on the run: XJS breaks cover…

xjsThree years ago, my beautiful lilac Insignia XJS started running badly. With 93,000 miles on the clock it shouldn’t have been giving any trouble – the Jaguar AJ6 engine is capable of mega mileages when carefully fettled – so I was distinctly non-plussed. Naturally I tried all the usual things, like new plugs, leads, distributor cap, etc., but to no avail. Then there was the usual trick you try on ageing, rough-running Jags that don’t get much use – stick half a tank full of Super Unleaded in and give it a thrash. Sadly this drew another blank so I bowed to the inevitable and took it to a garage…

A compression test showed one cylinder was down badly, alas. Then life got in the way, with a new house purchase and later a new job. The poor old thing languished outside my house unloved, unused and unstarted for well over a year – including those really harsh winters of 2009 and 2010. Then I managed to get it into covered storage in a nearby barn, and that’s the last I saw of it for another eighteen months. Just recently, I managed to get back to the car. Now covered in dust and with tumbleweed growing all around, this once beautiful machine looked like something from a post-apocalypse nightmare vision of the future!

The battery went on charge for two days, some new fuel was dropped in and she started – admittedly after expelling vast amounts of noxious smoke. Of course, the car was still running on only five cylinders, so I decided to bite the bullet and get it fixed. Suspecting the repair bill could be thousands of pounds, I am bracing myself. The car is off to DesignXKR in Andover, where its cylinder head will be removed and its errant bits(s) repaired. A valve could have stuck, or been holed, or a spring gone – or if I’m lucky it could just be the head gasket. Once this is fixed, it will need the mother of all decokes, and a timing chain tensioner fitted while the head’s off. Factor in lots of new gaskets, new coolant and oil, and hopefully it will be back running right by the end of this month.

At the same time, the car has an old LPG kit fitted, which I am having removed – thus restoring the car to its rightful role as a sporting grand tourer rather than sandle-wearing commuter hack! It also needs the usual XJS inner wing welding to get it through a new MOT, something it hasn’t had for some five years. Fingers crossed, here’s hoping it’s back on the road soon…

UPDATE: August 2013
After one new headgasket, six new injectors and miscellaneous induction hoses, plus some remaking of the engine earth points, the beast is running smoothly again. LPG kit removed, and it’s now in for its MOT…

UPDATE: September 2013
MOT passed, although it needed a lot of work. Car now running and driving fairly well but it hasn’t been driven properly for three or so years, so it needs a good blast and another oil change soon. Still, it is great to get this striking car back on the road, there’s nothing like a classic Jag for a real sense of occasion!

UPDATE: March 2014
Those cars which the gods wish to destroy, they first make quarter century old Jags! With 1,000 miles under its belt since the rebuild, the car is getting better. New track rod ends, anti-roll bar bushes and some serious jaunts into London town and back have begun to improve it. A new oxygen sensor improved the idle quality and the fuel consumption, and even gave the engine a more sporty note, oddly. But then again, other parts are now falling off – like much of the exhaust, which has already been welded more than an iron bridge, but is sadly less structurally sound. A full stainless sports system is now urgent, before I leave large amounts of old rusty metal on the road the next time I go over a pothole. Just need to put my hands on £800!

 

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