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Peter Blee ASKED THE GUIDE

Luxury on a budget

I seek your advice about a ``play car'' for myself. I am retired and own a Mercedes E280 with 60,000km on the clock and a Saab 9000CS Anniversary model with 50,000km on the clock. Both are running beautifully and I expect them to do so for a long time. I have always appreciated cars with a bit of style and quality and am toying with the idea of buying a Series III Jaguar, say an '86 or an '87 model, or the XJ40 '89 or '90 model (Sovereigns). I guess I want something a bit special but don't want to pay more than $13,000-$14,000. It would not be for everyday use but for long runs, perhaps 5000km a year. It would be garaged and well looked after. Having encountered vast differences of opinion about Jaguars over the years, I am seeking your advice.

You've obviously done quite a bit of homework, and it seems you have done the most important thing: identify what it is you want from your toy. As your regular cars are prestige cars and not dissimilar to the Jaguar model you are considering, you could consider a sportier car, such as a coupe or a convertible Mercedes or Saab, which would be a little more special, or perhaps even a Jaguar XJS. Any Jaguar is quite a good choice, though the Series III suffered because Jaguar were too cash-strapped to de-bug it properly before it went into production. That and shoddy build quality mean many of them gave their owners heartburn. But there are many around that have been sorted and they make nice cars. There are several Jaguar specialists who can help find a car for you, but remember they are in business to make a profit. Caulfield Jaguar rebuilds Series III XJ6s to your specification. They appear to turn out good work, though their rebuilt cars will cost more than the $14,000 you want to spend. I recommend you contact the Jaguar Car Club and get the advice of people who have owned the models you are interested in buying. Their experience is invaluable and real.

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