I’ve done a pretty good job describing why that happened, mind you. Basically I tried to test drive one for our last cheap car challenge, it didn’t start, but it put the S-Type on my radar. Then I was made aware of the S-Type R, a 400 HP supercharged V8 luxobarge you can buy for less than $10k? Ok... well that needs to happen.
Then I got laid off.
So, as a “reward” for getting a new job I said I’d buy myself one.
Then I got a new job.
So I bought myself a Jaaaaaaag.
Now you’re all caught up.
I quickly located a “too good to be true” Jag about 400 miles from my house. Actually the closest S-Type R to me, it was low miles, green (the only right color), and appeared to be in good shape.
That said, 6 hours is still a long drive to maybe purchase a car. I could do a 1-way rental, but if I then didn’t get the car I’d be stuck doing another 1-way rental back, which would be... expensive. Clearly the solution is to get a friend to join... preferably one that can either drive stick or has a fuel efficient car, knows stuff about cars, and has some time on their hands.
Oh wait... my former boss (we’ll call him... Peter, because that’s his name) can drive stick, owns a TDI Golf, used to own a car shop, and got laid off shortly after I did.
We talked over beer and he got to the go-ahead from his wife provided I paid for the hotel. (He didn’t say that, but I can read in-between the lines haha.) No problem, I was planning on paying for everything anyway.
My partner finds a cheap AirBnB and I get it booked.
Sunday around 1PM he shows up at the house and we load up and hit the road.
The drive out is uneventful. The weather is essentially perfect and we talk about cars, life, etc... normal stuff. About the time we reach the bottom of the conversation barrel we’re at the AirBnB.
The place was... AirBnB/IKEA starter kit #12, “quirky local modern” (Ikea Udda Lokala). It was pretty clear the hosts did a single Ikea run for the furniture and a single thrift store run for the “local flavor” decorations and called it good enough.
The sheets felt like cheap curtains and the lamps were all more or less for show, with the cords being too short for them to be plugged in AND able to be switched on. Also there was nowhere near the bed to charge my phone.
And the clocks were all an hour off.
But for $140 all in, it was good enough.
We caught an Uber to a place the internet recommended for “Saint Louis food,” Gamlin Whiskey House, had some good food and a lot of drinks. We then went to a bar that we were clearly not cool enough to be in (“Taste”) and then headed back to the AirBnB to drink whiskey and watch TV.
And it was good.
The next morning I woke up before my alarm.
Was I really about to buy a Jag?
As we got ready and packed up, the weather was looking fine! I’d expected it to be cold and raining, but it was just cold! Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad!
Then it started raining.
Ok well... fair enough.
As the place with the Jag didn’t open until 10, we headed to a breakfast place that we were also not cool enough to be at and had some mediocre breakfast.
Then it started sleeting.
Ok well that is... expected.
Food ingested, we pointed the red TDI towards the dealer.
Then it started snowing. Hard.
Well... snow is better than rain... right? Or at least less wet?
By the time we got to the dealer the roads were looking slushy and all the cars were covered in snow. Not ideal conditions to look at a car, but we’re here so... eff it.
I should point out that this was the part that was giving me no small amount of dread. Though I’d talked to the dealer and let them know I’d be there on Monday to take a look, humans are fallible. Between being Veternan’s Day and shitty weather I was super concerned they’d be closed.
So... moment of truth. I walk to the front door, grab the handle, and....
Fucking fuck fuck.
Then, a tap on the glass! Apparently that door just sucks and they want me to go around.
Oh praise Jibbers.
“Lucky” for me, they remembered I was coming, were open, and had pulled the Jag into the shop so I could take a look with it not covered in snow and ice.
In the dimly lit shop it seemed... fine. As expected even.
The manager immediately pointed out that one of the wheels was odd and the tire was flat. Allegedly someone stole it and they had to source a new one.
Oh and the spare. Someone stole the spare too?
In hindsight I am almost certain the tail-happy Jag ended up hitting a curb hard enough to destroy the wheel and tire, but... we’ll never know. (Until it gets to the alignment shop and they punish me for being too trusting.) Anyway, apparently the owner was on his way with a new (matching) wheel and tire.
Sidenote: The spare was from a 2007 Vanden Plas they also had in the shop and Peter was smitten. He loved everything about that car and I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up with one.
But I digress. Everything was going... OK.
Then they brought out the jump box.
Ok well... not unexpected, but certainly another thing to add to the list. They jumped it and after a few cranks the supercharged V8 roared to life.
Peter set to work poking and prodding in the engine bay and I plugged in my Jaguar specific OBDII scanner and started trying to woo the various ECUs into giving up their secrets. A quick scan showed a fault for the bank 1 EGR, bank 1 CAT, and a P1000 which apparently just means the battery was recently pulled. The first one didn’t worry me, the 2nd was disclosed, and the third a non-issue.
Engine-side Peter reported a slight miss on startup, which he wasn’t worried about, some mild ticking, either valves needing adjustment or an exhaust leak, and that there was oil in the engine, as there should be.
As it was an Illinois car, we put it up on the lift to check the rust. Pinch seam was a little... fat... and everything else a little crusty, but not worryingly so. Probably needs a good clean and rust treatment, but not going to fall apart or require welding. I can live with that even if Dave Tracey cannot.
The shop/dealership owner eventually arrived and started putting on the new wheel and tire. Astutely, Peter noticed the tire didn’t look... right. Turns out the wheel was correctly a back wheel, but the tire was a front tire, this vehicle coming with staggered tires. We checked the the OD difference was only 0.4% and the car needed new tires anyway, so we decided to send it.
Off the lift, they pull it out, go and grab gas, and then we’re ready.
The drive was... uneventful. The traction control kept me out of trouble even on the slick roads, the car ran fine, if a little squirmy, and most everything seemed to work.
Ok cool. Lets do this.
We do the usual dance, prolonged by starting it with the lowest level employee and finishing with the owner. At the time I thought it was because they were busy, but probably actually just another tactic.
Anyway, once we get to the owner he plays the “tried and already ‘at cost’” card, which we don’t buy. Don’t get me wrong, I think $5,000 is a good price for this car, but at the end of the day no one pays asking if they can help it.
In a strange twist, Peter gets in on the negotiation in a “bad cop” role without being asked, basically antagonizing the owner by reducing my offer based on things that he says. It is funny and while I can’t tell if it was helping or hurting, ultimately we land at $4,700. I’d bet I could have got a little more out of it, but I think I was at least close to his bottom number.
We sign the paperwork, hand over the cash, affix the temp plate, and are ready to go.
Did I mention it had been snowing this whole time?
Start to finish the car buying process took about 3.5 hours and conditions had deteriorated significantly. Peter had a phone interview he wanted to take from not the road, so we decided to go our separate ways and meet up later if I broke down.
I pointed the nose at the nearest highway and tried to outrun the worst of the storm.
Luckily the roads were still pretty ok, though I saw the aftermath of some brutal crashes on the way out. (I decided not to fit my dash cam, so I have no footage.) I saw one little SUV crashed out in the fast lane, a couple trucks wiped out in the median, and a double semi that had clearly been all over both sides of the highway only moments before. (All of these wrecks had people attending to them, mind you.)
As per KMOV, emphasis mine:
The Missouri Highway Patrol Troop C, which patrols the St. Louis Metro and surrounding areas, said they responded to 185 crashes as of 5:30 p.m. Monday. Of those, 13 people were injured.
And yet with the temps still in the teens the wet, cold kitty soldiered on.
Eventually I had to pull over to break about 1/4 of dirty ice off the headlights so I could... see... but then it was back to it.
Around Springfield the weather eased up and by the time I hit the Oklahoma border the roads were dry again.
At one point I needed to get past a truck that was spewing ice into my car, so I really hit the gas for the first time, going to about 80% throttle to get past him. The little V8 roared to life as the six-speed auto dropped down and...
My OBDII gauge (borrowed from the Land Rover) almost immediately started freaking out.
OH NOES! Had a snapped a belt? Overheated somehow? Why was it alarming!?
~ MPH OVER MAXIMUM SETPOINT ALARM ~
Oh. Apparently I set it to alarm if I went over 100 MPH.
The rest of the drive was uneventful and soon I was home.
Now the real work begins...