Maybe it’s Inspector Morse, maybe it’s Arthur Daley, either way old Jags seem to capture the imagination in a way no other car marque does. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you live in Adelaide or Aberystwyth, Jaguars are consistently among the most coveted of old cars. And what sets old Jaguars apart is that whereas most marques have one or two covetable cars, every old Jag eventually reaches the polishing stage. Jaguars, unlike other car marques, also go through a familiar lifecycle. They’ve always been a highly coveted brand when new, particularly nowadays. But after 4 or 5 years, quicker than most marques it seems, they enter the Wafty Old Smoker stage, becoming cheap, out of date, good-value big cars for buyers with deep pockets and short hands. And there’s nothing wrong with that – I love an old smoker as much as anyone else.
Jaguars, or rather Jaaags as they become known at the W.O.S stage, tend to remain in this sort of used car hinterland for a long time. It can taken 10-20 years before an old Jaaag gets finally appreciated. This is true of every Jag – sure, we may fete the E Type and Mk2 today but in the late 70s and early 80s they were just old Jaags, virtually worthless. Jaguar could hardly give away the last E Types. But eventually even the most unloved Jaag turns the corner and begins to occupy growing segments of muddy fields known as classic car shows. Just look at the XJS – once derided as perhaps the most unloved Jaguar of all time, now rapidly ascending the ranks of modern classics with values rising accordingly. The same goes for the early XJ saloon – Series 1 examples have been virtually ignored until the last couple of years, now good examples are rivaling Mk2 prices. Why is this? What is it about a Jaag that makes them always rise to the top of the classic car tree? I can only guess, but hiring out 80 cars I can say that Jaguars are consistently the most popular classic cars on the fleet. Here’s why I think that is:
1. Prestige & character Jaguars have heritage. Jaguars are the Rolls Royce you can afford. They’ve got wood and leather. They’re built not assembled. BMWs do most things better but they’re production line fodder compared to a Jaguar. A Jaguar has class and presence. Sure, from the 80s to the early 00s Jaguar simply traded on its heritage, but what a heritage. When you’ve made a car like the E Type you can afford to take your foot of the gas for 20 years or so….
There are no two ways about it, in the 1960s Jaguar made the best looking cars in the world. Whether you wanted a sports car or a sports saloon, a Jaguar was head and shoulders above the rest. The E Type was stunning, the Mk2 was gorgeous and the XJ was beautiful. Porsche may have had the 911, Ferrari had the Daytona and BMW had the 2002 but these were one-hit wonders. In the 60s Jaguar didn’t put a foot wrong. That success has cast a long shadow and despite somewhat dodgy offerings like the XJ40, Jaguar kept the plates spinning just enough to stay alive
3. A whiff of wood & woodbines Jaguars have always been just respectable enough. When you drive a Jag you could be a bowler-hatted company director or a sheep-skin jacketed dodgy geezer. It’s the way Jaags waver between the two that seems to account for their appeal, the whiff of respectability mixed with rules being broken.
4. Performance Even ignoring the PR-inflated performance statistics, Jaguars have always been quick cars. Few cars have combined the real-world useability with a decent turn of speed quite like a Jag. In the 60s the Mk2 3.8 was the Subaru Impreza of the highway (with a nice dollop of real wood on the dash) and in the 90s the XJR hurried stressed executives to meetings in similar style. Whether bought new or second hand, a Jaguar has always offered excellent ££ for BHP.
No cars waft quite like a Jaag saloon. You sit low in a Jaguar. The car embraces you. The louch air almost makes it essential to take up smoking cigars. A Jaguar proceeds at its own pace. That is the essence of a Wafty Old Smoker.
So what’s my favourite old Jaag? Well, obviously I love the E Type, but it is a little obvious. Over the years I’ve owned Mk2, E Type, XJ saloon, XJ coupe and XJR saloon. If we take the E Type out of the equation then I’m afraid it’s a Jaag that isn’t a Jaag. It’s my old Daimler coupe. Since 70s Daimlers were just Jaags for posher people, hopefully you’ll agree that it complies.
And why? Well, the XJ is a brilliant all round car – it looks good, goes well and wafts better than any other car. The coupe version notches all of that up ever so slightly. Right now, I wonder why I sold it….
Tell us what you like (or don’t like) about Jaguars. You can hire one of our fleet of classic Jaguars at http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.