REVIEW: Almost Real (Jaguar) Daimler XJ40 4.0 •

REVIEW: Almost Real (Jaguar) Daimler XJ40 4.0

Almost Real has a remarkable, unprecedented output this year, some renditions of previous models (like the British Police Classic Range Rover, mimicking a 1:24 Italeri Kit), some long-awaited like the most recently released Pagani Zonda Cinque, but also some without much of a prior announcement. Amongst the latter are the Jaguar XJs, spearheaded by the all-new 1:18 scale X350 generation and now followed by the XJ40s that so far only existed as sealed RHD Cult Scale XJRs in various colours. In real life, the XJ40 belatedly succeeded the Series 3 XJs in 1986, with this Daimler version being the top trim level. Almost Real hasn´t replicated the earliest 1980s version, though, but the 1990s improved XJ40. One of the clues for that is Almost Real’s first-release colour, Flamenco Red, which was only available in 1991 and featured in that year´s Daimler brochure that I have here for reference. Before that, you had a solid Signal Red and metallic Bordeaux Red as a specification option. In comparison, the Almost Real Daimler´s red is a tat brighter than Cult Scale´s XJR´s.

The XJ40 is probably best known for its rectangular “styled” headlamps which, however, were only available on the Sovereign and Daimler spec, not the XJ6 entry level. We have to admit, though, that Cult Scale has made those better, in that no mounting clips are visible on the left and right of each lens as here.  What further elevated the Daimler over the Sovereign is its distinctive fluted radiator grille that Almost Real´s model correctly has topped with a Daimler “D”. The electrically powered sunroof that each Daimler came with could easily have become an oversight by Almost Real (probably hardly to be noticed by a vast number of collectors) but hasn´t. Along the sides of the Daimler Almost Real correctly has an elegantly curved waist-high chrome strip and more chrome trim around the windows, chromed mirrors and door handles and chrome-topping on each bumper. That Cult Scale has dechromed the windows to some extent, has body-coloured mirrors and dropped the chrome strip literally to a rather bulky black application that seems to be bridging the flank like a prolongation of the wrap-around bumpers, is the correct sporty de-chroming for the XJR. On Almost Real´s Daimler additional side-reflectors in each bumper are more subdued than on Cult Scale´s XJR. On the boot lid the fluted chrome bar and Daimler script dispel any doubt about what trim level Jag this is. The XJ40´s characteristic smoked tail lights nicely balance the smoked lens against the detailed interior, while the Cult Scale´s XJR´s are darker, blinding out its internals.

Opening the boot lid you find carpeted luggage space, significantly limited by a true-to-original awkwardly located carpet-covered spare. Oh, while mentioning the wheels: Almost Real laudably has Pirelli tire branding on the wheels (on their inside and outside flanks to be able and mass produce them – but never mind)! Will that become standard? The X350 doesn´t have that, the RUF CTR Anniversary doesn´t. Will the Pagani Zonda Cinque have it?

On the interior “such Daimler traditions as individual rear seats of armchair proportions” set the top trim apart from all the other versions´ three-seater-bench, while sadly omitting the seats´ optional contrast piping (as previously on Almost Real’s XJ6 X350). Almost Real´s Daimler XJ40 has fabric seatbelts with photoetched buckles. What looks like a possible third seat is an openable storage compartment that the Daimler had in addition to the storage in the down-folded center armrest. Almost Real has replicated non-folding picnic tables in the same “polished burr walnut veneers”-print that you find throughout the cabin, including the box-shaped inlays The luxury of the rear cabin is underpinned further by Almost Real having added the optional privacy blinds on the rear window. This makes the Daimler a car to be driven in as much as (or more than) a driver´s car. His side is the left, not the British right-hand- side (which funnily is as featured in the UK market brochure, but thus, unfortunately, ruling out a later British police variant like on the classic Range Rover). It is the driver´s place where the “unique combination of advanced engineering technology and traditional British craftsmanship” becomes most obvious. The XJ40 had state-of-the-art electronics, including airbags that make the steering wheel a lot less delicate than in previous models. Horizontal light and cruise control keypads are made rather futuristic. The digital dash elements the XJ40 had innovatively started in 1986 were abandoned in 1990, which lays further proof that Almost Real´s replica is a post-1990 XJ40 and thereby the technically more reliable and visually more attractive choice. The J-gated lever for the automatic gearbox was a new innovation over the flimsier lever of earlier models and looks really nice like all the switch-gear in the door trim. The floor again is not carpeted, but made from a rough plastic pattern (like on the X350). But you´ll have to touch them to notice. The door sills have “Jaguar Cars Coventry England” actually etched into them underneath the “Daimler” script. Incredible attention to detail!

In comparison, Cult Scale´s XJR´s interior lacks seatbelts completely, while retaining the locks on the seats. And although it is accurate that the Daimler has the front seat cushions quilted into 5 stripes (as the brochure shows), while the XJR has 6 stripes, the Cult Scale´s seats yet look quite a bit wider in their entirety.

What to expect under the correctly front-hinged bonnet is the by then 4.0-litre straight-six-cylinder engine (as opposed to the original 3.6-litre six-cylinder). A Daimler Double Six twelve-cylinder was offered in the same brochure, but because the XJ40 was designed with too small an engine bay, it came in the old Series III XJ body at the time (before being squeezed in for the XJ40’s final 18 months of production) and thus would be wrong in this model. So in contrast to Almost Real´s somewhat too modest choice for their X350, the six-cylinder engine is entirely correct here … and extremely detailed with a lot of depth and with OEM stickers, cables, etc. This engine certainly is something for your eyes to feast on, as good as the V12 engines in AUTOart´s old Jaguar XJS and definitely better than in Paragon´s XJ Series I.

This Daimler XJ40 is very much spot on and well worth its price when compared to what a sealed resin Cult Scale XJ40 costs. While Cult Scale was the benchmark for Jaguar XJs so far, a direct side-by-side comparison makes the Cult Scale look clumsier: Everything seems bigger, wider, with the roof bulbing unduly and wheels that seem far too big by comparison to the Daimler, even if you allow for them being a sporty size. The Almost Real definitely has the sharper lines, although it is normally resin that is said to offer this advantage. But look at the creases and domes in the bonnet or at the elevated fin-reminiscent edges atop the sides of the car´s rear. Running your fingertip along these edges you can feel they are sharper on Almost Real´s diecast. In fact, the difference is such that you cannot those two models credibly side-by-side. The Almost Real makes the Cult Scale look off-scale, I am sorry to say. And that is before we take into consideration that the Almost Real has the infinite advantage of being all-open with more accurate goodness underneath that again beats the Cult Scale.

The XJ40 will become available in (at least) Glacier white and Ebony black (with a grey interior), with this metallic Flamenco Red being so much nicer IMO. Before long there will undoubtedly be many more colour options and, although an XJR and XJ6 are not impossible (as these only require modifications that don´t affect the metal shell), adhering to Chinese tastes, Almost Real always have and most likely will opt for grace rather than pace. For too long the old Jaguar XJs were left to sealed-model manufacturers such as Cult Scales, BoS and LS. It is not unreasonable to expect that Almost Real will continue to make more XJ generations and occupy that gap in the market with their talent of recreating British (or more generally) luxury automotive interior craftsmanship.

The closest next Jag would be making the Daimler Double-Six in its Series III body with an option for more Series III variants. Most notably, further niches to be filled would be an XJ Series II never made in 1:18 other than as an XJC. An X300 and 420G would be equally deserving subject matters. The ultimate coup, though, would be Rolls-Royce´s competitor, the Daimler DS420 limousine. Almost Real’s efforts are met with enthusiasm expressed in ever-growing wish lists. And even though Almost Real’s output is massive these days and includes the first of the long-awaited Paganis, we should be expecting more grace than pace.

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9 Responses to "REVIEW: Almost Real (Jaguar) Daimler XJ40 4.0"

  1. Kostas says:

    Thank you for the very nice review Karsten! This is indeed another fine specimen from AR in the vintage luxury saloon category. I am very happy to see that model car manufacturers are showing more interest nowadays in this forgotten category, in an market mainly dominated by SUVs and EVs.

    The Almost Real XJ40 is gorgeous and very well made. Not so long ago I added to my collection their XJ6 X350 in black, a very beautiful model car with many details inside and out and quality features that make it a must have for all collectors of this category. As I can see from your review and pictures, their XJ40 has the same high levels of detailing and quality. It is also gorgeous as the XJ6 and very well made in every department.

    I have also the Cult Scale XJ40 in Solent Blue, as it was the only decent XJ40 in the market until today. Obviously the AR version wins in every department, hands down, but I will still give some kudos to Cult Scale as their version is a very nice and VFM one, taking always in mind the brand and the older production date.

    I will consider in the future an Almost Real XJ40, as I am a vintage luxury saloon fan, but I will wait a bit to see more colour options, as I prefer these beauties in more dark colours. Black, blue and dark green are the most attractive options for me. If Almost Real make a Solent Blue XJ40 with tan interior, just like Cult Scale did, then I will surely go for it!

    • Karsten says:

      Thank you, Kostas. Solent Blue is a nice colour too, indeed. You may have to wait quite a while for it, though. The XJ6 (X350) and XJ40 have both been announced in three different colours each. So it may take a year or years before more colours will be added. Given that there does not seem so much demand for them, it is more likely, that they will not add more colours. You might end up not having it in your collection. It is a bit of a gamble.

  2. kitefighter says:

    I concur with the views of the comment and original review. I’ve yet to buy an Almost Real Model, for my budget has scaled to no more than Norev these days. Respectable, but not in this league. Wonderful choice of subject.

    • Karsten says:

      Actually, highest priced Norev and lower price AR are not too far apart price-wise: One example is the Mercedes Maybach S-Class where the price difference is 60-70 $ with the AR offering so much more that make it better value for money. Particularly these sedans like the Jags and Mercs are excellent value for money while the Paganis are definitely pricey.

  3. rogerlodge says:

    Those engine details are excellent. This kind of detail is what I loved about diecast cars. I say “loved” past tense because details like this are mostly a thing of the past.

    • Karsten says:

      Very true, partially this is not manufacturers´ fault, as modern engines simply don´t reveal much and are designed to look flat and clean under the bonnet. It cannot be denied, though, that many more recent models suffer from the shallow engine syndrome where the replicated engine would have required more depth. Hence my reference to the old AUTOart XJS.

  4. Aaron says:

    Come on, Almost Real. Please do the Jaguar X308 next

    • Karsten says:

      Adhering to Chinese preferences, the most likely cars to be made are top luxury spec with a small engine option. We did not get a V8 on the X350, so the V8 version of the X300 is extremely unlikely to be made „next“, if ever.

  5. Roberto says:

    Great review! You even have the brochure! I am very tempted by the is model

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