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Jaguar XJR Depreciation

depreciation_curve_html_m71b15401Many years ago, a friend’s cigar puffing dad owned a Jaguar XJ – a leather armchair with a warp drive which seemed appropriate for the Jean Luc Picards of the golf club. He maintained that his dad wasn’t truly rich – being rich meant that wouldn’t matter if you put out cigars on the walnut dash. That seemed to be an argument for vulgarity over fiscal irresponsibility, but now years later, I am the proud owner of such a slab of vintage glory myself.

Not being one to appreciate the vertiginous Olympic ski jump launch part of a car’s depreciation curve – I got in on my Jaguar XJR when it was a teenager. As anyone knows teenagers need more sleep and more fuel than babies, but I’m going to ignore the cost of ownership of the car at this age and focus instead on just how much a new car’s value plummets as soon as the salesman at the dealer turns his back on you and breaks into his fake-suntanned smile. That will make me feel better every time I need to replace the timing chain tensioners.

How did I come up with the curve? It’s a bit of a fudge based on data from WiseBuyer.co.uk. For one thing, model changes meant that I couldn’t just plug data into a spreadsheet and draw a graph. So I opted to compare the original price of a car of each model type with the retail resale price of that car after a period of years. I had to assume that the vehicle mileage was 10,000 per year, and I didn’t adjust for inflation.

Overall the results aren’t that surprising – a luxury car that costs the same as a two bedroom terraced house in Skegness when it’s new becomes very quickly worth half of what it was – in around four to five years.

The shallow part of the curve is where the costs of ownership are most likely to rise fast – but around the 10 year mark onwards, it looks like the car won’t depreciate too much if you own it for a year.

If you follow the logic that a well kept car will start to appreciate at about 15-20 years as presented in this fun article about buying cars at the bottom of their depreciation curve, it may well be if you buy at around 15 years old and the car can be restored or has been carefully maintained, you may even stand to sell your car for more than you pay for it.

Looking at the sample charts from a software tool like Car-Buy-Rater, you can see that cars can be analyzed by both age and mileage separately – I didn’t do a multivariate analysis as I’m too lazy and uninformed.

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A few weeks back I saw one of the worst eBay car ads I’ve seen in a while for a Jaguar XJR and my interest was piqued. At the same time, a friend was also selling his Mazda RX8 and was having no luck. What was the missing ingredient for both, and what did I tell my friend to do about his ad?

eBay Ad for Jaguar

Lots of white in this advert with scant details and only four photos

Photos. I mostly wrote this previous article about how to sell a car online for my RX8 selling friend’s benefit – not that he’d read it, but more to formulate my thoughts to send him the kind of short email that he enjoys. He’d put up a car advert on AutoTrader and received a grand total of zero calls. He had four photos of his clean car on the site. The car is nice. Really nice, and he’s taken good care of it. It has low mileage, and the right kind of specs to make it compete very well against other cars of its ilk. But no interest. In short I said that people like to see photos from certain angles if they’re going to pick up a phone and talk to a stranger potentially hundreds of miles away about their car. Clean your car again, and take a dozen half decent photos if you want to sell! Mr. RX8 duly complied and the phone has started to ring – within 24 hours of adding the extra photos.

When I came across the above advert for a Jaguar XJR I was shocked by its brevity and the photo famine it was suffering from. I had a few exchanges with the seller and he seemed like a real person selling a real car with few owners and relatively low miles for its age. I did a vehicle check and threw in a low bid. The bidding went past my limit and I forgot about it and continued to scour AutoTrader, PistonHeads, CarAndClassic and the like. I spoke to Nick Williams who seems to be a pied piper of Jaguar XJRs, collecting them and refurbishing key components and then selling one every week. I was all set to head off to Wales to meet him and see his stock when I saw the scantily dressed eBay advert resurface.

No-one was bidding on the car in Scotland – a long way away from centers of population where people buy these cars. So I bid and not many other people did. I won the auction, and went off to collect it. A huge risk really with a car that’s renowned for rust on the wheel arches, sills, strut mounts and so forth. After 7 hours on trains and buses with a short walk around Berwick-upon-Tweed, I suddenly realized that the phone numbers I had for the seller didn’t work. He had called me upon the completion of the auction, and had told me he was moving. So there I was, 230 miles from home, out on a limb with no way of knowing if I was part of a huge scam.

It was with massive relief that I saw the Jag from the window of the bus. Hopping out I found the enthusiastic owner and was very pleased with what I saw. There are a few dents on the boot, and a mass of pine needles in the various channels around the vehicle, but all in all it seemed in great shape at first glance. The seller had owned the car for a little over nine years and was keen to show me how everything worked. He seemed to really care about the car, and was keen that I took good care of it.

I decided to enter the data from the various invoices and service history items to see whether it really was the mythical full service history. This is the graph – it looks like it’s been regularly tended to, and that it’s been documented fastidiously. Overall I got a good feeling about the purchase, though of course there are a few niggles that need to be taken care of – after all the Jag is a teenager and lives in a rainy climate with salty road and vinegary road chips.

Jaguar XJR service intervals

Lots of documentation for the Jaguar between 2001 and 2014

If you want to get the most from your online car sale, take a bunch of good photos. If you don’t want to compete against multiple bidders on an online car auction, look for one without good photos, but be prepared to go check it out or at least get a sense for the owner’s ability to describe the car and authenticity.

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How To Sell Your Car Online (To Me)

I have what some might describe as “something of a car buying problem.” Me, I like to think of myself as a serial monogamist in the car dating scene. If I could rent a different car every month, I probably would. That’s not to say I don’t love my cars, each and every one. I just haven’t found a depreciating vehicle I want to die with yet.

FullServiceHistory

One owner – a retired vicar who used it to go shopping once a week. Full Service History in Japanese…

Given that I buy a fair few cars, I wanted to write about what I look for when I buy a car when I look online. So that if you wanted to sell a car, you could benefit from car hos like me. I have an engineering background, so people will tell you that I respond well to bullet points and numeric facts, though I find it hard to read over long lists of features that all cars come with.  This is what I do look for in an online car ad:

Reasonable Mileage

Notice I didn’t say low mileage. The average mileage per year in the UK is anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 depending on who you believe, but that varies by car. Sports and classic cars which tend not to be driven daily are completely different. If you’re selling a motorway mile muncher, I wouldn’t mind it being higher than average mileage, as long as it’s been serviced appropriately, and is in reasonable shape. And you’re not selling it just shy of a major service. After all, you the seller will have taken the big hit on depreciation if it’s high mileage, and I like being on the shallow part of the depreciation curve, so that when I sell, I’m not getting hung drawn and having my price quartered. Lots of short cold start “kid run” miles are harder on a car than hundreds of steady state highway miles in my book.

Number and Quality of Previous owners

I’m not expecting that any car I buy has one careful lady owner, and it’s hard for me to generalize about the type of people who’ve owned a car. If I meet a seller and they don’t know what type of oil the car uses, and can’t remember the last time the oil was changed, that leads me to think that they don’t care. Not that I only buy cars from piston heads / petrol heads. It seems to me that every time a car changes hands, something else breaks, and the amount of attention lavished on the car diminishes. I expect to find four matching tyres on a two owner car, and four random tyres on a five owner car. And you know what? I like matching tyres. With tread on.

Service History

Isn’t it nice to think that the car has been taken to properly trained mechanics for each of its service intervals, and that it’s been owned by someone who appreciates the peace of mind of having a car serviced. If they’ve taken it to a dealer for the service, they’re showing that they’re not cost conscious when it comes to car maintenance. And that makes me feel good buying it.

I love to buy cars from people who have painstakingly kept every receipt for every piece of work done, not only because it evidences that work has been done, but it helps me build up a picture of someone who is cautious and systematic in their approach. If you can include a photo of a sheaf of receipts and even past MOTs, then I know you’ve got something to back up a claim of “full service history”. Oh and I expect 11 or 12 months MOT – just for peace of mind.

Hyperbolic sales fluff

This puts me off no end, and is mostly cut and paste by unimaginative dealers. There are many different opinions on the height of the bar a car must limbo underneath  to pass the “rust free” or “immaculate body” criteria, so I tend to just ignore such claims as being so subjective as to be worthless. In fact, if someone will point out a fault in their advertisement, it starts to make me trust them.

badcargoodphoto

Even a dumpster can look good – photo darrenb/flickr

Photos

If the car is more than 10 minutes away, I want to see photos. Lots of photos. Covering the main bodywork, the tyre tread, the state of the alloy wheels, the boot, the engine compartment, the interior, the dashboard instruments. I don’t think I’m alone in this regard, and it explains why dealers so painstakingly valet cars before they sell them and take dozens of photos in ideal lighting conditions. It’s to draw me in, and make me want to see more.

On the photos note, I’m also day dreaming when I buy a car, and anything to suggest a lifestyle can really help out here. So don’t show me your BMW loaded with children parked outside a laundrette in Walthamstow on a grey day. If you can take your car out to the countryside or photo it in light of the sunset, please do. If you want some basic photo tips look here for Autotrader’s shot list, or here for more advanced ones and want to fuse exposures (fun but by no means necessary).

Recent owner changes

If the car history shows a recent change in ownership, it starts making me nervous. Even if there’s nothing wrong with the car, the most recent owner might not be aware of all of its kinks. If I’m about to go and see a car, I’m going to do a car check to see how much I can find out from the DVLA before I turn up, so be honest.

Model specific fault disclosure

If you poke around car forums for any length of time, you’ll find out what the common problems are with a car – short nosed crank in a 1990 Mazda MX5, timing chain tensioners in a pre-2002 Jaguar XJR. It’s good to read in the blurb of an advertisement if these are present and have been addressed. And it’s reassuring to read about them even if they haven’t – it shows the seller is aware of them at least and willing to disclose them which helps me to trust them when they say that everything else works. Although I’m still going to test everything for myself, because I don’t really trust anyone.

Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert -I prefer factory fitted – photo icathing /flickr

Features

I admit it. I like a jack to plug my MP3 player into, or if I can stream music by Bluetooth to the stereo. Now that I don’t live in Texas, I like leather seats too. I like any upgrade like a  reversing cameras. I don’t particularly like factory fitted Sat Navs as they’re instantly out of date, and I’ve never found one that’s as easy to use as my smartphone or my Garmin. That said, if someone has a factory fitted upgrade, I like it. Aftermarket stuff scares me a little.

Ease of Resale

I don’t hang onto cars for too long, so I want to be able to sell whatever I buy to someone else. I have taken two cars to their graves, though I don’t plan on taking any to mine. I’m not some kind of Auto-Pharaoh with room in my tomb for a fleet of rusting jalopies. So I chose cars that have somewhat popular features and colours. Four or five doors over two or three doors in the same model if I can. Although sometimes I’ll just break down and buy a vintage London Taxi, just because.

Pricing

There are always a variety of different opinions on price, and you can even use some online tools to guesstimate a car value. Most of the UK Car Pricing tools require you to give them some kind of email address, so have a spare spam account to hand so that you can retrieve their valuation and continue to sell your information to the highest bidder for eternity in exchange for the data. Or you can use this used car valuation tool at WiseBuyer which doesn’t require any personal data. It’s worth checking a few to get an average value – Parkers, Glass, WhatCar and the like. Though I don’t necessarily expect to pay the asking price, I do want the car to be priced in the right ball park.

So what does all this add up to? I like narratives, so if you can show me that your car has a story, and you can back up your story with some good facts, some photos and some service history, I might want to believe yours, and you might sell me your car. Of course, if I’m looking for a bargain, all of this changes, but you’re not trying to sell your car cheap are you?

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