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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FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
2 months ago

My folks had one with the Ford V6 for fifteen years. Not a fan of the looks but it was a very good handler, quick enough, quiet, good seats. Nothing whatsoever went wrong with that car.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

I always loved the appearance of the SType.

Don’t like the proportions?
Then better not look at the original Mark II

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

Skipped the whole article. This is a lovely looking yaguire if it wasn’t bathroom tile white.

Parsko
Parsko
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

SAME, but as I skipped, I thought of all the different ways that “no” could be said. Sorry Thomas.

Maymar
Maymar
2 months ago

I don’t hate these, but the X308 is right there and prices haven’t gotten terrible on them yet. Only reason I can think of to get the S Type is, if you’re like me, all torso (the pre-X350 XJ’s are rather, uhh, intimate inside, and yes, I’m passing on the lowrise jeans). Even then, I feel like the proper use of an S Type is the Pete Dougherty model, to pick up a ratty old Jag and drive it until it’s impounded or you just forgot where you parked it.

Miles Long
Miles Long
2 months ago

The 20 year fashion cycle works for me. There’s a 2002 Thunderbird and a 2004 PT Cruiser GT H.O. out in the garage. Both were bought for looks and have been trouble-free over the years except for interior light bulbs in the Cruiser. Cheap OEM Sylvanias. The cars get oil and filter changes (Castrol/Wix) every 5,000 kms (3,000 mi.) and they still run like new two decades later.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
2 months ago

Love it or loathe it, it had the best TV ad, made by people who actually understand the appeal of cars.
And Shirley Bassey, yum.

https://youtu.be/71P-rf6Lb_g?si=AOMbQ4ATZGCK8BO-

Where the Rover 75 beat the S-Type hands-down was the interior. Not surprising, considering Wyn Thomas was involved in its design.

Last edited 2 months ago by SonOfLP500
Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
2 months ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

The fact so few Rover 75s were RWD makes me very sad.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
2 months ago

That’s the second AMC Pacer reference recently, please do an article on the Mirthmobile!

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
2 months ago

If I may be so contrarian, I prefer the appearance of the S-Type R to that of a 1970 XKE fixed-head coupe or the more contemporaneous X-type. But then again, I’m already a Jaguar contrarian in that I voluntarily purchased and happily own an XJ40 factory code XJ, the red-headed stepchild of the Jaguar family.

Steve Lee
Steve Lee
2 months ago

Front end looks terrible. I never liked the headlights and grille and how the bumps from the headlights carry that far into the hood. The rear end…makes me think of a mercury more than a jag. Side view, I really hate the droopy character line. Other than that, the interior is fine.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
2 months ago

Ok the pacer might have gotten a revival but let’s be real, only internet contrarians are going to bat for the Cimarron.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

I always thought these were decent looking, nowhere near as beautiful as they could have been, given the inspiration material (frankly, Mitsuoka probably could have done better with the same budget), but pretty good, and at least distinctive (take the Jaguar badges off an XF and see if the average person can guess the brand on that one).

But, importantly, the interior was absolutely gorgeous, and that’s the part you actually see when you’re driving it – at least after the 2003 facelift, the ovoid dash prior to that was kind of cheap looking for something that cost such a noticeable amount more than a Rover 75.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago

These always came so close but always felt like kind like an awkward swing and miss as an homage to those beautiful early Jaguars. Something about the proportions just feels off to me-I think a lot of these slavishly retro cars from this time period

Also eye roll at Y2K fashion coming back

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago

I’m not in love with the S-Type in particular, but I am a fan of not having every damned thing that can move in a car controlled by a motor. Vents? Absolutely not. Seats? Maybe, but how often do you really change them? When you do, isn’t it simpler to yank the bar and adjust until legroom occurs? Trunks, hoods, latches, none of these should have a motor or should at least have a manual failover mode. The hatchback doors that slowly close themselves are just the weirdest, laziest thing I can imagine. Reach up, pull down. That’s it. My stupid Z4 convertible top has gone through its second set of motors in its life. I envy Miatas.

Exception: accessibility and disabled drivers. Motorize away.

The Dude
The Dude
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

With one of our household cars shared quite often, the driver’s seat is adjusted quite a bit. And I really appreciate the fine-tuning I can get vs. having a manual seat adjuster when my sweet spot is in-between.

In many cases I’m a fan of power conveniences like windows, mirrors, etc. Even power sliding doors on the minivan are incredibly handy and well worth IMO the potential point of failure. If that happens they can just be operated manually.

Motorized vents? If we’re talking about the vents themselves (and not the contraption that re-routes air from an auto-ac system) then that’s probably taking it a bit too far for me.

Last edited 2 months ago by The Dude
AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

The hatchback doors that slowly close themselves are just the weirdest, laziest thing I can imagine. Reach up, pull down. That’s it.

The advantage here isn’t so much the power closing but the ability to close the hatch or tailgate with your arms full with either a kick sensor under the bumper or a key fob clenched in your hand as you stagger towards the car with two arms full of groceries or babies or baby groceries or big bags of baby carrots or (here in America) lots of firearms over which you and your babies can bond. Once that’s part of the setup, other uses for the motor involve little extra cost.

The Mark
The Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

I don’t mean to argue but who are these people with arms full of groceries? Who’s got baby in one arm and their Uzi in the other? When I leave the store with more than one bag, my groceries are in the shopping cart.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

The only place I’ve ever seen one of those kick sensors both exist and work is in a TV commercial. Every motorized hatch I’ve ever encountered still required you to put your crap down so you could grab the handle and push the little button as though you were going to open the door yourself in 1 second, but instead you have to wait 3 for it to beep and start moving and then 10 more for it to open itself.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
2 months ago

My Polestar 2 would like a word – the kick sensor works perfectly every time, and this comes in handy so often that my opinion of them has changed dramatically. When the car is all dirty from winter slush-splashing and I don’t want to touch the grimy button above the license plate, or when I (or my wife) am carrying two full bags of groceries (not enough for a basket and pretty much the norm for us), or when I’m carrying a pair of snow shoes in each hand and don’t want to chance scratching the back of the car, etc. The point is that what I originally thought was just a party trick has turned out to be much more useful than I anticipated.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

The most notable exception I thought of was a child, especially when there’s a diaper bag that’s determined to slide off your shoulder, a kid on the other hip, a mysterious third appendage you grow during parenting to still be able to fish for keys despite cocking your shoulders to hold the diaper bag and the child and contradictory angles.

It’s true though, when you’re buying a bulk bag of baby guns from a store whose size is best given in “Rhode(s) Island” and you’ve permanently got one hand at the holster, a little automation can be a big help.*

*This is a slightly modified version of what in the USA is relatively common but freaks me the fuck out: open carry. I saw a guy pumping gas at Costco with a great big sidearm on his hip. It’s like a big deadly fanny pack: a willfully counterculture accessory that makes you look deranged, but an accessory that you woke up and chose to apply to yourself. And ffs a gun can’t even carry a chapstick or wet wipes.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Motorized hatches and sliding doors are maybe THE example of “solution in search of a problem”. I’m convinced all the OEMs just dump them into the upper trim levels as a way to charge you an extra 3 grand if you want stuff that actually makes life better, like a heated wheel and a stereo that doesn’t suck.

“Why yes, I would LOVE for the process of opening or closing a door to take 15 seconds during which I have to stand and watch to make sure it doesn’t catch on something and open back up again! I have absolutely NOTHING better to do!”

Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
2 months ago

IMO it’s not the ugliest Jaguar. It’s pretty well executed retro modern design based on Mk2.
X-Type though is the ugliest.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

The X-Type is definitely worse, the XJ’s lines did not scale down well to a much smaller car with FWD proportions. Not even sure what the point was, since the S-Type in between it and the XJ had a totally different design language, so that kind of defeated the purpose of trying to make the XJ’s styling the entire brand identity.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago

Not everyone is starting to appreciate them. Hateful things.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Well, I came here to comment that we needed an article from Adrian about this model (which I quite like, btw), but I guess this is it.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago

Back in the 2000s, I had a friend who had a 2001 S-Type V8. It wasn’t necessarily a bad car, and was kind of fun to drive, but it didn’t age very well. Doing a water pump on that 4.0L V8 was a pain in the butt, and the Ford 5R55 automatic that was barely acceptable behind the Ford V6 couldn’t handle the V8 very well (he went through three transmissions in 120,000 miles). Once they stepped up to the 4.2L and 6HP transmission, things seemed to do better (aside from the interior that doesn’t hold up too well).

Personally, I don’t mind the S-Type, I just can’t see buying one. If I’m getting a Jag, I’m going full-bore and getting an XJS or Vanden Plas.

Jo
Jo
2 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

I own three Stypes. Just recently I did the water pump on my 01 v8 and it was actually easier then I would have imagined. The old pump was actually good so I did it for fun lol. Turned out that the coolant sensor ($25 part) was bad. Fun cars, i have 2 with the old transmission they are on original fluid (never serviced) and shift and drive well so not sure why people have issues with em. Maybe I got lucky but the 03 stype with zf transmission does shift a lil bit quicker. Time will tell but all of em are over 200 000kms and all 3 have the original tranny and motors.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Do people really hate these? Out of all the retro modernist designs of the 2000s the S Type is pretty inoffensive to me. It just looks like a stately old man sedan to me and it well…is a stately old man sedan. The quad headlight look was definitely a thing during the era and it doesn’t really bug me all that much.

As to why they’ve gone from “fuck it” money to actual money the answer is simple my friend. V8 and rear wheel drive. That doesn’t exist anymore outside of pony cars, luxury cars, and exotics. A lot of us late 20s/early 30s enthusiasts are coming to the dark realization that if we want a V8 we need to do it NOW and not everyone can make a coupe work or wants a truck.

This fits the bill and has a lot of parts bin stuff. If you’re mechanically inclined I don’t think these would be all that hard to keep alive…although as Paul E mentioned, if you’re paying someone to keep it going for you you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
2 months ago

The supercharged version, at least, had every cubic inch of space under the hood filled with widgets, and then all of those covered up by plastic covers from both above and below. Weird plastic manifold thing converting the engine to reverse coolant flow. NOT a nice car to work on.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
2 months ago

Those headlights are the peak “Milhouse Van Houten without glasses” of any car I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago

Why not get the uglier, cheaper knockoff of this car if you want that look, an ’00s-era Kia Amanti? It will avoid the potential destruction of your bank account, for starters.

Last edited 2 months ago by Toecutter
PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
2 months ago

I haven’t seen one for some years – it’s uglier than I remember!

Sklooner
Sklooner
2 months ago

I think the first s-types were the ugliest, the beautiful mk2 front end with some bulbous ass tacked on

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

Weren’t these just Mondeo’s in a new suit?

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

That’s the X-Type. The S-Type shared its platform with the Lincoln LS.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Yeah, that’s what it was. And Yeah, I’ll take the LS.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

The problem with the LS, which I still think is a sharp looking car, is that it got the 3.9L variant of the Jaguar AJ V8, shared only with the Thunderbird. I almost picked up a cheap, broken LS V8 back in the early 2010s, but when I started to look at parts I discovered limited parts interchangeability with the other AJ V8, little aftermarket / remanufacturer support, and a very limited NOS supply from Lincoln dealers. It was like owning a Jag, but worse.

Paul E
Paul E
2 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

I shopped the LS somewhat seriously back when they were new, and did a hard pass. While it drive nicely, it felt cheap inside, and I knew that it’d be quickly falling apart after the 100k mile mark (typically 3-3.5 years on average for me) and quickly rusting, like most Ford products (then and now).

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

And the Thunderbird – also the Mustang and the XF are somewhat related.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

I think that might have been the X Type. Not sure about this one.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
2 months ago

Always been a fan of low rise jeans.
Not a fan of these so much. The rear end just looks about a foot too short.

Paul E
Paul E
2 months ago

If you have to have one of these, the 2003-up cars are the way to go–between the 4.2 V8 and the ZF 6HP26 transmission, these are about as robust as an S-Type will ever be. The V6 takes lots of revs to be halfway enjoyable, although there were a few cars that made it over with a manual gearbox, paired with the V6.

There’s lots of suspension and drivetrain parts compatibility; cross-shopping parts for the Lincoln LS will save you real money, and there’s a slow stream of S-Types left in the junkyard ecosphere.

If you can turn your own wrenches, these are fairly straightforward to work on and once done wrenching, enjoyable to drive even without the supercharger. On the other hand, if you’re paying someone to keep up a car, one of these probably shouldn’t be on your shopping list.

Last edited 2 months ago by Paul E
Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
2 months ago

My old man bought one of these in “R” guise, from the original owner, barely still under warranty. That supercharged V8 pulls in a way that was even less common then than it is now.

He got a ton of stuff fixed before the warranty expired and then it treated him quite well for 5 years.

Unfortunately, he kept it for 10 and it bled him dry.

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