The $10K Question – Which Car?

This isn’t an article about Jaguars, but I have been thinking a lot recently about them. Specifically a pre-2005 XK8. I need an adult daily-driver car with a bit of style and an XK8 seems like it would fit the bill nicely. As I do my research and price out the different years and models I inevitably began pondering the question of what else that same money might buy. In short order that led me to talk with some car buddies about the relative merits of the different choices. A variation on the “if I won the lottery” theme.

Barrett Jackson Auction Jaguar XK 10K Question

Let’s stay that you had $10K to spend on a British car. The rules are that you must buy a British car with it that you will drive every day – both sun and rain, summer and winter. Of course, you could spend less, but you can spend all of that $10K.  You also have no money for big time repairs or restoration. Sure, you will have money for oil changes, wiper blades, tire air and such, but have to plan on zero budget for repairs. The car can be of any age, but must be legal right now in the US. This means you could buy something that wasn’t marketed here, as long as it is over 25 years old so legal now. For $10K you could get a top of the line MGB, a middle of that road TR6, a solid Jaguar XJ6, a nice XK8, a very sold 2002 to 2006 or so MINI Cooper, or ??

That “??” is the big question. What would you buy? This isn’t the time to buy a project or a one-time bargain you found, it is time to go out and get something within the next few days for the money a lot of people spend on a second hand Honda or Toyota.

I mentioned this quest to a few friends and some leaned towards something with a bit of investment potential. You know, something that may fit the $10K question right now but will be double that in the next decade or so. Some I talked to went towards sheer practicality and comfort for the daily commute. These are the folks who worry more about creatures comforts than style and fun – wait, I have those kind of friends? Oh yes, accountants.

Again, think to the list of potential cars. New MINIs fall within all the guidelines and certainly are an attractive option. I still miss the 2002 Cooper S that I had – one of the earliest in the US. But would now be a 13-year-old modern car out of warranty.  This is the same line of thinking as the XK8. Modern Range Rovers and Land Rovers would fall in there as well.

For me personally, MGBs and such are still very much in the running. I could easily use one as a daily driver, especially if I could locate the more elusive GT, and since they are relatively simple and solid, repairs are much easier. Not the best for long road trips maybe, but certainly not the worst by any means.
Bring-A-Trailer 1977 Jaguar XJ6
And now, our friend Bob Seidler has sent me a listing from over at Bring-A-Trailer for a 1977 Jaguar XK6 Coupe. What a great car and how very distracting. Throws an entirely new answer to the question. Luckily we don’t know how much the auction will end for, so we don’t know if it will fall into the $10K guidelines. But it might. Which could be why I registered for a buyer’s account on the site. Some friends are just bad influences.
So it is your turn. I need help. Honestly! What would your choice be? What would you look for and what are your criteria? Oh, and then I need to go find $10,000 just lying around somewhere that I can use to make this purchase.  I think I have a dollar for a scratch-off lottery ticket.
Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British
Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car fan, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100, a 1977 MGB, a 1978 Triumph Spitfire, and a 2002 Land Rover Discovery.

30 Comments

  1. I had two XKs: a 2001 XKR and a 2005 XK. I loved them both. They never gave a moment’s trouble, had all the style and class one could wish for, and were as comfortable as almost any other luxury car. Only sold them as kids outgrew the minute back seats and she who must be obeyed started to give me a certain look. I often look at the used ones for sale because the prices are so low, despite their having now entered the Jaguar Heritage category. One reason is that they are mostly automatic (which for a daily driver is no problem). The other is probably that they are merely bottoming out so if you look after the vehicle it might even rise in value. Finally, one thing to watch out for is whether the XK is due for a major service. This could cost you $1500 or so if it has not been done.

  2. Last year at this time, living in South FL,I sold a 1970 MGB and for the same 9k bought a 1979 XK8 convertible. It is a much more useful car, easier to drive around, and handles better than the B. No clutch however and automatic gearboxes are crap no matter how good. My first car was an MG-TC in 1960 and I still have a ’59 Alfa Giulietta Spider, so I have had many sports cars, but the XK8 is what I drive on nice days and I love it. Plus the top goes up at the push of a button when I have to drop below 75 in the rain

  3. I currently have two British cars, a 1952 MG TD and a 1961 Morris Traveller. I previously owned two Triumph Spitfires, a 1962 Mini Cooper and a 1970 E-Type 2+2. For a daily driver, I need something that can go in snow and that I won’t worry about in the salt and slush. Front wheel drive or four wheel drive would be valuable. That narrows the field considerable. On this side of the pond ADO16 cars are rare, and usually require restoration, so that’s out. For $10K I recently passed up a brown Rolls Royce, but that is too expensive to run as a daily driver. My choice would be the best Land Rover, or Range Rover I could find. A quick check of the local ones for sale reveals that it would be fairly easy to get a good one for my $10K, even including some money for tires, battery, maintenance, etc.

  4. I owned a 1998 XK8 convertible that I bought in 2007. It was an excellent car and with all the comforts you could ask for. I wished I had bought the supercharger model but there was plenty of HP for what I could actually do on city streets. The thing I like about the XK8 is that average person doesn’t know what year it is. Depending on the condition the car could pass for a new model. Check to see if the timing chain tensioners have been replaced. They have a history of going bad. Since it is an interference engine you will have a very bad day if the timing chain jumps a tooth or two. I believe these cars are really under priced for what they offer. I sold mine to buy a 1980 Corvette which I enjoy. But it doesn’t have the British feel and appeal that I love. I’m restoring a 1951 MG TD right now which can also be bought for under 10K but it would need a total restoration. I may get another XK8 in the future. Good luck.

  5. I’ve done this, and it’s an easy choice for me. I used various Triumph Spitfires for my DD through late 2013, and will probably be doing it again in the future (right now I’m lucky enough to work out of my house most days). Why? Inexpensive (I could buy a really nice Spitfire for 1/2 of your $10k if given a little time to look), comfortable (for me, I realize they aren’t for everyone), nice hardtop available for the winter months, decent gas mileage, and one of the easiest cars to work on there has ever been. Plus, most importantly, it gave me something to look forward to EVERY morning and EVERY afternoon!

  6. What about a Range Rover probably a Vogue from about 2001, the last of the P38 models. It could be bought here in the UK for $4000 giving plenty of cash for shipping to our former colony and plenty of repairs!
    OK I am waiting for the missiles to land!

  7. If kids,city traffic,snow & long commutes are not part of your lifestyle, I’d recommend a’60s-’70s MG/TR/Sunbeam roadster with some cosmetic needs to fall into the price range requirement.An XK8 would require a visit to a very well qualified garage for ANY elec/fuel problem fix:not to mention the much higher costs of tires,batteries,lenses, etc. If your requirements include 4 passenger capacity and all weather,bad roads,etc.,then Any post 2000 Jaguar with good service history would be hard to beat.

  8. For year-round usage including snow, I would say a Land Rover series type. Simpke, reliable and pretty cheap to maintain IF it is purchased in decent condition

  9. Just finished a 17 year frame-off restoration of the TR6 I bought new 40 years ago (spent a bit more than $10k on that). In those intervening years I bought another solid driver TR6 and a restored TR7 coupe for a total of $10k. And for my daily driver, I bought a 2000 Jaguar XKR coupe for a little over 10K – love this car for road trips! It’s fast, beautiful, and comfortable. Did I mention it’s FAST!

  10. Feels like I’m picking the low-hanging fruit, but I’d go for the XK8, coupe or convertible! I’m all about comfort and reliability(?) in my old age.

  11. I will start by saying I love my 1973 chrome bumper MGB. I’ve had it for over 25 years after buying it for $300 pretty much in a box. I’ve any number of other British marques through the years, but this is definitely my favorite. It’s an irrational labor of love that starts right up after sitting in the garage idle through the Northeast’s harsh winters. I enjoy driving it because it feels more like putting on my favorite jeans than getting into a seat. You are one with the car like nothing else, but let’s be real. It’s not for daily use as a commuter car. As with many of these cars, you really can’t mention with “adult daily transportation” in the same sentence with a straight face. Forget the cliché reliability issues with older LBCs. Most those can be worked out, and you may be better equipped to do so than most, but they are there. The true classic cars on the list do not have adequate safety equipment for today’s driving. The last MGB hit the road new sometime in 1980; Triumph not too much later. That’s over 35 years ago. A lot has happened in that time. Airbags were just in the proposal stage. And though equipped with crash bumpers and 3-point harnesses, the chassis, brakes, driveline and other components date back to the 50’s and 60’s.
    Additionally, with the ceiling price tag of $10,000, I think the current values of these cars combined with their potential needs might put you above that, if not initially, very quickly after. While you can definitely find some good older restorations and drivers in that range, older British cars do have undeniable needs and issues with electrical faults, rust and aging, antiquated equipment. Upgrades cost and to start by getting the best car you can for the money and then add improved brakes, tires and suspension gear will quickly drive you over that self-imposed limit. You may need a bigger lottery jackpot to make this work.

    No, much as I like my B, I’d push you toward the later cars. In NJ, I see later XJ series Jag saloons to be had for less than that money every day. XK and XJS series for more, but within the parameters. Not all in the condition of the car you have pictured, but great for a unique daily driver with adequate safety and comfort (Yes, AC and electric windows are nice to have.

    The XK8, Mini or later Land Rover and Jaguar products offer similar feel with better dynamics and the advantage of safer travel. And they can also be found in your price target with fewer many needs.

    My path was to get an 88 Mazda RX7 as a ‘sacrificial’ car. The summer commute, iffy weather or exceptionally hot days, this car can run at 90 all day and has air conditioning, 5-speed box, fully independent suspension, 4-wheel discs and an electrically operated top (that does not leak) making it ideal to leave in a parking lot where unconcerned oafs will open their doors into it or for that “just a drive” if it looks like rain. I want to cruise, join a show or take in the scenery of a State Park for a picnic or even just run out for bagels on the weekend, I take the B. Good luck whatever you do. It should be fun.

  12. 94-95-96 XKS 4.0 6 cyl.2+2 conv. Inexpensive, style, values on the rise. Comfortable, reliable, classy driver. (Yeah – an XK8, too – an early one that had the 3 known major issues taken care of).

  13. I have to agree with Dr. Kenn. Just as an LBC, not as a daily driver, an MGB/GT would be my choice as a compliment to my ’73 roadster. Maybe find a converted MGB/GT V8?……

  14. Jag was owned by Ford but left to do their own thing. I was told the Jag platform was used by some other cars, but it was the Jag platform, not the Ford platform, that they were smart enough to use. Owning one, I have the Jag experience each time I drive it. My first Jag was a MK IV sedan, a rusted out hulk which gave me 4 years of towing my racer on an open trailer while the boot with the back seat removed gave me the storage I needed for tools and spares. I’ve driven several 100 series Jags and E types, and each has its own experience, which we can name as the Jag experience. Some were pretty bad experiences, by the way, but the XK8 isn’t.

  15. The X-Type was a dreadful car based on Ford’s influence after buying Jaguar (thank God Ford sold Jaguar to Tata where decisions are not being made by the number crunchers!). But it is a bit superficial to say it was based on the Mondoe. There is more to it than that. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2716952/This-car-is-absolutely-categorically-not-a-Ford-Mondeo.html A bit defensive, to be sure, and the X-Type is a dreadful “Jag” to drive–nothing like the true Jag experience. But its not really a Countour/Mondeo/Mystique, any more than MGs and Triumphs are Standard tractors.

  16. I was actually responding to the question posed about the Jaguar X-type Estate, an AWD car that is based on a modified Ford CD132 platform. The same one that underpins the Mondeo. Check the history. They are not the exact same cars, as Jaguar had some hand in their versions’ development, the platform and many mechanicals are rooted in Ford development and, therefore, the result is not the Jaguar experience, which I think we both agreed. It was a bad Jaguar.

    Ford has “influenced” many of the companies they owned similarly, including Land Rover and Volvo that still produce (and introduce) models based on Ford platforms and mechanicals.

  17. My all weather/all season/all roads British daily driver for years now is a 1994 XJS coupe 4.0L that I bought for $8500. I live in Salt Lake City UT and in winter the snow/salt/slush goes on for months. AC is good to have during our summers. My daily commute in the Jag is 12 miles each way, mostly freeway. I live at 4610′ elevation and driving is often to almost twice that. At our elevation it runs on regular gas. The later “facelift” XJS have good corrosion protection from our salt and the 4.0 inline 6 is rock solid. I love the His and Hers cigar ashtrays on the console and the interior is all class. What they call a rear seat is a joke but who cares. The “boot” is spacious for luggage or daily stuff.
    I’ve painted it bright red and white and it is a head-turner. And, it’s reliable and fun to drive. Makes driving special.
    BTW it has 145000+ miles on the odometer.

  18. I like and think the Sunbeam Alpine are and all round nice driving British Sports Car that will fit the bill on or under the $10K.

    I have several, one restored a couple years ago that is a bit more than the 10K (smile). Shop around and you can find a great buy for the price range.

    I noticed with interest few comments are related to the ALpine. Some refer to a V8 MG, I’m sure you have knowledge of the Tiger? Carrol Shelby’s special build with 260 & 289 Ford’s….(Ops! out of the price range!)…

  19. Yeah, the Tiger would be more than just a bit out of the range. Great cars, like many of the Anglo-American hybrids. The MGB/MGB-GT V8 kind of flys under the radar. Never officially imported to the US, the conversions were easy and many were built or can be from a solid MG body. Unlike the Alpine or the Ace converted to V8 monsters, only the GT was ever factory built and for a relatively short run. An aftermarket firm in UK actually started the conversions, as the aluminium block and heads 3.5L Rover V8 engine (based on a Buick 215 CID V8 from the 60’s GM sold to Rover about 1965) was lighter and twice the horsepower in stock form than the cast iron 1.8L I-4 it replaced.
    Andy’s Motorsports in Ohio still sells conversion kits that can use either the stock MGB trans or a 5-speed from a Mustang. The engine can be found in either Rover or Buick form easily, as Land Rover only discontinued production fairly recently. And all the US perfomrance makers offer hi-po manifolds, carbs, cams, distributors, etc. to make it really move. Hardly an original car and more work (and money) than just plunking down your dollars for a really nice Triumph TR-8 (same engine), but oh, so much more interesting and classy when done.

  20. The auction for the XJ6 Coupe closed yesterday, $5,900. So in the $10K discussion this would have left a good $4 grand for the fiddly stuff! I say well-bought. Michael, this was a missed opportunity!!

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