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.