New Keys

New XJ6 Keys
1990 XJ6 Keys - along with my new Haynes manual (required for every car I deal with!)

The photo at the left is my new car keys.  This is significant at SO many levels.

First off, I haven’t owned my own car in two years – mine died, and at the time I was struggling pretty hard (still am, really) and couldn’t afford a new one.  So Doc loaned me his Caddy – it wasn’t much of a loss for him, because the amount of distance he traveled he drove a Hyundai as a daily driver.

The second reason it’s significant: I bought a Jaguar.  Holy smokes.

I spend quite a bit of effort trying to keep finances on an even keel – but being a contractor makes that pretty hard.  It’s not uncommon for a project to not start on time, or a customer to fail to get me deliverables in a timely fashion (someday I’ll write that into my project proposals and contracts), or just flat out fail to pay their bills on time.  And I’d love to say that last one is as bad as it gets, but it’s not – I’ve been shorted, had “We’ll start next week” projects never start, and a whole host of problems.

Time goes on, and over two years every time I have gotten ahead something goes wrong and I have to divert my money from my “still paying off the failed business and personal collapse” budget or my “I really need to get my own car” budget to handle whatever the emergency is.

Today, though, I’m finally ahead enough I bought a car.  That wow’s me just a bit to start with – bills are getting paid on time, etc., I’m paying off old debts, and I bought a car.  I can’t say I’m ahead of the game in a long term fashion – I’m just ahead in the short term.  The long term looks pretty good too, given how many quotes I’ve got setting out there, but for now it looks like I’ve got a small amount of breathing room.

I had budgeted this very carefully ahead of time – I had a project that I had to travel for.  The Caddy failed me and required repairs on the road the last two times I’ve taken it out (which is a story all on it’s own – and shows how prepared I am when it comes to automotive repair. But I’ll tell that story some other time.)  It’s road worthy, but the trip is a 12 1/2 hour drive.  The chances of having to fix the car while on the road was way too high.  And, since I don’t own my own car, I don’t have insurance – which means renting a car after you put their coverage on it could run upwards of $500.  Money I consider to be flushed down the drain – it fixes nothing.

I budgeted $1k for a car, and well, put a little faith in God on this one.  I had eyeballed Craigs List to see what’s out there in the way of acceptable vehicles.  I wasn’t shopping – just deciding if I could pull this off.  The goal isn’t to buy a car I’d have for another 10 years, it was to buy a car, do my trips, and sell if off next year at a profit and upgrade.  So buy low, clean up car, sell high.  I’ve never tried this before, but if you can flip a house, you can flip a car.  (OK, I know you can flip a car – I’ve been in one when it rolled once.  Just not THAT way. 😉

My goal was to find something that fell into one of two categories:  A sports car, or a “classy” car.  Cheap, maybe some cosmetic damage at worst.  No serious mechanical faults.

Today, the check cleared.  I had been telling myself not to bother shopping until I saw that check – no need to drool over something, then have it sold before I had the money.  And ya’ might laugh, but, I knew when I had the money in hand something that was exactly what I wanted would show up for an impossible price.

After handling a few things, I checked Craigs List.  Bleh.  Page after page of cars around $1k, but nothing I was looking for.  10 minutes later I decided I’d take a look again at a car that was on the first page of cars, and there it was:  A 1990 Jaguar XJ6.

Now, this is one of the cars on my short list of “I’d like to own one of those someday’ pipe dreams.  Surprisingly, things like Ferrari’s do not appear on that list – I really don’t want to own a car that I’d only drive once a month, or have to worry about when I do drive it.  A Jag, on the other hand, is a different beast, and is on that list.

Obviously, I’m not going to end up with a mint condition Jaguar for $1,000.  But what the heck, I called about it – the posting had been up less than 5 minutes, according to him.

Fuel pump was out – but it’s an external fuel pump, so big whoop on changing it (I hate in-tank fuel pumps, they suck!), and it badly needs a paint job.  The fuel pump would pressurize the line just enough so you could turn him over (it started instantly), and the engine sounded great until it would loose pressure in the line.  The headliner is falling down, and the sun roof doesn’t work.  That pretty much covers the major problems I could find.  Heck, the owner pointed them out to me – he didn’t try and hide anything.  He liked the car, but, life had changed for him, and it wasn’t on his priority list to fix any of those things.  The interior was nice.

A phone call later I also found a friend of a friend who’d paint him if I wanted someone else to do it for around $100.   I may not paint it just yet – the problem is the clear coat that had been applied.  The pigmented paint is fine, it just needs TLC.  There might be a middle ground here where I fix the existing clear coat issue, buff up the car, and get him back on the road quickly and still look nice.

I paid the man $900 for the car, and off I went to pick up a fuel pump.  Only downer – the Autozone fuel pump was missing a part, so when I pulled the old pump I couldn’t put the new on in, and I ran out of time for the day.

Even though it’s old, and needs TLC, I have been geeking out since I bought it:  I own a Jaguar.  But I’m also totally amazed by another fact: I’m now own my own car again.  (Insert very deep sigh of relief here.)

Since it’s a restoration project, I’m going to be documenting it off and on (oddly, I haven’t snapped any photos of the car yet!), and I’ll post any major progress on here, just for the heck of it. 🙂


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