A couple of weeks ago while my daily driver was in the shop a friend of mine gave me the keys to his 1988 Jaguar XJ6 to take for the day while my car was finished up. Not a bad "loaner car", to say the least.
This particular XJ is, however, referred to as the "Sh*tbox Jag". There is a reason for this; on top being 22 years old, it's firmly entrenched in the Lucas Electric era. Nothing electric really worked as one might have expected. None of the fault sensors were accurate (which was midly alarming), and the wiring was all over the place under the dash. On top of that, the interior is falling apart. This car was from a time when if you wanted to take a trip, you could go to the Jag dealership and get a kit of parts which were most likely to break as well as a net which installed under the car to catch parts should they fall off. Seriously?!? A Net? Yes, seriously.
However, while it might not be in the best of condition, it was fun to drive.
English luxury cars have a certain feel about them. You never feel the bumps in the road, and when you accelerate, you shouldn't notice it. They don't so much accelerate as "swell", and are then traveling at a greater speed. This one, for all its problems, still had that essential British luxury about it. When talking about the big luxury cars, one doesn't use words like "acceleration" or "handling"; it's simply not what it's about.
I drove it to work and home again during Boston rush hour traffic. It pulled out into traffic with no issues, drove easily and all the things that mattered worked flawlessly. I found myself staying to the right lanes though as I felt no need to go flying down the passing lane. It's a car that by its very nature makes one want to relax, and just enjoy the drive (even during the rush around Boston).
Would I want to have this car and drive it every day? I'd have to say "no", I like a bit more performance in my daily driver (just a bit), and a basic 3-series gives me that and decent fuel economy. The XJ is a little too big for regular use. However, I'd love to have something like the XJ in my back pocket for family trips. Something slightly newer though, something from after the time when they discovered that reliability actually mattered; at least a little bit. Something built when Ford owned them, I think.
It might not have been the ideal first experience driving a Jaguar, but I enjoyed it anyway. I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a newer XJ or XK; that should be absolutely amazing.