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Please help a wannabe Jaguar-owner

Please help a wannabe Jaguar-owner

You wrote:
> They accepted that and now want to review various Jaguar passenger 
> cars.  Can  anyone recommend a book or books or any practical source 
> that would allow these folks to make a wise decision.  So far they 
> only know about Jaguars that the grey four door XJ6 down the road 
> was breath taking and that they must have one.  This one happened 
> to be a 1985.

Here's my personal experience with the same "problem"...

I had wanted a Jaguar (specifically a Series III XJ6) since, well since as long as I can remember. My uncle had a Series I back in the early seventies and since then I was hooked. When the Series III was launced I nearly went bananas with desire.

I didn't really know all that much about these cars, just that I wanted one badly. Every few years I would scan the Oslo papers and make a few calls to owners who wanted to sell theirs. Every time I had to face the fact that I couldn't afford one. I didn't learn very much about these fine cars during this process except one thing: Everyone I talked to warned me that these cars needed careful and sometimes expensive maintenance.

The last couple of years my economic situation looked better and better, I started to prepare myself for the plunge. I felt a bit intimidated by the fact that I still didn't quite know what I was getting myself into, so I did the logical thing: I scanned the Internet for information.

Jackpot! I found Nick's JagWeb and the JagLovers mailing list. I promptly joined JagLovers and lurked, absorbing everything I could. In the meantime I read every word (and drooled over every picture) on the JagWeb.

I think what really caught my attention was Lawrence Buja's "Timing chain saga" on the JagWeb. I had to ask myself if I would be willing to go through the same trouble as he did for my Jaguar as I would certainly not be able to afford to just pay someone to fix it for me. Would I? Yes I would.

One day I sent a short message to Nick just to complement him on the JagWeb pages. To my delight he answered and we started an email discussion about Jaguar ownership. Nick is the secretary of the Norwegian Jaguar owners club, so he strongly adviced me to join. I did, and have not regreted it. Nick gave me lot of advice during those months but most of all he stressed the importance of patience. "Whatever you do, don't rush!" he wrote and I'm glad I followed that advice.

From time to time he came across a car for sale and sent me a message (Nick lives in Oslo, I live in Bergen. There are very few Jaguars in Bergen, the chance of finding one here was minimal). I would call the owner, but every time I was disappointed. Most of the cars had "some rust" and you know that if the owner says "some rust" on the phone during the very first conversation the car is probably a basket case.

When the right car finally came along, everything seemed to happen very quickly. Nick emailed me about a car for sale in an Oslo paper. I called the owner the same day and immediately became interested. The next day Nick went to look the car over for me and two days later my brother and I were on a plane for Oslo. I took my brother along for a single reason: To try to keep my feet, if not firmly on the ground, then at least below stationary orbit. We had arranged to meet the owner in downtown Oslo and when he came gliding in that dark blue beauty I was lost.

I could find absolutely nothing wrong with the car but luckily my brother could. At least I had some idea of what I was getting into thanks to him. I made a half-hearted attempt to haggle over the price but soon accepted the owners asking price. We wrote a contract, I made a down-payment and we arranged for the pick-up the following Sunday. The owner had become the PO and I had become the owner!

I didn't sleep much the following days... Sunday morning my brother, a friend and I were on a plane for Oslo again. No return ticket this time! The drive home to Bergen over the Hardangervidda montain plateau was fantastic. Since then I have come to know the car a lot better. Sure, she wasn't perfect, but I think I made a very good buy anyway. An important lesson here is the fact that I was so blinded by desire that I didn't notice that the shocks were completely worn out when I test drove the car that first time. Neither did my brother for that matter, but then again he never got the chance to drive it.

If I were to sum it all up, I guess I would say something like:

  • Don't rush!
  • Go for your dream. If what you want (desire!) is a Series III never mind the XJ40 even though they might be easier to maintain and use as a daily driver. I was down this road and seriously contemplated buying an XJ40. Now I'm glad I stuck with my dream.
  • Buy a PC, a modem and an Internet account. Join JagLovers and read everything on the JagWeb. If you still want a Jaguar then:
  • Join the nearest Jaguar owners club.
  • Read "The Monster to Jaguar" on the JagWeb once more.
  • Look at and drive as many cars as practically possible.
  • Get someone to go with you when you look at cars. You _do_ need help when it comes to keeping your head cool and objectively evaluating each car. Pay a professional if you have to, it's money well spent!
  • Check your bank account a make a budget. Allow for maintenance costs and fuel (at around double of what you might expect for a Honda or Toyota. Maybe more...).
  • Subscribe to Jaguar World magazine. Buy some books about Jaguars (check out Bookspeed's site on the WWW). This is no substitute for driving many different cars though!
  • Don't rush!
  • When you find the car of your dreams you need to check it thorougly. Get someone with Jaguar experience to look it over. Don't forget to take a look underneath, check for rust and big leaks. Never mind the exhaust system, it's cheap to replace anyway. Pay special attention to the rear suspension (IRS), it's very expensive to repair!
  • Don't rush! This is getting critical now!
  • If the dream car holds up to inspection go for a looong test drive. Any noises? Strong engine? Smooth gear changes? Handling seem secure? How about the brakes?
  • Don't rush! You _do_ need to sleep on it!
  • Think about it: What was the interior like? Was it comfortable? Could you imagine spending six or eight hours in it? Were the colors right for you? Did the veneer look OK? How about the headliner, was it whole?
  • Still here? OK, now you're in trouble. Basically there's only one step left:
  • Rush! Go for it!
I hope you can use this. If you show this to your friends I have one thing to say to them:

Owning a Jaguar can be a very rewarding experience. If you treat it right you will never regret buying it. However, if you start skipping oil changes or start ignoring little noises that seem to appear out of nowhere you're in for a lot of trouble, heartache and expense. It's simple really, you get out of it what you put into it. Best of luck!


Gunnar Helliesen   | Bergen IT Consult AS  | NetBSD/VAX on a uVAX II
Systems Consultant | Bergen, Norway        | '86 Jaguar XJ6 4.2 Sovereign   | | Vicki who? What .sig virus?


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