J258RFJ: an expensive update

I just thought I’d share an update on all the work the Jag has had in recent months. I’d booked for it to come off the road at the start of April to have all of its bushes replaced as there was some creaking and groaning over bumps and the car wasn’t driving quite as we as it should. But just like when a dog knows its going to the vets and starts playing up, the day before the Jag was due to go into the workshop it started misfiring. As it turned out later the head gasket had blown (a pattern part that wasn’t as good as it needed to be).

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The blown head gasket

I had been hoping to avoid any engine work until passing the 200,000 mile barrier but obviously this development blew any chance of that and simultaneously increased the amount of time the car would be spending in the workshop. The head went away to be skimmed, as did the exhaust manifold, and the other work continued in the meantime. There was a small oil leak to take care of, and the front brake pads were also replaced, and of course all of those bushes needed to be replaced. This all adds up to quite an expensive bill reaching easily into four figures, but all of the work was necessary and none of it is altogether unusual for a car of this age and mileage. With a few parts supplier problems and other issues it was more than a month and a half before J258 was back on the road and I was certainly impatient to have it back by that time.

Getting the car back on the road was very much a mood lifter and though I was being gentle on the old girl it was easy to see just how much a difference all of that work had made. One thing that I’ve found surprises people is just how responsive an XJS is to being hustled down a B-road. They’re certainly not the smallest or lightest cars (or sportiest, for that matter), but they are relatively narrow and they handle well. My XJS is now feeling much tighter with those new bushes really making their presence known.

This engine work also provided an interesting experiment in regards to the fuel economy. I’ve never expected an XJS to be frugal, but this particular car always seemed to have poorer economy than other 4.0 cars (mine was getting between 9-10mpg on average and others seem to reliably get into the low 20s). In the 1,500 miles I covered after all of this work 15mpg was achieved without too much trouble, which is nice for added range if nothing else. It also makes me curious to see what the actual fuel economy of the 6.5l XJ-S is…..and there is only one person to blame with what has become a new obsession in tracking that sort of thing.

There are no other plans for major overhauls in the next few months so hopefully any further updates will just include lots of driving, and maybe even cracking that 200,000 mile barrier too.

1992 Jaguar XJS 4.0

People who know me (or follow me on Twitter) probably know that I like an XJS more than most people do, and this is one of the cars that helped me to realise that. I’ve owned this particular XJS since September 2017,  after buying it at auction. I spotted the car among the listings of an ECCA auction and one of the main reasons that it caught my eye was because it had a black interior, which is pretty rare for one of these. Before I bought the car I was convinced that I was going to swap out the auto gearbox for a manual one as I’d never kept an auto of my own and didn’t find them involving enough, but after living with it for a while I realised its quite well suited to an XJS (at least in standard form).

Another of the big selling points for this particular car was that it was previously owned by a Jaguar club judge and had also just been featured in ‘Jaguar World’ magazine for seven months, which resulted in a rather healthy amount of invoices and a car that had been treated very well and cherished. I’ll happily admit that I love going through paperwork for cars at auctions, as you really do never know what you will find, and it tells you a lot about a car’s own personal story. This car came with the magazines that it was featured in and much more to display that it has quite a rich history.

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I bought the car for just under £3,500, which I think is something of a bargain for a well kept XJS with plenty of paperwork, even if it did have over 180,000 miles on the clock at the time. After that point I used it as a daily driver with no real issues until the MOT, which it failed on a few small items. The car was then sat up for a few months until I couldn’t bear looking at it sat forlornly in the corner of the yard.  The work needed to pass the MOT wasn’t major, and mainly related to the diff seeping oil.

On paper a straight six, auto XJS wouldn’t usually be something that really appeal to me, but this car has plenty of character and does everything I ask of it with minimal fuss. The 4.0 doesn’t have masses of power, but with the gearbox in sports mode it does allow you to wring its neck a little and explore the upper reaches of the rev range, and also allows the Jag to be a reasonably fast car that is plenty of fun down a country lane. The suspension is very compliant and never uncomfortable or harsh (even when it bottoms out over a big bump) and the tall tyres help to provide a real GT quality that most modern cars now miss. It is one of those cars that you could easily spend all day driving and feel no worse for it. The handling is relaxed and enjoyable and that long bonnet stretches out in front of you in a rather lovely way. The XJS is still narrow enough that you don’t have to worry on country lanes, either, and that is one of the things I love about it. If there is a bug bear that I do have with the straight six Jag engine it is that it really isn’t all that economical. That isn’t something that usually bothers me but the Vantage is more economical and a V12 XJS wouldn’t be too much worse to run, and that is always a temptation.

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As a final note I will include that after a few spots of oil were found repeatedly and growing bored of listening to creaking bushes means that the Jag now does have a short list of jobs to be completed, so I will update with a final cost in a later instalment. On the list currently is a full service, a lot of new bushes front and rear as they are quite perished (and I’m considering sports anti-roll bars), a new oil pressure switch, front brake pads and also sealing the bottom of the dipstick. I’m also considering a new set of tyres which may wait for a later date at the moment.

 

1974 Jaguar XJ6 Manual

Monday 12th March 2018

So our Jaguar XJ6 has just arrived, sight unseen and I was pretty excited personally, this is a rare manual car and also a one owner car with only 46,000 miles on it. It certainly sounds like a winner and the arrival was a pleasant surprise as the car is solid after all those years in dry storage and also in good condition throughout too, though it needs a good wash. This car has been lightly recommissioned by the previous owner though we’re expecting some work and won’t know exactly what until we’ve had it up in the air.

Monday 19th March 2018

We’ve finally gotten round to giving the XJ6 a wash and gotten it back into the workshop for a quick look, and we’ll have it up in the air tomorrow. The paint isn’t in the greatest of condition as we expected, and the brightwork will need rechroming too. We’ve had the car running as you can see in the video below and its fair to say she isn’t running at her best – yet.

 

Our Week: 6th – 12th November

Its been something of a hectic week here, with new cars arriving, others being painted and our lovely MK1 Escort Mexico replica being sold.

First up is our Sunbeam Alpine, which is now being built back up after being repainted, and I was a little wowed when I saw it come out after being painted, as it really does help to complete the car, which is sure to be a head turner. I can’t wait to get out for a drive in it and share the end result with anyone who is happy to read my ramblings.

Also in the workshop is our very low mileage Pre HE Jaguar XJS which I’ve nicknamed ‘The Penguin’ (I’m sure you can appreciate why). The car was in long term storage with its original owner (which is how it accounts for the low mileage) before being sold and the new owner ‘recommissioned’ the car to a fairly low standard before we bought it. There were a lot of imperfections in the bodywork and paintwork which are now being corrected. This is going to be a fantastic car and they engine bay is receiving the same treatment, as well some much needed attention to help cure a misfire.

We finally pulled the Renault Alpine GTA out of storage to send it off to paint only to find out that no one wants to touch the glass work or even the rubber seals, as they are impossible to find for these cars, so the project has been delayed somewhat. If you know of anyone who specialises in Renault Alpines then please let me know.

I was very excited by the arrival of three (long awaited) American pick-up trucks, who are to be sold on behalf of a long time family friend. The last time I saw these trucks was when they were bought around five years ago, and I know that they haven’t done much since. All three vary greatly and to me, that is a fantastic thing. I’ve only managed to drive one of them so far but it surprised me by how well it drove. That truck is the 1935 Dodge KC 1/2 ton pick up that is fitted with a later Slant-6 engine and even NOS! The other two trucks are also special, with the hot-rodded Chevrolet 3100 Stepside catching the eye – and ear – very easily, I can’t wait to take it out for a drive. The final truck is a rat-rod International Harvester that is also very modified. A full description for each truck can be found on our current stock page.

 

There are also three other new listings on our website. An MG B convertible project that is very solid and should be going for an MOT at some point in the near future, it needs attention to its paint and bodywork but runs and has a good interior. Also listed is a rather fun MG B V8 ‘track car’ that is road legal and will also be MOTd before being sold, it looks pretty special too, so its worth having a look at the photos. Finally we have my favourite of the listings in the form of this stunning 1970 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe, it is a fantastic little car and drives just as beautifully as it looks.

I managed to spend a day at the NEC at the Lancaster Classic Car Show yesterday which proved to be even more enjoyable than expected, even if most areas were rammed to the rafters. There were some simply fantastic cars on display and it was great to be able to catch up with our friends at The Market (www.themarket.co.uk) and I even managed to chat with the man who looks after George Harrison’s old Mercedes 500 SEL.

To cap off what has been a pretty great week our MK1 Ford Escort Mexico replica has just left for its new home, and more importantly it is going to the right home where it will be loved and enjoyed. I’ll certainly miss this car and plenty of my colleagues will too. I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend!

 

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).

The first week with the XJ-S

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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 XJS should be able to provide you with a good balance between old and new. You still have a reasonably modern 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 XJS, it was more of a right place, right time (and right price!) kind of deal, though I do like the XJS as a car and 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 XJS was for sale at an auction that I attend regularly and also one where I had a few cars for sale myself and it impressed me more than I thought it would. It is a car with great history and the general condition is also good. 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 I 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 XJS 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 quite rare at this point 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 XJS 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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