“I have definitely made the right choice, I have DEFINITELY made the right choice” – this is what I kept saying to myself in my head as I drove back on Saturday night listening out for any scary knocks or noises…
For the past week or so I have been talking to a very good friend of mine about his current hunt for an obscure hot hatch that he has been looking at for a few weeks and we got talking about what I was going to buy next as he did not believe that I was going to drive just the little Eunos for much longer. I kept reassuring him (and myself) that, as much as I would love to get something a bit more “winter friendly”, I was going to stay put and soldier on with the Roadster as my sole mode of transport. Even though I kept saying this, I was still keeping an eye on various car selling websites, you know, just to see if something interesting came up. The main searches were for, like my good pal, something a bit left-field. Mainly Volvo estates and Saabs as I still think these are probably the coolest “Dad cars” you can get. What I would do for a mint 3 door Saab 9-3 Turbo… but after a while, it was looking more and more like there was nothing about that was really going to jump out at me. Everything was high mileage, on the other side of the country and probably out of my very strict price range. That’s when I started looking for early AWD Jaguar X-Types – All the style of an early noughties Jag with Mondeo underpinnings. Surely a recipe for great success! Unfortunately, during one of these searches, I forgot to narrow my selections down to model and instead just had all Jaguars with less than 100k on the clock within 100 miles of me in distance order…
That’s when I saw her in all her long, black, super low mileage glory… At first I thought it was a typing error by the seller, and then after looking through the very poor images I assumed this surely was too good to be true, so after a bit of thought, I pinged the seller an email, nothing serious, just a few questions to see if there was even any point in going to look at it as it was only 28 miles from me. About 24 hours had passed and I had not received a reply so that pretty much made my mind up for me and I cracked on with life, and then he replied. The fundamentals facts were the car was his father’s, he was no longer able to drive and the car had been locked away for quite some time apart from being rolled out for an annual MOT in August and that was the last time it was used. I HAD to go and have a look. Even if it was a complete pile, it was only down the road but either way, the sheer curiosity was just too much for me.
The next day I drove over to meet the guy and have a look around – he hadn’t even bothered to clean it so there was months of dust on the dash and the exterior had definitely seen better days, but after rolling around on the gravel and feeling every metal panel I could reach, it all felt surprisingly straight, straighter than some cars I’ve owned half its age, in fact. The more I looked round the car the clearer it was that all this car really needed was a bloody good clean and a proper service and inspection. I mean there are a fair few little things that need to be looked at, but other than that, it really did look like a bit of a peach. And it was black. With a V8.
After a fairly short but adequate test drive, I had made up my mind. I had to have it. I kept thinking to myself “even if it does start to go wrong, it’s a great story for the website”. With that in mind, we shook on it and I left a deposit to collect it the next day.I spent the morning of the next day driving my mate to Saffron Walden so he could look at a car as well and then as soon as we were done there, we turned around, swapped cars and headed back to the Fens to pick up my new (to me) Jag. The reassuring thing was the car hadn’t been moved since we shook on it the day before, so no chance of him quickly nipping out to warm it up before I got there etc… The next bit was always the bit I dread when buying a car, that initial drive home. Fortunately for me, the radio needed the code to come on and that had been misplaced, so I had the whole drive back to keep my ears open to any strange sounds without distraction. There weren’t any. All I could hear was that beautifully smooth Jaguar V8 purr as I wafted through the small Fenland villages. There was a bit of wheel wobble at around 50mph but nothing to suggest it was bearings of anything like that – probably just low tyres.
By the time I got home it was dark and the roads were wet so there was no chance of getting anything done until the morning. My plan was to spend all of Sunday cleaning and polishing and going over every part of it with a fine-toothed comb – so what did I do? I got up at 6am and drove it for 2 hours to the Classics and Cake gathering at Duke of London. The good news is it didn’t miss a beat all day, and this included an extended trip out to a pub somewhere near Henley on Thames. 250 miles on the first day of ownership, before I had had the chance to check anything over, and it didn’t fail me.
Now the weekend is over, I have had the chance to spend some time with the car essentially making a list of all the things I need to see to and then splitting them in to two lists – “Need to have/do” and “Nice to have/do” and to be completely honest, providing nothing major crops up in the next few weeks (touches any and all the wood nearby), it’s a relatively small list of things. A lot of the list are just small things like a new wing mirror lens, new headlight bulbs, the code for the radio (which Jaguar Cambridge have now sorted for me FOC!) and bits like that. The big one will be the service which is booked in for December 6th at a Jaguar specialist near me and I must admit I am a bit nervous about the inspection they are going to do whilst it’s in there…
So, here are the specs, for those who are interested:
It’s a 1998 Jaguar XJ Sport with a 3.2 litre V8 engine (the AJ-V8 unit) paired with a 5 speed ZF automatic gearbox – the output from the factory was around 240 bhp with 233 lb ft but that has probably dropped a fair bit over the last 19 years. The spec is trim is pretty basic, but to be honest, with cars like these it’s just fewer things to go wrong. It’s finished off in Black Anthrecite Pearl with contrasting ivory leather seats and black leath console with dark walnut trim. The bit that really drew me to this car though, was its mileage. 44,000 miles in 19 years. It’s done less than 1,000 miles per year in the last 12 years.
I want to use this car as a sort of case study and I will be documenting my progress with it during my ownership on this site, so please do subscribe to see what happens and please also follow on social media if you use it. I’ll post the links below.