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…..