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!
Very nice Keith! Looking forward to the next installment. Your pictures as usual tell more than half the story and really give a sense of having been along for the ride (without actually having to do the dirty work and/or get cold doing so).
The interior looks in really nice shape. Even the body looks pretty decent. A solid start to a project. I think the biggest thing will be to control costs so you don’t lose your shirt on re-sale. Like my diesel Benz they aren’t worth a lot even in decent shape but can make a really nice classic driver.
Maybe instead of buying my own Jaguar I can live vicariously through your story.
Once a week updates may not be enough; I can’t wait to see what happens.
+1 I chickened out of buying a Jag twice.I enjoy looking at them and reading about them knowing I won’t be skinning knuckles,breaking nails,swearing and eating baked potatoes and beans on toast because the food money went to buy some stupidly expensive parts
Looks nice , I await the rest of the story .
Sadly , the California junkyards are full of these with zero rust , no one wants them , not even when pretty like this one .
I have always wanted one of those, but it is like dating a super model, be careful what you wish for……..,.
Very nice start. It certainly looks like you found a nice one to start with. It is probably hard to do better than you did in finding a good tradeoff between price and condition.
And, I nominate you for the best title of the week. Of course, the problem with feeding a stray cat is that they keep coming back for more to eat. 🙂
Great start to the series. Your posts motivated me to do a cursory check of the local Craigslist ads for pre-’90 Jaguars. Lo and behold, a 1975 XJ12C, in Madrid, IA for $2500:
Which reminded me of Paul’s excellent XJ6 C post:
I think I’m getting the Jag fever…
The XJC coupes are some of the prettiest Jags ever in my opinion, very tempting. I would probably go for one with the 6 though to at least cut some of the problems in half.
Try sprinkling a little cat nip in the trunk.
Hmm… maybe that’d make it go faster!
Or maybe it’d just fall out through the rust hole.
I was hoping you were going to cover the hunt in your opening post. All of the people you meet and stories you hear until you find the one. Then there is the back and forth on the final price. An age old dance that is no different now than when I bought my first used car long ago. Well that’s not entirely true.
CL and eBay have replaced the Recycler and Carfax saves you time in eliminating the dogs. It is easy to get several high quality pictures before you drive out to look at a car. The internet allows you to read up on problem areas for a model before you shop and e-mail is a great way to deliver those well written price offers 😉
You were the right buyer for that car, perhaps the only one!
Great year and color and the condition seems good considering the price. Would love to see close up shots of the rust you find. Also would be nice to hear a video of the car running. You can tell a lot by the sound of the engine.
Then next phase will be learning of the best Jaguar-specific new/used parts suppliers but then again I’m not sure how far you plan on taking the car.
By the way the Jag XJ40 is not one of those cars that looks good in white!
So now as one TTAC commenter says: “I’ve got a Jaggggggggggggggggggggg.”
So how do you pronounce that? Ja-guh-guh-guh-guh-guh? You’d kind of sound like Popeye 😉
Google for Jeremy C saying it, it is his ‘thing’
Sounds promising Keith, I’d prefer to see some 7″ outer lights as they were originally intended to have though.
It looks ok and that is scary because it just might be ok.
Perfect “open door” approach to the up-front negotiations. I had a similar Craisgslist experience. I needed to buy bedroom furniture for my girls to match pieces we already had. I put up a tidy ad including a manufacturers pamphlet page for the discontinued Broyhill furniture. It is the “Everybody Loves Raymond” bedroom furniture that was very popular, and I got several responses.
One lady had all the right pieces in a high-end non-smoker home. She quoted me prices slightly exceeding what I had paid for some of the same pieces brand new!!
My polite response was that I’d pay forty cents on the dollar from my definition of new pricing. I said that if she did not have better luck, feel free to contact me.
It took an hour, she sent me decent pictures and matched my price.
Leave the door open and you never know who will wander in.
I drove from Omaha to Cedar Rapids, IA on my own little adventure. It would have been more fun to bring home a cool old car. I’m enjoying your adventure.
Waiting for the followup and taking notes . . . . . . .
Just paid off the Solstice. Looking for a new project.
“Right gas tank”….that implies there’s a left one. I’ve never seen a car with two gas tanks, unlike my ’96 F-150.
You can switch tanks when one runs dry(Jags have a mighty thirst) by flicking a switch.Sometimes electrical faults cause a fire,it’s never boring owning a Jaguar
…and I remember hearing that the early 50’s Jag Mark VII sedans had two gas tanks because no one had put a properly-sized one in the usual location into the design and they had to use spots above the wheel wells. Maybe that wasn’t really the case if this continued to be a Jaguar
problemfeature. Yet another reason to steer clear of a kitty as far as I’m concerned – I’ve seen plenty of 70’s and 80’s pickups around here that had extra gas tanks, and too many owners who got into the habit of using one and letting the other one go to sludge.
I remember the tanks on a MK 7 being so small you can see the fuel gauge falling at a steady ton
Same thing happened sitting in Melbourne peak hour traffic in mine. I had to pull over and pick up the car later.
The original Mini Cooper S did, which made the combined tanks about the same size as what was left of the trunk (ie small)
Mate o mine had a Clubman S with twin tanks and all the factory fruit paid $50 for it but one tank would last a week then switch over, not much of a car but it was cheap on gas and handy on fortnightly Aussie dole cheques
Keith, this is exciting. I can’t wait to see what you do with this car. I love this model Jag as my Mom had one from 1985 to 1995. Honestly, her ’83 XJ-6 was as reliable as can be expected. (The biggest problem was that her mechanic was a crook and used to take advantage of her as well as my Dad!) The only time she had issues with that car was in the extremely hot weather. The Jag liked to overheat and the A/C sometimes had a mind of its own. She would occasionally get a minor gas smell but was always told it wasn’t a gas leak and not to worry – that it was nature of the beast. I have one word of advice – make sure your battery is mounted as tight as can be. We were in a funeral procession, I was driving, and my grandmother was in the back seat. She said she smelled smoke. Well she was right – the battery had moved and somehow the connections hit the frame of the car. Luckily we were able to put the flames out and the Jag was spared. After my Dad passed in 1993 my Mom drove his ’90 Coupe deVille and parked the Jag in my grandmother’s garage where it sat for about 2 years. It was starting to rust, so my brother took it to Florida, fixed it up and sold it. I think it was a beautiful car and I think of it often. I’m happy there are still a few of these around and that you have decided to take a chance on one. I think you are going to love that car. Good luck!
Bring the pain……bring the noise.
I am eagerly awaiting updates and stories of the potential reward or calamities.
Turn it up.
I had a poster of a gold 86 VDP , wish you much luck. I always wanted one of these and I want a trailer like you have. Did you pick it up on a similar type deal?
Kinda. It was a 2006 model that I bought in 2012, for $700. But it had been beaten hard before I got it. Originally owned by a Ford dealership for moving cars to and fro, then sold to an employee who moonlighted as a scrapper… that guy basically ran it into the ground.
I bought it and brought it back to like-new shortly thereafter. Still, life isn’t easy for such a trailer – it ends up needing fresh paint, a wooden plank or two, and sometimes a new fender, on a yearly basis. That time is about due once again.
Strangely enough, the folks I bought it from mentioned they were late for our appointment because they were preparing to buy a junkyard. Turns out it was one that I used regularly, and a customer of mine to boot (had just gotten them set up with a Hollander inventory system). Small world!
Like so many things in life buying this car could either be a great adventure, or a nightmare. Good Luck! I am looking forward to further developments.
Wow, it looks quite nice in the pictures–plus, it is a Vanden Plas which makes it even better.
Eagerly awaiting further installments…
The hand of Pininfarina is in the rear roofline. Love those wheels.
He should have thrown in that 9″ Ford axle too….
The 9″ is a great rear axle, but the Dana 44 is more than strong enough. Plus I don’t think the budget is there for conversion to a live axle.
Sorry Keith; but………this is going to end badly.
Wait till you see the price of those metric tyres.
Metric tyres?? The XJ6 wears 205/70 x 15 tires. A set of 4 new ones starts at $280: http://www.ebay.com/bhp/4-tires-205-70-r15
Keith, I too wish you luck, and am eager to read about your further adventures. (In spite of my grumpy-sounding earlier comment….)
Though badged as a Vanden Plas, your car’s interior appears to be that of a regular XJ6. The VDP had different door panels, a different upholstery stitching pattern, and the rear seat was broken up into two bucket-style seats with a separate upholstered center section. If I recall, the Vanden Plas also came with special rear passenger reading lights that folded out like switchblades, as well as a larger rear ashtray at the back end of the center console. And of course, the highlight were the uber-plush shaggy wool floor mats.
My mom had a 1986 XJ6 for a few years in the nineties, followed by ten years driving an ’85 Vanden Plas (at the end of its tenure it was over twenty years old). I don’t recall the cars having any major problems and everything worked, including the A/C and all the electrics. My dad worked for a dealer group that had a Jaguar location, so the cars probably benefited from regular maintenance at discounted rates. I certainly don’t remember either car ever leaving us stranded. Back in the eighties, my dad worked at the Jaguar store, and he recalls that the Series III cars pretty much had all the kinks worked out, especially from ’85 onwards. The introduction of the new XJ40 generation in 1988 did not go so well though.
I did have a scare one day in college while borrowing the VDP to commute to my summer internship. While doing 65 on a long uphill portion of the interstate, I suddenly felt the engine start to lose power and sputter. After managing to cross two lanes of traffic to get to the shoulder and coast to a stop, the car refused to restart … until I happened to notice that the gas gauge was reading empty! I then remembered the second gas tank, pushed the switch, and lo and behold, the needle on the gauge rose to indicate that I still had half of one tank. No idea why I hadn’t paid attention and stopped for gas earlier, but the dual tank totally came in handy. (Though I guess you could also argue that if all the fuel was combined in a single tank setup I wouldn’t have run dry in the first place).
If I have anything bad to say about my 420G, it’s the nuisance of filling two tanks. Most times I’d fill up one side then do the other another day.
I’m late noticing your comment Don, but we, ok I, really, really, really need you to write a post on your 420G!
Don; I wish I had your problems. The 420G is my dream car. What a BEAST!
Agree with Scott. Really would like to see you machine.
The 420G has been my dream car since 1985 when, as an 11-year-old, one starred in a local NZ TV kidult programme “Terry and the Gunrunners”. It was pink, with purple velvet interior and mirror tinted windows. I thought it was the most awesome car ever and have wanted one since!
Yes, I’ve also been curious about the lack of amenities despite the badge on the back. Haven’t gotten to researching that yet. All I know is that it has a sunroof, which I don’t recall seeing on other (non-VDP) cars up until now.
Then again, I’ve yet to see another VDP in the tin, so what do I know?
I thought the same thing; doesn’t look like a genuine VDP to me. Ask for your money back 🙂
All I can say is I’m glad we don’t salt roads in Oregon. It makes me sad to see any vintage car become unusable. In Southern Oregon we use volcanic cinder or sand. Any rust we have is generally surface. Now moss, that’s another thing…