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I think that older cars can be much better value than newer cars.

Concerning recent correspondence about Jaguar XFs, diesels are more economical but by a very small margin when you consider the cost of fuel and diesel maintenance costs. I get 35mpg on a long run and overall average 28.5mpg from a Jaguar XF 3.0V6 petrol using 95 octane. It is a very good car indeed. My only criticisms are loss of visibility due to thick windscreen pillars and mirrors combination (but this also applies to Mercedes and BMWs) and it could do with a wiper on the rear window (which my Rover SD1s hatchbacks had with a similar window angle).

What annoyed me when I went to the main dealer to place an order, was that all the stock cars were diesel and had low profile tyres so I had to specially order a petrol engine, 17-inch wheels and a spare wheel. The tyre repair kit supplied cannot fix a shredded tyre. I find the cheapest and most comfortable motoring is with elderly quality cars that do not have any of the modern electronic and mechanical problems. Our 1996 XJ6 4-litre has just been handed over to one of my sons at 54,000 miles and runs as smoothly as new with no rust. It has the original disc brakes and most of the original exhaust system (we had to replace the rear section at 140,000 miles). The only replacements have been two rear shock absorbers and a water pump.

Our 1991 Mercedes 300SE (from when Mercs were well made) has only done 84,000 miles and has had no parts replaced at all, although the garage tells me the discs will have to be changed next service. Paintwork is perfect and it has no rust, but it is not as well made as the Jags and the seats and interior are not comparable. It only does 23mpg average on 95 octane but as it cost only £6500 six years ago, depreciation is negligible.

To replace the XJ6, which my wife drove, I bought a 1998 XJ8 3.2 V8 for £1900 from a local family via eBay, having covered only 51,000 miles and in perfect condition. What a bargain the larger cars are. My 1998 R129 SL280 (which you recommended to me two years ago) has been very good on long journeys and has had no faults. Again it is a pity the interior is not up to Jag standards.

Asked on 17 August 2013 by CD, via email

Answered by Honest John
Many thanks. Interesting to hear from a reader who actually has an XF 3.0V6. Wonderful engine, used in everything from Mondeos to Nobels. Your XJ6 must have pre-dated the removal of asbestos from brake pads, which is when pads gained metallic content and discs started to be made of a softer iron alloy. And you have a proper Mercedes. You might be interested in this: www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/mercedes-benz/merc.../. A friend of mine, Mike Stone, who writes for the Evening Standard, also has an R129 SL280 V6 like yours.
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