Home » People Are Starting To Appreciate The Ugliest Jaguar Of All Time

People Are Starting To Appreciate The Ugliest Jaguar Of All Time

Jaguar S Type Gg Ts1
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They say that time heals all wounds, from falling off your bike as a kid to the perpetual suckage of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alright, maybe not that last one, but you get my point. As such, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that time is coming for the ugliest Jaguar ever made, albeit in a positive way. The oft-maligned Jaguar S-Type hasn’t just seen an increase in value over pre-pandemic pricing, it’s becoming a more common sight on fancy internet auction sites. Y2K nostalgia go brr.

The S-Type wasn’t always regarded as a stylistic faux-pas. In the beginning, the ’60s-inspired styling won favor, with Road & Track describing the car as a “stylish boulevardier.” Auto123 went substantially further, writing “Its elegant waistline tapers down as it approaches the rear of the car, causing palpitations of the heart.” Bold words indeed.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

However, the tides weren’t entirely with the S-Type, and they rapidly turned outwards to the sea. Perhaps it started with Motor Trend‘s 1999 first test, with the words:

Still, we must quibble. Let’s call it the car’s aspect ratio, its tallish height relative to its overall length. Because of it, the S-Type hasn’t the same long, low menacing stance as do the deliciously feline-like XJ and XK.

However, it certainly didn’t end there. Others were harsher still, with Motoring Research noting:

[Rover] had just unveiled the 75 at the Birmingham Motor Show where Jaguar had just revealed its S-Type, and it was gradually dawning on the attending press that one of these cars was rather more convincing than the other. And it wasn’t the Jaguar.

The S-Type’s retro references to the 1960s S-Type look forced to the point of awkwardness, and its cabin was almost bereft of the kind of beautiful detailing, and quality, that makes a Jag cabin so appealing.

Ouch. Not what you want to hear about a midsize luxury sedan. Of course, over time, the whole retro-inspired car thing became largely a fashion tragedy, with the Chrysler PT Cruiser becoming the butt of jokes, the Chevrolet SSR never quite appealing to the youth demographic, and the reborn Volkswagen bug running out of steam after two generations. However, in fashion, trends frequently work in 20 year cycles. You can guess what that means.

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White 2003 Jaguar S Type R 1

Let’s hop in the hot tub time machine and take a spin back to 2021, when this white 2003 S-Type R sold for $6,700 on Cars & Bids. At the time, this was a perfectly reasonable sum for a supercharged, 400-horsepower sports sedan handicapped by ’60s styling cues smeared on with a trowel.

White 2003 Jaguar S Type R 2

Sure, it wasn’t as quick as an E55 AMG Kompressor or an E39 BMW M5, but $6,700 for a reasonably spacious, leather-upholstered sedan that ran from zero-to-60 mph in less than five-and-a-half seconds was good value for the money. Oh how things change.

Silver 2003 Jaguar S Type R

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Flash forward to the present day, and even with the comedown after the COVID bump, S-Type R prices are still elevated. For instance, this silver 2003 model sold on Bring A Trailer in October for $9,000. Sure, the used car squeeze pushed prices up, but they didn’t just push S-Type R prices up.

2003 Jaguar S Type 1

A regular S-Type 4.2 sold on Bring A Trailer in October for $7,000, which is slightly more than what an S-Type R used to cost. While the R may have the appeal of a supercharged V8, this more pedestrian S-Type doesn’t have quite the same performance intrigue, yet it still fetched decent money.

So, is the S-Type the next big thing? Probably not, but it’s also not as ridiculously uncool as it once was. Time is softening the styling wounds, and Y2K is back in fashion in a big way. I mean, Ice Spice wore an outfit from Baby Phat to this year’s Grammy awards, low rise jeans as a search term is enjoying its greatest popularity since 2004, and Vogue claims that the Y2K fashion revival is here to stay. Like it or not, every car gives off an image, and it’s not entirely out of the question that some people want these retro-look cars for their image.

Jaguar S Type Interior

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The flipside is that the S-Type came in right before cars got really complicated. Its successor, the XF, came with HVAC controls like a Motorola RAZR keypad, an electronic shifter, motorized dash vents, and motorized dash vents, while the S-Type was more conventional. There’s a certain appeal in simplicity, partly out of nostalgia and partly out of ease of operation.

In any case, don’t be surprised if the uncool cars of yesterday are slowly becoming less uncool. It happened to the AMC Pacer, it happened to the Cadillac Cimarron, Matt thinks it’s happening to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, and it could happen to the Jaguar S-Type.

(Photo credits: Cars & Bids, Bring A Trailer)

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
16 days ago

I know someone who used to own one of these… nice car, but it’s a total money pit.

And in terms of style, I think these look pretty good. I prefer the style of these over the Bangle-butt BMWs.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
16 days ago

Some day the ’00s will be seen as a high mark for car design. Not these Jags though.

John from Ohio
John from Ohio
16 days ago

Howard Hamlin brought it back in to relevance.

Matthew Hogan
Matthew Hogan
16 days ago

miles from the ugliest Jag of all time. These were a refreshing break from the contemporary efforts to create the most bland cars of all time. Compared to the 5-series of the time, which somehow after 2 generations of being the most sought-after vehicles, BMW decided to make them both ugly and awful to drive. The contemporary E-glass was once described as the most boring Tuetonic dust bin created. At a minimum, these were at least recognizable.

Nevermind that these were somehow dramatically tighter inside as compared to the Lincoln it is built on. Or the fact that the R could never build full power or the transmission would exit the vehicle at high velocity. Or that it really only looks good in BRG or black. Maybe the red. Never the white, just fugly, though still not as fugly as the 5 series…where was I? Somehow they ended up having more problems than the LS as well. In the LS the 4.0 felt just right. You could get a manual with the v6. But on the S-type it never felt quite right.

Oh yeah – this was introduced to be a mid-size (middle price class anyway) between the X-type Mondeo (which was a true bargain on the used market, especially in the States as you could not buy a Mondeo, much the SVT) and the warmed over XJ which was stoically holding on.

I ended up in an XJ with the BMW v8 4.0. Transmission gave up at 120k, after the wheel bearings, steering rack, and half the electrical system. God save the Queen!

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
16 days ago

Trying a bit too hard to be retro, but never found it ugly. They really stand out now in a world of angry faced Gundam-styled CUVs

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
17 days ago

Jac Nasser had some very specific ideas when he was running Ford/Jaguar/Volvo. The S-type was from his “Retro all the things” phase. (Hello Thunderbird and GT-40.) Then there was the “Everything must use the Volvo D3 platform” phase. And then there was the “Ford model names can only begin with ‘F’, Mercury model names can only begin with ‘M'” phase.

Hey, they can’t all be winners.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

Jac “The Knife” Nasser…

Robert Allen
Robert Allen
17 days ago

I used to have one of these. A 2001 with a 4.0 V8 and metallic black paint. She was a fun little car. I named her Raven. Unfortunately, the transmission went out on her, and I determined that a previous owner had had problems with it before, and let someone do a bodge up job rebuilding it.

If you really want an S-Type, get a 2003 with the ZF built 6 speed transmission. The older ones had a Ford 5R55 transmission, which was rubbish in every model Ford used it in. And Ford used it a lot…Mustangs, Thunderbirds, Explorers, and Lincoln LS’s all got that same gearbox.

My current daily driver is a 2009 XJ8 with a 4.2 and the ZF 6HP transmission. I absolutely love this car. The 2003+ S-Types could be had with the same drive train, and are great cars.

Ncbrit
Ncbrit
17 days ago

I had a v6 that I purchased from Copart for $900 in 2018. Wish I hadn’t sold it.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
17 days ago

X-Type is the worst. Followed by the last gen XJ.

These have grown on me. Although if I am going to ruin my wallet with a Jag, I’ll go get a 2000-ish XJR instead of this.

Robert Allen
Robert Allen
16 days ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

I used to have an X-Type. I loved that old car…but it wasn’t the most reliable car I ever owned. The 3.0 V6 was powerful enough to have a little fun with, and it cornered like it was on rails. Fun car…but I probably won’t ever buy another one. I love the 2009 XJ8 I drive now, though. Similar styling to the X-Type, but bigger, with a V8 and RWD.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
17 days ago

For a long time the retro Jag S-Type was in the same bucket as the BMW e60 5 series for me, very ugly. However I have started to appreciate the S-Type, particularly the R model with it’s mesh grill, can be a sharp looking car.
That said, the e60 5 series is still one of the worst designs I’ve seen and want to wash my eyes with bleach each time I see one.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
17 days ago

Someone in the subdivision I live has one, it had flat tires for like a year. Suddenly I saw it driving around, they gave it some love. One month later again, just sitting there with a flat tire. Either there is something wrong with the car or they just lazy to fix tires lol

Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
17 days ago

I always thought that the late 70s/early 80s XJ-S was pretty hideous https://www.jaguarheritage.com/uploads/2018/05/1981-XJS-HE.jpg

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
17 days ago

Ah, yes, but you are mistaken. I love them in all their ungainly 70s unreliability. My uncle had one when I was a kid. Some kind of Lynx turbo special that would now be a holy grail, and it was hilariously good fun when working. The turbo lag on that engine, then the swoooooooosshhh! And off you went, cackling and forced back into the white leather seats. Marvellous.

Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
17 days ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Not questioning the fun factor of the car… it just looks like it got hit with the Ugly Stick IMHO

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
17 days ago

Nah, I love the way they look too 😀 Not that you have to, of course.

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
17 days ago

Nope, I say we leave this one ripen on the tree for another 1/4 century. Then we’ll see.

The Mark
The Mark
17 days ago

It looks a little bit droopy and the headlights could have been integrated better. But still…there are much uglier, more contrived designs today, with creases and fake stuff and massive grilles everywhere.

Logan King
Logan King
17 days ago

The final iteration of the XJ was a much worse looking car than this.

Greensoul
Greensoul
17 days ago

I’ve always found the Jaguars from this era to be quite attractive thank you very much.

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