Dear Tom and Ray:
My 24-year-old daughter is moving to Los Angeles from New York City and will need a car. She is in love with the Jaguar XJS Coupe. Her budget will allow an early-1990s model with 100,000-plus miles. My questions are many, but I really need to know how much trouble she is in if she purchases one of these cars. Is the maintenance affordable? Do they run, or only look good on the curb? Should Dad stay out of the decision-making process? Thanks for any insight you can offer.
RAY: You cannot protect your children from everything, David. Nor should you.
TOM: Right. My parents let my brother fall out the window of the car several times when he was a kid. And it wasn't until it happened while we were crossing the George Washington Bridge that it caused him any long-term damage.
RAY: I think kids have to make their own mistakes, David. Otherwise, how are they ever going to learn anything?
TOM: Your daughter is about to embark on a wonderful learning experience!
RAY: Yeah. My vote is that Dad butts out. You have a legitimate interest in her safety. But this is a big, relatively safe car. And if she has a cell phone, and a credit card --
TOM: -- and a can of Mace --
RAY: -- she ought to be able to handle any breakdown along the way. It'll be an adventure for her. A learning experience.
TOM: It IS a beautiful car, David. The convertible XJS is one of my all-time favorites. But no, it's not terribly reliable. Repairs and maintenance are expensive. And parts may be hard to find out in rural areas -- like that thin strip between California and New York.
RAY: But your daughter will have some wonderful adventures. She'll have some great stories to tell. And she'll learn a very important lesson: that you can't make decisions based on looks alone. My first wife made that mistake when she chose me.
TOM: No, she based her decision on looks when she divorced him. Don't worry, David. She's 24. As long as she's safe, let her have her own adventures.