Hi and thanks for being made to feel so welcome already. My name is Malcolm (prefer Malc or Mal). The XJ-S has always been one of my favourite cars, being launched when I was a kid. I actually remember it before the E-Type. I think my first memory of one was in the 1976 TV series “The New Avengers” which featured a red automatic XJ-S…
I have always been a car nut with a fondness for American cars, despite living in the UK. I have been lucky and proud to own the following: 1978 400 Trans Am (black with T-Top), 1971 455HO Trans Am (mad car), 1984 Corvette, 1993 Corvette, 1996 LT-4 manual Corvette, 1990 Callaway Corvette Twin Turbo 6-speed manual, 2005 Mustang GT, 2007 Shelby GT500, 2013 Shelby GT500 (662hp and 202mph from the factory, thanks Ford). All these now sold as I only generally have one car at a time.
I’ll give you some Jaguar background: after wanting an XJ-S I finally bought my first one, a 1985 V12 in Antelope metallic with an ultra-rare steel sunroof. Awesome car, absolutely loved it, sold it because I had no money…This was about 25 years ago. A few years later I bought a metallic dark blue 1989 V12 which I had for a little while. After that it was Corvettes and Mustangs for a few years…
Here’s an amusing anecdote: After my 71 Trans Am I decided I wanted an XJ-S. One of the first I looked at was an absolute beauty - a metallic red Pre HE owned by 2 brothers in North London. The folder of repairs and service history was about 10 inches thick. I couldn’t take it all in. I saw “subframe” mentioned as a repair item and I was overcome. I made my excuses and left. I just didn’t have a clue what I was looking at. I needed to lie down and was too scared to look at one again for a long while. My instincts told me that was an excellent car and I wished I had bought it but I think that, with where my mechanical knowledge was then, I wouldn’t have had a prayer regarding looking after it. Several years on I’ve done all my own work on cars and have learned loads. Having said that in 3 months of stripping my current car I may have learned a lot more.
So last year, after 3 1/2 years of owning Ford’s stonking GT500 I decided to sell it as my priorities in life were different. I also wanted an older car and something I could improve and really wanted another Jaguar. An XJ-S was probably favourite but an early Series 1 or 2 XJ6 or 12, especially a coupe was also shortlisted.
I only looked at one Series 2 XJ6. It was very overpriced. I started to look at XJ-S coupes. I saw two horrors: one 1981 very early HE was almost the most rotten car I had ever seen. It had a sunroof too which probably was why it was so wet inside…
Amazingly I chanced on an ad for a 76 that had just been imported from New Zealand. The seller said his circumstances had changed which sounded like a story but I went and had a look, then a second look with a bodywork expert and a test drive. It drove ok and a deal was done.
It managed the 35 mile drive home but was getting less healthy as I got closer to home. When I got home I got it in the garage and here it is. Although it ran nice on the test drive which was a good 6 or 8 miles, it didn’t run so nice on a longer trip. TBH none of that matters now. When I thought about it I realised there wasn’t much point replacing odd bits on a 44 year-old car. I may as well go through it totally which is what I’m doing now. I looked at what a task it would be to detail the engine bay and replace every perishable and service item. The paint underhood was scruffy. One side blew a little white smoke. I thought I’d pull the engine: big hassle now for less hassle later. I’m glad I did as I have now stiripped the bay completely. And I mean completely.
I also removed the front subframe and steering rack. These are easy and cheap to rebuild when the car is stripped this much. The car had obviously been waxoyled and the only rust in the front of the car was under the heatshield under the washer bottle. I’ve cut that out and welded a small plate in. The rest of the car is excellent. Only the floor has some pinholes and some localized rust in one rear wing. The paint overall is micro-blistered but if all goes well the icing on the cake, after all else is done, will be stripping and painting he body. I’ll deal with other stuff later. Each part of the car will be a project in itself and each component will be its’ own mini-project. I don’t want to get overwhelmed like when I saw that Pre HE for sale years ago.
So now I’m working on rebuilding or refreshing each component in the engine bay. More posts will follow as I’ve done quite a lot already and there’s a long long way to go.