Saturday 11th April 2020
After posting a photo or two of the 6.5l Jag on social media recently whilst moving cars in the workshop so that the floor could be painted, and being asked questions about it, I thought it was probably well past time to give the car its own page and write a post or two about it.
I bought this car a couple of years ago at a classic auction at Anglia Car Auctions in King’s Lynn, Norfolk (which is well worth a visit if you’ve never been). The allure of a 6.5l V12 mated to a manual gearbox was impossible to ignore (surprise!) and I wasn’t the only one who wanted to take it home, though I’m sure that I would have paid a higher price if I was bidding for it today. This was the first manual V12 XJ-S I bought, and it certainly set a high bar for the cars that have followed, and partially why the Curfew Jag has disappointed me at points, because of its clutch and gearbox issues.
My decision to buy the car was based simply on the engine and gearbox (once the condition was confirmed as being good – as much as is possible in an auction setting), but as it turns out the history of the car is very good and the story is even more interesting. I never fell in love with the looks of this XJ-S, and I had originally planned to change it aesthetically to suit my own taste. Over the time that I’ve had the car I’ve managed to develop a slight appreciation for the particular aesthetics of the Chasseur body kit fitted to the car, but the main reason it hasn’t been changed is because of the story of the car and my personal feeling that I would be doing it a disservice to modify it and remove a part of what makes it individual.
This XJ-S was sold new by T.W.R Jaguar in Leamington Spa, and anyone who knows a little about racing or Jaguars has probably heard of TWR and the man behind it, Tom Walkinshaw. After reading ‘TWR and Jaguar’s XJS’ by Allan Scott, which covers the history of the TWR XJ-S last year I discovered that Tom Walkinshaw had struck a clever deal with Jaguar Cars to supply him with as many cars as he wanted at a very favourable rate, and so he set up dealerships to make the most of it, which surely can’t have impressed the Jaguar bosses. My car was inspected and registered by the Rugby Road dealership at the end of May 1988, and was originally delivered as a manual 3.6 – which is quite different from the car it has become. I had originally believed this to be a gearbox conversion car as the Curfew Jag is, but its quite interesting that someone took the idea of buying a manual car and converting it from a six cylinder car into a V12 variant, rather than buying a V12 auto car and converting the gearbox. It remains to be seen whether the Curfew Jag gearbox and clutch can become as good as this one.
The car was initially registered to “AALCO Products Ltd’ in Birmingham under the reg WOP11T, and covered over 14,000 miles before the end of 1988. The XJ-S continued to be used and had covered 59,179 miles by October 1990, and carrying on to 88,722 miles by November 1991 – which seems like quite a lot for a manual GT car that quite likes a drink. By January 1995 the mileage had leapt up to 162,401, and it wasn’t done there, as the service book tells me the car reached 192,960 miles in September 1996, which makes it a high mileage car to most of us, and all at less than 10 years old! The car was sold a year after that to a private individual not all too far from where it had originally been bought, though I have a feeling he was related to the company that owned the car as the private registration of WOP11T stayed with the car until 2011, when it was sold again under the current registration of E732WOL. By the time the car was sold in 2011 it had covered just over 220,000 miles, and I’m reasonably confident that all of those miles were all completed by the same man. To cover that sort of mileage in a car and own it for so long is impressive, and I’m a little sad that the car has covered nearly no mileage in the years that have passed since. After the car was sold in 2011 it was taken off the road until it was MOT’d again in 2016, and only covered around 60 miles in the year after that, and not much more since then.
The modifications to the car appear to have started in April 1996, just before the mileage stopped increasing so rapidly and the car was sold to its first private owner. A donor 5.3l V12 engine (with service book) was supplied by Ron Beaty – Jaguar Engine Specialist, and then rebuilt into the 6.5l specification it is today, though sadly there isn’t an invoice or paperwork from Ron Beaty or Forward Engineering confirming what that exact specification is other than the capacity. A few years later April 2002 the car was fitted with the Chasseur body kit, lowered and had an Arden exhaust system fitted, which is a great example of just how fantastic a Jaguar V12 can sound. They’re over-silenced as standard due to the type of car they are, but when they’re allowed to breath a little better they can sound rather wonderful. I’ll try and film a video at some point to give you an example of this one.
As I’ve sat and gone through the history file and typed out this post I’ve realised that I’ve been letting the car down as much as the previous owner, by not using it as it was always intended by the original owner. Once we’re able to move more freely again I’ll do my very best to get it out on the road and use it semi regularly, put a lot more mileage on it, and help to give it more stories and history. In the meantime I may try and track down the original owner and see if I can chat to him about the car and gather any more information. If anyone ever sees the reg WOP11T for sale then please do let me know, as I think the car should have its original registration number back.