Ever since Demuro got that Aston, I’ve been on the hunt for a midlife crisis car. I searched for about a year, looking at V8 Vantages and Jaguar XKs. I had my alerts set to nation wide. My must haves were:

1. Coupe

2. If Aston, manual

3. Not black or silver

Two months ago a 2008 XKR popped up about 2 hours away. White with black interior, 68K miles, clean Carfax. I called immediately and set up an appointment to go see (buy) it. The same dealership also had two Aston V8 Vantages (verts) so I got to inspect them side by side. If i’m honest, if I didn’t know the price difference, I would still have taken the Jag. Being 1/2 the price just sweetened the deal. Here is the car the day I bought it. Gorgeous. 4.2L Supercharged V8 goodness.

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According to all the forums, these are actually decently reliable cars. It shares its engine with a bunch of Land Rovers and the Lincoln LS, parts are cheap-ish (FoMoCo). I figure I would take my chances, even though my car luck is horrendous this time would be different.

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This part is 100% true, as I left the lot to take it home the CEL popped on and it went into limp mode. Papers signed, financing done, etc etc. I turned around and went back to the dealership.

First off, shout out to MB Motors in Bellingham. They went above and beyond to make things right. I waited for a couple hours while they did some troubleshooting, first they did a full oil change, then they put in a new battery (these cars are notoriously sensitive to voltage). The light stayed off and I drove it home.

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I was in love. What a wonderful machine. Yes the 420hp is fun, but the brakes are amazing as well. It’s very comfortable to drive, and with the adaptive suspension it’s fun in the corners too. I looked it up on the Jag build website, in 2008 my car would have had a sticker price of $98,000.00. Those 20" wheels were a $5k option. I paid $19,500.00, and you can get these for even less expensive. Crazy, why could they possible depreciate that much? I am a fool.

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About 3 days later I gave it the beans on the on-ramp... CEL and limp mode again. My handheld OBD2 scanner found no codes. I called the dealer again, more to bitch than anything. To my surprise, they said bring it back and they would look at it. So, the next day I made the 2 hour each way trip and dropped it off.

They had the car for about 3 weeks, took it to a 3rd party specialist shop. Their fancy code reader said it was a miss fire on all the even cylinders. So they replaced all the plugs and the ignition coils. HOWEVER, the shop said they could not duplicate my issue, because according to the logs I was going Mexico speeds when it happened, and they were unwilling to do that. My dealer stepped up again, picked up the car and took it to Mexico. Thankfully it happened again, CEL and limp mode.

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Then they decided the catalytic converters were clogged. They replaced them with really nice Magnaflow units, like $1K for both of them. Mind you, none of this was on my dime. Success!!!! Testing in Mexico confirmed that was the issue, and boy howdy did it sound MEAN with the free flowing exhaust. I picked it up and instantly noticed better performance, plus I was getting about 4mpg better on the way home. Smooth sailing form here.

The next day, in the garage, the car decided to lock the doors with my only key fob (dealer only had one) on the passenger seat. It’s not supposed to do that. However, I now know how to get in the car with a coat hanger.

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Now that all my problems were solved, time for some mods. First off, the stereo. In 2009 they had standard bluetooth, but not in 2008. 2008 has no aux input whatsoever. You can’t just replace the stereo because it also has the climate controls. There is a module that adds bluetooth (much like the one Tavarish installed in his Aston) but they are no longer produced and hard to find. I ended up calling a dealership in England that had one, $300 later I have the unit, BUT.... the head unit needs to be re-programmed by the dealer to enable the aux in. I called around, they wanted $2-300 for that.

From the forums I learned that you can do it yourself with a special OBD2 dongle and some cracked/pirated/unsure Jaguar dealer software you run on a virtual machine on a laptop. Because I had always planned on working on this car myself I decided that would be a worthwhile investment. There are horror stories online of people bricking their cars, but that will never happen to ME.

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Did I mention these cars are sensitive to voltage? In order to do any programming with the software the car needs to be seeing over 12.5 volts constantly. The dealership has a giant power supply they use. I ended up using jumper cables from my running truck. It’s a lot of work to play Wu-Tang in these things. Success, I no longer need to rely on my CD player (thankfully I still have my old CDs).

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This car gets a lot of looks. You know when you buy a car and then start seeing them EVERYWHERE on the roads? That has not happened to me. I have yet to see another, they are all in the shop probably.

Jag in its natural habitat:

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Things were good for a bit, then CEL / Limp mode. This time I had my laptop setup, the code was a miss fire on cylinder #4. I replaced the plug / coil on that cylinder no problem. It takes longer to navigate through the software than the plug change. It’s excruciatingly slow, might be because I’m running a virtual machine on a 10 year old netbook. All fixed, car is happy, light is off. While I was in the software I noticed a “program key” option. Hey, I could use that.

I ordered a second key off ebay, $150. I did a bunch of research and found this process is sketchy as best. But I’m me, so I wont have any problems. I went through the programming process (i’m telling you, the software is slow. It takes about 45 min to get through all the screens to do anything) and on the step where it wipes both keys before reprogramming the software erred out and crashed. Sure enough, neither of my fobs worked now. I could start the car if I put the old one in the center console holder thing, but no lock/unlock/keyless start. I was only freaking out a little.

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Facebook said I was screwed but I decided to try again. On the third attempt, for some reason it worked. Each attempt takes 30 min or so, I was sweating. But, now I have two fully functional fobs! One for my keys and one for my drawer in case it decides to lock my keys inside again. This was 3 weeks ago.

The car has been awesome since then. I took my wife to wine country for a weekend, the car was flawless.

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OK flawless isn’t the right word. There are some things that need to be fixed. The leather on the dash is starting to separate (common) and I think it needs a new front wheel bearing. I have the new parts, two new entire hub assemblies were $80 shipped. Like I said, parts are cheap. Also the factory stereo didn’t have the low end I like so I put in some subs and made them fitting of a Shaguar.

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This car has been a massive pain in the ass since day 1, literally.

But I’m still falling in love with it. It’s so good. Pray for me.

Bonus: Here’s Clarksons thoughts on the XKR.