Thursday, 20 September 2012

The wedding car

Hey fans, it's been a good while since I posted something hasn't it. I've not done any work on the car since I last wrote (apart from cleaning it), there's still plenty of areas that need improvement but I've just been enjoying driving the car over the summer.

At the end of August I got married and we used the car for our wedding! We had a fantastic day and the car cleaned up well, doing the business for us nicely. Following the wedding we went for a two week tour of the US and Canadian east coast for our honeymoon which was great.

I've not had any time to work on the car since we've been back but I did get the chance to attend the annual owners meet on Saturday. We got together at the Coventry Transport Museum to show the cars and have a chat. Here's a write up in the Coventry Telegraph, more pictures to follow soon.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Paintwork part 2

After having the car MOT'ed I decided to take the car to my local coachworks outfit for some new paint for the roof and wing. I've had the car back a couple of weeks now, I'm pleased with the newly painted areas. These were the main and largest areas of paintwork that let the appearance of the car down, it's looking a lot better now but I've other bodywork areas to work on.

The bodykit parts were finally ready to start painting at the weekend, the sanding down having been recently completed. I gave the parts a good clean and then several coats of primer. It was nice weather on Sunday so did this out in the garden, see adjacent picture.

The painted parts consist of the XJR series 1 side skirts and the XJR series 2 rear spats and bumper spoiler. The car already has a body colour painted front splitter and boot infill panel, I'm looking forward to these additions. I hope to start the colour coat stage this coming weekend.

Monday, 25 June 2012

MOT time

With the MOT test looming I'd been doing various work on the car in a bid to get it through unscathed. I did all the usual checks around the car to ensure everything was in order. My main fear was body corrosion, I've been address that area recently by removing any rust and undersealing.

I decided to put the car in for the test to see what it failed on, being a 23 year old car I assumed I'd recieve several fail items. One item I knew was defective was nearside rear passenger seatbelt, in retrospect I should have fixed this before the test but decided to proceed anyhow. As it turns out the seatbelt was the only failure, I was very pleased with this result!

I was looking for another seatbelt but managed yesterday to fixed the mechanism of the existing one. It was relatively straight forward, to get access I had to remove the rear seats and the parcel shelf. The seatbelt mechanism is fixed with a single 17mm bolt.

I took the car back for a retest at the garage this morning, fingers crossed that a pass is just a formality now. Once the car is passed I plan to take it next door to the coachworks outfit for some new paint.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


I've been underseal -ing the sills, floor and wheel arches in a bid to protect the car from rust. I started brushing off any dirt and grinding back the surface rust areas. I then cleaned and treated the rust with rust converter, and painted with Hammerite undereal. I decided to underseal the sills as I wanted them to be protected from corrosion when they are under the side skirts I'm going to fit. So far I've done one side of the car, I have to do the other side over the next several days.
I've had the tyres removed from my lattice rims, it cost £1.50 per tyre at my local tyre and exhaust place. I've also removed the balancing weight, they were on the fronts of the rims, I'll have tyre crowd fit them fitted behind the front faces when the wheels are rebalanced. The dishes are lacquered so I'm going try using paint stripper to get it off before polishing them. Not sure whether to get the spokes shot blasted as with so many spoke they be difficult and time consuming to sand down.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


I've not done much on the Sov recently as there's been some work to do my my daily driver Golf. One thing I have done is remove the lattice wheels as I'm preparing to have the tyres pulled off so I can then refurb them. I've replaced them with the five spokes for now as they have better tyres.

Looking over the body there are some rough areas that require new paint. As can be seen in my previous blog pictures the paint condition isn't too bad overall, quite presentable, it's had some attention in the past. The worst area is the roof, this is starting to look very shabby now as can be seen in the top picture, the lacquer is peeling off in places. I plan to have a bodyshop repaint the roof for me.

The second worst area is the drivers side front wing, again the lacquer has worn and it could do with being repainted. I'm planning to paint this and some other smaller areas myself, I've purchased some Tungsten paint for this already.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Sovereign on lattice wheels

I've put the newly purchsed lattice wheels on the car to see how she looks and drives on them. These wheels are clearly of a higher quality to certain other XJ40 wheel types. They were produced for Jaguar by BBS and are of a forged aluminium construction rather than simply cast which makes them stronger and lighter. There's no corrosion on them either so seem so fair better than other types in that regard.

My first impression was the proportions are nice, the 16" rim is a sensible size and the 55 profile tyres are a much better fit than the 60's on my car. The top of the tyres sit about level with the wheel arch rather than disappearing up inside so have superior clearance. In terms of the looks the lattice design is more delicate and dainty than the muscular five spokes, I think they have a refined appearance which works well on a Jag. They have a good retro appeal which suits what I'm trying to achieve with the car at the moment.

The car drives well on them, it accelerates a little better due to the smaller rolling diameter of the tyres and thus reduced gearing. The 55 tyres still give a decent ride whilest the 8" width gives ample grip for high speed cornering.

I plan to get the tyres removed and perform a DIY refurb. I'll pull off the unsightly wheel balance weights on the front of the rims and have them placed inside the drum of the wheels when they are rebalnced. I'm thinking of going for darker painted spoke, perhaps a gunmetal hue, with the dishes will be repolished. I'll put the five spokes back on while the refurb is being done.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

New air filter and engine bay condition

I changed the air filter over at the weekend. I bought the car with a cone type aftermarket filter having been installed, on inspection it seems to be a cheapo ebay item. I'm not sure how long it had been on the car, it seemed to have collected quite a bit of dust and dirt which would suggest it's done quite a few miles.

I decided to replace this with a standard 4.0L airbox that I had in the shed, containing a used but decent panel filter element. The cone filter gave a louder induction noise but if anything the car seems to me to have more mid-range power with the standard airbox.

As can be seen from the below picture the engine bay is pretty filthy, I plan to start getting it cleaned up. On the plus side it all seems to be working in there and there's no real rust to speak of. It seems to have seen a liberal use of waxoil on the bulkhead and inner wings which has collected a lot of dirt. I'm planning to refurb a cam cover to replace the one on the engine presently, I've also got a much better chrome exhaust manifold shield to go on.

Monday, 16 April 2012

New wheels

The wheel situation has developed over the last few weeks. Firstly, I've now sold the Jaguarsport XJR wheels. I did like the style of them but they were ready for a refurb really, the front faces had been repainted at some point and still looked good but corrosion was bubbling up behind the scenes. To add to that the tyres were pretty much finished. I thought about hanging on to them in case I fancied using them in the future but decided to move them on.

I was left with the five spokes on the car. I really like the sporty look of these wheels, one downer though with the set I have is that they have 60
profile tyres which are excessively large with my car being lowered, I could do with putting 50's on at some point. I had the 18's with 40 profiles on the car previously and found these didn't give very good handling or ride. I think the best combination on a Forty and for my car is a 16" rim with a 50 or 55 profile tyre.

I was hunting for a new set of wheels and came across this quite rare set of five 16x8" lattice wheels at the right price. They've a very period style which I like, quite a sporty but classy choice I feel. Overall I pleased with the condition for the price, the main think is there's no corrosion on
them. One wheel has a slightly bent rim and tyre doesn't hold pressure, I hope to bash it back into shape. All the tyre have 1 or 2 mm's of tread left so I'll be able to give them a spin before new tyres are required at least.

The wheels were dirty so with the help of my lovely assistant I gave them a really good clean. The condition is very usable though I plan to refurb them down the line when the tyres run out. The spokes are silver, I'm thinking of going for a darker gunmetal colour. The centres and dishes would look great repolished.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Oil change

I completed an oil change on the car yesterday. I'd previously bought an OE oil filter from ebay for a fiver and some 10W40 semi-synth from Asda, the cheapest I could find (see picture from previous post). The AJ6 takes 8 litres of the stuff so I got two 5 litre bottles.

A range of viscosities are acceptable in the AJ6 engine, 10W40 is a fairly middle of the road thickness. Some specialists recommend a thicker grade, apparently Jaguar themselves recommended 20W50 for engines with above 100k miles. I've used a thicker grade in the past but thought it probably wasn't necessary this time. The gauge on the dash shows strong oil presure and there
doesn't seem to be evidence of blue smoke or heavy oil consumption, the engine seems healthy enough. Worn engines will befit from thicker oil.

Before I could get started I found that I had a curious problem, I didn't have a socket that would fit the sump plug. Every documented reference to AJ6 oil changes stated that the sump plug is 30mm but I couldn't get a 32mm socket on mine, the largest I had! I proceeded to measure the plug with a vernier caliper, it showed it to be just under 33mm (see top picture). Once I'd nipped out to buy this size socket I was able to get on with dropping the oil.

While the oil was draining I replaced the oil filter. It's located under the inlet manifold on the near side of the engine, not the most accessable position. I find the best way to get in there is to get the car on stands and removed the near side wheel, you can then reach through the wheel arch around the front subframe and get a strap wrench on the filter to spin it off.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Uprated dampers and thicker roll bar fitment

So, I've finally got around to my planned front suspension upgrades. These were the dampers from a 4.0S and the anti-roll bar from an X300 XJR, plus new drop links and bushes. The thought is that these new parts should tighten up the suspension and improve handling without adversely affecting the ride.

Fitment of these parts is very straight forward. The damper is secured with a nut and bolt through a bush in the lower wishbone assembly and fixed at the top to the inner wing with a bush either side. The above picture shows these new yellow coloured upper bushes, they are sandwiched in and held by a 17mm nut accessed from the engine bay. The old ones didn't actually look too bad but were passed there best. When these bushes fail
the result can be a knocking sound as the top of the damper rattles on the inner wing. As the damper limits the travel of the front suspension it is a good idea to place a jack or stand under the spring pan to prevent the wishbone dropping and the spring potentially popping out.

The other new part to fit was the thicker roll bar, this will reduce the amount of body roll in cornering. Again, this is a cheap and simple to install upgrade, the part cost £20 from ebay. The bar is held to the subframe with two brackets that fit over "D" shaped bushes, these each secured with a 13mm bolt at the top and and a 13mm nut and bolt at the bottom. The bar also attaches to the lower wishbones via a drop link, basically
a short bar with a bush at either end. A bit a soak with some penatrating oil before starting work helps to get old nuts and bolts moving.

Initial impressions are that these changes have made a very good improvement to the handling, the ride also seems better too. The old dampers seemed well passed their best and didn't do a great job of controlling a lowering springs leading to the ride being somewhat "bouncy". When really pushing on hard in cornering they seems to be a slight movement of the subframe to body so new vee mounts will probably be the next new front suspension parts required.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Chassis modifications

I'm looking to continue the chassis develop -ments over the coming weeks. My aim to modify the car beyond standard but retain something of an OEM theme, to create a sort of XJR plus or XJR-R to use a Jaguar naming convention. The ultimate aim is to significantly up the engine power at some point, possibly with an X300 XJR supercharged AJ16 engine, so I want to make the corresponding chassis improvements before hand.

The next developments on the suspension front will be to fit stiffer front dampers and a thicker anti-roll bar. The car currently has standard Sovereign dampers which are soft, I've an uprated pair from my previous 4.0L Sport variant. I've also a thicker anti-roll bar from an X300 XJR along with new D bushes and droplinks to fit. I've been doing some hard driving recently and the car does handle much better with the lowering springs fitted, these additional modifications should improve things further.

The brakes are another area that I'll be turning my attention to. They do seem to be working reasonably well though I am getting a “low brake pressure” warning from the digi-dash indicating the system is not in optimal condition. The '86-'89 XJ40's have a complex hydraulic brake system which although very good when in fine fettle has proved to have unreliabilities. The pressure accumulator sphere has a nitrogen filled rubber sack inside which leaks and loses it's ability to hold pressure over time, I suspect this part is failing on my car. There are other parts which can be unreliable too, so one solution to bin off the standard hydraulic systems and replace it with a conventional vacuum servo. There is an American outfit which produces a kit of parts to enable an '86-'89 car to be converted, I'm planning to go for this as it promises to be more reliable and improve efficiency and pedal feel too.

Also on the braking front I have the braided hoses to fit, I'll take the opportunity to change the brake fluid for something decent. I'm also on the look out for some drilled/vent front discs too.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Fitting a bodykit

As mentioned in my plans for 2012 post, I'm going to be fitting a bodykit to the Sovereign manual. The purpose of a bodykit is to aid the aerodynamics, by allowing less airflow under the car to thus improving downforce and hence cornering speed. The effect of this aero is probably fairly marginal on a road car, the main reason I'm fitting the 'kit is to give a more sporting and purposeful appearance. I have both the XJ40 XJR bodykits, the TWR design fitted to the series 1 XJR and the Jaguarsport design fitted to the series 2 XJR. Aftermarket bodykits can look naff and over the top but both these 'kits are Jaguar sanctioned parts and in my opinion relatively tasteful OEM type additions.

I've been thinking about which parts to fit and have now made a decision. Initially I will fit the TWR side skirts, followed by the Jaguarsport rear quarter spats, the look of these should work well with the standard body colour painted front spoiler already on the car and the standard bumpers. These parts should be fairly quick and easy to get prepped, painted and on the car, and as a following addition I will add the Jaguarsport front spoiler fitted with the Lucas fog lamps I have (these parts are pictured together). The other piece shown fits under the bootlid over the top of the rear bumper.

Down the line I'd like to fit the TWR front and rear bumpers (see lower picture), these need quite a bit of repair work with replacement fibreglass and filler as they have cracks and small areas of damage as can be seen. Another idea I have is to fit the chrome bumper blades to the body colour TWR bumpers to give a similar look to the Chasseur modified XJ40's. Before fitting any of these parts I'll be ensuring that all rust areas, namely to the sills, will be properly treated before covering them over.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Rear end improvements

I decided to sort a couple of areas at the rear of the car today. The first part the got my attention was the number plate, this had been attached with just adhesive pads to the chrome surround and had started to make a bid for freedom. I bought a new set of front and rear plates in the week as the ones on the car were just starting to get a little tatty, £8 from ebay. I decided to fix them on properly with screws starting with the rear.

The next part I turned my attention to was the rear lamp cluster surround trims. As standard the Sovereign had chrome surrounds, the previous owner had painted them body colour along with a
number of other parts, to try and modernise the look of the car I think. I've decided I prefer the traditional Jaguar chrome look and want that for the car so found a couple of spare chrome surrounds in the shed and fitted them. They brighten things up nicely.

They are very easy to fit and can be added to any XJ40 that doesn't already have them. I removed the four screws that secure each lamp cluster to the body and popped them out to make fitting easier. The two nearest the wing aren't as easy to remove but can be done by reaching in a spanner. The outer sides of the surrounds have two tabs that clip around the edge of the lens, the inner side has two larger tabs that must be folded around the inner edge of the lens to hold the surround in place.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Things to do in 2012

Now we're into the new year I've been having a think about what work needs doing and how I want to progress the car. I've come up with a list of items that'll start to get through soon, I'll be able to really crack on once it starts getting lighter in the evenings.

Interior: I'm pleased with my successful black interior fitment last year, I think it looks great. There are a number of relatively minor items that need either finishing off or fixing. The passenger side rear speaker isn't working, it's a new speaker so it should just be a bad wire connection. The drivers side window doesn't work, I'm sure the switch and wiring is okay so I suspect the motor's packed up. The headlining had obviously dropped and has been glued bad up by the previous owner, it looks grotty could do with replacing with a decent one, though it's a job that's on the backburner somewhat.

Exterior: The paint is very good overall but the laquer is going through on the roof so could do with a re-spray. There some bubbling up of paint around the ends of the sills and rear arches where rust is attacking, I'll grind this back and repaint before things get worse. I've the bodykit parts to fit, I'll start with fitting the TWR side skirts once I've got them painted and the afore mentioned rust is treated.

Chassis: The car is riding well on the lowering springs but the suspension could do with some further development. For the front I've got the polybushed upper wishbones to go on, some sport dampers and the X300 XJR anti-roll bar so that should tighten things up further. On the brakes front I want to get the braided hoses on and replace the fluid. I'd like to refurb the Jaguarsport wheel though I'm still on the look out for a set of 17's or 18's that'll suit the car.

Engine: The engine's running quite well now though does still seem to be a little hessitant at low rev's particularly so I'll continue to investigate. I've got the Jaguarsport inlet manifold so might try swapping that on. I'll be giving the engine bay a damn good clean as it's filthy!

That's by no means an exhaustive list of the jobs that need doing but it should keep me busy for a good while.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Exterior pictures

Here's some exterior pictures of the car. It's riding on the five spoke wheels again as one of the tyres on the Jaguarsport wheels has a slow puncture. As all the tyres on the Jagsport rims as more or less finished I'm thinking of refurbing them before fitting a set of four fresh tyres.

Completed interior swap

I've finally got the interior swap finished off recently, the drivers seat is now installed. I'm very pleased with how the it's all looking, the condition of this black interior is much better than the doeskin and I prefer it aesthetically. Now it's done I took the opportunity to take some pictures in a setting that wasn't the street outside the house, the local woods.