In last week’s Project XJ6, I introduced you to the lucky Jag that I’ll be attempting to put back on the road. This week, we take a step back to see where the car came from, and look at a few others which were passed over.
You’ll probably remember this car from a previous article.
It, along with one which resembled this white Jag, were both dismissed without making an offer. Why?
Rust. Rust, rust, rust.
Jaguars seem to be just as bad about rusting as anything else, and perhaps more so. They get it in all the usual spots–doglegs, rockers, quarters, trunk floor–and they also have an annoying tendency to develop rust around the bottom of the front and rear glass.
But when their interior floorpans turn to Swiss cheese, or the areas around the rear spring mounts get soft, that’s a dealbreaker for me. And both of the aforementioned Jags were indeed approaching, if not already in, that state.
My Jag hunt should really have ended there. After all, those were the only two complete cars locally which were priced at $1500 or less, and I wasn’t willing to
throw away invest more than around $1200 to start this experiment.
But there was one more. It was an older model, a Series III (which I didn’t mind). It also wasn’t exactly nearby, being around three hours from me (a minor inconvenience). What I couldn’t get past was the $2500 asking price. Clearly the seller’s dreams hadn’t kept pace with depreciation.
Still, the description sounded promising: 80K miles, all by one owner; stored for past 14 years, outdoors only recently. It was prepped, started, and had run well within the past 6 months. It also had nice paint, a clean interior, a decent body and a supposedly motivated seller.
With an asking price of $2500, he couldn’t be all that motivated… or could he?
I decided to send the owner an email. Having received Paul’s blessing to make this an official CC project car, I decided to “cheat” a little by mentioning that the car would be written up, hopefully swaying him towards letting it go cheap in exchange for the extra reassurance that it’d be put to good use.
I expected no response. Instead, within an hour I was greeted by a well-written email that addressed all of my concerns as well as a revised version of the ad which dropped the price by nearly a grand (as seen above).
Turns out the seller was a retired body man and used car dealer who was now involved in selling old Ford parts from his residential garage. He’d bought the Jag years ago from the original owner, and had planned on putting it together for his wife. But that, like so many old car projects out there, never ended up happening. Now he was getting ready to move, and the Jag needed to go.
I liked that the guy was up-front, honest, and willing to deal. However, I still didn’t like the price.
Turned out that, too, would end up resolving itself. Several days after telling him I’d “have to think about it,” another email came in: he was willing to drop the price one last time, to $1000. Perhaps now we had something!
So I hooked up the trailer, and loaded the back of the Suburban up with all the things one might need to drag home a new car, just like I’d done dozens of times before. Having done that (and pumping $125 worth of gas into the tank), we were ready to go look at a Jaguar.
The place was easy enough to find. Just as the ad suggested, the car was parked aside the garage, up on blocks and waiting for someone to give it a new home.
In looking it over, I found that it was in fairly decent shape. My pictures hide the rust just as well (and as unintentionally) as the seller’s did, but fortunately, all the rust I could see was superficial.
The rockers, doglegs, and quarters were all affected by rust, along with some bubbling at the bottom corners of the front and back glass. There was also a hole at the rear seam of the trunk pan, down in the spare well. But unlike the others I’d seen, the underbody was in very good shape, and the floorpans were still solid.
Apparently the reason that this car’s first owner parked it was because of a leak in the right gas tank. Other than that, the seller said, it was pretty much good to go. I tended to believe him.
Of course, there was also a smattering of other issues. The exhaust had separated in one spot and would need to be welded. All four of the tires were completely shot. And, of course, there’d be ample opportunity to find mechanical problems once it could finally be driven.
But hey–for $1000, why not? It may have been too rusty to ever be a collectable, but it had plenty of potential for use as a driver. I could put it back in working order, get as many months and/or miles out of it as possible, and part it out once it had served its purpose, hopefully losing nothing but the cost of fuel, oil and tires by the time I was done.
And I could hopefully do much of it while surrounded by its nice leather interior. Loose headliner? Bah. Who needs a headliner, when you’ve got that leaping cat on the hood to look out at?
Since there was no negotiating to be done, it was a simple yes-or-no question. I whipped out my stack of greenbacks and said yes.
The seller was even kind enough to fill up the tires while I readied the winch, and to let me roll out his floor jack for ease of removing the blocks (saved me from having to use the scissors jack I’d brought along).
Loading went fairly smoothly. The car door was even high enough to clear my trailer’s fender!
My old man and the seller had plenty of time to talk while I strapped the Jag down.
Before long, we were ready to hit the road.
With the car loaded and the sun setting, we began the long journey home.
As we cruised along with the Jag in tow, I wondered to myself whether this would be the beginning of something wonderful, or the beginning of an automotive nightmare.
For next week’s Project XJ6, we’ll get it off the trailer and into the garage, take stock of it, and make it move. Stay tuned!