Jaguar & me: high-maintenance love

Published: 24 June 2010

In a fit of madness a few years ago, and seeking solace from impending divorce at the time, I purchased a gorgeous blue Series III XJ6, with wonderful dark blue leather upholstery, that was at the time about five years old. Just 40,000 miles on the clock. I then drove the hell out of it for three years to 100,000 miles and it never let me down once – on the road that is.

Once in the workshop however, where it frequently ended up just in the nick of time, it came close to bankrupting me completely – and much more thoroughly even than my divorce which was going through at the same time. Just two stories will give you my picture of Jaguar as it was at the end of the Eighties; thankfully nothing like the company as we know it today:

1.  The paint finish was beautiful but only skin deep; so within a few months the car went to off my local Italian coachbuilder for a complete wings-off, sills-off, re-prime, rust-proof and re-spray at a total cost of $7000. Boy did it look good afterwards! Then the coachbuilder told me that at that time things at the Jaguar factory had got so bad that all new Jaguars then being shipped to Canada were being given on arrival the same complete wings-off paint job I had just received – even though they were brand-new and had not a mile on any of them!

2. The first time I drove the car for real in winter, which in Canada can mean minus 30 degrees celsius, the brakes would not work and I skied right through a number of intersections before I could begin to stop the car. Back to the workshop then; it turned out the standard valve then fitted to Jaguar engines at the factory to control the vacuum assist for the brakes would freeze to the metal of the engine at low temperatures, so the brakes wouldn't work until the engine warmed up. This was, of course, not considered to be a recall item in the UK – until the customer either died or complained, I suppose, and a revised component was fitted.

Like my wife the car was very "high maintenance"; but I would certainly consider buying one again today as the new ones are still the best-looking cars on the road if, as they are now reported to be, they are reliable.

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By Anonymous

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