilding firm was located near Cincinnati, Ohio, and built about 893 of these cars under contract from Jaguar before the official Jaguar-built XJS full convertible became available in 1988.
The Hess & Eisenhardt convertible differed from the later Jaguar-built XJS version as its unpadded top folded down deeper into the body structure of the car resulting in a cleaner rear profile when the roof was lowered. To accommodate this design element, the Hess & Eisenhardt convertibles have two separate fuel tanks, positioned to allow for the roof to fully retract. The process of converting the stock Jaguar XJS coupé into the H&E Convertible included the post-production removal of the roof, cutting the body in several sections, the addition of steel reinforcements behind the driver’s seat, and twenty-pound weights placed just behind the headlights to eliminate harmonic resonance caused by the significant modifications to the car. H&E XJS convertibles are easily identified by the lower folding top, as well as two small badges located just behind the front wheels. The later Jaguar full convertible had a heavier padded top that did not fold as low as the H&E convertible but retained nearly all of the original components of the coupé, including the nearly useless rear seats.
The exterior of this Jaguar looks clean and straight with no dents or scratches visible in the extensive pictures provided. These just look right with the British Racing Green paint and wire wheels.
The tan leather interior is even more stunning. These light tan interiors can get dirty just looking at them, however, this owner clearly knows how to care for the leather properly. Note the odd location of the cruise control button on the console and just to the left of that, the seat heater controls on the side panel.
The private seller does not provide any service records or other information regarding the 5.3L V12 and automatic powertrain, other than stating his car is CarFax certified and is all original with no modifications. You’ll need to do your homework interviewing the seller and checking the powertrain during your pre-purchase inspection to ensure this car has been properly maintained to date and not simply kept well-detailed.
The private seller proudly states, “You must see this car in person as the pictures do not do her justice.” and based on the pictures provided we would have to agree. While more of a GT than a true sports car, the sound of the smooth V12 combined with the smell of the beautiful tan hides as you drive with the top down to the next gas station will be a truly luxurious experience for both you and your passenger. Good luck with the purchase!