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Rust or Lust: 1996-2005 Jaguar XK8 and XKR

Posted in Car Buying, Car Deals, Car Reviews, European Review, Jaguar, Used Cars by Corey | May 13th, 2009 | 2 Responses |

Last time we profiled the Lincoln LS, a cruise missile for the Metamucil set. Today, we’re breaking out the cucumber sandwiches and tea cozies to decide whether the Jaguar XK8/XKR should rust away like the rest of Britain’s auto industry, or be fondly remembered as an object of impure lust.


Nate’s post yesterday got me thinking, and laughing, but more to the point, thinking about Clarkson’s comment on the Alfa Romeo Brera. He said, and I quote, “Think of it as Angelina Jolie. You’ve heard she’s mad and eats nothing but wallpaper paste. But you would, wouldn’t you?” The Brera didn’t leap out as a proper subject for that wonderful imagery, so I set about thinking of a suitable analogue. And it hit me (or rather, it drove by) – a properly sexy British granturismo, beautiful and wicked-tempered, with a knack for driving you mad. I’m talking, of course, about the Jaguar XK8 Coupe.


Now, to play along, you need to divorce the reality of the XK8 (driven mostly by ladies of a rarified age and the kind of sugardaddies who aren’t necessarily interested in ladies of any sort, rarified or not) from the idea of the XK8. And that idea, pure and simply, is SEX. I don’t know if you remember the movie “Bedazzled,” an awful movie starring Brendan Frasier, but you might remember his costar Elizabeth Hurley’s promiently displayed figure. I can’t imagine why else you would have seen it, because if you were there for any other reason than getting a glimpse of her cleavage, you were in the wrong place. But anyhow, the XK8 and Liz are both English, they both have more curves than a bowl full of tennis balls and a lot of nice skin (well, leather in the XK’s case), and, in the words of Mr. Clarkson, “you would, wouldn’t you?” Well, you might at least.

<i>I bet she'd date you if you had a Jag, dude.</i>

I bet she'd date you if you had a Jag, dude.

Penned by Jaguar’s Chief Stylist at the time, Geoff Lawson, the XK8 is a riot of slipperly lines and subtle sexual innuendo. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the work of Ian Callum, whose tenure at Aston Martin lead to a proliferation of similar sleek shapes. Under the skin, the Jag was merely an update of the old XJS platform, an ancient and creaky apparatus left over from Roman Britannia. Despite being used to underpin Jaguars for nearly two millenia, the XK8 did get the second-generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension, their new and excellent AJ-V8 engine (a version of which was found in the Lincoln LS discussed last week) making 290 HP and 290 ft-lbs. of torque, and able to hold 0.84 G on the skidpad – reasonable credentials even by today’s standards.

<i>XKR convertible.</i>

XKR convertible.

Of course, what figures couldn’t stand some artificial enhancement? Some folks like things natural, but with the XK8, a little cosmetic surgery and a nip and a tuck produced the XKR, with new seats, big Brembos flashing from behind the wheels, and most importantly, a supercharged version of the AJ-V8 boosting output to 370 HP in the 2003 version. The XKR ran, like a cat avoiding the spray from a firehose, from naught to 60 in about 5 seconds. That was fast then, and for a heavy boulevardier, it’s fast now.

<i>Be fixed in a jiffy, love!</i>

Be fixed in a jiffy, love!

Now we come to the part about eating paste. And the paste, so far at least, has been crippling depreciation. A quick look at some local listings show several of the hot-rod XKRs for sale for less than $20,000. Another form of eating paste is Jaguar’s perhaps legendary lack of reliability. “Much improved by Ford’s ownership!” you might hear some Anglophile say, smugly and from under his pith helmet. “May the sun never set on your Empire,” you’ll sarcastically remark, and note that these beasts tend to go through automatic transmission like Henry VIII went through wives.

Verdict: LUST

Immune from the ravages of age, these sexy cats won’t sag or wrinkle unless you abuse them. I’m not going to argue that they’ll be collectible, but they draw envious looks even today. Supremely comfortable and reasonably fast, all you’ll need is a small fortune to cover the inevitable repair bills. The best part is (as Wooderson would say): you get older, they stay the same age. Gigiddy-giggidy!!!

[Source: MotorTrend, Wikipedia]

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2 Responses

  1. Butch Deadlift says:

    I’ve driven this generation of XKR, and you are quite right about the Lust factor. You feel special, you feel coddled. You get noticed. Believe me, these cars are only a step below the Aston Martins in their ability to have the ladies take notice. Even an ugly mug like mine, rolling up in a Red Green-style Lumberjacket, got attention from the ladies.

    That said, however, they don’t tend to age well. They are extremely affordable, but the older examples I’ve driven have more than their fair share of creaks, rattles and odd knocks. They need a lot of attention and maintenance as they get older, and that can be annoying. The positive side, however, is that these are still on the old steel chassis, and use a lot of high-end Ford parts, so the repairs are not break-the-bank expensive. They’re pricy, but not outrageous.

    The 2006-on XKR is a better car in every way, except that. Using the all-aluminium chassis, repair costs have skyrocketed. If you get a dent or ding, most body shops will not be able to repair it, and they use a lot more custom-made parts, rather than relying on a shared Ford Premium Group parts bin.

    For an affordable sports car that will get you noticed, get you respect, get you laid, and get you busy working on it in the garage, you can’t beat this generation of XK.

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