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While waiting for my van to be repaired, I read a fun story about a couple who traded in their Cadillac for a Jaguar XK8 convertible. I couldn’t help smiling with understanding as I read their typical story.
“This time we bought a Jaguar. … There was not warranty, but Dave Mueller, our salesman, said, ‘If any problems crop up in the next week or so, we will of course take care of them.’ And he was as good as his word.
“Ten miles from the dealership, a warning light appeared on the dash. ‘DSC System Fault.’ Oh-oh; now it starts, I thought. Dynamic Stability Control. I immediately called Dave, and he said, ‘Take it to the Jaguar dealer and we’ll pay for whatever it needs.’ Turned out it was a faulty steering position sensor ($495), instantly diagnosed and fixed the next day. Done, and no more problems since. Or ever again, I’m sure. The British car owner’s prayer.”
Peter Egan in “The Jaguar Solution” in Road & Track August 2012
Once in a while, you come across a car that catches your eye and you aren’t sure what to think. The Jaguar XK8 definitely fits that description. When I saw this one in the WalMart parking lot in Sandusky, Ohio, I wanted to take a picture but I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it’s because you don’t see them very often. Maybe it’s the interesting shape of the body. Or it may be the fact that Ford was involved with its production. I’m not sure why I am interested but I am. So, let’s take a look at the history of the Jaguar XK8.
The Jaguar XK8 was introduced to the world in 1996 as the replacement for the ancient XJS (1976-1995) (Wikipedia). The XJS was and still is a tantalizing car to me. There is nothing quite like driving a low slung, exotic coupe with a V12 engine. But two decades with only slight modifications wasn’t exactly a good recipe for sales. So, something had to be done.
The new Jaguar coupe did rather well, “and rapidly became the fastest selling sports car in Jaguars history and in doing so won numerous awards around the world” (History). So, what was so special about the XK8? “The original XK8 was launched in 1996 as a convertible or coupe. Equipped with the all new 290hp aluminum V8, 5 speed automatic transmission, and 17″ wheels, the successor to the XJS was very well received by enthusiasts and the press alike. The all curve styling was very different from the XJS but brought back memories of the E-Type” (Jag Lovers).
Most Jaguars were originally equipped with reliable inline six engines or the more exotic V12 on occasion. So, having a V8 in the new coupe was somewhat of a historical change. No doubt this was due to the influence of Ford Motor Company. But it doesn’t seem that anyone was complaining because of the increase in performance. The venerable 4.0L I-6 in the base XJS put out a respectable 237 hp. The new V8 put out 290 hp which had almost as much power as the 6.0L V12 (318 hp) but with better reliability. In fact, Jaguar took “1st place in the JD Power owner satisfaction survey” in 1999 (Jag Lovers). In 2000, Jaguar introduced the XKR edition which used a 370 hp super-charged 4.0L V8 to reach 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds (Yahoo).
Okay, the XK8 might just be a car worth considering some day. With better performance and an increase in reliability, the XK8 sounds like a fun car to own. But don’t get overly excited about the JD Powers award. Early XK8 engines had “Nikasil lining of the cylinder bores that was susceptible to wear from petrol with a high sulphur content. … Many earlier XKs had their engines replaced under warranty by Jaguar, so look for evidence of this in the history file or inside the engine bay where there should be an identifying plaque.” (Buyers Guide).
On occasion, Hemmings Motor News will post a blog article about affordable cars being advertised on their site. Their bargain price range is anything under $5,000. While that might be a bargain for some, I like to shop for cars in the $1500-2500 range. It is amazing what you can find in that price range on eBay Motors and Craigslist. So… let’s begin a new Best Bargain tradition. What are the best bargains currently available under $2500?
1987 Porsche 924S — $2000
This picture is not the best way to entice customers. But with no visible rust, only 58k miles, and only needing a muffler, this one seemed like a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, it was just sold yesterday. “I’ll get you next time, my pretty!”
This might just be a fun car to drive (until something needs to be repaired). The XJR came with a supercharged V8 making 370 hp! Push down the pedal and be ready to replace the tires in the near future. It is described as “an overall great running” vehicle, so you might want your mechanic to look it over first.
The E-Class is Mercedes-Benz’s mid-size car. This one seems to be owned by a woman or someone with a flair for pink borders and furry steering wheel covers. But the car itself seems like a decent buy with “power seats, heated seats, climate control, Sun Roof, power mirrors and Steptronic.”
Read the ad carefully and then decide if it’s worth the gamble. With over 200k miles and a non-running engine, this could be the deal of a life time or a good way to pull all your hair out. I’m thinking I’d shy away from this one, but…