By on October 2, 2017

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Say it’s 1999 and you’re shopping for a powerful and flashy European luxury sedan. Do you spend $51,300 for a new Mercedes-Benz E430? $65,000 for an Audi A8 4.2? A gleaming BMW 740i with a $66,970 price tag? Or do you pony up $68,450 for the Jaguar XJR, knowing it will depreciate faster than Confederate money after Appomattox… and not caring, because you’re such a baller that you know you’ll get another Jag in a couple of years?

Today’s Junkyard Find, spotted in a Northern California self-service yard, shows us what happens to such a car when it ends up in the hands of its third or fourth owner.

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, rodent nests - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The supercharger is long gone, and the engine’s valley became a luxurious rodent nest during the years of storage that took place after something costing five figures broke.

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, spark plug holes - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Someone went to the trouble to stuff up the spark plug holes, indicating that thoughts of repairing this 370-horse monster stayed at least somewhat alive. For a while.

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, warranty booklet - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Don’t think of this car the way it looks now. Think of it when it was new, probably in the hands of a freshy-minted Bay Area venture capitalist, no doubt flush with money from big deals involving the likes of or Webvan. In other words, a 27-year-old who was driving a salvage-title Hyundai Accent by 2003.

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, rear seats - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Most of the XJR-specific trim is gone, but a shadow of the car’s former devil-may-car opulence remains. We haven’t seen many Jaguars in this series, for some reason— just this 2000 S-Type and this 1987 XJ-S.

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, Portuguese relays - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Portuguese relays with Jaguar branding! That’s even better than relays by The Prince of Darkness.

“It has never been and never will be for everyone.”

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43 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1999 Jaguar XJR...”

  • avatar

    which owner takes it on the chin, my guess is the third owner who figures I can fix this, sad ending for a wonderful car.

    • 0 avatar

      If the third owner were paying someone for repairs, or buying new parts from the dealer, yes. I’ve purchased a number of older luxury cars in the past when You-Pull-It type junkyards were still operating locally. It wasn’t a very expensive hobby. I’m going to guess this car lost half its value in the first year of ownership, so buyer #1 got most of the hosing.

    • 0 avatar

      Which owner takes it on the chin? Owner number one was a leasing company that thought it would have a residual value. They were wrong. Owner number two probably thought a three year old professionally detailed Jaguar for the price of a loaded Corolla was a can’t lose. They were wrong. Owner three was a BHPH lot that almost made back what they paid for it in down payments, but it never ran long enough for anyone to make a second payment, which was what they needed to be profitable before having to bodge it back together for resale after each REPO.

      I condemned an S-Type a few months ago. The guy who had it was an older anglophile. The car had an undiagnosable electrical draw that made it eat batteries. At the very least, it was going to take hours with a Fluke that he didn’t want to pay for. The transmission would only engage forward gears if you started it out in low, which didn’t speak well for its long term prospects.

      I forget what problems were keeping it from being driven while it ate batteries, but he had it towed in for its Virginia State Inspection. Despite mostly just sitting in an assigned condo spot, the left front suspension was collapsing. He wasn’t paying for that, and he wanted to leave the car in our lot while he decided what to do. I told him the junkyard would pay his towing bills and he might still see a hundred bucks for it. He needed to think of a plan, thought my suggestion was ridiculous. As he was removing his vanity plate before the tow truck arrived to take it to the junkyard he said, “everyone said I shouldn’t buy this car.” I may have asked him why he thought he was smarter than everyone else. Something about managing an independent shop makes you resent people who don’t buy one of the two good brands of cars available without being prepared to pay for their mistakes.

    • 0 avatar

      As the third (fourth?) owner of a ’98 Vanden Plas, the correct answer is “the first owner’s estate”. In the case of my car, the first owner bought the thing as his “last car”, died and his widow couldn’t/wouldn’t bear to part with it. So it sat in a garage for 10 years until the widow died and the kids just wanted to make it go away along with everything else mom and dad owned that they didn’t need nor want. And that’s a fairly common story on these. Second owner bought it and realized it was expensive car to own/operate, and fortunately decided to let it go before instead of neglecting it. I was looking for a second car and spent 2/3s of my budget on the car, dropped a bunch of money into preventative maintenance (timing chain tensioners, water pump, etc), and had enough left over to set aside as an “unexpected repair” reserve. So for the same price as a 10 year old Camry (or 2 year old Fusion), I had a 10 year old Jag and a few grand to cover the unexpected. That was the best and cheapest car I’ve ever owned. Sold it to the insurance company after a fender bender for $1200 less than I paid for it (and that includes the deductible). Owned it for 5 years and total costs (preventive maintenance, maintenance, tires, etc but not fuel) were less than $100/mo. For a gorgeous car with 270hp V8, burled walnut trim, real chrome accents, sheepskin floor mats, etc. Nothing smells as good as a real Jaguar…

  • avatar

    See even opulence rots.. I know it’s Ford but I hear a ghostly Leyland jingle…

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There really wasn’t any Ford engineering or design in this XJ, or the one after it. It was very much engineered and designed like a traditional Jaguar, albeit with improved reliability versus its predecessor. But Ford’s parental cash allowed Jaguar to do that at a time when it was becoming prohibitively expensive to be a boutique automaker.

      • 0 avatar

        Except Ford sent their engineers to do the electrical design. The X308 XJ had 1200(!) fewer wiring splices than the X305. It really was the best of both worlds with Ford doing the electrical and Jag doing that smooth and powerful V8, the interior, the styling and everything else…

        • 0 avatar

          Frankly, Ford did wonders for the assembly quality of Jaguar. If Ford could be faulted for anything, it would be trying to take the brand too far downmarket with the Mondeo based stuff.

  • avatar

    This is the most reliable model of the XJ.

  • avatar

    Many years ago when my wife and I were house hunting, I had a call with a real estate agent who had to tell me two or three times that he was driving a “black Jag”.

    “Just look for the black Jag.”

    “I’ll be parked on the street in my black Jag.”

    We ended up not buying that house. ;)

  • avatar

    $68,450 is roughly $95K inflation adjusted.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    If money were no object, nor garage space, I would have an XJR in the garage for my opulent luxury car motoring. Make mine the 2008 XJR please.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Assuming that car lasted 15 years in the wild, I’m amazed as how much has been stripped off it in such a short time, and for a fairly low-volume car.

  • avatar

    370hp was a lot of “go” for a 4,000lb sedan in 1999! It still is, but it was *really* a lot back then.

  • avatar

    The parts were probably removed to sell on fleebay or cragslist.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    I would grab the hood and front fenders. A low speed shunt can make these cars too expensive to repair. I know.
    Lots of other part goodies left.

  • avatar

    It’s been said before, but there’s almost nothing sadder to me than in the world of cars than a luxury car in disrepair. Just think of these things when they were new!

  • avatar

    I passed on a 2004 with 70k miles for $2000 in the spring. I have regretted it since. I see it driving around town on a regular basis. I guess a little tick tick isn’t always a death sentence. It was that same blue with the “biscuit” seats, and those great five spoke 19″ wheels. At that price, had it lasted only a year I would have broke even. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar

      I purchased an 04 with 60K in April for $7200. 7K miles so far a set of tires (dry rot on the one one the car) and an oil change. See how it goes through the winter.

      • 0 avatar

        Good luck. I’m finding out my ignorance made me miss a great opportunity. The 4.2 is a reliable power source and most metallurgy issues were addressed. I know the new owner, however, and it may end up for sale again soon, as he is perpetually a “bad beat” on the river from poverty.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Please forgive me and I know that it is unreasonable, illogical, out of reach and forbidden, but I still lust after a Lyons designed Jaguar with a Connolly leather and real wood veneer interior.

  • avatar

    A tip for my fellow bottom-feeders. Be the second or third owner of a Lexus LS or GS, Toyota reliability and a good chance the first owner (or two) kept it dealer-serviced.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I was test driving cars a few weeks ago. Driving into the Jaguar dealership, I saw an F-pace with the hood up and 2 mechanics scratching their heads trying to figure out why it wouldn’t start. Then I test drove an XF, which had check engine warnings all lit up in the instrument panel.

    I couldn’t get out of there and back to my 12 year old Audi fast enough.

  • avatar

    Jaguar lost me after they stopped making this generation sedan.

    Every 4 door from them after this has just not looked right to me. This was a classic design that has aged well and the subtle changes always looked classy and timeless. Plus that interior is absolutely gorgeous.

  • avatar

    iT’S A SAD STATE, but I have seen a lot of great cars going through these self serve (or destroy) junkyards….. an overabundance of cars sreated by the automakers.
    There really is no more real need for new cars except the one created in people’s mind.

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