NOT A LOLCAT
Looking for a sedan? Want a little Jason Statham in a nice suit, but don't want an Audi?
First, I should mention that I have had no "good" experiences with Jaguars. My first 1976 XJS was an electrical nightmare, and had Jaguar's apparently biodegradable body work.
My next 1984 XJ6 was a beautiful black excessively cramped car, with suspension bits made of wax and attempted to go on strike every time the speedometer approached 60 miles per hour.
But, apparently I have a learning disability because I have returned to the well twice more in the form of a 1994 XJ6 which overheated if you started it, constantly bled fluids, and my last taste of Jaguar is bittersweet. I have a 2001 XJ8 killing the grass in my back yard.
So, why would I recommend a Jaguar for On The Cheap? Especially an X308 Jaguar which should more properly be called a Forduar?
First I'll start by saying that the X308 corrected many of the things I hated about earlier Jags. While the buttons, switches, and even the key fob were lifted right out of Ford's bargain basement parts bin, the redesign made for much more front seat room over previous generations. For the longest time I believe that the British were all apparently only 5 feet tall, because only someone so short could get comfortable in 4 door Jags.
Since I'm 6 feet 4 inches tall, I was very surprised and relieved by the increase in space in the driver's seat that came with the redesign. Not only that, but Jaguar introduced a new V8 engine that had the potential to be great. Notice that I said it had potential...
However, Jaguar had made a horrible mistake with the X308 and the XK Coupes. The same mistake was made by BMW, and Land Rover. That mistake is the ZF 5HP24 5-Speed automatic transmission. A transmission that is apparently made of glass, and is prone to forget it is a transmission and begin to believe it is a V8 powered food processor.
Unfortunately, even though the ZF 5HP24 transmission requires a rebuild every 38 seconds, or every time the A Drum is utilized, it is not cheap to rebuild. There is a $3500 price tag associated with "fixing" this transmission, and there is no such thing as a "good used" 5HP24.
The transmission choice was not the only problem shared with BMW at the time, apparently they also used the same supplier for timing chain guides who was under the mistaken impression that cheap brittle plastic would do the job nicely. The BMW 4.0 liter V8, as well as the 4.4 Liter V8, and the Jaguar 4.0 V8 and 4.2 V8 will all eventually suffer timing chain issues related to the guides.
So, "Why?" I hear you asking, would I still recommend a Jaguar as a good On The Cheap performance car? That's because of the XJR. That big cat, with the extra growl.
A brawler in a subdued grey suit.
First, the timing chain guides and tensioner failed on these cars, mostly before the warranty ran out. Much to the dismay of Jaguar, I assure you so if you find a Jaguar XJR with more than 50K miles on it, it has been fixed. Second, is the fact that the XJR was spared the misery of the ZF transmission, and instead, received the Mercedes AMG-Tuned 5 Speed Automatic which is widely regarded as bullet proof.
While far from a perfect performer, the XJR was blessed with a supercharged version of the V8 in the XJ8, in a nice compact design. The supercharger will probably need to be rebuilt at around 150K miles, but this is going to depend on how well the car was maintained.
Forced Induction is actually a replacement for displacement.
This is not, and will never be a car that you'll take to your weekend autocross event and sling it around orange cones until you wear the corners off your tires. It's a big, fairly heavy sedan, which was unfortunately never blessed with a limited slip differential. Traction control? Yes, but it's a fairly braindead system that backs off the power when it senses loss of traction, and there is a good amount of body roll, but the ride is less supple than the XJ8.
Over the production run of the X308 the XJR can be had in "Limo" version which adds a few inches to the back seat area, but I have never liked the look of the "L" versions because they look a little unbalanced. Too much rear door. I'm sure it's find if you're just a rear seat passenger, but I prefer to be doing the driving.
Now, since the XJR addresses most of my complaints about Jags, it's time to talk about why they're Cheap. To be honest, the XJR was unable to hold their value because of the XJ8 being such crap. Today, it's not unusual to find a very respectable XJR in good or very good condition between $3500 to $6000 depending on who currently holds the title. Dealerships, tend to over price these cars, where as private owners have trouble getting a reasonable dollar amount for them, because most people are afraid of maintenance costs and repair costs.
The XJ8 really destroyed the value of the XJR, because I can purchase a pristine XJ8, even capable of moving under its own power, for $2000 which puts them firmly in disposable car territory, because no one in their right mind would spend $3500 to rebuild a transmission in a car worth only about $2000. The XJR really isn't in that category.
If you're looking for a fantastic highway cruiser, On The Cheap, and you happen to like your sedans with a bit of an attitude, and some growl, pick up an XJR. Some things to be aware of? Start the car, and listen to the engine let it sit there at idle until it warms up, if the engine is rattling, walk away unless you want to spend $1500 to have the timing chain guides replaced.
Start the engine when it's cold, and if the exhaust sounds particularly noisy or has a slightly metallic sound to it, the four O2 sensors will need replacing. Make sure everything works, unless you're willing to spend money on silly annoyances.
And like every other Jag of this generation and older, check the fuel cap, and area around the fuel filler. If it isn't draining the water away properly, and the seal is bad on the cap, you will get water in the fuel, and that can be very annoying.