Do you have a car you wish you had never sold? Maybe times were tough, you couldn’t afford the repairs, or just had too many cars in the driveway. But when you look back at it, you wish you had never sold it. For those who know me well, it should come as no surprise which car I should not have sold.
When gas prices were close to $4 a gallon, I made the seemingly stupid decision to purchase a 1982 Jaguar XJ-S with a V12 engine. Despite what people may have been thinking, I knew what I was doing. The car may have only averaged 16 mpg, but I also knew that it was the time to buy if I ever was going to get a car like that.
The fear at the time was that gas prices were going to hit $5 or $6 per gallon. (Premium gas almost did.) Most people were afraid to buy a big-engined car knowing they’d be unable to afford the fuel bill. But that actually turned things to my favor. I was able to purchase the car at a ridiculously low price. If I recall correctly, I bought it for $2,200.
At the time, I was a fledgling salesman at Leikin Volvo and had come into the business when the economy was at a low point. One veteran salesman told me that I had taken a sales job at the worst possible time. He was right. The first couple of months were very difficult. But I kept driving the dream car.
But, as you know, there comes a time when dreams have to meet reality. That day came when I acknowledged several inconvenient truths:
- Fuel costs – I could not afford $70 each fill-up for gas.
- Leaking oil – I had to keep a case of oil in the trunk.
- Heater – I had no heat in this car (and winters are cold in NE Ohio).
- Headroom – I had the seat repaired and my head rubbed the ceiling.
- Family – I knew the kids would not fit in that tiny backseat for much longer.
In July of 2008, I put the car up for sale, but few were interested despite the shiny pictures. I finally had one offer which included cash plus an $800 trade. (Remember the Shark, anyone?) With my situation the way it was, I had to do it. But I often wonder if I should have kept it. And I wonder if I could ever get it back. Maybe some day.
I was looking through old pictures and came across this reminder of how beautiful the Jaguar XJ-S was. It just makes me smile to see this old car looking so good in our driveway so many years ago. It was definitely a privilege to own such a unique vehicle.
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.
“As we drove along on a country lane with the top down, Barb and I looked at each other and grinned. Last time we did this, we got married.
“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).
For the last few months or so, I have been missing the XJ40 Jaguars I once owned. While the SAAB convertible is quick and fun to drive in warm weather, it is not really my style. Zippy cars are fun for an occasional quick burst of speed. But for someone who drives the speed limit and doesn’t race cars for a living, the Jaguar’s smooth suspension and comfortable seats are what works best for me.
With all of that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find a picture of our white 1990 Jaguar XJ6 (XJ40) parked in front of our house on Google Maps. The picture was taken back in 2013 when we still owned it. Notice how Google’s camera truncated the Jag. It’s kinda cute in a weird way. I once had a stuffed pillow shaped like a Porsche 911. The picture reminds me of that. And, yes, that is the front of the car you see. (Notice the single wiper on the windshield.)