[xj-s] Trip report (longish)

Well, I finally trust my XJ-S. After the long fire rebuild, the overheating
problem, the thump in the rear, the Marelli rotor burn through, and assorted
other niggling fixes, I wasn’t sure I would ever trust the car to take me
long distances from home. That’s all behind me now (knock burled elm).
The reason for this newfound trust? I had to abruptly drive from
Minneapolis to Springfield, Missouri yesterday. First I was going to fly,
but the cheapest roundtrip fare I could find was $862. I then had intended
to drive my Buick, but the damn thing wouldn’t start. So, hop in the XJ-S,
and off to Springfield (600 miles). It was a beautiful Friday evening, I had
my trusty radar detector, and a sort of no-cop-sixth-sense feeling about the
trip, so upon hitting the freeway and getting safely south of town, I
cranked it up to 90 mph. The air conditioning still isn’t working, so
windows down, wind in the face, Steely Dan shaking the doors, I held 90 most
of the way to Des Moines. First fuel stop, and imagine my surprise at 18 mpg.
I continued on at 90 mph to Kansas City, more fuel, and then on to the
Missouri back highways. I had just installed a new throttle cable to fix the
seized tranny kickdown assembly, and passing cars on those 2 lane highways
was just a dream. The XJ-S might be a wimp at the stoplight, but I’ve never
driven a car that hunches down and screams in passing maneuvers like the
XJ-S. Several times passing multiple cars I found myself doing 110 mph
before I knew it.
4 am in Springfield (I got there a bit quicker than I anticipated!), and
my appointment isn’t til 8 am, so a small nap in the car. OK, here’s a small
problem with the XJ-S: you ever try to sleep in one? I’m 6’2", and with the
seat moved back far enough so my legs are semi comfortable, the seat-back
won’t recline more than about 30 degrees. Also, no adjustable head rest, so
my head flops back most uncomfortably. Maybe 2 hours sleep, and a stiff neck
to show for it. One point for the Buick. Ah well. I suppose a REAL gentleman
XJ-S owner would get a hotel room for 4 hours.
2 hours for my appointment (OK, you dragged it out of me. I was looking at
a second Lotus Esprit to mate with the one I already have to make a whole
Lotus out of. Yes, I know, but it’s still a British car, right?), and I’m
back on the road for home. More two lane passing ( Gawd, this is fun! ) on
highway 13, a beautiful drive that starts out at 70 mph with long twisting
sweepers, and then straightens out to cross Truman lake. I’m not sure what
the deal is with Truman Lake, but it goes on for miles and miles. You cross
part of it, then its gone for a while, then you cross it again, and again,
and again. Gorgeous scenery, plus a big wave at a black XJ-S going the other
Just before the stop in Clinton for fuel, and I get a small scare from the
car. At a stop light, it dies. Then refiring, start to accelerate, and it
cuts out a couple times before pulling strongly again. I attribute the
problem to fuel vaporization. The previous night wasn’t a problem, but now I
can hear the fuel pump making noise. No A/C, and in the heat of the day, all
that fuel recirculating back to the tank is not getting cooled, so it gets
warmer and warmer in the tank. No problem. Fill the tank with nice cool
fuel, and the pump quits making noise. Every fuel stop after that, I could
hear the pump getting noisy, and then quiet again with new fuel, but it
didn’t vapor lock for the rest of the trip.
Back into Kansas City, and back up to 90 mph for the rest of the ride. A
small nap in Des Moines, and nary a cough for the rest of the day. Pull into
the driveway almost exactly 24 hours after I left. 4 hours of nap, 2 hours
of assorted fuel, food, and rest stops, 2 hours buying another Lotus, and
1200 miles for the rest. During the trip I was passed just 6 times ( 2
BMW’s, 1 Mercedes, 1 Corvette, 1 Chevy Suburban, and one crazy teenage girl
in a Hyundai), and I got more head turns, and more ‘Nice Car’ comments than
I could count. All in all a great trip.
Now you’re all going to think I’m a complete Loon (actually, I am. The
Lotus Owners Of the North club members are known as LOONs), but yes, the car
is still for sale (I gotta finance that Lotus somehow). So if you or someone
you know is looking for a swell Jaguar, let me know.

Keen Young
90 XJ-S Rouge
91 Esprit Turbo SE
90 Esprit Turbo SE