Car of the Week: Jaguar XJR X308

Now, this week’s Car of the Week is a bit late, and I apologize. I’ve had my hands full with Car of the Year awards, the loads of news we’re getting, and other things relating to the blog. So then, let’s cut to the chase. This week’s car is the Jaguar XJR, the X308 to be exact.

The X308 was the last of the Mark 2 XJs, and I believe the X308 was when the XJ peaked. Then they shoved a bicycle pump up its bottom and created the X350. It wasn’t too bad, but it was worse than the X308. It wasn’t as good looking and had bad air suspension. Then someone decided to stick cartoon bumpers on it and created the X358, the last of the Mark 3. After that, Ian Callum took the XJ, threw away the legendary design, and created a load of rubbish, the X351. This is the latest XJ, and while getting rid of a design of which the basis hasn’t changed for 50 years now sounds like a good idea, replacing it with a dull design fitted with a hideous rear end isn’t a smart plan. If you’re going to completely redesign a car, make it look brilliant. Even Ian Callum admits the rear end looks ugly, but he says it’s made like that on purpose. Sounds like the stupidest excuse I’ve ever heard.

Rewind back to 1997. This is when the X308 was introduced. While the design only had minor changes compared to the X300, there was a big change under the hood. The X300 XJR had a 4.0L supercharged I6, while the X308 XJR had a 4.0L supercharged V8. It put out 50 more horsepower and an extra 9 lb-ft of torque. The 5-speed automatic transmission had an extra gear compared to the 4-speed automatic in the X306. The X306 did come with a 5-speed manual though, but only 268 cars were actually fitted with it. The spec sheet doesn’t say everything though. The car looked brilliant, handled brilliantly, and went like the clappers. It was very comfortable too, as you’d expect from a car of it’s class. All in all, a magnificent car.

In the long run though, the car was admittedly a bit faulty. The sealed for life transmission can become a serious issue once its intended lifetime is done. The cylinders were lined with Nikasil from 1998 to 2000. When Nikasil came in contact with high sulfur gasoline, it would wear away and the cylinders would begin to wear as well. Oh, and I’ve seen plenty of cases of the auto-dimming rear view mirror failing. Luckily though, Jaguar will replace the engines with steel lined cylinder engines, and there are methods of changing the transmission fluid in the sealed for life transmission. If you don’t change it at a low enough mileage though, you’ll be looking at a transmission failure soon enough, and a replacement can be a bit pricey. The mirrors aren’t too big an issue, as they can be replaced for a fairly small price.

I forgive it these faults though. I think of cars like people. Well, not quite of course, but the point is, everyone makes mistakes. So why can’t a car have faults? It gives it character. Plus, the classic Jaguar looks coupled with the powerful V8 and great suspension all make up for it. It’s a brilliant package. Oh, and you can pick up models from the last year of production (2003) for $10,000 – $15,000.

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