Thought i'd make a post finally after being a background member for a couple of years. Apologies for this being a huge post but you'll see why if you read to the bottom.
I'm 25 from the northeast in the UK, and i've always wanted an XJ40 since i was a kid. I must've been about 6 or 7 when i got a matchbox 1:64 '40 and i've loved it ever since. I've ridden motorcycles, mainly old ones, since i turned 17, and a couple of years ago i finally got around to doing my car test. Then i started looking for a car. Now i'm the sort of person who loves riding bikes so much that i don't really care what its like weatherwise, i'll still ride, so the car needed to be something i actually wanted to drive. Not just a corsa or vw polo etc. I always fancied an old Mini but they're a little pricey so the XJ40 fitted the bill perfectly.
I spent probably 4 months searching for my first '40, and didn't see exactly what i was after - i know, don't get hung up on colour or spec, but remember this was my first car and i wasn't desperate for a car so i was prepared to wait until the right one turned up. October 2015 i spotted A12WJP - a Crimson Metallic (code CFF) 1989 3.6L XJ6 with cloth interior and quad lights, just like the matchbox car (other than the interior... i think plastic might have been a little hard to sit on). Full service history up to 143000 miles and a stack of receipts, (151000 miles on her now - due another service in January) She even had the centre console phone and the original radio. All the electrics worked, just needed a little cosmetic work and as she'd been stood a few years, needed new rubbers as they started to crumble over the next year. Other than that, just minor things like fixing the microswitch in the wiper, some new bonnet struts, and the brakes overhauling.
Me with A12WJP the day after i bought her. Suit and tie donned for a charity motorcycle ride that morning....
I put a set of 15" Lattice wheels on the old girl, as i didn't fancy paying as much as she cost me to put new rubber on the metric steel wheels, and for a year and a half she clocked up just under 7000 miles being used mainly at weekends and if i couldn't ride for whatever reason - weather (yes she went out in the snow), my neck injury playing up, or nipping out to grab parts for motorcycle builds. In that time she returned 16/17MPG round the doors, and 29.5MPG on a long run. In fact i saw 28.5MPG one weekend from Newcastle-upon-tyne to Nottingham and did the same run the next weekend, with the boot very full (steering got a little light in a crosswind) and managed 29.5MPG. Which i thinks pretty respectable for a 3.6 straight 6 on 95 unleaded...
Christmas Eve - Ready for the midnight mass run with the family
Early this year i realised she'd probably fail the MOT for multiple reasons, so being out of work at the time, i spent 2 months on the driveway in all weathers under the Jag replacing front suspension bushes, track rod ends, sway bar bushes, wheel bearings, rear subframe mounts and a few other odds and sods. I also had a hole in the passenger inner wing to patch. Since the car wasn't concours, just a good useable classic, i was fine with patching over the top of the hole. But when i removed the inner wing plastic, disaster. The whole front 3 inches of sill were made of rust, soil and bodyfiller. unsurprisingly so was the drivers side. So the second month was spent making panels to fit and boxing up the front of the sill, redesigning it so it had the same structural walls but also boxing it in to stop the sill end filling with soil.
Sill repair and suspension overhaul
Having repaired the sill ends i slapped a quick coat of black smoothrite along the sills, and the under bumper parts round the back of the car to protect from the weather thinking i might get round to painting the sills in red again later in the year, once i had an income again, but at least she was smart for now. I regret not taking a picture of her at this stage because she passed her MOT in May with flying colours, the garage even commenting on the front suspension rebuild and welding and asking who'd done it, receiving a smug reply of 'me' (though i do occasionally have a mate round for a natter and a tinker).
I didn't really get out in her much this summer although another trip to Nottingham and back to drop off some motorcycle fairings to Dream Machine proved she still ran perfectly and that my rebuild was a success. I found new work in August but unfortunately aggravated my neck injury in early November and so i stopped riding the 40 miles to work for a few days while my neck recovered.
I think all in all i've used A12WJP about 6 times to commute to work, but on 21st November 2017 i got caught out with unsighted standing traffic in the outside lane of the A1(M). The left lane was still moving (45mph ish), no-one braking and giving a hint as to what lay ahead. The right lane had been moving at around 55mph constant, at a distance far enough that i could only see the rearmost car round the bend. On that section of road that makes it easily a 3 second gap, in fact left lane traffic had been moving in and out of my lane in front of me all the way up till that point without any difficulty or fuss, so the gap must've been a reasonable size. I hit the brakes as soon as i realised the guy in front of me had braked hard but a 16 plate BMW 5series is always gonna stop quicker than a 30 year old classic when you lock up the front wheels.
All i can say is it properly stuffed the '40. I'm absolutely heartbroken... I'm on the verge of tears writing this as i have been a lot of the time since. I'm not one to cry very often but last year was pretty tough both health wise and work wise and i broke down a number of times in the week or so after the accident. I know a few people will have the opinion of following too close, or not enough road experience etc. but while i'm only 25 i've never crashed a bike or a car, have a clean license and have done around 13000 miles each year on average since i was about 18 on numerous different bikes and cars. I'm not short on experience and i don't go daft. Sure i might drive/ride spiritedly when there's no one around (has given me chance to learn a lot of vehicle control), and i'll hold my hands up if i make a mistake doing so but theres no use in driving fast when theres other people around.
She's a Cat B write off so i'm doing my best to hang onto as many parts as possible and maybe one day i'll re-shell her or build a really fast very custom '40 out of what remains.
In the meantime... I've gone and bought F79CKH - 1989 3.6 Sovereign in Bordeaux Red (Code CEK) Leather interior with 2 sets of wheels: Metric teardrops and 15" Lattices. Have to say i'm not a fan of the fishbowls, so they'll be swapped for quads and whilst very solid she needs a bit of cosmetic work but seems to be in very good nick mechanically. Only 85000 miles on the clock. Oh and the Montego steering wheels go to go. I'll post some pictures up once i pick her up on saturday. I have to say, i'm still very upset as i'm sure you can appreciate and i'm not yet feeling the excitement of having another '40 to play with but i'm sure i'll cheer up once i dig into solving the one or two faults it has. And who knows, maybe there'll be a build at somepoint if i can find a shell rebuild A12WJP - Me and a good mate of mine have some interesting ideas for a very in-depth build.
Again sorry for the long post but i felt the need to write a bit of an obituary for the old girl. We've had some great times in the last two years and i'll definitely miss her.
A12WJP - 1989 3.6 XJ6 Crimson metallic CFF with cloth interior 151000 miles (R.I.P. - Resting in pieces.... Currently)
F79CKH - 1989 3.6 Sovereign Bordeaux red CEK with Leather interior 85000 miles and counting...