It has been a while since I’ve taken the Curfew Jag out for a drive, though in the meantime we’ve completed a few more small jobs to sort a couple of faults and make the car more useable.
One of the biggest problems with the car was the tyres impacting with the arches on bends, bumps and anywhere else that caused the suspension to move. When it was built for Sky’s ‘Curfew’, the extended arches were fitted, and so was adjustable suspension, which means this should have been a really simple problem to fix, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. You can read more about the arch construction and previous problems here. We decided to raise the suspension to its highest point to see if this would cure the rubbing problem altogether (it is as I’m typing this that I realise that I should have taken a before and after photo to demonstrate the difference in the ride height, so I’ll have to figure out if I have any suitable photos). Though the new ride height does seem to have ironed out a reasonable proportion of the rubbing incidents, they still occur on bigger corners and bigger bumps/road depressions (though I do think they do not feel as harsh, and affects the rear wheels far more than the front). The issue seems to be that the rear arches have been mounted/constructed too low down the body, and their construction is also too thick. The raised ride height has also introduced some new handling characteristics, none of which are positive. Looking forward there are limited options:
- I could remove the arches and have them reconstructed further up the body and using better construction and materials, which would be expensive
- I could fit stiffer suspension to the rear and see if that cures the problem, also reasonably expensive
- I could remove some of the inner arch material and see whether it remains strong enough not to damage the arch and also stop the rubbing from the tyres, which would be the cheapest option but could end up being the most expensive.
We’ve also replaced the oil filter housing gasket, fan belt, repaired the windows and fixed the boot lock, which all helps to make the car more useable (especially with the recent heatwave).
On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to be invited to have the car photographed by my friend Andrew Green (@picturecornerwheels on Instagram, well worth a follow). The mini photo shoot was in Charlton, South East London, so not a million miles away from me, though it certainly felt like it on a raging hot day in a car with enormous heat-soak through the firewall and transmission tunnel, no air con, windows that would only half open, and thirty minutes of queuing traffic at the Dartford bridge…
After managing to battle through the heat and traffic I caught up with one of the other cars going to the same place, and I’m sure you can imagine what a treat it is to be able to follow a Citroën SM. The location was a set of dilapidated buildings in the middle of a very modern industrial estate, which was perfect for both the gorgeous SM and the equally lovely Mercedes 190SL (both of which had very nice owners too, which was even better!). I’ve included a load of photos of all three cars in this post for your enjoyment, and they’ll also hopefully encourage you to give Andrew a follow on Instagram.
As for the Curfew Jag going forward, I think I’ve set on the idea of maintaining and improving it whilst using it, rather than stripping it back and doing it all properly. There are a couple of reasons for this, with the main one being that I have too many projects sat around doing nothing, so I might as well use it whilst I can. I also believe that putting some of its flaw right may lose some of its character. I’ve reminded myself that this was effectively an old wreck that was tarted up for TV, and was never intended to be a pristine example of what a modified XJ-S could be, and that I should enjoy its rough and ready nature whilst improving its drivability and dynamics. There are still faults that I need to fix, but nothing that is too urgent or that stops me from driving the car, so hopefully I’ll put a few more miles on it before the weather turns later in the year (although, how good would it look in the snow?!).
For those of you curious to know the fuel economy of a manual Jaguar XJ-S V12 with big wheels….I have a rough figure of 18.9mpg. I say its only a rough figure because the odometer only worked intermittently when I first got it back on the road, and the fuel cap was also leaking up until I changed it recently. I’ll keep a tally of the economy going forward, and provide the figure in future updates.