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When it comes to cars the mad cabbies taste is for large vehicles. Don't get me wrong; there are dozens of lovely, economical, and stylish wee cars on the market these days, many of which I have thoroughly enjoyed driving, and which make ideal family cars. But my own personal preference has always been inclined towards BIG vehicles, which is hardly surprising since my earliest memory of motorcars is being ferried around in my late uncles Mark 10 Jaguar when I was only knee high to a grasshopper. He was what in those days would be called a "gentleman farmer", and used to change his Jaguar for a new model every January 1st, (nice if you can afford it!) so I was privileged enough to be ferried around in some really classy machinery as a wee fella, even if my own late father's budget would only stretch to cars like the Ford Anglia and Triumph Herald.
~ ~ For the past six months or so I've had the kernel of an idea in the back of my head to actually purchase a used Jaguar XJ6 of my own for use as my taxi. With this idea in mind I've been assiduously trawling through all the second hand car websites like "Autotrader" and "Exchange and Mart" looking for the right car at the right price, alas without too much success. The first thing you have to realise when you go looking for a used JaguarXJ6 is that this car has been around for a LONG time, the first models rolling of the production line at Jaguar's Brown Lane factory as far back as 1968! Consequently there are a lot of used Jaguar XJ6 models for sale, but many have either been "thrashed" or else are in generally poor and run down condition. And the last thing you need when spending money on a used Jaguar (or any other used car for that matter) is to have to immediately dip your hand even further into your wallet to pay for expensive repairs. As a general rule repairs to a Jaguar XJ6 don't come cheap; for example, a complete new exhaust system on it's own will set you back somewhere in the region of £1,700!
~ ~ I'd come across a couple of likely cars on "Autotrader" and spent a few quid having them checked out by an Automobile Association mechanic, but on both occasions the AA report was less than complimentary, the car's description not living up to the reality of it's condition. But eventually my perseverance paid off, and I discovered the ideal car on eBay only last month. (March 2005) A 1991 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign 3.2-litre, with only 107,000 genuine miles on the speedometer, and in totally immaculate condition. The car had spent most of its life as the chauffeur driven transport of the CEO of a large distillery in Scotland, and when the said chauffer retired back in 1998, the company had given him the car as a leaving present! From 1998 to 2005 the car had only covered 20,000 miles, and all of its pedigree was backed up not only by a full Jaguar service history but by every single MOT Certificate ever issued. On top of this every single receipt for repairs had been assiduously filed. For example, a complete new automatic transmission system had been fitted (by Jaguar) at 103,000 miles, simply because the old transmission had developed a bit of a "whine" while driving. At the same time 4 brand new Pirelli P4000 tyres had been fitted. (Worth about ?800 plus!) So it was obvious that this was a much loved and cherished car, and that absolutely no expense had been spared to ensure it remained in as good condition as when it first rolled out of the Jaguar factory. A couple of emails to the seller and a very positive AA report later, and I was the new proud owner. (After winning the eBay auction, obviously, but that's another story!) Next step was to hop a plane to Stansted from here in Dublin, a train and tube to Wembley in London, and a leisurely drive back to the Ireland ferry in Holyhead in Wales.
~ ~ Here endeth the mad cabbies first golden rule if you are in the market for a used Jag. Don't be in any hurry, and always do your homework on the car, ensuring that (if possible) it has a full Jaguar main dealer history that is backed up by the old MOT Certificates and receipts. And ALWAYS have it checked out by a reputable mechanic who knows what they're about before parting with a sheckle of your hard-earned dosh. There are a LOT of sharks and predators out there in the used car market, and they WILL bite of your hand and seriously deplete your bank account if you give them even half a chance!
~ ~ So what prompted me to consider buying a used Jaguar XJ6 in the first place, and what do I think of the car after my first 5 weeks or so of ownership? The reason I wanted a Jag is simple enough. Firstly, I've always loved their cars, which I consider to be in the same league as other famous British marques like Aston Martin and Rolls Royce/Bentley. Secondly, I seriously believe I can make some serious cash with this car. Since the taxi market here in Ireland was de-regulated back in November 2000, the number of taxis plying for hire on the Dublin streets has increased by more than 4 fold, from 2,724 cabs to fast approaching 12,000. (As many as New York City and still increasing!!) Consequently, the cash to be earned from street and rank work has been very hard hit. Over the last couple of years I've been developing more and more "private" work in the business community, and while my old Nissan Maxima was a nice car, it simply doesn't have the same class, style, or reputation as a car like the Jaguar. It's my intention to further develop my private client list now I own the Jaguar, and obviously I can charge higher rates than I can get on the old taximeter. (Happy days!) What do I think of the car so far? One word sums up my feelings very succinctly. WONDERFUL! It's an absolute joy to drive, and has been universally admired by both my taxi driving contemporaries and by my passengers, many of who find it hard to believe they are being whisked around the city in such style and opulence.
~ ~ There are a plethora of different models in the Jaguar XJ6 stable, which is hardly surprising for a car that has been around in one form or another for the last 36 years! My own car is the Jaguar Sovereign, 3.2-litre long wheel base (LWB) model. The long wheelbase means that it's slightly larger than the basic model, which in real terms relates to about an extra 12 inches or so of legroom for rear seat passengers. This is great for a taxi or limousine hire business, as it means extra comfort for your passengers, which is a big plus. The bodywork is in dark Royal Blue metallic and is in practically unmarked condition, with the exception of a little surface rust on the inside edge of the rear wheel arches, which has been caused by a combination of stone chips and the salt that the British authorities insist on using on the roads during the winter. (Here in Ireland we use grit) But this is an easily remedied flaw. The car was also under sealed from new, which protected it well against under body and chassis rust, which is a common fault on most older British cars. Since I bought the car my mechanic and myself have been underneath the vehicle and removed any surface rust and reapplied new under seal where required, which should pay dividends in the long term. There is chrome (again unblemished) everywhere! On the front and rear bumpers, around the number plates, on the door handles, on the exterior mirrors, on the lights, on the window frames and stanchions, and even on the upper part of the door sills as you enter the car. The interior door handles, ashtrays and trim are also all chrome, which nicely compliments the sumptuous light grey leather upholstery and dashboard. Offset this with highly polished real walnut trim on the dash, doors, and around the centre and rear console, and you have a car that's is fit for royalty! (In fact, the Queen owns a 6.0-litre Daimler version of the Jaguar Sovereign!)
~ ~ The leather seats in particular are simply delicious. It's obvious that the upholstery on this car has been meticulously cherished and cared for all of its life, being nourished using a specialised leather upholstery cleaner on a regular basis. They are soft and supple, and you sink into them in the same fashion as you would settle into a favourite armchair at home. The driver's and passenger seats are also infinitely adjustable using the electric controls, so you can change the rake, distance from the steering wheel, height, back support and so on to find the position that best suits your own particular taste. An important aspect from my own particular point of view (as a taxi driver) is that they are far easier to maintain in a good condition than cloth upholstery. A simple wipe over with a damp cloth will remove most marks and stains without resort to specialised upholstery cleaner or soap and water. The car even came with the original Jaguar carpets and rubber mats, all carrying the distinctive Jaguar emblem!
~ ~ Interior storage space is more than adequate, with large side pockets on the inside of all the doors, and a good sized glove box and centre storage area underneath the centre armrest in the front. There's even a neat wee cubbyhole underneath the steering wheel that I use to keep my receipt books and sunglasses. One crib I would have is the lack of any cup holders for my much-loved beaker of coffee, which is never too far away from my hand as I drive around the city. I've had to fit one of these self-adhesive jobs that you get in the car accessory shops, and unfortunately they don't come in light grey leather, so it clashes somewhat with the rest of the interior. (Bah!!! But maybe I'll come across one finished in chrome one of these days.) Another surprise was the badly designed boot. The rear wheel arches encroach on either side of the boot space, and the spare wheel is stored flush against the rear seat bulkhead instead of underneath the floor as in most cars. But to offset this flaw the boot is very deep, which means that you can load more than one layer of suitcases and luggage on top of each other, which helps matters somewhat. And, most importantly, the boot will swallow up my golf clubs and electric trolley without any problem whatsoever. Also in the boot is the original Jaguar 6-disc CD changer, a fitted fire extinguisher, and a slide in spot for the original Jaguar toolkit, which also came along with the car. (It's VERY unusual to get an original and complete Jaguar toolkit with a car of this age!)
~ ~ The car has all the luxuries you would expect with a quality vehicle such as Jaguar, and all are in perfect working order. It has climate control and air conditioning, both of which can be adjusted to suit the individual preferences of the rear seat passengers. Cruise control is fitted, which to be honest isn't of much use on the poor road system we have here in Ireland, but which I tried out on a recent weekend trip down the country, and which works perfectly. You can set the speed at any rate over 30mph, and a simple flip of a switch will reset it if you have to slow down or use the brake for any reason. The dash has more dials and warning lights than your average Jumbo jet, but all serve a purpose. Lights will flash on from the Vehicle Management Computer if even so much as a light bulb blows, so you're never likely to damage the car by driving on blissfully unaware of a fault. There's also a trip computer that at the press of a button instantly gives you a digital readout of things like your average speed, fuel consumption, fuel used, etc, and which can be altered to give you a reading in either miles or kilometres. Dials include the speedometer and rev counter, with further dials to tell you if your battery is charging properly, the temperature of the coolant, and whether your oil pressure is OK.
~~ Further little luxurious touches include a lighted flip down vanity mirror on both the sun visors, and a further lighted vanity mirror on the lid of the glove box. You have two very bright interior lights in the front, and also a map reading light, both of which are controlled by switches on the centre console. The rear lights are set into the back of the front seat headrests, and there are also two pop out reading lights just behind the head of each rear seat passenger which can be used for reading at night without causing a distraction to the driver. The in-car sound system is excellent. I'm not sure of the manufacturer as it carries the Jaguar logo, but it has three FM wavebands and MW and LW wavebands, all of which can be set to your favourite radio stations. It also incorporates a cassette player and the original Jaguar 6-disc CD changer in the boot that you can load up with your favourite sounds. The speaker system has six outlets; one in each door, and a couple of bass speakers inset underneath the rear seat, which produce incredibly good quality and clarity of sound.
~ ~ If all these goodies aren't enough to what your appetite, then we haven't even got to the good part yet! What's the car like to drive? Well, put simply, the drive and ride quality are second to none, with the possible exception of the superb Lexus LS430 which I had the privilege of driving a couple of years back, and which would still be my dream car. (If money were no object!) The general consensus of opinion within motoring circles is that the 3.2-litre (and larger 4.0-litre) Jaguar engine they used during the late 1980's and early 1990's are the best they ever produced, and are practically "bulletproof". In other words, they simply don't go wrong that often, and the engine is renowned for its reliability. The engine on my 3.2-litre Sovereign is a six cylinder V6, with 24 valves and an engine size of 3239cc. What this means in practical terms is that it provides totally effortless reserves of raw power. Unfortunately, it also means that it has a tremendous thirst for the old "go-juice", (petrol) returning (on average) only about 14 to 15mpg around town, and perhaps about the 25mpg mark on a longer run, and this is driving it with a "light" right foot on the old accelerator! Put the pedal to the metal and you'd practically need a petrol tanker following you around to keep it tanked up with juice! Mind you, having said that, it's worth it simply to experience the absolutely fabulous sensation you get when you let this beast have its head on the open road. While on the motorway from Chester to Holyhead I opened the car up for a very brief period on a quiet stretch of road, and she reached 120mph (and still rising!) with ease before I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and that I fancied hanging onto my clean driving licence for a while longer! The stated top speed is 139mph, and the 0 to 60mph figure is in or around 8 seconds. To get the best performance from the 4-speed automatic gearbox Jaguar have incorporated a "semi-manual" mode with there "J-shift" gear lever. On the right hand side you have the normal automatic box, with its park, neutral, reverse and drive positions. On the other side you have the option of selecting your normal drive position, or else holding the car in either second or third gear as you accelerate. This means the auto box will not move out of the selected gear until you do so manually, so, for instance, to get some scintillating performance from a standing start you simply select second gear and boot down on the accelerator. The Jag takes of like the proverbial scalded cat (bad pun, I know) leaving most normal mortals wallowing in its wake. The sound of the engine has to be heard to be believed. It will either "purr, growl or roar" depending on your style of driving, but at all times reminding you of its impeccable pedigree and willingness to oblige.
~ ~ To hold you on the road surface the Jaguar, despite its advancing years, has all the modern goodies. Sixteen inch Pirelli tyres on a lovely set of pepperpot alloy wheels provide you with all the rubber you will ever need to ensure good road holding, and this is backed up with an excellent set of ABS (anti-lock) disc brakes and traction control. Despite the size of the car the brakes will stop you on the proverbial old sixpence, (even at high speed) and do so without you having to exert your leg muscles beyond the norm. The quality of the ride is simply wonderful. You feel as though you are simply gliding across the road surface as if you were on a magic carpet, and even the ever-present speed bumps (or sleeping policemen if you prefer) that seem to be an integral part of today's modern road system don't phase the Jaguar in the slightest. Instead of the almighty judder you get in most cars if you hit them at any more than a snail's pace, the Jaguar simply shrugs them off as though they weren't even there! Even if you are unlucky enough to hit another vehicle or have an accident of some kind, you'll have little to fear in a Jaguar. They have consistently won various awards for safety, the most prestigious of which is probably "What Car" magazines safest car on the road, and the Department of Transport's award as the "Safest Car in Britain".
~ ~ Maintenance and running costs for a luxury car of this type would be a little above the norm, but that said I have already come across a couple of excellent websites that sell cheap parts over the Web, and there are plenty of scrap cars about the place that you can cannibalise if anything major goes wrong with your own vehicle. As always, I will avoid the main Jaguar dealers like the bubonic plague. (Rip-off merchants of the first order!)
~ ~ As for the purchase price, you can pay whatever you like for a used Jaguar, ranging from a few hundred pounds up to tens of thousands for a new model. The trick is to decide what you want from the car and what you are willing to pay, and then to shop around extensively in garages, newspapers, magazines, and on the Web until you find exactly what you want. I believe I got the bargain of a lifetime. I only paid a piddling £1,500 Sterling for my 1991 Sovereign, which equates to about Euro 2,200. A further Euro 800 VRT (the much criticised Vehicle Registration Tax we must pay the Government here in Ireland when we import a car) brought the price up to 4,000, and I paid out about a further 500 or so in travel and related expenses to get it back home from London to Dublin. But I reckon that if I were to advertise it for sale I could probably get about Euro 6,000 to Euro 7,000 (minimum) here in Ireland for this car. (Given its prime condition) Not that I have any intention of parting with it any time soon!
~ ~ Highly recommended by the mad cabbie, and I will update this review on a fairly regular basis during the time I own the car to keep you informed of any new developments.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Please note this review is also avaialable on epinions.com, link is here http://www.epinions.com/content_180940738180. i am fed up of epinions and the unhappy community atmosphere that is present on that site, i have decided to come onto ciao.co.uk and see what this is like, i am going to tansfer 5 or so reviews over to get me started on ciao then start writing new ones. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~