Monday, 19 December 2016

Well I've been meaning to write this post for a while... To cut a long-ish story short I've now parted company with my Jaguar's.

I've had some great fun with owning, restoring and modifying my Jaguar XJ40's over recent years but I've moved onto other projects now. I feel like I achieved everything I wanted to with the cars in this time. After a couple of false starts with previous '40's I was able to get build my ideal XJ40 with the Sovereign 3.6 manual, I successfully modified it to look and drive how I always wanted from a '40. The culmination of this project was to be able to use this car for my wedding, have some great pictures taken of it, and have it featured in both the Retro Cars and Jaguar Enthusiast Club magazines.

Unfortunately time took it toll on the Sov manual and I was running into a significant number of end of life issues, with car on 174k miles mechanical faults were arising and rust was becoming quite extensive. Of course everything is fixable given enough time and money, but due to a change in personal circumstances which included a loss of my garage and easy access to tools, I wan't able to practically maintain the cars roadworth status.

I really enjoyed being part of the owners club, I attended a good number of meets, saw some lovely cars and met some great people. I'd highly recommend joining this club to any XJ40 enthusiast, and just the principle of car clubs generally as I'd previously not been a part of one.

So this may well be a final blog post here. I'm still passionate about XJ40's and Jaguar's generally, so I may well come back to them at some future date and restart the posts. I'd love to do a full bare shell XJ40 restoration one day... In the meantime this blog will be in hiatus and stand as a testament to my time with the cars, I hope others will find this content interesting and useful into the future. At the time of writing this blog has received 150,804 page views and from all over the world, so I'm pleased that there is ongoing interest in these great cars. Many thanks for reading :)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Getting the Sov back on the road, part 2

So I had to get the Forty to the garage for an MOT, easier said than done as it's not easy to get out of the driveway! The road where I live still hasn't been surfaced and is at a significantly lower level to the driveway, plus the Sov is very low on it's shorter springs. This meant I had to make a makeshift ramp to stop the underside bottoming out on the kurb!

I've now got the '40 back from the MOT garage, it's not too bad to be honest! Not as bad as last time, thankfully a few of the problems have fixed themselves whilst it's been sat in the garage over the last year... a nice result. So these are the fail areas...

Nearside inner rear (sill to) subframe mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded.
Offside inner rear (sill to) subframe mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded.
Offside outer rear (sill to) subframe mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded.
Nearside outer rear (wheel arch to) subframe mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded.
Offside inner rear (wheel arch to) subframe mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded.

So the back end needs quite a bit of welding basically. I asked the chap what it would cost, he said maybe £300, but it depends how much metal needs to be cut out and replaced out course. The only advisory was: nearside front floor corroded - so want to get that done at the same time too. The only downer is that he's not going to be able to start any work until the end of the month as he's going on holiday soon...
I may look at finding some decent body sections that have been chopped out of a breaker as it may save a lot of fabrication work. I'm very much looking forward to getting it done and the '40 back on the road now. I really need to continue to keep it garaged in future so it doesn't deteriorate furthe...

Getting the Sov back on the road

The Forty has been SORN and off the road for about a year now, I've decided it's time to give it some TLC and get it back driving. It's been garaged thankfully, for the first time since I've owned it. The battery was flat but after a good charge it lept into life and the engine ran well as usual.

At the last MOT there was quite a list of fails, I'd intended to tackle these myself but I've had no time with one thing and another. The main failure was to structural body areas underneath that require welding, I did want to buy a welder and get into having a go at that but I've now decided to pay someone to do the work and just get the car back on the road. So the next thing is to get it down to the test station and find out whether anything has got better or worse since it's been laid up!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Retro Cars magazine feature

The latest news is that the Sovereign will be the cover feature car for the June issue of Retro Cars, chuffed with that. Keep your eyes peeled for a copy in your local newsagents!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Replacement offside rear door and carpet.

I need to have some welding done to the sill ends and floors, so all the carpets will want to come out. The car has the oatmeal colour to match the original doeskin (beige) interior leather, I've acquired a dark red carpet set to refit into the car as a replacement. It needs a really good clean up, but I think it'll look great with the black leather in my car, something a bit striking and out of the ordinary.

I've also bought a drivers side rear door, £0.99 from ebay! I'm going to build up a set of four to be repainted and swapped on the Sov.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

XJ40 replacement front wings

Time for an over-due update, I've not done a great deal on the cars but I've been an making a little bit of progress. Rust has become worse in recent times so I've been slowly gathering up some panels to freshen the car up. I've put together a pair of front wings that are in very good shape so those are tucked away ready for some paint to go on when the time comes. Panels like front wings that are more or less rust free are getting increasing rare to finding now. I'm also looking at putting together a set of rot free doors as they are starting to hole through too.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Partners in crime

Now I've got the XJ40 running again I was able to drive it out of the garage and position it for a side-by-side pic' with the younger sibling!

XJR front suspension refurb

I felt the front suspension on the XJR could be better, there weren't any knock but it just felt slightly loose. So I decided to do a freshen up of some of the bushes. 

The larger bushes - subframe mounts and lower wishbone bushes - looked to be decent still. The anti-roll bar 'D' bushes actually looked very good, like they'd been replaced at some point. The damper, drop link and upper wishbone bushes all appeared fine, but a little worn and past their best, so I decided to replace those. I already had some XJ40 upper wishbones with polybushes and new ball joints fitted lurking in the garage, so decided to fit those.

It was a fairly straight forward job, though I did run into a few snags of course. There was some cylinder shaped thingy with it's mounting bracket preventing the upper wishbone bolt sliding out on the off side which had to be removed, you can see it hanging down in the bottom left corner of the bottom picture. As usual the drop link bush that mounts to the lower wishbone was seized onto the bolt, I had to rip the rubber part away from the sleeve and attack that with an angle grinder get it off.

All done, quick test drive and there is a perceivable improvement to the handling which is pleasing, the movement of the wheels just feels better controlled. 

Getting the Sov started

Now that the garage is all tidy and set up I can turn my attention to actually fixing the cars. A first priority was to get the Sov up and running as it's had starting problems. It's always seemingly had quite a current drain, it flattens the battery pretty quickly if not driven regularly. So first thing was to give the battery a charge. The fuel level was low and had been sitting in there for some time so I tipped in a container of fresh unleaded. This didn't sort the problem and the car still refused to start.

The battery was getting on a bit and I suspected it was past it's best, a new one was purchased. I also bought a cut-off switch to disconnect it when the car is not in use, to prevent it draining. After several attempts at starting the '40 eventually fired up and ran well. Hopefully the problem is sorted and there's not an intermittent fault. There's bound to be a number of components that are past there best which could start failing and cause running issues, given the age of the car.

At least the Sov is running now so that I can move it in and out of the garage with easy, instead of pushing it!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Jaguar XJR video

Here's a short video I made of the XJR earlier, just me nosing around it and going out for a quick spin. I thought in addition to posting pictures I'd do some regular video pieces featuring both the XJR and XJ40.

Jaguar XJR initial inspection

I've been putting the new XJR through it's paces this week, doing some miles and getting used to the way it drives. I've also been looking out for any issues and areas that need improvement. I was a little tentative with it at first, I'd not driven an auto in years and I wanted to take a few days to get used to the extra power.

After a week of owning the XJR I have to say I'm very pleased with it, it looks a very good buy to me. I think there's often that worry after buying a new car (especially if it's an old Jag) that they'll be problems lurking that weren't spotted when buying, but I've not found anything of note. The engine pulls very strongly and the autobox changes well, the body is very solid, all the electrics work (besides the dreaded X300 clock of course), and the air con runs nice and cold. The front suspension does have a little wear in it but there's no knocking at all and the car rides very well.

I gave the car a wash yesterday and was able to have a good look over the bodywork. There's been some body restoration, the front wings and boot lid are replacements and have been repainted. There's a slight mismatch in colour between the front wings to the doors and bonnet, the new paint is slightly darker where the original paint has faded a little. There are some minor age related marks to the paint but no dents or scratches, the overall condition is very good.

So as for work to do on the car to improve it, I've been starting to think about the list. A full service would be a good start, it would be good to do most of the fluids and service items. The car has full Jaguar service history so I'll look to continue that keep the book stamped up, but there's plenty I'll be able to do myself though.

Here's an initial list of bits I want to do:
Detail body, engine bay and interior
Replace front suspension bushes
Fix or replace clock
Replace rear heater/air con vents
Have paint blended in and touched up
Replace radiator bushes
Re-dye seats

Monday, 12 January 2015

Another big cat joins the fleet - Jaguar X300 XJR

So, I've bought another Jaguar XJ, this one is an X300 XJR. This is my first X300, I've been keen to own an XJR for quite a long while now so it's itch I've been wanting to scratch. I'll be posting more about this car in due course as well as updates on the XJ40 Sovereign.

It's a good example, relatively low mileage at 113k and comes with full Jaguar service history. The car drives well and there's no rust on the body, the underside has had waxoil treatment. The body colour is Antigua Blue, with Oatmeal leather inside.

While the condition is very good I'll be working to improve it further, I'm looking forward to having a thorough crawl over the car and giving it a clean and polish.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

JEC magazine feature and photoshoot

A few months ago back in the summer we took the car out to London for a bit of a photo shoot, the intention being for the picture to be part of a magazine feature of the car. A good number of great pictures were taken by photo -grapher, fellow XJ40 owners club member and friend Naki, I've posted several here.

We tried to find some cityscape backdrops around London that would make for interesting urban pictures, something a bit different from the standard country lane fair. We visited Billingsgate Market, Canary Wharf and Blackwall Tunnel, amongst other spots. It was a fun and productive day out.

The pictures were submitted for a feature in the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club magazine, to be featured in a special XJ40 focused issue. I was chuffed when a great shot of both my modified Sovereign and Naki's manual XJR was chosen for the cover. The feature of my car can be seen in the online publication of the magazine in the following link:

Friday, 5 September 2014

Fixing a drivers door handle part 1

The drivers door handle has broken. I pulled the handle and heard a twang followed by several metallic objects falling to the bottom of the door, the handle then wouldn't operate the door opening mechanism.

I removed both top and bottom sections of the door card to gain access to the back of the handle. The handle itself is held in place with two 7mm nuts, these are easy enough to remove with a spanner. The handle assembly then slides out from the front of the door.

The top picture shows the back of the handle, the arm that pivots seems to have sheared off. The bottom picture shows the parts I collected from the bottom of the door. Repairing the handle didn't seem viable really, I've managed to buy a used replacement at the cost of £35. The lock barrel will have to be swapped over from the broken one.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fitting a bodykit part 3

I got the painted up bodykit fitted to the Sov a little while ago, finally got around to blogging it. It went on fairly easily, I simply drilled holes in the sill ends to attach the skirts and rear spats. It is good practice to use double sided adhesive tape along the length of the skirts, but I didn't want to do this just yet as I may want to be able to easily remove them again. Apologies for the camera-phoney pictures, I'll post up some better ones up in due course. 

I think the car's looking great, very close to how I want it now. The skirts look so much better than my previously black undersealed sills. Overall, the car is pretty well sorted inside and out, and it's driving well. No more modifications are planned at the moment, the next step with the project is to continue to improve and restore the condition of the body and fix some of the electrical faults. One of the rear windows isn't working and several of the central locking door lock solenoids are stiff and failing. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Fitting a bodykit part 2

I finally got around to having the bodykit painted. I'd planned to fit this ever since I bought the manual Sovereign, having already acquired the parts before hand. The parts to be painted are shown to the left. This bodykit consists of the front splitter, rear spats and rear bumper spoiler taken from the XJR I used to own and scrapped (see old posts). The side skirt are from an earlier series 1 XJR bodykit I previously bought. 

In addition to the bodykit parts I had a spare set of quad front lamp surrounds painted up. The inside surround areas are chrome on the early cars and body colour on the later Sport variants. The previous owner had decided to paint these areas black, I decided to replace these with completely body colour items. 

I used a local paint shop, I'm pleased with the results. Initially I plan to not fit the XJR splitter as it is more involved than fitting the other parts, I like the fully painted front splitter already on the car. I fit will fit the Lucas fog lamps to the splitter and install it at a later date.

I was motivated to get the bodykit painted before attending some of this summers car shows. I also planned to get some good pictures taken for a magazine feature so wanted the car to look more cosmetically finished.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Ace Cafe Jaguar meet 2014

I went along to the annual Jaguar day at the Ace Cafe yesterday, having been the previous year. There was a strong mix of Jag's past and present, some great motors on show. Best of all were the XJ40's, with a good showing of owners club members cars in attendance. There were some very nice examples amongst them including several Sovereign's and three XJR's.

When some of the other cars made their way home we were able to get a great group shot of nine '40's in front of the Ace Cafe facade. We did very well with the weather, enjoyed the Ace Cafe "big breakfast", all in all a great day out.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Brake system service

The brakes on the Sovereign had become significantly down on efficiency over the winter months after a lack of use. Even with the pedal pressed to the floor the brakes wouldn't stop the car sharply, so it had become quite dangerous to drive. The diagnostic display on the digi-dash had started displaying a "low brake pressure" warning.

I think after a lack of use the calipers were initially somewhat sticky, but the braking problem persisted even after giving the brakes a good workout. 

My number one suspect component in the brake system was the accumulator sphere used in the hydraulic brake system used on the car. This is a sphere shaped metal part that stores pressure built up by an mechanical engine driven pump, this pressure is then released when the brake pedal is pressed, operating the servo. This is an unusual and complex design of braking system, considered innovative in the '80's a employed by a number of car manufacturers including Jaguar and Rolls Royce. The added complexity lead to reliability issues and this system was dropped by Jaguar in favour of a much more conventional vacuum servo system on the successor to the XJ40, the X300.

Having done some research on the system, I found that they can be serviced and the accumulator sphere re-gassed so thought perhaps this was the way to go. As this was beyond my experience and DIY ability I booked the car in at a local luxury classic car specialist near to me. They replaced the brake fluid and bled the calipers, in addition to topping up the hydraulic system with the special brake fluid required. The chap at the garage showed me the brake fluid that had been drained off, it was a dirty brown colour and obviously hadn't been changed in years.

The result of the work has completely restored the braking, I'm very pleased. They work better now than at any time since I've had the car, the pedal feel is vastly improved. Sometimes it's hard to know what is condition is optimal if it never has been during your ownership. Since having the work done I'm really enjoying driving the '40 again and am feeling inspired to go through some of the other issues with the car.

Now that the Sov was driving well again I let my wife have a go at driving it! At the last insurance renewal I put her on the policy as the cost was minimal. Being used to small hatchbacks she was a little daunted initially but enjoyed the experience.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

A change of wheels

I've only been using the car very occasion -ally over these last few very wet months, and I've not done any work of note. 

The rims on the lattice wheels are in need of a good polish as they've been on outside on the car over winter. I thought the best thing would be to buy another cheap set of wheels to fit to the car to allow me to do the cleaning and polishing more easily with the wheels off the car. Plus it's always fun to try a different look with an alternative wheel design.

 This 3.6 Sovereign would have originally had 15" Teardrops fitted from the factory, under my ownership it's had 18" XKR Double Fives, 16" Five Spokes, 16" lattices and 16" XJR wheels. I fancied trying something different yet again so opted to go for a set of 16" Dimples, factory fitted on the Jaguar X300 Sport models. These aren't my favourite choice but they are good solid looking wheels, and are cheap used.

I had a scan around on ebay and after a little while found a local set of four that were fairly cheap (£80), in reasonable condition and had good tyres. I picked them up yesterday and gave them a thorough clean as they were filthy. I got them fitted this afternoon, I think the Sov looks good on them and they'll be easy to keep clean!