Long lost luxury, part 2

There’s a Polish expression my wife is fond of: “not my circus, not my monkeys”. It means someone else has invited trouble, and it’s not my problem. It’s a phrase I used a few times after she bought a 1999 Jaguar S-type on eBay.

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Don’t get me wrong – there was nothing really wrong with the car, it was just that I was called on to repair and resell it when she decided she didn’t want to keep it. But, if you read this blog – you know I really didn’t mind.

1999 was the launch year for the Jaguar S-Type, based on the platform of a U.S. Lincoln LS/Ford Thunderbird as the company was owned by Ford at the time. The circular grille was really to keep the look of the car true to the original S Type of the 1960s, as it had a lot of empty space behind it. The 3-litre six cylinder engine in ours was also a Ford design. So even though it sounds very American, with its timber steering wheel and dash insert it still oozed British gentleman’s club. Being a shade of British Racing Green also helped.

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The S-type had cost nearly $100,000 when new in 1999. In that same year we bought our second house for $105,000, so this was a true high-class luxury car, that was now 17 years old. Leather was in abundance, with an electric driver’s seat, climate control aircon.. and a Dolby cassette player with cassette drawer in the dash.

She happened on it while searching eBay for a car with a sunroof, to replace the family truckster we’d sold. It had 188,000 kms on the clock, a roadworthy and a month left on the rego – and it was up for auction, due to finish in a few hours, and currently bid at the starting bid of $5,000.

She showed it to me, and despite me airing my hesitations about buying an old British car, and going to the shops in a showy ride, she bid up to $5,100.. and the auction finished on that bid. So we now owned a “Jag” – bought sight unseen.

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We picked it up and, as the owner had said in the ad, it was in good condition. So we were lucky there. We enjoyed the silent, smooth experience of driving it. However, after a few weeks of dealing with its considerable length and weight, and being left scared on a rainy day when it slid a little due to terrible wheel alignment, my wife decided it wasn’t for her. So it was time to sell.

Given that it had only passed a roadworthy less than 2 months earlier, you’d think it would be easy to have it reissued. However, when I got the same company to check it out (with a different inspector) a handful of problems were found. The inspector was surprised the previous guy hadn’t seen things like a broken fog light, worn tyre and perished suspension bushes .I was also surprised – and unhappy.

So after about $1,000 worth of work (plus renewed registration) the car was for sale on Carsales and Gumtree (where I felt it could attract a higher price than eBay). A family friend and even the next-door neighbour both made plans by buy it, but they fell through.

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The eventual buyer looked at it 10 days after listing, and put down a $2,500 deposit after a short test drive – promising to pay the balance a couple of weeks later. Nearly TWO MONTHS later, we finally had the balance to make a small profit, he had a car he loved, and I had a monkey off my back.

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