J258RFJ: an update

I thought I would continue writing some blog posts about my own XJS and all about owning one (both the good and the bad). At the moment the car is sat up in our workshop with a mystery fuel leak that will require the fuel tank to come out and the oil leak is also still present after the rocker cover gasket was replaced. I’ve also decided to have the car serviced since it doesn’t appear a service has been completed on the car since last 2015. The car is up on a ramp but waiting behind a few, more pressing jobs so it could take a while before it is back on the road. I did manage to break the mounting for one of the chrome trim pieces on the boot but that is all sorted now.

With the bad stuff out of the way, I can say that I’ve been enjoying using the car more and more, even if driving one of the V12s the other day did make me want a little more power. When the fuel level isn’t dropping like a stone because of a fuel leak the car doesn’t do too badly on fuel, 16-18mpg can be achieved easily. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but it is the better part of 30 years old, heavy and with a big engine, so you couldn’t really expect much else. I also discovered that the ‘sport’ mode that I thought didn’t do anything actually does have an effect. It holds the gears until the needle goes right around the clock rather than stopping half way and helps to transform the car into a somewhat fast car. I spoke to an engine builder I know (before I bought the car) who told me that he used to supercharge 4.0 manual XJS when they were new and they produced as much as 420Nm, which is pretty impressive and I wish I could have a go in one. I wasn’t sure that I wanted an automatic car simply because I prefer a manual car and it adds to the driving experience in these especially, but I am actually enjoying the auto box in this one and is perfect for cruising around when you’re not really driving for driving’s sake. Hopefully the car will be back on the road soon and I can give you another update (before it probably develops another issue).

Soapy and the Coupe – Brands Hatch


Last Monday we were lucky enough to be allowed to take Soapy and our Ford Coupe down to Brands Hatch to take some photographs for an ad that we will be running in the December issue of Classic American. We have some good friends down at Brands and it is one of my personal favourite race tracks as I have spent a lot of time there over the years. Continue reading “Soapy and the Coupe – Brands Hatch”

The first week with the XJ-S


I thought I’d write a post about my new runaround – this Jaguar XJ-S 4.0 Auto – and keep it updated with the ups and downs of living with an old car as a daily driver. Most people who buy classic cars don’t intend to use them daily (though there are still a few and thats awesome if you can), but a modern classic like the XJ-S should be able to provide you with a good balance between old and new. You still have a modern(ish) car but without so many of the electronic nannies that some people don’t like about new cars. I didn’t intentionally choose to buy an XJ-S, it was more of a right place, right time (and right price!) kind of deal, though I do like the XJ-S as a car and we have more than a few in various states.

I should be driving my Mercedes 190e 2.5-16 day to day but it had its problems months ago and was left laid up in a corner of the workshop until someone had a chance to look at it (ironically it now appears that the problems may have been sorted). I’ve been driving a Navara day to day and I love that car, it has never let me down but it isn’t exactly what you would call a ‘sporting’ vehicle or one that you want to drive for fun. This XJ-S was at an auction I go to regularly and where I had a few cars for sale myself and it impressed me more than I thought it would. It truly is a car with great history and general condition. This car was heavily featured in a specialist Jaguar magazine for eight months and owned by a man who judges these very cars, what more could you want? The mechanicals of the car are all very good and serious money has been spent ensuring any problems have been taken care of, the only thing is the paint is somewhat shabby – but I’m beginning to like that too. This isn’t a low mileage car (190,800 at the moment) but I’m not one to be put off by that.

This car in particular has an aesthetic I really like, the black wheels set off the red very well and I’ve been considering dechroming the rest of the car with those parts being finished in a similar fashion to the wheels, but thats a potential project for the future. It is incredibly hard to find an XJ-S with a dark coloured interior and this one does, beige/grey/etc really tend to bother me and I would find it hard to live with one unless it perfectly matched the rest of the car. To my eye the post facelift coupes are better looking sheerly for the window shape that modernises the whole design, and when I took this car to Cars and Curry on Wednesday I couldn’t help but think it was one of the better looking cars there – and thats among the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.

Preferably I would have bought a manual rather than an automatic (We’ve got a couple of 3.6 manual XJ-S and it definitely transforms the car into something fast), but they are a dime a dozen and a lot more expensive than this one if you could find one in a similar condition. The automatic gearbox has surprised me though, I thought it would be slow and intractable but once you’ve learned to live with it a little you can get a good level of performance from the car. It isn’t a sports car, and definitely not by today’s standards, but it is a good sporting GT. Driving the car at any pace does mean that you’ll only be getting 16mpg (according to the car computer) so that is another factor to consider. The sport mode has no discernible difference that I have found but thats ok because the light on the dash can be a bit annoying.

This XJ-S is like any other old car in the sense that it has its own character and foibles that have been developed over its life. These can be both good and bad. You get the wind whistling when at motorway speeds because the window seals aren’t that good, though I haven’t gotten wet with the doors shut yet like I did the other day in the Alpine! The dash lights flicker up with a mind of their own and you have to pay attention to the car itself and use a little common sense, its an important lesson for someone who has never used and old car for any extended period. I’m a little tall for the car and can normally feel my hair brushing the roof plus there is nowhere for my left foot to rest comfortably (though there always is in the pre-facelift V12s which seems odd). I love that the car is so comfortable but one of my favourite things is the way the nose spins around a corner like you’re in a 70s TV car chase, its just fantastic. I’m sure there will be plenty more to come with this car and I will try and keep it updated along with any modifications I might make.

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New Arrivals: Alfa 6C Sprint & Capri-12

Two of our most recent arrivals are also two very interesting cars – and ones we can’t wait to get started on. Firstly we have a recreation of an Alfa 6C Sprint (which never actually got built or homologated) that has fallen into disrepair, though it still sounds incredible. The other car is a Ford Capri (originally a 1.6 LS) that has been fitted with a BMW V12, which we’re sure will make for an ‘interesting’ driving experience.

Both cars are a little bonkers in their own way and it will be exciting to see how they turn out. They won’t be started straight away due to the constraints of having other projects in our workshop though I am making an effort to clear the list above them to see that they aren’t left too long. There are actually a couple of old videos of the Alfa on YouTube and I’ve added another which you can see above.

You’ll be able to follow both restorations on our projects page and since the Capri is going to be non original any suggestions you have for modifications are more than welcome.

Cars and Curry at the Headley – August 2017

I’m a big fan of car meets, we’ve run a few of our own (and more soon hopefully) and the Cars and Curry event at the Headley Spice is one of my favourites. Its only just down the road from us and there are always some fantastic cars that turn up. Last night saw a pair of 675LTs turn up among many other rare machines. I was hoping to take our mk1 Escort Mexico replica but a couple of issues stopped that plan and I turned to the Triple 8 Astra as it was easily accessible, running well and clean. I haven’t driven the Astra in a while and I was glad I took it last night as it reminded me of what a fantastic car it really is, the drive up there left me unable to take a clear photo due to the after effects of an adrenaline rush – its that good! This is a proper turbo car that blasts you down the road once it gets on boost and its surprises you at how quickly the needle goes around the dial towards the top of the rev range. There aren’t many of these around now and I believe only around 30 of these are still on the road (though I would imagine there are a fair few stashed in garages too). If you ever get a chance to drive one of these cars I recommend you do, there aren’t any cars being built with this kind of chivvy attitude anymore which is a sad thing because it makes for a fun car that drives, sounds and looks the part. For me, this car is about being fun and not grown up – which is something a few new cars could certainly learn a lesson from.


The Renault 17 Gordini

Now you may not recognise this car, and I would be willing to bet that you probably haven’t ever seen one in the flesh either (I certainly hadn’t). I saw this car come up for auction with CCA (Classic Car Auctions) when they were at the NEC in Birmingham and decided it was worth a look due to the rarity and that fact my Dad is a big Renault fan. Continue reading “The Renault 17 Gordini”

Our Acoma Microcar

I thought I would write a blog post for the Mini Comtesse to see if anyone else but me could give it some love (everyone here seems to want to kick it over). The Acoma is in a bit of a sorry state at the moment as you can see from the photo above and is currently shoved in a dark corner at the back of the workshop waiting for parts that have seemingly never been ordered. This ugly little microcar will see the road again, though it needs to be registered as it came with no paperwork at all. I’m curious to drive it, though it will have to be taken out in a van as we’re surrounded by big hills it has no chance of getting over (especially with me in it). Apparently they top out at around 20 mph which isn’t all that surprising for a three wheeler with only 3.4 hp. The fibreglass body isn’t in the most fantastic shape but its mainly the hinges of the gull-wing door that need attention and I quite like it’s worn and slightly battered aesthetic. I think something may have to be done about the lawn chair that is fitted inside even if it is just a deep clean. We’re currently looking for another one to fit a large engine in to take to Santa Pod too…

Bye-Bye Big Blue Merc

Our lovely CL has just gone off to a new home, this particular car was with us for a while and the market has been a bit saturated as of late with 90s Mercedes which didn’t help. However its hard to find examples like ours that are not only in great condition, but also have a fantastic history folder showing that the car has wanted for nothing. Now is the time to buy one of these lovely cruisers and enjoy it over the next few years while they appreciate in price. Our car even had the original bill of sale and the original phone, and it isn’t very often that you find those things. This is the kind of car that can crush continents and glides effortlessly over many miles while cosseting you in the luxuries of 1998. Continue reading “Bye-Bye Big Blue Merc”