Wednesday 8th April 2020
Here is a short video from the owner of another manual XJ-S, who has his own YouTube channel ‘Jimbo’s Driveway’. In this episode he was at the most recent Classics and Cake event at Duke of London. I was meant to have a chat with him but we didn’t manage to find each other in the course of the morning, but he still did very kindly include the Curfew Jag in his video. Hopefully we’ll be able to arrange something after the lockdown is over to get the cars together and make a proper video.
Sunday 15th March 2020
For Curfew’s second outing there could be nowhere else but Classics and Cake at Duke of London in Brentford. This is my favourite regular meet and full of great cars, people and dogs. This time the event was absolutely packed as people were enjoying the good weather and fearing that this might be the last meet for a while due to Coronavirus. I managed to get there earlier than usual and even then it was already nearly full, but Curfew got a good spot and plenty of attention on the way in. I didn’t actually take many photos of it, though there are a few on Instagram. Due to the packed nature of the event I had to move the car once or twice to let people out, and I’m pretty sure that the Curfew Jag was louder at idle than a Murcielago that stopped next to me. The car is improving all the time and becoming better to drive as its used more, with the engine running better and the gearbox and clutch easier to use. The arches still need some more trimming and I plan to get the suspension set up properly to make the most of it, but I’ll wait until the lockdown is over to do all of that.
Sunday 1st March 2020
Today I took the Curfew Jag for its first proper drive, to the Tamp Coffee meet in Chiswick, and my first time at this particular meet. Plenty of nice cars to see and people to chat to, and Tamp Coffee is a great place to visit too. Given that the car has been off the road for over 15 years I was pleasantly surprised to see that we had no real issues during the drive there and back, even when sitting in a fair amount of traffic. The gearbox was a bit tough at time and the clutch does need further attention, but the car improved as we drove and got plenty of attention. I’m looking forward to being able to track the fuel usage, but that means I’ve got to get the intermittent odometer working properly….
Below is a selection of photos from the Tamp Coffee meet by the talented Andrew Green, who is on Instagram as @picturecornerwheels and he is well worth a follow.
Saturday 31st February 2020
The journey to get the Curfew Jag roadworthy and MOT’d took a bit longer than I expected. I knew it would have a few mechanical jobs considering that it was built for the tv series where the aesthetics come first, but in reality the state the car was in was unsafe, and I was slightly surprised that it was as bad as it was. There was corrosion to the bottom of both A-pillars, and also around the suspension mounting point on the near side front – which seemed especially worrisome considering they’d bolted expensive new adjustable suspension to the car. There was also an issue with the brakes and the car needed new brake lines and some adjustments to be made so that the rear brakes operated from the foot brake once again, rather than just the hydraulic handbrake. New wiring was run to the rear lights and we had to add front indicators, add a rear fog light (from a bus as thats all we had to hand), and remove paint from the reverse lights. As with any old car that’s been sat for a few years there are a variety of small leaks that needed addressing, but that wasn’t a major issue. The quality of the gearshift and the clutch were both quite poor, and it was a fight to get the car into first gear especially. This has been remedied but I expect it will rear its head in the future and I still need to test it when the car is up to temperature. The poor quality shift action isn’t helped by the snake head gear knob which may be aesthetically correct (if not particularly pleasing), but is both flimsy and painful to use. Another problem was the tyres scrubbing on the original arches, which obviously isn’t ideal and could lead to the tyre failing whilst driving the car. The wider arches which were added for the television series fortunately don’t cause any issues (so far), but the original arches had been left in place when they were fitted and this caused problems with the much larger wheels that are now fitted. The rear suspension wasn’t set up quite correctly which caused some of the scrubbing on the off side, but we’ve also had to trim back the original arches to add some much needed clearance. The front wheels are also quite a lot wider than standard and were catching when on lock. Eventually I would like for the car to sit lower (especially when the non operational side exit exhausts are removed), but I feel it might become something of a headache.
It sounds as if I’ve become quite negative about this car given the list above, but fortunately that isn’t the case. We may have had to do quite a bit of work on the car and spend a fair bit on it, but I’ve still got a manual V12 XJ-S for what is a reasonable price.
The good part came when I finally got to drive the car on the road. I’d driven it around for a little bit on a farm when we tried to film the Christmas video, but the fuel pump failing brought that to a premature end. My first drive of the car was only a short trip to the MOT centre and back again, but it did give me a little time to get a feel for the car, and also an idea of what still needs doing to make it more enjoyable to drive. Its been a while since I’ve driven a manual V12 XJ-S and it was good to reacquaint myself with just how much the addition of a manual gearbox can improve these cars. The power available feels greater and the car has a much more sporting feel to it. The gearbox will never be a dynamic one and has relatively long shifts, but you get so much more than you lose. With the shortened exhaust this car certainly makes its presence known, and if anything it is a bit too loud and certainly too gruff sounding, with little in the way of a cultured scream that these V12s can produce. The test drive also made me aware that the tracking and alignment was not quite where it should be, and whilst we’ve rectified it for now, I’ll be taking it to a specialist at some point in the near future to see just how much it can be improved upon.
I was planning to take the car to the Breakfast Club at Goodwood tomorrow morning, but since that has been rained off I’ll hopefully be taking it to a meet in W4 at Tamp Coffee. I’ll also be taking it to the next Classics and Cake event at Duke of London on 15th March – which is one of my favourite events and well worth visiting if you’re in the area.
You can also see a short clip of the car here…..
Friday 27th December 2019
Just a short update for today, as nothing has been done with the car over the past few days. I can, however, share this link to a very entertaining article on Car and Classic. A big thanks again to Chris for featuring it, and for the lovely photos!
Sunday 22nd December 2019
Here is what we managed to cobble together from last weekend’s filming. It isn’t much but I thought it would be good to share it anyway. We’ll aim to do better next year!
Friday 20th December 2019
Yesterday Chris Pollitt of Car and Classic (and of Not2Grand fame) visited me to write an article on the Curfew XJ-S, and to take some photos of the car too. The issue that caused the breakdown on Saturday had been diagnosed as a fuel pump failure earlier in the week, which is along the lines of what I was expecting and I’m happy it wasn’t something more serious. The fuel pump that failed had been removed from the project XJ-S along with the larger fuel tank, as the pump that came with the Curfew car had fittings that were not large enough to fit the larger pipes. Thanks to a quick stop off at Pirteks I managed to buy a fitting that would do the job (and it was considerably larger) for roughly £22.
Tuesday 17th December 2019
As I’m sure you can guess from the absence of a Christmas video in this post, we didn’t quite manage to complete it. It was probably a bit much for me to expect the Curfew Jag to survive the attempt, especially considering it still needs a lot of work to make it a useable car.
The basic idea was to make a completely unoriginal ‘collecting the Christmas tree’ style video (I know, I know, you’ve seen plenty of them and this would be *totally* boring to watch). Initially I had hoped to have the car MOTd and be able to drive it from Upminster to Warboys, film the video at Warboys Airfield, and then drive it back home again – which is a big ask for most old cars, yet alone one like this. If you’ve read my other posts about this car you might know that it hasn’t had an MOT in the time that there has been. an online checker – so at least since 2005 – and probably a lot longer than that. I would imagine that it was a non/partially running project car before it was modified to appear in Curfew. The conversion to appear on the TV series was mostly cosmetic and focussed on making the car presentable to appear on television. It does seem curious that they wouldn’t spend a little extra time and money to make the car completely safe too, considering they must have spent thousands upgrading the suspension and wheels, as well as the cost of the body work and gearbox conversion.
Sadly the car wasn’t MOT ready by the weekend, and had to be transported up to Warboys. It had been running fine and replacing the tiny race tank with a standard XJ-S tank meant that we should have enough fuel for the day, along with all the other jobs we’d done to make the car more useable (including ripping out the rather grim headlining). Thanks to leaving late and the ongoing works on the A14 the car didn’t get to the airfield until 1pm, which didn’t leave us the longest amount of time to film the video (poor planning on my behalf). Fortunately I’d already been given the tour of the space we were able to use, and I’ve got to say a big thanks to Jamie for allowing us to come along and mess around. Warboys Airfield is an old WW2 airfield and you can definitely feel the history, and I can only imagine how fantastic it looked back when it was operational. There are still a few old buildings there and a variety of one track roads that can provide a sort of test track. It is a fantastic place and perfect for what we wanted to use it for.
Since we couldn’t start the video leaving from Upminster and include some of the driving to the airfield, we decided to use J258 to start the video, which would allow us to film the entirety of the video in the same location. Its no secret that J258 is one of my favourite cars, and I’m happy to say it excelled itself on Saturday. An easy run up to Warboys followed by a small amount of punishment from the uneven roads on the airfield and driving through some puddles that initially seemed to be more like lakes, and then a perfectly comfortable drive home – what more could I ask from a car?
Unfortunately I didn’t have so much luck with the Curfew XJ-S. It was obvious from the first moments of driving the car that we still have a long way to go before this is a car that I would actually want to drive for pleasure. The clutch is quite poor and deteriorated throughout the day, with first gear and reverse becoming near impossible to select. The brakes are quite weak, especially for a car that looks as if it should be able to take some hard use, so they will need to be upgraded. When the larger arches and wheels were fitted to the car, the original arches were left in place and cause the tyres to scrub as soon as the suspension compresses. Driving along with the sound of the tyres catching on the arches isn’t particularly pleasant, and will need correcting in the near future (and will also allow us to adjust the ride height so the car sits more nicely). The engine runs fine, though I am very conscious of it overheating as I don’t know this particular car and I have been told previously that the Curfew cars did have overheating and clutch issues. Although it sounds nothing like a V12 thanks to the sawn-off exhaust, I quite like the gruff nature of the exhaust tone and the echoing inside the buildings was quite impressive. There is plenty of torque available which you’d expect from a V12, and once the car is moving changing gear becomes less of a chore and you can actually enjoy having a manual gearbox attached to what can be a fantastic engine. Obviously driving this car on rough WW2 roads isn’t really a fair test of its capabilities, and I’m still looking forward to having the chance to drive it on the road (and unusually for me, on track too).
Unfortunately our efforts to film the video were ended prematurely when the car wouldn’t restart. I’d been turning it off and opening the bonnet to keep it as cool as possible. This means that we’ve only been able to film around half of the video and didn’t have any shots with the tree on the car and driving around. We haven’t had a chance to see what is wrong with the car since it got brought back, but my guess at the moment is some sort of fuelling issue.
Hopefully I will have at least a short clip to share with you of what we did manage to film, but it isn’t ready just yet.
Lastly, I’ve got to say a big thank you to Liam and Aaron for giving up their Saturday to come and help me.
Thursday 12th December 2019
The old (small) fuel tank has now been removed and an original XJ-S tank is going in. There has been work ongoing to the clutch, lights, brakes and other assorted works too, so it should be ready for an MOT shortly.
We’ve also been pulling the headlining out, and it is pretty grim.
Tuesday 10th December 2019
Friday 6th December 2019
So we’ve liberated a fuel tank from one of the other XJ-S projects (A green XJR-S that hasn’t run in quite a while and won’t for a year probably, so I’ve pushed the problem into the future) and it looks massive sat outside the car. I’ll try to get a photo of it next to the one that is currently fitted to Curfew if I get a chance.
Funnily enough one of the people who did the stunt driving for Curfew found me on Twitter and asked if I had sorted the clutch and overheating problems (though they did say it looks like I’d bought the best out of the three). I knew about the clutch issues but not overheating, so will need to test that out. It could be related to a few things, but one large sign would be the fact that the air con has been removed, which could affect the fan cutting in. In time I’ll look to upgrade the fans and radiator (among many other things!).
Monday 2nd December 2019
Today gave me the chance to get the Curfew XJ-S up in the air so we could have a good look at the underneath and see if anything needs urgent attention, especially considering it has effectively been off the road since before 2005. Fortunately it appears to be pretty solid underneath, though there are some signs of previous repairs. It was also nice to find a new set of adjustable Gaz shocks, which we’ll have a play with at a later date to find the best set up to enhance the car’s characteristics. The brake callipers have been replaced or refreshed all around which is always reassuring to see on an older car, and it seems my fear that the rear brakes might only be operated by the hydraulic handbrake was correct, so we might need some creative thinking in that area.
You can see some of the other modifications by viewing the photos below.
Sunday 1st December 2019
So I’ve bought another XJ-S, but this time its the XJ-S that featured in the recent Sky series ‘Curfew’, which stars Sean Bean (who drives this car). It got delivered last night after I purchased it at the H&H auction in Buxton on Wednesday – and its already taken a bit of a battering on certain Internet forums full of grumpy middle aged men (I’m looking at you, PH).
Obviously the car isn’t standard, and amongst the modifications is the addition of a manual gearbox, upgraded suspension (from the brief look I had under the car), a hydraulic handbrake, a tiny race fuel tank, wider arches and wheels and the side exit exhausts. I was a bit curious to see how well the hydraulic handbrake works on the original inboard brakes but it does work reasonably well from what I’ve seen so far. The side exit exhausts aren’t actually connected up and the original exhaust is still in place, but finishes just after the centre muffler under the car and then is directed out to each side. Even just simply removing the back boxes has made this car a lot louder than standard.
I knew the car had no MOT, and in fact no MOT details show up on the online checker, meaning it was off the road at least before 2005 until it was modified for Curfew. I’m expecting some work to get it back on the road and I’m planning a few modifications of my own. We tried starting it this morning and though it was turning over fine, it just wasn’t firing. Fortunately cleaning the spark plugs helped and while it was initially running rough, it soon cleared itself out and started running a lot better, so its safe to assume it might have been sitting for a while.
Whilst moving it around we’ve also discovered that you can’t currently engage first gear or reverse, so the clutch needs some attention at least. The steering is also very heavy and the brakes seem to be pretty weak, even though the hydraulic handbrake works fine (which could suggest that the rear brakes only operate via the hand lever), so I’ll be curious to see how it has been modified once we get it up in the air on Monday.
The paint job actually isn’t too terrible, if you don’t consider they painted over the reversing lights and didn’t mask up properly, so the underside of the car is tinged green. It isn’t a huge issue as the car might end up having a colour change….and this time it will be stripped bare to do so. On another note if anyone knows how I could remove interior paint from leather it might come in useful. I don’t find the green interior particularly offensive and I’m no fan of grey leather which you can see peeking through in places, but it would be nice to have the option.