1990 Vanden Plas Jaguar

We came a cross a 1990 Jaguar for our 16 year old son. It has one owner, an 80 year old couple, and 64,000 miles for $3k. What are the up and downs to this car regarding maintenance? What will be the typical breakdowns? At this age, are there parts that should be replaced at the get-go such as gaskets? MPG is 15.
Thanks! Tom

This can be very expensive, and parts difficult to obtain. Plus it will lack many safety features, such as (possibly) air bags, anti-lock brakes,

You should take it to your mechanic for an independent complete check before buying, or if he is not knowledgeable on Jaguars, some mechanic that is.

Just about every gasket and anything of rubber could be due for replacement, so see if the owner has complete maintenance records. I’d make that a requirement. Low mileage cars, and this one has only 2500 miles per year, tend to have poor maintenance, as the owners tend to go by mileage instead of time for maintenance intervals, which is not good for the car.

A 16 year driver with a Jaguar !! I’d not want to even be in the same state. Did you get a price on insurance rates?

Unless you ALREADY know a local shop who knows how and wants to service it.
I wouldn’t.
You will be blind sided by the cost of service if you’re in a small town like me where there are many brands we steer clear of for that major reason…service.

Ken is correct. If you can’t find a good mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection, that should give you a major clue…


These are the absolute definition of money pit. I can think no car that would be worse.

I have nothing to add to the previous comments except agreement.

The story about buying a Jaguar is that you really should buy 2 because no more than one will run at a given time. Back in 1958, a married couple student lived next door and had a Jaguar sedan. He had so much trouble that he sold it and bought a 1951 DeSoto with a flathead 6. When I was in.college in 1960 one student on my dorm floor had a Jaguar. It gave him so much trouble that he got rid of it and bought a new Chevrolet equipped with the policeoption–biggest V8 engine, 4 speed manual transmission in the lowest level Biscayne body. Now maybe Jaguars have improved since that time, but I would want one only if I had another car. The Jaguar would only be for pleasure driving.
I don’t think a Jaguar is the car for a young driver. My neighbor has a daughter who had a BMW that the family inherited. This young lady is a serious student–completed her bachelor’s degree in 2 1/2 years. She is a very careful, conservative driver. Apparently the BMW was such a problem that it was replaced by a Pontiac Vibe.
When I had graduated from college and was on my way to graduate school, my dad and I were at the DeSoto/Plymouth dealer who also had the franchises for foreign makes, were waiting for something to be fixed on our 1952 Dodge. While my dad was talking to the owner of the agency who was a real motor head–sponsored racing,etc. the owner saw me looking at a Porsche that had been taken in on a trade. The owner of the agency came up to me and said,"That is the last car you want. If will eat up your entire graduate assistantship and then some just to keep it running.
Another old mechanic I knew had this recommendation for my first automobile purchase as a new college graduate:“Stick with your Fords and Chevrolets. Parts are readily available and if you have a problem, any mechanic should be familiar with them”. I think today the recommendation for a first car would be a Honda Civic or aa Toyota Corolla.

A couple I knew bought a slightly used one in 1988 or so. They got rid of it after a year, the monthly repair costs exceeded the car payment.

You’ll likely spend another three grand the fist 3 months you own it. I can’t think of a worse car for a 16 year old; too much power, unreliable, hideously expensive to fix, etc.
Some year ago a young guy in our service department bought such a car against everyone’s advice. Within 6 months the steering failed and it took $1300 to fix it, at a time when such a fix on a compact car would be about $300.\

Run away.

Forget this idea. Run away.

A new driver should be in a newer, safer car.


I can think no car that would be worse.

I can, but they all have names like “Maserati” and “Ferrari.” :wink:

Triedac’s neighbor’s 51 Desoto would still be more reliable, by a lot.

@shadowfax - maybe, but from what I know that era Jaguars are even worse! I know, hard to believe!

If you have plenty of time and money on your hands with no other uses for, then this car should be considered a possibility. If short on one or the other, best to choose a car that has sold a lot of copies. Parts and maintenance will be easier that way.

But like I say, if neither time nor money is a limiting factor, why not? Have some fun. Go for it. Enjoy.

Just remember, this isn’t a hobby car, it’s a first car for a 16 year old. Out late at night, I’d want my kid in something way more reliable.

My son drove our 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass after he got his driver’s license. He took a liking to that car. When he went to college 50 miles away in 1992, I let him take the car. He lived on campus and didn’t use the car very .much. The next year, he was selected for an internship that involved driving to a location about 400 miles. away and then driving daily on mountain roads. There was no way I was going to let him drive that car for the internship. The car was just old enough and had high enough miles not to be reliable. Over his,protests that the Oldsmobile was and he and the “Oldsmobile understood each other”, I put my son in a much newer Taurus. and I used the. Oldsmobile for local use. Two days after my son left in the Taurus, the ignition switch lock jammed on the Oldsmobile and II had to have the car towed. Had my son driven that car he would have been stranded at a rest stop.
My advice is to put your son in a car like a Corolla, Civic, Ford or Chevy.

When the car was new, those owners were 55 years old and in their prime driving years. They didn’t get to put many miles on it. That could be a message that doesn’t need the Bletchley Circle to to solve it. One electrical part could cost $500. We see those cars in Maine with strings attached to the windshield wipers so the driver can operate them manually. They are 80 now and tired of walking.

As was already stated, it would be difficult to envision a worse car to buy when it comes to reliability. Even if the OP has a mechanic who is competent enough to keep it running, the annual cost of maintenance and repair on this car will be several thousand dollars.

Somebody already pointed out that a car this old is also not very safe in comparison to even an econobox made in the last 10 years or so, but in view of the reality that the Jag wouldn’t actually be capable of being driven very often tends to negate the safety factor with this car.

A stationary car is not much of a problem for its owner, and this car would be sitting–either on the side of the road, or in the owner’s driveway, or in a mechanic’s shop–at least 70% of the time.

Reliability for a 26 year old car will never be good, and the parts cost for any Jaguar will be high given that it is a luxury car. If you understand that and are still willing to buy the car, go ahead. I imagine that he will commute a few miles to school and little else.

A prepurchase inspection for any used car is very important, especially a 26 year old car. If you don’t want to spend $100 or so on the inspection, find something a lot newer. But I would never buy any car for $3000 without the inspection. It has to be 10 or more years old to cost that little.