(first posted 9/20/2014) The sight of a beat up Jag in a dilapidated neighborhood is one of autodom’s more frequent and depressing spectacles. But this particular XJ6 which I spotted in nearby Bedford, IN took the image to a new level because the car had not only been left sitting, it was likely put out of commission very soon after purchase, if these temporary tags are any indication.
Yes, these tags expired one month ago, so it’s safe to assume that soon after the car’s late June/early July purchase, a fundamental (or fundamentally expensive) component failed, rendering it undriveable. When a car is simply abandoned rather than taken to a junkyard, as this one has been, it’s easy to image its infuriated owner throwing his hands into the air in disgust and walking away.
As we’re all aware, Jags of this vintage are known for breaking their owners’ hearts and leaving them without transportation and with a hefty repair bill. Our own Keith Thelen, for example, acquired an XJ6 project car only a few months ago only to indefinitely postpone many further investments in its repair and maintenance. But I’m not always ready to fully accept such reputations without first-hand experience; I often reckon that enough people regularly relied on these cars that any associated horror stories could only have limited real-world applicability. That line of thinking admittedly makes more sense when discussing Fiats and various French makes, whose famously unreliable cars were built in massive quantities, serving as utilitarian transport for countless Europeans and their families. But in the case of the less plentiful Jaguar, I’m afraid, such logic is less solid.
This is your garden variety late-production Series III and, in terms of trim and bodywork, could be in much worse shape. Its trim and paint are faded, yes, but they appear to be all original. That so many similar Jags present in clean condition with good trim might be why so many people are fooled into thinking that the worst Jaguar rumors won’t affect them. Like an STI, the reasoning is “that happens to other people.”
As so often happens, though, the worst problems do manifest for owners–call it the dirty payout that results from the seduction. And typically, many of these relationship patterns repeat themselves. As our current COAL-man David Saunders has demonstrated, old habits die hard and many of the fragile cars he buys purely out of intrigue are followed with others of equally delicate constitution.
As this driveway near my house (with one immobile Jaguar parked to the right of an unregistered XJ40) shows, the Jaguars of a ’70s and ’80s were seemingly designed to rot and be abandoned; yet, their fans can’t get enough of them (it would seem the “curator” of this collection has moved on to a G-platform Deville, on the other hand). Some, upon beholding another person’s continued acquiescence after such expensive, drawn-out sagas might experience schadenfreude.
Others, like those among us who encouraged Keith to go ahead and buy his XJ6, appreciate the prioritization of passion and satisfaction over purely practical concerns. After all, there are other cars seemingly destined to be abandoned which I’d like to own one day; maybe a Peugeot 405 Mi16, an Alfasud, or a Corrado G60. As enthusiasts, we need to nurture each others wild and impractical sides, so think twice before you mock someone for their choice of a four-wheeled time-bomb.
The chances of law enforcement and/or the city fining the owner have scared my family (myself included) into never permanently abandoning a vehicle. Perhaps this vehicle is not abandoned, perhaps it was stolen and parked there. Or the owner could have run into problems trying to register it or is scraping together funds. Though I do not know Indiana like Mr. Shoar so I trust his judgement when he says this Jaguar is close to being abandoned. I do like the twin gas caps and the abstract shape of the taillights.
It doesn’t seem right that someone would leave a car abandoned, not being driven. In fact it’s unforgivable that some people would do that. If the owner has the money to buy the car, surely he has the money to keep the car running.
If they have money to buy it, they have money to keep it running? Surely you jest. If that was actually true, no one would ever buy used luxury cars or used sports cars. The purchase is a reach and the owner deludes themself into thinking “I’ll have better luck than everyone else does”.
I’m not even trying to be judgmental. I was once a heartbeat away from laying down something like $9000 for an Audi A6 with the 2.7TT motor and over 100K miles on it. Drove great, looked great, ran strong. Beautiful car, one-owner. I’m sure that would have ended in pain for me (they were obviously getting out while they could still get good money for the car). Lots of people do it, it’s a decision driven by desire and emotion. But most people don’t do the careful calculation required to set aside a “repair fund” for the car they’re about to buy, or to consider how much of their available monthly payment (if financing) should be set aside for the inevitable mechanic bills.
Very often the cost of parts and repairs is more than the value of the car.I’ve had an interest in Jags but never had the nerve to buy one.It’s probably abandoned for medical reasons,the owner’s sick of it!
Or perhaps parts aren’t available for the car to be properly kept running. That’s even more unforgivable. If you’re going to offer a car to any country, it’s always a good idea to have enough parts on hand to keep the car running.
I should think Jaguar dealers and specialist mechanics are hard to find outside big cities.You’re right it’s unacceptable to not carry spares or keep the owner waiting ages and then charging silly money.
And here in the big city suburb east of Seattle, the owners, mechanics, and clubs for these cars are dying off at a rapid rate.
These cars do not pass go – they go directly to Pick-n-Pull and collect $200.
I have a coworker who owns one of these. It sees the road about two weeks a year. After a year’s worth of repairs, it now is running too rich (I suspect a blocked fuel return line since he had both tanks cleaned and sealed along with new fuel pumps). I’ve got to find my fuel pressure test apparatus and loan it to him.
I absolutely love the idea of owning one of these cars. But I just can’t do it. If I really needed a full-time hobby, I’d rather have a Northstar-powered Cadillac STS, just for the exhaust note alone.
It’s difficult to decide which is worse; seeing a Jag such as this abandoned or seeing one coughing, knocking, and smoking its way down the street. I’ve seen the latter in the past six weeks – it’s quite the sight.
Either way, it is certainly a mighty fall from its intended orbit.
I agree. I love Jaguars, particularly the XJ6 and the XJS. But I couldn’t afford to keep the car running if I wanted to.
A Jaguar is a beautiful machine, and it’s a shame to see one rotting away at the side of the road. Still, they’re expensive to maintain, and I think it would be better to strip it for parts to keep other Jags going rather than leave it sitting. For myself, while I love an old Jag, I’d rather own something that’s reliable and is relatively simple and inexpensive to maintain.
Far better to strip it for parts. But consider the person who buys a tired old Jag and then, when it breaks, leaves it sitting in the street. This is probably not a person who has the time, tools, and space to strip a car and then list the parts for sale. Sure, it’s a win-win; they’d make money back and the parts would help keep others on the road, but it’s probably not feasible.
What makes me wonder about things like this, though, is the fact that most metal recyclers will pay for junk cars. Many will even come haul them away for you. While I certainly hate to see a car with potential sent to the shredder, wouldn’t most people prefer to have cash in hand rather than walking away and risking fines from the city?
I’ve made plenty of mistakes but owning a Jag is not among them. The 2002 Saturn Vue, based on it’s Jag like behavior probably would speak with a British accent if it could talk.
Hey, maybe this Jag has good gas tanks…
And I’m certain it has a rear suspension. Aren’t those things practically worth their weight in gold?
…Hey, maybe this Jag has good gas tanks
My thoughts exactly. Trace the license to find out who owns it, and pry Keith away from the radio station for one day. He’s probably driven farther than to Indiana for a project.
Call the guy “do you realise what the city will fine you for abandoning a car? It isn’t worth it. I’ll clear it off the street for you and make it go away for free. Just meet me on the corner to sign off the title”
I love these. I would also never buy one unless I had 10-15K free to just have it towed to the most reputable Jag guy within 100 miles and have every component overhauled
Buying and old Jag is like dating a young, beautiful lady on crack: so seductive, so beautiful but she’ll drain your wallet in six months.
Given what scrap metal goes for these days, I’m surprised anyone would leave a car to get towed away by the city. There are tons of enterprising scrappers who would happily give a couple hundred bucks and a free tow for it. I’m surprised there isn’t a flier for one tucked under the wiper.
1964bler, you beat me to the gas tank comment!
From a Northern California viewpoint it is inconceivable that some salvage yard could not be persuaded to come out and tow it away for the title. The sale of one major body part could net a profit.
In the smog control district where I live in California, cars older than 1994 can be turned over to the smog control district for scrapping or crushing, in exchange for $1000. One hang-up is that if it needs a smog check, it has to get and pass one, first! I recently got a notice that my old car was eligible for the $1000 turn-in. It is old enough to be exempt from smog checks…a 1963 Corvette. I crushed the smog control district’s notice, instead.
Agreed. I think the most useful path forward for this type of vehicle is:
1. craigslist ad – maybe someone wants a project like Keith, that would be great. When that fails,
2. sale to modern salvage yard with open access internet inventory- owner makes a few hundred, car is available to anyone in the area interested in gas tanks, dashboards, and other Jaguar hens teeth
3. the crusher
Honestly, its going to end up at three anyway, I’d just like to see more vehicles of this vintage available to donate their organs in an efficient manner to the cars that are going to make it for the long haul
You also have to be able to show proof of continuous registration and insurance for at least two years in the district. And the glass and sheetmetal has to be present. Since the goal is to retire older cars from service, if you can’t prove it’s been in regular use, they’re not interested. It’s self-retired…
I recently unloaded an 88 Legend through this program. I was lucky that it wasn’t due for a smog test, because I’m not sure it would have passed it.
It is foolish to purchase a vintage vehicle of any type without the knowledge or sources of its parts and repair procedures. I have owned many foreign makes. I currenty own VWs (Jetta varaint, golf and Vintage bug). When ever I dive into new uncharted territory I read and collect as much information as I can find. Right now I’m preparing to get a Vanagon. So the first thing is to look for spare parts. Parts from my VW dealer I work at are mostly are discontinued. So other specialty sites are the next step. I found Van cafe.com and GO Westy.com . Both will keep it running for years to come.
But Louie, you make too much sense! where is the spontaneity, the impulse, the falling in love with the object of desire?
Buy first, worry later, I say.
That’s right! 🙂
The trainer in our sports club had a Vanagon. It went broken on the autobahn somewhere in Germany the birthplace of the VW. He is a VW fan so he is quite skilled in servicing as he repaired it few times on some of his earlier trips through Austria and even Germany. That ominous time the Vanagon decided to give it up definetly. So he left it abandoned there and caught a train to got back home…
If I think of a 350 every time I see one of these does that make me a redneck?
No, not so much as it would make you practical and pragmatic. 🙂
It turns a Jaguar into a feral cat.
What if it received an engine transplant from a Cougar? 😉
That will make it a Couguar or a Jaggar.
I think transplants have their place in car-dom. It is just not for me.
At times I wish to be a bit more adventurous but when it comes to decision time I am much more like Louie: way to sensible. I can see myself in a ’97 Ford Thunderbird. They are very reasonable.
I was close to getting a Lincoln LS, but then I chickened out. A short time after that I was hit with an unexpected monthly medical bill. That is much more important than any automotive fancies.
Wouldn’t a 302 weigh about as much as the Six in one of these?
My first car at age 15 was a 1956 MK VII Jaguar,purchased from the used car lot of a GM dealer.Knowing nothing about mechanical matters,the Jaguar was a POS.That was 1971.When I was 17 in 1973,I bought from the used car lot of a Datsun[Nissan] dealer a 1965 MK II Jaguar 3.8 litre automatic which was a great drive when it started and went.It equally was absolutely the most unreliable automobile I have ever owned.Also drove many new and used Jags at that time and whilst they retained that seductive aura Jaguars possessed,they were ultimately a car for masochists.Great ideas very poorly executed.
Please tell us your opinion about early ’90’s XJ40! In the case that you had or still have practical experience with this model. Thank you in advance… In fact there is only one XJ40 alike Jag cruising around in my neighbourhood but I didn’t make to ask the owner about her daily opinion… A buddy of mine has a 2000 S-Type RHD 3 Litre V6 as he bought it in the U.K. for only 1.000,- GBP. It serves him without technical issues as a daily driver and as a touring car on long long distances…
I have no experience of XJ40 Jaguars,although one appeared in my street recently.Jaguars were quite popular in Tasmania but Mercedes Benz gradually became the car of choice for former Jaguar,Daimler,Rover,Buick,etc owners.My sister was presented with a Series 1 XJ12 as a wedding anniversary present in 1977,a fast car after you hit 60 miles per hour,but the fuel usage for a young mother with a baby seat in the back.She told me she was embarrassed to be seen driving such a luxurious car.I still think the series 2 and 3 XJ6 were some of the most beautiful automobiles produced.I haven’t seen one for many years.Some put Chev engines in them,but part of the pleasure of driving a Jag is that silky smooth six cylinder engine.
Planning a story on the XJ40. Mark VII… who do you think you are sir; Stirling Moss? I found a Mk2 3.8 auto recently, I assumed they were quite rare.
Don, not Moss but I was privileged to meet Jim Clark,he visited my parents house,at my invitation, while he was about to race at Longford,Tasmania.This was my 3.8 MKII,my mother standing there and my father’s 1965 Buick Skylark at the back.
Your mother is quite becoming.
Jim Clark! The gentleman farmer. Very apt. At your behest? My mathematics age you at around 10 or 11 at that time.
Don we moved into our freshly built 44 square [Imperial] house in Launceston in December 1967.The house was built on a hill and down below and in front was a motel where many Longford racing cars were parked on trailers in front of each motel unit.I was indeed 10 or 11 years and I climbed down our very high retaining wall to look at the cars.A man came out of one unit and asked me if I liked the car,I did,and he introduced himself,Jim Clark.We talked for a while and I asked him if he would sign,in paint,his name on the rumpus room wall.He asked where I lived and I pointed at the large white brick house and told him we would have to climb up the retaining wall,which we did and with a small paintbrush,he signed J M Clark on the wall and then met my parents.I think it was 1968 and his last Longford before his tragic accident in Europe.
Roderick; you must write this stuff up for CC. A Mark VII at fifteen! Jimmy Clark’s signature in your rumpus room! What other nuggets do you hide?
And I forgot to mention that when you floor the accelerator pedal the sound of a smooth 6 cylinder Jaguar engine suddenly becomes like the roar of a tiger,you dont get that same aural stimulation with a V8.
Yep, enjoyed that on my 420G. A mate who owned highly modified rice-rockets (he had an insane Mazda Familia grey import at the time) drove the Jag, and was quite surprised at its pickup of speed.
All depends on the V8: ever heard a flat-head Ford thru dual straight pipes come on the cam? Pure music!:-)
Your story about Mr. Jim Clark’s sign should deserve a CC article…dealing with Don’s opinion. I mean your skill for expression is so so good. I mean you have skills kind of a bookwriter/story teller. As a CC reader and follower pictures appeared in front of my eyes about your adventures story telling kind of expression… Do you still keep that autograph on the wall? This Jaguar XJ6 article tastes a good restaurant with tasty meals. The XJ40 that I mentoned earlier is already sits in my family’s garage and waits for its time to be driven again soon. It’s a RHD British version. The more interesting thing about it that it had been bought in Britain by a German gentleman who passed away several years ago and during the XJ40’s carrer it had been used in Germany. I have all the original books, docs, the british and german servicing notes with the car. What -I think- gives to it a bit more excitement as it should be used in traffic on right hand side due to its entire carreer…and hopefully it’ll keep on continue…
Thanks for the answer… Yeah, the first thing I have to do is to fix the original InLine Six 4 Litre engine. Not a serious problem only the cylinderhead gasket has to be replaced and while the engine were out of its compartment we did some minor part replacements on it too just to become sure that it’ll work properly after the reinstallment… The lad who brought it to me told that its fuel consumption is around 9-10 litres per 100 km by the average speed of 110-120 kph on the freeway. I think quite acceptable from an engine of its size. Must not be a so unreliable vehicle if the vital parts are in good condition or replaced with new ones… An undiscovered car yet from my aspect… Practice vs prejudices…
I don’t care.
I have hands, I can fix it.
I love the XJ Series.
In 20 years time everybody will go “OOOOOOH and AAAAAH those were great cars Sir !
And they’re as bad as a poor maintained BMW 7-series or a run down S class Benz.
Ok these are worse, but IMHO easier to fix and the big advantage of them is most things break after each other.
Thing is, I had a friend who was an electric and electronic wizard engineer, kind of Cape Canaveral kind of engineer, and he fitted a couple of relais in my 76’XJ6 3.4, he instructed me to take out the wire connectors like from the taillights, clean them and solidly solder them and use good insulation rubber.
I fitted my Jaaaag with a BOSCH 65 Amp alternator from a Ford Taunus (the last model Taunus and Cortina Ford’s were 100% identical, but ze Germans used Bosch and the Brtis used the Prince of darkness) I ftted two fuel pumps from a Japanese car from the scrapyard and hey presto, never had an electrical gremlin ever.
And I took out and cleaned out the radiator, put it in and put Industrial vinegar in the cooling system, topped it up with water and drove for a few days, flushed the system thorougly and bought good coolant.
All I was left with was a fantastic good Jaaaaag.
Unfortunately I could not afford myself a Jaaaaag so I sold it
The point with these babies is : you have to know a thing or two about cars and you should not be afraid to get dirty fingernails.
One more and I’ll stop, we were tlaking about the Alfa Montreal, a car you could pick up for next to nothing, but these things had everything wrong when they were treated badly, an expensive engine derived from Alfa’s T33 race engine so spares cost a fortune, panels were priced like they were made out of gold and the electrics were made by Italian plumbers.
Those cars were basket cases, while on a Jaaag everything breaks , one thing after another.
I was surprised when the steering electronic panel went off in one of our family member’s lil’ 2008 Fiat Punto Mk2B. As we couldn’t be able to get one used and reliable operating so we decided to order it via the official local Fiat-Lancia-Alfa service network. It costs a fortune. 500,- Euros with adjuncted costs of delivery. Come on lads. It’s only a 1.2 Litre Punto Mk2B! I have never payed in my entire driving carreer so much money for only one part when needed anything to my North-American made GM cars… Even though the Poncho and the Chevy is olderthan the Punto but those have never hasn’t electronic malfunction of the Punto kind. Only the oxidized electric connections has to be cleant and lubrificated from time to time.
Personally, I enjoy the challenge of reviving a car that others have abandonded. But the truth is, you have to be mechanically inclined because the cost of labor alone for this type of car, or for any car needing extensive repairs, can be astronomical. If the parts are expensive this would have to be a long term project so I can spread the cost out over time. We all know the satisfaction of reviving a classic is priceless!
Have you ever tried it on a Jaguar?
The most expensive cheap car you will ever own is a European luxury car.
The “Cad-Jag-Jag Trio” is a nice lookin’ bunch… But the original 1986 “Hero” of this story is intriguing too… If the spareparts are “expensive” or “cheap”…this really depends on the abilities and priorities of the owners of these kinds of Jags. One time I was asked to source some engine parts for an XJ40 and I was a bit confused when the calculations put me to a decision to buy them in the U.S. and not in Europe despite to the fact that the car is in Europe. The mechanical parts are essentially less problematic than the car’s interior or the electronic components which are sometimes hard to be sourced either from the North-Americas as well as from Europe and/or U.K. too. If we aren’t perfectionists but wanting a Jag to be driven as a daily commuter, we could be satisfied with a mechanically reliable operating car with forgivable dents on the paintjob and aesthetically less perfect interior…
Looks from the rusty water marks underneath it may have overheated and stalled, maybe a SBC transplant is in order that fixes most expensive Jag issues.
Every time I see one of these tired series III cats (or the Series II, for that matter), I wonder how many nice ones are left. I can’t believe they sold all that many of them in the scheme of things, and it always appears to me that there are far more marginal cars than nice ones – or even daily drivers, for that matter.
At what point will there be no bad ones, only good garage queens because the rest have been made into beer cans and washing machines?
I can’t believe that after 50 comments, nobody here sees the most obvious course: Perry has to buy this car, and then we can have our own CC reality show where we pit Kieth and his brown one vs. Perry with the gray. Who will find the missing parts first? Paul can give them each a budget, say $3k and both must produce a functional car by the deadline. This will be a cable TV goldmine. Dare we call it the Curbside Classic Jag-Off? Probably not.
Dare we call it the Curbside Classic Jag-Off? Probably not.
Junkyard Jag Wars?…really enjoyed that show (Scrapheap Challenge over there), especially the Brit version, as the contenstants struggled mightily to tease an occaisonal sputter from the remains of Brit cars.
I satisfy my need expensive European cars by sitting in them. Running or not, Audis and Jaquars interiors feel and smell so good! My brother drives a Q7 and my sil an A6. Whenever I am their guest, sitting in one or both of them is a treat!
Talk about the CC effect, in reverse. Yesterday I had just finished replacing the radiator in my own ’97 XJ6 and was feeling full of Jaguar love. I thought that i’d use the search function to relive how the objects of my affection are treated on this forum. I scrolled through this post and noted that if the beauty of their styling was matched by their engineering they would never break down.
You always read a lot of comments about swapping in SBCs, as if that would end all their problems. If the fuel tanks and delivery systems are the problem, the choice of engine won’t make any difference. If electrical issues are the problem, ditto. If the motor or transmission is bad, there a tons of good used units waiting in parted out cars that would get you back on the road in no time. At least for awhile! Not to mention the worn out suspensions that are a Jaguar staple. They also don’t know what kind of engine is residing in the car.
I’ve seen lots of partially completed hybrids offered up for sale where the builder throws up his hands (and maybe his lunch!) before completing the transformation. I’m not saying that it’s not possible to replace every original system to give that Chevy a good home, but it’s a lot of work to do a thorough job. If you just want to go fast behind a SBC, just buy yourself an older Camaro, most of the hard works already been done.
their fans can’t get enough of them
The joke I heard about this vintage (from ~20 years ago) is that this car makes a statement: Either “I have a spare for parts” or “I employ a riding mechanic”.
I see the appeal but it doesn’t quite suit me. I would,however, be the kind of friend who’d be talked into coming over on the odd Saturday to help do some assistant wrenching.
Ford were appalled at the antiquity of Jaguar’s factory at Browns Lane when they bought the company. I had a friend who worked on the line and he said the cars were virtually hand made. The machinery was so clapped out and poorly maintained that they’d go on strike at the drop of a hat just to escape the awful screeching of some tortured press and that was the only way to get them to fix it.
Ford invested a small fortune in reequipping Browns Lane and the subsequent cars are much better.
Americans are used to simple rugged lowly stressed ohv V8s. They don’t seem to have a car maintenance culture and many of their mechanics lacked experience on more sophisticated machinery. These cars are valued in their home country, but recognised as a complicated expensive car requiring specialist attention, self taught or expensively purchased.
Personally I drive an old Merc. All the parts are available and there’s a man in Lebanon who manufactures all the replacement and repair panels you could ever need.
More sophisticated and badly engineered aren’t synonyms. Often times these ‘more sophisticated’ imports had materials of insufficient quality, dissimilar metals reacting to one another, and inadequate cooling. The XK engine is as good an example as any. Sure, it has what seems like an exotic spec sheet, but it is the same spec sheet shared with many Depression-era luxury cars that were also unlikely to fair well in a world with freeways that allowed 75 mph cruising for hours on end. Meanwhile, well-engineered push-rod V8s developed after WWII were setting people’s expectations for performance and durability.
The XK was essentially an old-fashioned extremely long stroke design whose greatest strengths were displacement in Europe and eye-appeal in the US. The 3.4 liter used in the XK120 had a bore and stroke of 83 mm × 106 mm (3.27 in × 4.17 in). I can’t think of another post-war car that was so extremely under-square, at least not one thought of as a performance engine. Twin cams are nifty, but I’m not sure I get the point when the engine wants to throw a rod at 5,500 rpm. The companies with real sophistication had figured out metallurgy to the point where pushrod engines could exceed XK engine speeds with less wear, less maintenance, and a lower center of gravity.
Reminds me of the line from “The Gumball Rally”: “It’s a beautiful design. Too bad it won’t run.”
Uttered by the driver in reference to the E-type left behind in NYC at the start of the race.
Story I read is the movie producer needed two of every car for filming purposes, a normal thing in Hollywood films. However, it’s recounted that the Jaguar rep was so snooty, they wouldn’t provide even one for the film. The producer got even by bringing in one himself, and writing it in as a POS. Hahahaha!!!