In last week’s Project XJ6, I scored what seemed to be a honey of a deal on a vintage Jaguar. This week, we’ll get it into the garage and figure out whether it’s a worthy cat… or a dirty dog.
(How about that? Three Brits in one day… what a coincidence!)
It was long after dark when we arrived home with the Jag in tow. As such, I decided to leave it on the trailer until morning.
That turned out to be a good decision. Two of the tires had gone flat before we’d even left the seller’s driveway, and the other two had managed to lose all their air during the trip home. Who wants to deal with flat tires in the dark, when the temp is below zero, no less? Not I.
The two (relatively) slow leakers would be okay to leave on for the time being. But the other two were losing air almost as quickly as I could add it. That wouldn’t do.
So I began to scan the contents of my tire rack. Hmm… what could I use as temporary replacements?
It didn’t take long to come up with a solution. See, Jaguars use a 5×4.75″ bolt pattern for their wheels, the same as many older GM cars. These steelies, pulled from an early eighties LeSabre, had such a pattern. A perfect match, right?
Wrong! The bolt pattern may be the same, but the hub size on a Jag is considerably larger. As a result, some filing of the wheels’ center holes was necessary to make them fit. Even having done that, I still erred on the side of caution by not torquing them on – the lug nuts were merely “snugged”, which was perfectly acceptable for a car that would only be moving a matter of several feet.
The larger-than-stock tires also presented a potential clearance issue. Having only 1/4″ of space between rubber and wheelwell was acceptable for pushing the car around the garage, but attempting to go down the road like that would be be another story.
After a quick bucket wash, it was time to begin looking it over.
Overall, everything looked pretty decent – no major surprises. While in the warmth of the garage, I even found that all four windows and the sunroof all operated without issue. The only electrical issues I noticed were a couple of burned-out indicator bulbs, and the inoperable power antenna.
Of course, the shiny brown paint made it difficult to see where the rust was. It’s got the typical bubbling at the lower corners of the windshield…
…and some at the left bottom corner of the rear glass…
…along with some minor development around the rear wheelwells…
…and a bit in the rockers (though it’s difficult to photograph).
There are also some clearcoat issues, as you can see here.
Interestingly enough, the seller’s story about the original owner has so far checked out. He was supposedly a doctor in the city of St. Cloud, which explains this St. Cloud Hospital parking sticker. The Carfax also shows him being the car’s first owner–buying it with single-digit miles on the clock, keeping it registered until 1999, and selling it to my guy in 2010.
The engine bay wasn’t exactly clean, but it was at least free of rodent infestation and any obvious shadetree repairs. I topped off the fluids (all of which looked clean and not terribly old), put in a fresh battery, and attempted to start it.
After a combined 30 seconds of cranking, all I’d managed to achieve were a few quick “pops”. A bit of ether was applied, but to no avail. I was beginning to get a bit upset. This engine supposedly purred just a few months ago–had the seller stuck me with a pig after all?
Having verified that there was indeed spark, I tried spritzing a bit of raw gas down the intake. Finally, the motor ran (if only momentarily). So it was a fuel system problem. What could it be… clogged lines, old filter, bad pickup, shot pump, or even that multi-tank plumbing monstrosity?
Before starting in on the usual fuel system regimen, I decided to perform one more test.
Sure enough – despite the gauge reading 1/4 full, the tank was almost completely dry. I added a couple gallons of fresh gas, and the engine roared to life.
Of course, there was still the issue of the severed exhaust pipe, and it was idling very high (likely due to a cracked vacuum hose somewhere – there were plenty of suspects). But it was running, and it sounded healthy. One major step in the right direction!
Now that it was running, I could finally attempt to move it under its own power.
Taking it several hundred feet out of the garage and into the parking lot was hardly a test drive, but it did allow me to prove that the transmission and brakes were at least somewhat functional. It also allowed me to take a bunch of pictures of the car, all clean and shiny–including the one which was used in this series’ introduction.
But it wasn’t long before I hit my first snag. I let the car idle for several minutes while I took pictures of it from various angles. The fact that it was running the whole time was completely intentional; I wanted to make sure it came up to temp and stayed there, among other things. But upon attempting to return to the garage, I found that the transmission didn’t want to engage.
Uh-oh! Up went the hood, and out came the dipstick.
I’d brought the fluid level up to the full mark while idling in the garage. But after running for a while longer, it was plain to see that it needed more–apparently 30 seconds of run-time hadn’t been enough to get fluid pumped everywhere it needed to go. So I ran back to the garage, grabbed some fluid, and once again brought it to the full mark. Normal transmission behavior resumed immediately after, with (seemingly, hopefully) no harm done.
So the Jag can start, run, and move. Great! But there are still many things left to check, things that I can’t determine without actually driving it down the road. And there’s no way I’m leaving the driveway with with those Buick wheels on back. Guess that means it’s time to mount up some tires!
In the next installment of Project XJ6, we’ll find out just how tricky it is to remove tires from Kent rims. Tune in next week–same cat time, same cat channel!
Keith, I have to say, I really look forward each week to the next installment of your series and I can’t wait to hear what happened!
+1 I can’t wait for the next one.
Same here. Is twice a week possible?
I’d try, but that probably *would* kill me! There’s only so much you can get done in your free time, especially when there’s always umpteen other things going on.
Of course I’d love to be driving it tomorrow – but unlike the TV shows, I can’t go home and let my staff of mechanics finish up for me.
In fact, there may come a time when the article will have to take a week off as I wait for parts or some such. (The articles are currently trailing a couple weeks behind reality, but that buffer could quickly disappear if things go sideways.)
So, yeah. Slow and steady is the name of the game on this one.
Yes, I’m loving this series.
Your photo of the car in side profile really shows off its lines… they’re almost perfect. I’m looking forward to seeing it again with the right rims.
“Runs and drives”
Of course it runs British cars usually do, I brought my Minx home after it sat 10 years or so put a tin of gas in the vacant heater receptacle hooked up a battery and it roared into life no problem a little tappety but a runner, its just done 18 months driving on that motor too the original matching numbers engine block now its knocking and blowing oil out the seams so its been replaced with a used Superminx 1600, runs like a dream and starts first swing of the crankhandle.
Only two episodes in and I am hooked on this feline adventure. I guess it’s true on Jaguars as well as on old Mopars – getting acquainted with the eccentricities of the fuel gauge must be done very early in the relationship.
Cool! I love this project. That’s one of the best looking cars ever made, I’m jealous.
CC has…. a JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaag.
Great series! Nothing like seeing old European cars alive (and well?) in the depths of a Minnesota winter! yur der tootin’!
On this weeks episode of CC Myth Busters: Jaguar XJ6…
I’m loving this project.
“WE FIX COMPUTERS.”
Commercial Real Estate Agent: So what do you do?
Keith: Fix computers.
C.R.E.A: What are you looking for in a shop?
Keith: A BIG garage! Enough room for several cars in various states of dismemberment!
CREA: For a *computer* repair shop? Okay…
At the time, the realtor wasn’t too surprised when I included square feet of shop space in my requirements. They’d already seen the “fleet” around town, not to mention the things I myself drove.
It also surprised no one when I moved in, bringing with me a complete office operation, all my inventory, the shop trucks… and about six unrelated personal vehicles. (The backlot is fenced and surrounded by pine trees, so I can keep as many wrecks, projects, and runners as I wish without bothering anyone.)
Officially it’s warehouse space / room for working on the company trucks. But since I own the place, there’s nothing to stop me from wrenching on a Jaaaaaaaag in there 🙂
Moving day. Most of them had arrived by that time 😉
Absent from the picture: the rollback, and the GPs (the former was loading the latter at the time)
I admire the guts it takes to tackle a British car – much less one in the Minnesota winter.
The XJ6 is a beautiful car and the period correct color is quite attractive too. I can remember seeing these cars frequently on the streets of north London in the ’80s and I had a friend in Atlanta who had a medium blue one back then too. The air never worked – a problem in a north Georgia summer.
The car was even more attractive when sold as the coupe version but this sedan will turn out great and I hope the owner has a lot of fun with it.
The pace of your project is actually kind of nice and relaxed. It’s a hobby, life is busy. Enjoy it. The discovery process and resulting strategy is half the fun.
Don’t believe I’ve commented on this series yet, but I’m enjoying it very much. Like many on here I’ve fantasized about doing what you’re doing, but lack both the bucks and the mechanical know-how to take on a mission as fraught with peril as Project XJ6. It’s great that Jag-lovers like me get to live vicariously as you play veterinarian to this Coventry Cat.
Which is, I guess, a polite way of saying “Sooner you than me, mate!” 🙂
I haven’t commented on the series yet either, but I’m really enjoying it too! I grew up with Jags in my life, as Dad was a BL dealer mechanic and my late Uncle had three Jags, a new SI XJ6 (custard yellow), a new SII XJ6 (same colour as your, the only other brown one I’ve seen) and an XJS-HE (eye-searing yellow).
The SIII is easily the best looking, and still one of the very best looking cars ever – Pininfarina’s update perfected the original. I’m surprised those Buick steelies work on it, but they do – which must be a credit to the inherent perfection of the body design
Really looking forward to reading more on the Resurrection of the Beast!
“I added a couple gallons of fresh gas, and the engine roared to life.” Very good to hear Keith. That’s a nice looking engine compartment compared to what a rat’s nest the V12s were. Looks nicer than a Benz or BMW under the hood, I think it will clean up nicely.
Rust seems minor. Hopefully the paint is good enough that you can repair the small rust areas and blend in the paint. You can also take care of the areas with peeling clearcoat unless it’s coming off everywhere.
Does the interior still have a good leather smell? For rejuvenating the leather I highly recommend Leatherique. Works best with non-coated leather, like your Jag has.
The big bumpers never bothered me on the Jag sedans and this model is no exception. The wrap around rear bumper is especially nice. Both bumpers are in fine shape.
Man, I love that brown. This car is looking Jaaaaaaaaaaaagulicious.
This is great! I can’t wait for the next installment. It will also be a nice lesson to those readers who are planning something similar. Seeing you go through all the steps might just clue someone in on how much work this can be.
I’m looking forward to see a beautifully running cat before long.
Keep your steady pace with the articles and don’t rush. This is f@#$%& good stuff.
Great series and I look foward to more tales of “Taming of the Cat”…
Looking great–I await the next installment!