Let’s get a few awkward things out of the way: yes, I’m also keeping Helmut, my 2019 Porsche 911 Targa. Yes, I still telecommute, and no, I definitely don’t need another car. I haven’t even put 5,000 miles on Helmut in the ~18 months that I’ve owned him. Yes, we’re still moving to Iceland for a while. Yes, taxes on imported cars in Iceland are extraordinarily expensive, like 70% of the car’s price.
Alright, with those out of the way, let’s talk Jags.
Today in America, Jaguar isn’t the first brand name you think of when you think “car enthusiast.” That was different decades ago, or in different places, but here today, most Americans probably think of Jags as low-rent alternatives to German sport compact cars. Jags just haven’t sold in significant numbers here for quite a while.
Jaguar has been trying (and frankly, failing) to change that perception by building a lot of interesting cars. One of the first attempts was the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, a beautiful GT car with 550 horsepower, 502 pound-feet of torque, and one of the most amazing engine noises I’ve ever heard. I attended one of their launch events where they let you go to town on a short drag strip:
I looooooved that car, but…they started at $133K. I filed it away in my brain knowing that Jags don’t have a depreciation curve: they have a depreciation cliff. They get cheap, fast. I kept an eye on the used car market figuring I’d pick one up when I got older, had garage space, and the prices dropped by half or more.
As carmakers gradually reduce V8 production to push more eco-friendly models, petrolheads grew more and more fond of the V8s. This film sums it up well:
I don’t think cars like this are destined to become investment pieces, though: there were just simply so many produced, and they’re not in demand right now since folks are transitioning over towards hybrids and electric cars.
However, I specifically wanted an XKR-S, the highest horsepower model with the craziest exhaust noise. Problem was, only around 150 XKR-S’s were imported per year from 2012 to 2015, and boom, the model was gone. There just wasn’t a big selection. To make matters worse, I really only wanted one color: French Racing Blue. Depending on the numbers I found, it looked like there were only about 10-20 French Racing Blue hardtops in the entire US.
I kept watching, but they just didn’t turn up for sale. I eventually gave up, just happy to have a desk model of it that Erik Darling gave me:
This month, out of nowhere, this one turned up on BringATrailer. (I had alerts set up on every used car site.)
I dejectedly showed it to Erika, bummed out because the timing was all wrong. With us moving to Iceland, we didn’t need one sports car, let alone two.
Erika said matter-of-factly, “You’re buying that.”
Me: “I dunno, I don’t think it’s a good idea. The timing isn’t great, and – “
Erika: “No, you’re buying that. It’s the only other car you’ve ever wanted, and they never come up for sale. Even if we have to put it in storage until we come back to the US, you’re buying that. But you can’t buy any other cars.”
God bless that woman.
So at first, I put a couple of bids in, and then over the course of a few days, we talked each other out of buying it. What I didn’t know was that she was going to buy it for me instead. She placed the winning bid, and then surprised me. (I was taking a nap when the auction closed, which is totally on brand for me.)
I don’t think there’s ever a good, rational time to buy a sports car, especially a second sports car, but hey, you can’t take it with you. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve found a partner who supports and understands me. Erika, I love you.
There’s probably never a wise time to buy a second sports car, but if there’s ever been a dumb time to do it, it’s when you’re moving to Iceland. The average weather in Reykjavik, one of the warmer Southern towns, isn’t that much above freezing most of the year. Given the winter weather and the salt on the road, the Jag will need to sit in storage until the summer months. It’s simply not drivable on slick roads. No, really.
When Car and Driver did their Lightning Lap with it, they noted, “This car was the biggest handful…. This car just scared me to death…. Every time I got out of that car, I felt like I had cheated death.” When evo did a track battle with it, they said while laughing, “It really, really struggles with traction. It just lights its tires up every time you go near the throttle. It just never stops oversteering.”
That’s not exactly what you want in the land of fire & ice.
But at the same time…watch Jethro’s face in that evo clip. He can’t stop laughing. And during Car & Driver’s Lightning Lap test, while complaining about how the car keeps wanting to slide sideways, Aaron Robinson also said, “The car looks great, it sounds great, it’s everything a Jaguar really should be.”
Yes. Yes, I’ll have that, please.
We’re in the process of shipping it home to California, where we’ll get it registered, and then when our Iceland residence permits come in (knock on wood), we’ll ship both Helmut and the yet-to-be-named Jag over to Iceland. Neither of those make any sense for the winter months, and we want to drive the highland F-roads in the summer, so we’ll be getting a off-road vehicle as well.