By some miracle, Luke has been daily-driving a 1984 V12 Jaguar XJS coupe on his 70-mile commute. Recently the old Jag has started to show its true colors and it’s time for a replacement. What car should he buy?
Here is the scenario:
I have a 70-mile round-trip commute every day. All highway. I have a mid-80's Jaguar XJS, and while it is James Bond-bad ass/good looking/makes me smile, it’s just too much pain to use it as my daily driver anymore, and not just because of repairs. It’s not waterproof, and we get thunderstorms on a daily basis, with frequent hail. While it makes me and others smile a lot, it spends more of its time in the garage than on the road, and I would die if it got killed in a hailstorm.
I don’t want to spend a lot of money on this car and I’ve set a max budget of $7,500. I would prefer a coupe or convertible, and to be honest I really don’t want something unique or fancy. This car is going to take a beating, I would rather not put a nice car through that.
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Average Miles Per-Week:
Wants: Two doors, preferably RWD or AWD, cheap
Doesn’t want: Something too unique that doesn’t deserve a premature death.
Aside from the classic looks and horrendous reliability, it’s important to focus on what made the XJS coupe so good for commuting. It was a big luxurious coupe with a decent helping of power. Therefore, the idea for the next car should be the same, minus the always at the mechanic part.
What you need is an early 2000s Acura CL. These are not exciting, or terribly fast, but they are incredibly competent and comfortable. My mom had one of these after owning several Accords and I spent a lot of time both driving and riding in it. We even drove from Florida to NJ in 2 days and the mighty CL was an excellent cruiser for the long trip.
The Acura will be a bit more luxurious over similarly priced coupes like Mustangs and Miatas. You will want those creature comforts on your commute. Here is 2001 CL Type-S (so it’s sporty!) for about $4500. The Acura CL coupe is a great car, but you likely won’t shed a tear once you’ve decided to move on.
I like you, Luke. You appreciate a real car. Something large and opulent and dramatic, something comfortable and with adequate power. And I’m a huge fan of the XJS as well. The thing is, as you yourself have found, making into a regular long-distance commuter car—as opposed to something you tinker on and enjoy occasionally—is a hard ask.
Fortunately, I think I’ve found a way for you to stay in the luxury coupe life and not break your bank too hard. You need a Lexus SC from the early 1990s. They came in either inline-six SC 300 or V8 SC 400 form. It’s basically the Toyota Supra in a fancy business suit.
Granted, these will require love and care like any sophisticated luxury car that’s more than 20 years old—look what our man Peter had to do to his Lexus LS 400 sedan (which is an option here too!)—but it’s still a Toyota, and not a Jaguar. This is a solid car that should give you a similar experience with far fewer headaches.
They’re in your budget range too. Here’s one on Craigslist with the V8 for under $5,000. It may need some TLC, but it won’t be hard to make this SC your BFF.
(I’m sorry, it’s been a long week.)
Luke, I get that you want something cheap, and that you don’t want anything “unique,” but that doesn’t mean you have to buy some beige-looking Lexus or an Acura. Instead, go with a MK1 Audi TT—essentially a newer Volkswagen Beetle wrapped in one of the finest automotive designs of our time. Mark my words: this thing will be a classic before you know it.
But the good thing is that it’s not there, yet; you’ll find Audi TTs for dirt cheap all over your neighborhood Craigslist, so you shouldn’t feel bad about trashing one. Here’s a 222 horsepower, 1.8-liter turbo model with less than 130,000 miles on the clock.
And sure, VW’s reliability is a bit spotty (my cursory glance through some forum posts indicate that the 1.8T really isn’t that bad, but those people have a different definition of “reliable” than most of us) but you’re coming from a goddamn Jaguar XJS. This thing will be leagues better on the reliability front.
If that’s not convincing enough, you could also get a convertible model, which comes with those sweet looking roll hoops. Whether you choose the coupe or the cabrio, you can get quattro all-wheel drive, which would be great, since you live in Colorado Springs. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually, you know, get home from work on a snowy day?
Yes, definitely get the TT.
Long commute? Reliable? Nothing “unique or fancy?” I don’t know why you’re writing into us my guy, especially on that last requirement. We like interesting things here. You’re also in a bit of a weird zone for coupes and convertibles, wanting something cheap, comfortable, and also reliable. Pick two and you’ll get some winners.
But if you insist on all three, there’s always the goddamn Toyota Camry. They made a coupe version for a while. They called it the Camry Solara, because every waking moment you were behind the wheel, you’d want to drive it straight into the sun. Which is fine, considering that many of your moments behind the wheel won’t be of the waking type. It puts the “sleep” in sleeper.
Anyways, I’ll be generous and assume you’re not entirely dead. Apparently they made a couple with manual transmissions, and you can pick this one up for $3,250.