COAL Update: The Cat Is On The Loose

A couple of months ago, I posted about digging the 1988 Jaguar XJ-SC out of a relative’s garage.

I bought it on eBay in 2012 (for $2,225.00, I found the receipt), and frankly hadn’t done much with it for a variety of reasons. The brakes were somewhat weak and the horn didn’t work when I bought it, so I didn’t want to drive it too much. I wanted to keep it inside, so it went into a relative’s unused garage about an hour away.

The rest of the story is pretty predictable. It was out of the way, it was inside and safe, and it was just far enough away that checking on it or starting it regularly was an inconvenience.

I replaced the master cylinder myself along the way, but that only improved the braking somewhat. Fast forward to 2018, and my youngest turned 16. He started asking about the Jag, and he wanted to get it out, get it cleaned up, and get it on the road.

So, a couple of months ago, it took a ride on a rollback to a local mom and pop tire shop that was willing to work on it.

After they got it in the shop and tore into it, the list of needed parts was: front and rear calipers, front and rear pads, front rotors, front bearings, and of course a thorough brake flush once this was all done. The Pirelli tires looked new, but were almost 15 years old. For safety’s sake, we mounted a set of new Michelin Defenders.

All told, the labor bill was about $1,000.00 and the parts and tires about another $800.00. Plus, a new battery, drain and refill the coolant, etc. So, we invested as much as we paid for the car to begin with, but it was pronounced road-worthy. It’s probably worth $10,000.00 on a good day, so we haven’t lost money.

Once we got it to our house, of course a good bath and several coats of wax were in order.

To get a tag, we needed to pass inspection. The horn had never worked, so we set out to fix that. Fortunately, there was simply a broken wire connection at the horn itself. Once we got the horn working, the next issue was that the headlight switched was seized “off”. I removed it, cleaned it with electronic cleaner, and greased it with dielectric grease. It still would barely turn for reasons that will remain a mystery to me. I found one eBay from a Jaguar breaker yard for $50 that plugged right up, and voila, all the lights worked fine.

We have driven about 250 miles lately and everything, knock on wood, seems fine. It’s too cold to try the A/C and I assume it needs conversion and charging anyway. But the automatic climate control comes on and heats the car just fine, and responds to the controls like it is supposed to. The cruise doesn’t work, but that’s it. Wipers, hazards, power windows, power mirrors, power lumbar, stereo, power antenna, and heated front seats all work fine.

The transmission is a GM THM400, so it will outlast the rest of the car. The fluid is clean and it shifts smooth as silk.

The engine runs well, with no smoke and smooth acceleration. It had a lumpy idle when cold and always took 2 or 3 tries to start when cold. I replaced the ignition coil and fuel filter, which were factory originals according to their date stamps. I reasoned they were cheap, easy places to start, even if it brought no relief. That cured it! One or the other, or both, must have been the cause. It starts the first try when cold, and idles smooth as glass now.

I have new ignition wires, cap and rotor too, but that’s a more involved project that involves removing a number of items for access. At least the plugs are up top, in the “V”. Maybe I’ll let sleeping dogs lie for now.

We got out last weekend and got these pictures around town on a dry, unseasonably warm day.

When warmer weather comes, I have some dye from the UK for the cloth top. You can see the removable rear hardtop (from another car) has been out of the weather more than the T-tops, which are more bleached. And while it shows well, there’s more detailing to be done on the wheels and along the hard to reach bits like the rockers. There’s some dings here and there, which I’d like to get a paintless dent removal person to work on.

But for now, we just enjoy having her back home.