Recently, an acquaintance of mine found himself in need of a solid running car on the cheap. And since he knows me as “that guy who never shows up in the same vehicle twice,” naturally he decided to give me a call.
Unfortunately for him, my driveway is looking a bit empty as of late. With scrap prices hitting their yearly highs in past weeks, I’ve been mostly focused on stripping and crushing my small stable of parts cars. Plus, it’s winter and around here, private party car sales tend to be more or less dead in these months of below-zero temps. This means I haven’t spent much time hunting for deals.
The only things in my personal fleet not currently hibernating to avoid road salt are the Suburban and the faux Touring Sedan.
But he needed a car. Any old car, so long as it was in nice shape and could be had as quickly as he could ready his funds. Sensing a one-time opportunity to unload my faux Touring Sedan for a stronger price than I’d get on craigslist, I decided to float the idea.
Looks like someone else will get to install the gray lower trim I finally finished collecting, the FE3 swaybars and brand-new FE3 front struts I scored for $30, and all the other goodies I didn’t find time to apply. And although the final price was slightly more than your typical 98 would bring, he was happy to have found a rustless, rock-solid runner with new tires and under 100K miles, for less than any car lot’s “back row special”. Swapped-in leather interior and alloy wheels? So much the better!
Though the Olds isn’t gone quite yet, it will be soon–and so I find myself in need of a new daily driver.
I had been hot on the trail of a gold 2001 Regal GS (the supercharged variety), which was claimed to have only 105K miles. Its retirement had come after it sustained some light front end damage, much like the car shown. But its owner was an inexperienced seller, missing my calls, holding appointments for people who clearly weren’t serious buyers, and just generally not knowing a good deal when offered.
Having owned two GSes, and several other W-bodies, it was a natural fit. It might have been a great find for $1300, but I’ll never know–after three days of playing phone tag, I gave up.
So it was back to searching. As I mentioned earlier, the pool is pretty well dry. Only the truly desperate seem to be listing anything on craigslist at this time of year, junkyards are closed for the season, and no one is putting vehicles in their front yard to sell (mostly because there’s too much snow piled up).
But then, I happened upon this 1988 Jaguar XJ6.
Jags really weren’t on my radar, and never have been. I fear the unknowns, the expensive parts, the wiring that’s only hilarious when someone else is working on it. But perhaps this one would be different.
It was advertised by a man who claimed to be its second owner, the first being related to him. It had 80,000 miles, and its ad contained a laundry list of maintenance items claimed to be recently replaced (brakes, rotors, pads, wheel bearings, front tranny seal, various fluids/filters, etc). It supposedly ran and drove fine, and even came with a sizable stash of parts the owner had been saving after buying and stripping a parts car some years back.
Of course, it wasn’t without a few flaws. The tires were getting low on tread, the fenders had begun to develop a small spot of rust on each of the doglegs, and the night-time illumination for the instrument panel was not working. But on the bright side, it was priced to move–$1200 is all it would take to own it.
I’m someone looking for a daily driver on the cheap. Someone who does his own wrenching and could conceivably tow himself home if (who am I kidding, it’s a Jaguar–make that when) needed. Someone who tends to turn over cheap rides biannually. Someone who’s willing to tolerate blue leather. Considering all that, I could see it.
But that’s assuming it passes muster. I’ve been reading lots of things like this recently, trying to familiarize myself with Jag-speak and the various signs of impending doom. Even so, I know that no amount of reading can match the experience of owning a particular vehicle and that, generally, you pay for your education with your first ill-advised purchase of any given model.
It might be a deal. But if it’s not, I’ll have no problem letting it go. I have no particular burning desire to own a Jaguar; it’s just another car I’ve never owned, but might enjoy spending some time with.
Since I need more projects like I need more holes in my head, I want to be fairly sure I’ve covered my bases before taking on what might be a bottomless money pit. And if the likelihood of a positive outcome is just too low, it’s probably best I simply skip it altogether.
Am I losing my mind? Possibly. But I always hate to pass up any chance to get a good car at a good price.
So… have any of you ever owned an XJ40? If so, what were your experiences? And what advice (other than “hold out for a newer model”) would you offer to someone like me, preparing to head off into unfamiliar territory?