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PCH, Six Hundred Bucks, Twelve Cylinders Edition: BMW 750iL or Jaguar XJ12?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Six Hundred Bucks, Twelve Cylinders Edition: BMW 750iL or Jaguar XJ12?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Last time, we were not particularly shocked to see the Quadra-Citroëns obliterate the Tri-Alfas like a Pluton landing on Fangataufa. The Citroën is one tough customer when it comes to Project Car Hell, but four at once? We admit, that wasn't at all fair to the Alfas, but Italy will be back to reclaim that leaky PCH Trophy soon enough. Today we're going to have a good ol' fashioned one-on-one matchup, with a total of twenty-four cylinders going toe to toe. Mano a mano! That's right, it's Cheap V12 Hell Day!

We've had V12 hell before, but what happens when you put two $600 V12 machines together in the Hell Garage? They stay there forever, that's what! But you must choose your eternity here, which means you only get chained to one of these fine machines.
You know how much a brand-new BMW 750iL cost new? In 1992, you'd have paid your friendly BMW dealerman a staggering $76,500, which is about 120 grand in 2008 dollars. That means that the $600 price tag on this BMW 750iL (go here if the ad disappears) amounts to 0.5% of the purchase price, for a got-to-be-a-world-record 99.5% depreciation for a 16-year period. Actually, we're not sure it's a '92 model, because the seller doesn't bother to provide that info. The info he or she does provide, however, scares the piss out of us makes the car look like a great deal. Yes, it runs! The list of problems, which we're pretty sure is by no means complete, reads like a good example of the newly-created genre of PCH Poetry: leaking gasoline battery is dead leaks engine oil radiator is punctured and leaking transmission slams through gears Steering box is very lose Alignment is off. AC does not work. Sunroof is permanently open (broken) Fuel tank cover is broken Hood stripped off paint Front left quarter panel is dented Loose or missing power seat switches and light covers Worn out leather Busted radio speakers (work in low to moderate volume range only) Flat spare tire and missing car tools. Broken fog lights
OK, there's some work to do here; we can't find a way of putting a completely positive spin on the car's condition. And, yes, we're thinking slam-dunk Index Of Effluency winner at the 24 Hours Of LeMons when we look at this thing… but to get that trophy, the car must complete a respectable number of laps, which means an infinite a fair amount of work beforehand. Hey, how hard could it be to fix that transmission (cue evil laughter)?
It's a sign of our troubled economic times that you can get a V12 BMW for just 600 clams, or bones, or whatever you call them, but it's been possible to get a running Jaguar V12 for under a grand for years now. That means we need to find a fairly new one to make this a fair matchup, so that you might experience the luxurious wood-and-leather interior in somewhat-less-than-tattered condition. In 1994, the XJ12 saloon with 6.0 liter V12 engine sold for an awe-inspiring $79,370, which comes to about $118,000 in 2008 dollars; not quite as much as the 750iL, but that's mostly due to the extra few years of inflation involved here (though the indeterminate age of the BMW and other factors leaves open the door for some argument about which car has leaked away more value since sold). One thing we can't argue with, though, is the price for this 1994 Jaguar XJ12 (go here if the ad disappears): $600! Other than a brief mention of some totally terrifying inconsequential fuel-system issues, the seller doesn't list a single problem with the car in the description, so maybe it's perfect! Just spin a couple wrenches for five minutes, drive it away, and enjoy Jaguar luxury and a smooth, smooth V12! Somehow, unfortunately, we figure it's not quite like that. The seller enjoys Random Capitalization Of Words, in what may be a subconscious attempt to make the description look sorta like it's written In German and persuade BMW buyers to go English instead, so let's put the Important Stuff together into a PCH Poem:
No Body Damage No Windshield Damage, No Rips to the Interior Great Sound Project Car V12 Engine (Which Is Not Blown) Room and time 4 New tires Fuel Work see the Car even if there was No Engine in it


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Rob Emslie

It's the Beemer. Why you might ask? Well, Jaguar has a well-founded reputation for building cars of questionable reliability and poor durability. Should you buy the Jag you will assuredly break down by the side of the road.

Due to the reputation of the Jag brand, good samaritans seeing you would have no compunction in pulling over to assist. They would see the XJ and immediately think that could be me there. I recognize that the car is legendarily cursed with mechanical foibles, but shoot, all that wood and leather is just so worth it. so you'd always have a hand getting to a service station, or in calling a wrecker to take you to safety.

BMW on the other hand has a long standing reputation for Teutonic efficiency and Rolex-like reliability. Despite the fact that this car is a total turd-bucket, and has more issues than National Geographic magazine, should you find yourself (and you will) stuck on the side of a lonely country road, no one will stop to help.

Because everyone expects a BMW not to break down, they'll see you and think you're some kind of freak, ready to spring a trap, grabbing them from behind as they peer into the complexities of the aluminum 12, under the massive raised hood. You'd hold an ether-soaked rag over their mouth and nose until they stopped struggling and passed out. You'd then drag them around back, wrapping their hands and feet with duct tape and sealing their mouth to prevent untoward screams, you'd toss them into the roomy trunk, along with your other victims. Later, closing the hood, and replacing the rag, ether and tape in the glove box, you'd drive them back to your remote lair with plans of debauchery, torture and murder in your mind, while trying to quell those voices that keep telling you to kill, eat at Boston Market, and lust after Simon Cowell.

So nobody's going to be crazy enough to stop and help you, because you are likely insane and they don't want to end up on your menu with some fava beans and a nice chianti. You'll sit there, checking again and again for bars on your cell phone. You'll walk a mile in each direction, looking for a call box and trying to flag down the occasional passing semi or car.

Soon it will get dark, and the battery in the BMW will no longer have enough juice to keep the seat heater alive, and it'll get cold. You'll pull your arms inside your tee-shirt and wish you had worn socks, but eventually you'll grow too tired despite the cold and will start to nod off to sleep. In your dream you're standing on the console of the beemer, with your head out the open sunroof, shirtless and bracing in the breeze. You can't tell if your driving or someone else is, but you're moving at a pretty good clip and your nipples could cut glass. From off in the distance there's a loud report, and then another and another. It's like gunshots or backfires, you can't tell which, but it jars you out of your sleep. You hear it again, but this time you're sure you're not dreaming. It's a rapping on glass, and it's right next to you.

Blinking and shifting in your seat, you look at the window. There's a hand there, a hand in a glove knocking on the glass with its knuckle. In the side-view mirror you can see the headlights of a car pulled in behind you. No lights on the top, it's not a cop, but still, help at last.

A flashlight shines in through the window, and you're momentarily dazed by the brightness. Stumbling for the window switch you are confused when it won't make the glass go down, then remember the dead battery. Instead, you open the door and step out into the night. Despite the cold, you slip your arms back through your sleeves and tell the stranger that you "sure are glad to see him." He speaks in a low monotone and asks how long you have been out here. "Most of the day, and thought I'd have to hoof it back to town tomorrow when it was light and got warm again." He nods and drops the light slightly so it's not in your eyes. Despite this, you still can't see his face under the brim of his flap-eared hat.

"What seems to be the problem?" he asks. You tell him that it just conked out, and that you think it might be the fuel line, but need someone to crank it so you could check and see if you're getting pressure, plus now the battery's dead "Go ahead and look under the hood, I've got a booster box in my car, we'll see what we can do." and he turns to start back to his car. You pull your torch out of your pocket and lean over the fender, looking for that fuel line pressure gauge you installed earlier when a noise distracts you from right behind. An arm reaches around your chest, and another clamps a strong smelling rag over your mouth and nose. Kicking against the fender of the 7-series, you try and break free from the attacker, but your exertion and panic sends your heart rate skyrocketing and your breathing becomes rapid, filling your lungs with the ether. Soon all sounds are coming from far away, and the last thing you remember hearing is the sharp tearing sound of duct tape being pulled from the roll.

When you come to, your knees are bunched up against your chest and your arms are tied behind your back. There is dim light entering sporadically from somewhere, tinged in amber and you realize that you are in the trunk of a car, the light from passing street lamps passing through the taillamp housing. In the light you see that you are not alone. There, next to you, is a guy with a silk shirt and gold chains dangling sideways from his red and bloated neck. His mouth is taped just like yours, over his shirt you see a black jacket with an unmistakable rondel on the pocket. Feeling something pressing against your back, you turn your head and see a woman, she looks older, with big, gaudy rings on her hands, which are also bound behind her. stuck to the tape, next to her hand, is a BMW keyfob.

Your horror is now complete, you have learned your captor's secret to securing his victims; he was the only one who would stop, and they would be so grateful, their guard would be down.

The only mystery remaining was what his intensions are. Did he want money? White slavery? Would he force them all to vote republican? Then the car slows, the brake lights come on, bathing the trunk in an lurid red glow. Behind the silk shirt guy, you see something that makes your skin crawl; three bags of Kingsford, and a gallon jug of "Stub's Sauce". You knew the economy was bad, and that it was getting tougher and tougher to feed the family, but the bailout must have really sent this guy over the bar. You close your eyes as you feel the car back into a garage, and the engine shudders to a stop. . .