I really hope I don’t regret this. I just bought a 2004 Jaguar XJ8 to replace my recently sold 1968 Mustang. I think it’s probably safe to assume a Jaguar has never made a Consumer Reports list of most reliable cars, but as one Reddit commenter says, “You don’t buy a Jaguar because it’s reliable or the smart thing to do. You buy a Jaguar because it’s a passionate thing to do.” What fun is life without a little risk, right?
The Jaguar is a polar opposite of the Mustang I drove daily for the past sixteen months. The Mustang had no power steering, no power brakes, no power windows, no air conditioning, no fuel injection, and no overdrive. The car was loud and brutish. And it was beautiful. I love the Mustang’s lines, power, speed, and simplicity. And right up to the day I sold it I felt compelled to turn around for another look every time I got out and slammed the door. But it was time for something different.
The XJ8, an evolution in design from Jaguar’s elegant 1968 XJ6 saloon is also visually pleasing. Long and low, it’s among the sleekest sedans you’ll see on the road. The Jag interior is swathed in supple black leather and walnut burl, with just about every electronic convenience you could ask for. Tilting telescopic steering wheel? Check. A million seat adjustments? Check. Adjustable pedals? Check. Backup sensors? Check. Power sunroof? Check. Dual zone automatic climate control? Check. Memory seats? Check. And on and on.
When you put the Jaguar in park, turn off the ignition, and open the door the car automatically slides the seat back and tilts the steering wheel up out of your way. When you get back in and start it up the XJ remembers your preferences, adjusts your seat and steering wheel accordingly, and automatically sets the climate control right where you like it. So, it’s the dog days of summer and you want to air the car out before you get in? With a click of the remote the Jag will roll down its windows and slide the roof back to vent the hot air before you get in. Pretty slick.
Under that long bonnet you’ll find a 4.2 liter V8 putting 300 of the most polite horses you’ll ever meet to the rear wheels via a smooth six speed automatic gearbox. Shifts are not as crisp as I’d like, particularly between first and second gear, but considering the car was built to be a luxury tourer rather than a sports car it’s not terrible. That said, the ZF transmission’s TCM is a learning module, so over time the car should adapt to my driving style. I’m curious to see how it changes after I’ve spent some more time in the car.
A lot of you might consider it foolish to rock a Jaguar as a daily driver considering I’m not a wealthy guy with a private mechanic on my payroll. I did try to mitigate that risk somewhat. This XJ8 has only 49k miles on the clock and has been in the same family since new with a clean CarFax and solid service history. I was also able to get it up on a lift prior to purchase and do an inspection alongside an auto tech. High line vehicles do tend to have more issues than more pedestrian grocery getters, but they can also represent an amazing used car value considering they depreciate faster than a yacht in the desert. Case in point, this car sold new for over $70,000 and I bought it barely broken in for a nice four figure price.
I’ve been looking forward to getting into a daily driver that doesn’t need constant attention so I can get back to working on my hot rod project. Hopefully I won’t be updating the site with “How To…” Jaguar stories anytime soon. Keep your fingers crossed for me, and I’ll report back sometime down the line on what it’s like to roll in the lap of luxury.