Our Cars : Meet the Fleet No.4 – Jaguar XJ6 3.2 Sport

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

The editor's X300. Where do we all stand on Turquoise?
The Editor’s X300. Where do we all stand on Turquoise?

Back when I was nowt more than a kid, I promised myself that before I was 30, I’d own a Jaguar. At the time, the XJ40 was the dawn of Jaguar’s brave new world, the company was owned by Ford and I’d fallen deeply in love with my next-door neighbour’s F-reg 3.6-litre Sovereign.

Fourteen years later, in late 2003 and at the age of 26, I managed to achieve my goal early. Well, sort of. The car in question wasn’t a Jag, but a Daimler Sovereign on a D-plate, finished in dark metallic red with riveted-on rear wheelarches, almost bald tyres and a fondness for oil. I paid the princely sum of £300 for it on eBay, and turning a blind eye to the crusty windscreen pillars and filler-riddled boot lid, drove it home from Manchester to Peterborough with immense pride.

I owned it for eight gleeful weeks, before taking it to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground for an Auto Express photo shoot, where the majestic old Daim reached 130mph on the mile straight for what would undoubtedly be the final time.

I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so final, though. Driving home through the Leicestershire back roads, the ominous words ‘Coolant Temperature Warning’ flashed up in the dot matrix display to the right of the steering wheel. As erroneous warnings from said display were a common occurrence, at least two or three per journey, I’d taken to ignoring it completely. You know the rest…

So, with the sorry Sovereign laid to rest (I gave it to an XJ40-owning friend as a spares car), I’d ticked the Jag owning before 30 thing off my bucket list.  My next Jaguar, I promised myself, would be a ‘proper’ one.

That wasn’t quite true. I had a gold G-plate XJ40 for a short while (featured here many moons ago, under the subsequent custody of Keith Adams and Brian Gunn) but the car I really wanted by this stage was the Jaguar that had completely beguiled me after the XJ40.

My second XJ40 - sold to Keith Adams in 2006 and subject of a long term report right here...
My second XJ40 – sold to Keith Adams in 2006 and subject of a long-term report right here…

And so for another time-jump… It’s the Autumn of 1994, and it’s my 17th birthday. It’s also the press day of the Paris Motor Show, and that night on the BBC News (for it’s so hard to imagine the days before such news was instant and online), I caught my first sight of the new big Jaguar. The X300 was, to my eyes, beautiful – and it still is. Back then I loved the way it encapsulated ’90s modernity with Jaguar’s traditional values. Today, I love the way both the ‘modern’ and the old bits have a hint of retro about them. Sure, the cabin’s cramped, some of the switchgear is a bit flaky and it’s more or less an XJ40 underneath, but it’s bloody lovely so none of that matters.

Early X300 press picture in Turquoise - it was the start of something for me,...
Early X300 press picture in Turquoise – it was the start of something for me,…

The downside, of course, was that by the time X300s got to the point where I could afford to run or insure one, I had no need for one at all. I still don’t truth be told, but as a young-ish dad with a new family, rushing out to buy a thirsty old Jag that was largely superfluous due to the presence of a company Zafira was not a great idea.

Then last year happened, and I was made redundant. A new job was on the horizon already, but I knew for three months I’d be between jobs that both came with company cars. Time to indulge… albeit with a limited budget of just a grand.

I started looking towards the back end of February, assuming it’d take me a while to find a car I considered good enough (of course, I could have just used my Rover 827 for this limbo period, but I’ll buy a car for the most spurious of reasons and I’d identified a need…). In the end, though, I threw the rulebook out of the window and bought the first car I saw.

Stupidity? On paper, maybe, especially as it hadn’t had an MoT for 18 months – but sometimes a car just feels right. M357MHM was in the custody of a classic car dealer local to me who had, unfortunately, been suffering from ill-health. He’d had the car in stock before he was poorly and had never got round to doing anything with it, so it had a couple of minor bodywork imperfections that needed sorting – one tiny rust bubble on the nearside rear arch, some lacquer peel and a creased back bumper blade. It passed the 10 paces test brilliantly though, and had every MoT from new along with a fair whack of history to back up the 117k on the clock.

412 (800x600)

In addition, it was Turquoise, and the relatively sensible to run 3.2-litre Sport model. Love it or loathe it, it was the very same colour as that X300 I’d seen on the TV 18 years earlier. There was an element of fate at play…

On the premise it had no MoT, I handed over £700 for it. Shabby X300 money for a car that was far from shabby. A quick fluid and tyre check and a call to pre-book my MoT test and I was away. Did it pass the MoT? Of course not, but a cracked rear coil spring and a blowing exhaust box weren’t what you’d call an epic failure.

A friend of mine in Cheshire recommended I contact JoJags (www.jojags.co.uk) in Liverpool for the parts I needed, and I have to say they were excellent. Fifty quid and 48 hours later, I had the bits I needed to get the Jag through the test – 3,000 miles later, the old girl hasn’t missed a beat and has returned a highly respectable average of 26.9mpg, though it does have one slightly random fault where the interior light relay clicks and the light flashes on and off every time I open just the driver’s door. All suggestions as to how to mend that one gratefully received, as I’m flummoxed by it.

So, after a summer of X300 motoring and a new company motor imminent, is it time to say goodbye to the Jag? No. Categorically not. I may be at a stage where I seriously need to reduce the fleet, but I’ve wanted one of these since the day I very first drove a car, and I’m not ready to give it up just yet! It can, though, retire to being something for the weekend, especially as the incoming company car is German, diesel and not worthy of inclusion amid these pages…

With some cars, the novelty wears off fairly quickly, but not this one. I still look forward to driving it when I look out of the window...
With some cars, the novelty wears off fairly quickly, but not this one. I still look forward to driving it when I look out of the window…

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

16 Comments

  1. I actually remember seeing Jag’s in that turqouse colour and still think it looks good. Despite its age it has that “imposing look” that we associate with Jaguar’s. 117K miles isn’t bad either. Good luck with it…

  2. By the time the x300 came out Ford’s involvement with Jaguar was starting to pay off. The Aj6 ‘silver faced ‘ engine was one of the best of the era. For a couple of years I owned a 94 xj6 Sport when I lived in Asia in mid 2000.s . The AC was the best I have ever had. Able to cool the car to bearable temperature with a couple of minutes and HOng Kong was 34c and humid. A really great car.
    The XJRs are even better value for the performance. The eaton super chargers were solid pieces of engineering.

  3. i love the colour and car, the novelty has never worn off with my rover 3500 vdp bought 25 years ago!! i love big cars always will, always love driving it. you can keep your euro eco boxes, give me big motors anyday…

  4. What a beautiful automobile the XJ was; beautiful to look at, beautiful to drive. The current incarnation is just another boring Eurobox – devoid of any character whatsoever.

    Not my favourite colour but, hey, who cares? Look after her, Craig – she’ll repay you a million times over.

  5. Honest question – what’s the reaction like from the general public? To my eyes, it’s a great looking car and Jaguar is a great company with fantastic heritage, but I think a lot of people (who have no interest in cars) still associate Jags with Arfur Daley, John Prescott, and stereotypical East London “dodgy geezers”. I’m not sure I could live with that kind of image baggage.

    • That’s an interesting one… With mine the colour seems to be the main talking point. Completely polarises opinion. I like it some days and don’t on others but I’m plain weird like that!

      I think perceptions are slowly changing towards both XJ40s and X300s. Sure, there are still loads of cheap bangers about but well maintained ones seem to be fairly well liked – I get lots of comments about the condition of mine but I think that’s because people can’t help but notice it!

      Irrespective, it’s just a lovely, lovely car to drive. I’m having a coffee at the services at the minute, midway through a 400 mile round trip and I’m feeling the love all over again. I don’t think there’s another car out there, old or new, that quite matches it for ride quality…

  6. Hi ,I had a Turquoise X300 4.0 Sport for around four and a half years ,i still miss it and should never have sold it,a fantastic problem free car and the most fantastic colour – admired by most people who saw it ,I later on fitted a set of Jaguar XJRV8 Asteroid 18 inch Alloys which made it look even better .I always felt the chrome and turquoise looked better than the colour coded XJR6 look- ENJOY YOUR LOVELY CAR.

  7. I probably shouldn’t post this but … while the investment in quality and engineering was there, the next two XJs after the XJ40 were I think a step back. As a big fan of XJ6, XJS and XJ40, these 90s and 2000s Jags put me (and surely others) off the brand, and the sales were never there as a result?

    The current XJ is a better car than the XJ40, and if it cannot be as iconic as the original XJ6, it’s no surprise, as the XJ6 is arguably the best looking saloon car ever?

  8. To be honest, I quite the “dodgy gheezah” image…At least it’s a car with character! I think that torch is now being passed on to the X350, now that they are coming of age though.

  9. I think Nick Cave is seen driving one of these with Kylie in the back in 20,000 Days. That increases the cool factor no end.

    Love the turqoise and boooo to all the boring colours people have these days

    • What happened to coloured cars?

      I looked out a hotel window this week and countered fourteen cars in a row that were essentially the same colour: Dark grey, though mid grey, to silver and white.

      There was barely a green, red or blue car in the car park. Let alone orange, turquoise, purple, gold, yellow or something actually interesting.

      And, why are you no longer able to get proper BRG?

      This colour should be non-metallic, just like on a 4 1/2 litre Bentley.

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