He owned a Cadillac Allante too...

Yesterday was a sad day for rock enthusiasts, as the community lost Tom Petty, the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the man who had a very successful career as a solo artist. Aged 66, Petty was found unconscious at his home, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest, early in the morning of October 2. He died later in the evening at the Los Angeles Santa Monica hospital. Petty left behind a fabulous singing career and a legacy that will endure for centuries, but we will also remember him for singing some of the greatest driving songs ever recorded.

"Runnin’ Down a Dream," which was released with the Heartbreakers in 1989, is arguably his most iconic driving song, but "Breakdown," "Flirting with Time," and "Last Dance with Mary Jane" also have great driving grooves. Not surprisingly, Petty was also a car enthusiast, having owned a few notable vehicles. His most prized automobile was a late-generation Jaguar XJS, which he sold for charity, only to miss it and describe it as his favorite car ever. Let’s have a look at the story below.

Continue reading for the full story.

A Jag of Great Memories

Talk About Class - Tom Petty's Favorite Car was a 1996 Jaguar XJS Convertible
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Petty owned one of the last XJS models ever made

Petty owned one of the last XJS models ever made. Introduced in 1975 as a successor to the iconic E-Type, the XJ-S (this was the official name until 1991) was originally offered as a coupe only. Powered by a massive 5.3-liter V-12, the car was gorgeous and on par with Lamborghini and Ferrari products performance-wise. A revised model was launched in 1981, with targa and convertible versions introduced in 1983 and 1988, respectively. An inline-six engine was added. The third-generation model changed the name from XJ-S to XJS and brought more modern styling cues, but the car remained recognizable on the outside. Production of the luxury two-door ended in 1996 when it was replaced by the XK8. That’s when Petty ordered his own.

And his choice had quite the interesting story, as described when he sold the car for charity in 2012.

"I have so many great memories associated with this car," said Petty. "When I began dating Dana (his wife), I asked her what her favorite car was. So, I phoned the office and said I wanted a champagne convertible Jaguar XJS. The next day, they delivered it to my house and showed me how everything worked, and I took it for a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. I was in heaven, as was Dana. This car has such an incredible design. My favorite car I ever owned. We sure are going to miss it."

The convertible was auctioned off on eBay, and all proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders, a medical humanitarian organization.

The Caddy that Failed

Talk About Class - Tom Petty's Favorite Car was a 1996 Jaguar XJS Convertible
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Petty also owned a 1993 Cadillac Allante. Introduced in 1986, it was supposed to bring the company back to the top of the luxury car world and compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. For this reason, the Allante’s design was outsourced to Italy’s Pininfarina. But, things didn’t go as planned and the Allante was never a commercial success, mostly because it was awfully expensive due to the fact that the frames were shipped to Italy to be bolted to the Pininfarina bodies and then flown back to the U.S. to get their mechanics.

Petty purchased a V-8 Allante in 1993, basically paying for the then-most expensive Cadillac available

In 1993, the car’s last year on the market, Cadillac made one last move and gave the Allante a brand-new V-8 engine. But, it was too late as the years it spent on the market with underpowered drivetrains had already ruined its image. Of course, this wasn’t a problem for Petty, who purchased a V-8 Allante in 1993, basically paying for the then-most expensive Cadillac available. He eventually sold the car with very few miles on the odo.

Rest in Peace, good sir. You will be missed by all.


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Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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