Saturday, July 8, 2017

Pennies from Heaven?

photo source: penniesfromheaven.

Maybe not, but sometimes things seem to drop into your lap even when your not expecting them or even looking for them.

Have you ever had the experience of losing out on buying a car that you wanted, then finding an even better car, at a better price?

I started looking for my first Jaguar XJS and found a non running Hess and Eisenhardt convertible conversion for sale locally. The car had been reupholstered and had a nice set of wire wheels. The seller was also going to include a bunch of extra parts. I was pretty excited about the car, it was a coach built conversion. It had some obvious problems in build quality, but the price seemed pretty cheap to me. I did a lot of research on the Jaguar Forum and read Kirby's book. I helped the seller to get the car started so that I could access the motor. It started and ran with a clattering sound from the valve train. It was the dreaded dropped valve seats. I had spoken with an automotive machine shop and the owner had told me that they were easily fixable. After someone pulled the heads off and brought them in. I still thought that the car was worth it. The seller was asking two grand for the whole thing. I had been hinting that I would pay less, he hinted back that fifteen hundred might seal the deal. It was a convertible with a new interior and the wire wheels could be sold for at least five hundred bucks alone. Still I waited and thought about it. Finally I decided that I would make one offer only. A grand for the car and the extra parts. Thankfully when I decided to call with the offer he didn't answer. I tried again and he told that the car had been sold. You could say that I dodged a bullet. I later saw the car on CL a year or so later and the buyer was trying to flip it. He hadn't done anything to improve or even preserve the car.

This poor car deserved better.

Why are these cars so cheap? Just look at it!

After looking around on CL I located my XJS down in Southern Calif and bought it for twelve hundred bucks. That was the full asking price, I didn't even try to haggle, the car was worth all that and more. I found a placard in the trunk where the owner had tried to sell it for 4,995.00 at the Pamona Fairplex swap meet. I have invested much more labor than money into the car but it will be worth it. I then decided that I needed a daily driver Jag . After doing my homework on the Forum I decided that an X300 model XJ6 would be the car to get.  My ceaseless CL cruising  turned up what looked like a good candidate for sale in Fontana. It looked pretty good, the seller said that it ran well and he was only asking 2,200 bucks for it. It was BRG, with wire wheels and a mesh XJR grille. Could it be an XJR? The seller did not mention anything about it being supercharged, maybe he didn't even know. I called the seller and told him that I would check back and if the car was still available I would be down to see it next weekend. I called him just before I left home. He knew I was coming.

This car would have made a good driver. 

When I arrived I found the car to be a little rougher than I anticipated. A few dents and scrapes that weren't that obvious in the photos. The interior was good, and in truth it was an XJR! The car fired up and sounded quite healthy. I stepped on the brake pedal and felt no resistance as it went all the way to the floor. Why hadn't he fixed this before I got there? The seller was kind of a dealer/broker and he assured me that he would get it fixed. I told him that I could return tomorrow and that I would call in the morning. I returned to my hotel and what did I do? I got back onto CL to see what else was available in the LA area. I found a very clean XJ6L for sale. The seller was the owner of a mechanic's shop and this was his personal car. He had done some recent services on it. It was clean, and in great shape. The next day I called the owner of the green XJR. He told that he had sold the car as is, to someone after I saw it. The truth is, it would have been  a good buy for a grand or so.

I went to see the white car and loved it. I bought it, drove it home and have had over a year of fun with it so far.

Me an my XJ up in Santa Rosa.

I've written about the problems with the transmission in my XJS. And I tried to solve them in my penny- pincher manner. Oh, I even crawled around under that thing for awhile. I had resigned myself to a transmission rebuild and was trying to find the right shop to do the job while I saved up a bit of money. That didn't stop me from cruising the webs looking for manna from heaven. Sure enough I look on site one morning and a good used transmission shows up, right at my keybord. Even better the seller drops his price to 180.00, He gave me first crack after he lowered the price because of my previous inquiry. Score! It just took a lot of wrangling to change it out.

picture shown for illustrative purposes only. 

Back to cruising CL on a daily basis. I was going to be up in the Santa Rosa area with my Wife for an event she was attending. So I took a look at what could be for sale in the area that I could check out while I was there.
There is just something about a Jag on wires.

I was looking for Jaguar parts and found some Dayton wire wheels for my XJS for sale at what seemed like a good price. Three wheels for 150.00. That was only fifty bucks a piece! I figured that they would cost new around 250 bucks apiece. I went to the website and confirmed my estimate. Why were there only three? I'll bet that someone probably ran into curb hard enough to damage one wheel. Lots of times I see one or two wheels offered for sale. If a car slides into a curb sideways in a collision it can ruin both wheels on one side. So I'll just keep cruising the web and I bet a stray wheel or two will pop up eventually.

Yeah, this isn't THAT car, but I think everyone is sick of seeing that other car.
photo source: Craig's List

I had seen that Mark VII that was for sale in Southern California. I liked it because it was a four speed car and it was reportedly running and driveable. The interior was very rough, the windows and trim were disassembled. The body looked pretty straight and the seller reported that there was little rust. It was priced more than I wanted to pay, but I felt that it could be negotiated down. Then the ad ran out. I had contacted the seller and had his e-mail address. That's a good idea, to establish contact with a seller whose car you're interested in. Then if the ad runs out you can still contact the seller with any further inquiries.And if he hadn't sold the car, he would probably be an even more motivated seller. Sure enough,  the car hadn't sold and it was relisted, That's pretty common for most unpopular cars. I left the idea of the Mark on the back burner.

I had decided that I was going to sell my '96 Mustang, then I changed my mind.  I was just going to keep it, and forget about buying anything else. I really like that Mustang!  I had it aligned and my Wife drove it. So now she says that she would rather drive it instead of the old Explorer. That's perfect, I bought the Explorer for my Daughter to use in her business. Then what happens, as usually does when you compulsively cruise CL? You find cars that you like, that you can afford to buy because they are really cheap, and now you can convince yourself that you can't live without them. (Of Course!)

Well my (new?) Mark VII shows up and I'm completely obsessed by it. So I buy it. It was one third the price of the car down south, and this one has a great story. So a giant rusty penny fell from Heaven right into my path.

Seek and Ye shall find.

The moral of the story is: Stay off of Craig's List. At least for a while.

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