Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Mark of Excellence?

Kind of like the Bible for my old Jag.

I post a lot on the Jaguar Forums, and I'm documenting the running story of my Jaguar obsession there also. On this blog I have a greater freedom of subject matter and I discuss my history with cars and motorcycles. Sometimes there is going to be some overlap. But my Jaguar story is a big part of my blogging identity. So I'm always going to cover it here. It's not like there is anyone reading this stuff anyway.

Surprisingly, there wasn't as much room as I would have thought.

I started working on the Mark, because I really think that it will turn out to be a runner. I found that the front carb was stuck shut. I thought that the throttle valve was stuck somehow. I decided to pull the carbs to see what the problem was and unstick it. Even though the motor is a straight six, it wasn't as easy to take off the eight bolts holding the carbs on. I could see that the auxiliary starting carb was attached to the front carb and had a solid pipe that connected it to the intake manifold. Of course it wasn't as easy as it looked. I decided that it would be best to remove the rear carb first, and this did free up more space and access to the front carb. I removed the carb and saw that the throttle valve looked okay, and it must be the throttle shaft that was stuck. I soaked it with Liquid Wrench for a couple of days then moved the shaft carefully with a vise grip. It was stiff but moved a little I added more penetrating oil and worked it back and forth gently until it was free. I cleaned all the caked on crud. As I set the carb down a piece fell off the bottom. It is from the bottom of the carb called the needle jet bushing. How did I know that it was called that?

That little cap had been cracked for awhile.

This is what it should look like.

I had been preparing for this work by reading over what literature I could find. While on vacation in May I found a book in Oregon that gave me some insight. Glenn's book of foreign car repair. It is like an old Motor Manual or big Chiltons book that covers numerous models and years, but not with too much detail. This was how I learned about the aux. carb. I decided that I was going to need a real shop manual. Last year while in Oregon I had found a Haynes manual for the series 1 XJ6.I looked through that book to pick out any additional info. Now whenever I am out antiquing with my Wife I'm primarily looking for old car books. It was on a visit to Powell's books on that same Oregon trip in May that I found the official Jaguar ROM, Repair Operations Manual for my XJS. Even used, it cost me 75.00 but it was worth it! How often will I stumble over that book?

I looked on the Net and saw some brand new repair manuals for the Mark. These were available from Brooklands Books. These were combination manuals that included the old XK series also. I was looking for something cheaper and lucked out and found an official ROM for the Mark on Amazon. This is the actual book used by mechanics in their shop. It was in great shape and only 30.00. This book is very clearly written, with great pictures and diagrams. Just a delight to read. Which is just what I did. I spent a couple of hours reading through the book familiarizing myself with the mechanicals of my old Mark. Since I had already spent several hours looking at and crawling under the car the info really had a chance to gel.

Lot's of good reading inside. I've got a whole collection of these road test books.

Of course I also wanted the Brooklands Books road test anthology for the Mark VII. I love reading those old road tests and you can learn a lot from them. A lot of times the testers will smooth over problems, but generally they treat the cars just as cars, not the icons that they later became. Those darn Brooklands Books, they started this whole Jaguar hysteria for me when I picked up their anthology for the XJS!

Back to the broken piece. It appeared that this had been cracked for a good long time. Twenty six years maybe? Maybe I hit it when I was using the rubber mallet to encourage some cooperation upon removal. Now I was kind of bummed, I thought I was just going to clean things up and fire the car up. Now I had a 65 year old carb part that I needed bad. I put out an inquiry to SNG Barrett and they said that they didn't carry it. What now? I was quite concerned that I would have to find some one with an old carb that would be willing to sell me the part. With the continuing popularity of the XK series I figured that there had to be parts available somewhere. I searched the web, looking for the manufacturer of SU carbs and found a bonanza of a website. Every part was available, and for a fairly reasonable price. I ordered the parts and  a couple of carb rebuild kits.

I decided to check out the distributor and points. The vacuum canister was as I would have suspected DOA. The rest of the stuff looked okay. While up in Oregon, I had contacted a company named British Parts Northwest. They are having a close out on many old Jag parts, many which are common to the XK series. Ignition points, other distributor parts,  a clutch set, coils, and oil filters are being closed out at what appears to be bargain prices. I checked the prices against Parts Geek and Rockauto and they are noticeably cheaper. I imagine that they would be quite a bit cheaper than SNG Barrett but it's good to check.

An oil change was next. I noticed that the previous owner had installed an additional canister oil filter. to the left inner fender. It looked like the one that was in my '56 Cadillac. This was plumed from a fitting in the lower rear of the block and drained into the cam cover near the filler cap. This seemed like a good idea, more oil means a cooler running engine and longer engine life. The canister was mounted with one small old bolt and a bent nail! Even better was what was inside.

There's that added filter. I should have taken a picture of the nail.

Toilet paper, a can and a home made spacer.

Nothing like ingenuity.

Instead of the filter element I was expecting to find I discovered what looked like an inverted tin can. Because that was exactly what it was! Inside that can was a very dirty roll of toilet paper. The owner had made a wavy spacer and screen to fit under the roll. I remember that back in the day, there were a lot of people ( mostly very cheap people) that thought that toilet paper made a better, less costly replacement for the original canister filter elements.  I guess that over time, the proper filters got harder to find at the discount auto stores, though my local small chain auto parts store, Winchester Auto, had no problem ordering one for my '56 Cadillac. I guess saving a couple of bucks was kind of important to folks back then too. 

The previous owner was an engineer, and he got older he had his own ideas on how to improve his car. I have found many little modifications that I will have to figure out. I may own this car now, but it will always be HIS car!

I will work on the brakes while I wait for the carb part to show up from Great Britain. It is amazing to me that those old tires are still holding air. They are totally cracked and weathered but the tubes are still standing proud.  Antique tires to fit this car are not easy to find. What I really mean is that they are not cheap to find! Usually I would just find a modern  tire that could be used as replacement. They are 6.50 x 16 inchers. The rim is rather narrow, five inches. The current tires have those super tall, pie crust sidewalls with a very narrow tread. I'll bet those squealed going around corners. A modern tire will have a much shorter sidewall, and my biggest concern is whether or not they would clear the rear fender spats. 

I have found  several good suppliers of proper radials for my car advertised in Jaguar World magazine. These would be the proper modern replacements, but a set will set me back around a grand, more than I paid for the car. 

I will keep my eyes open on Craig's List, maybe I can find a used set of suitable tires. 

The brakes were locked up so I disassembled them and tried to take apart the wheel cylinders. I tried putting them in a vise to compress them a bit a break free the pistons. That didn't work. I tried placing it in my press and that did succeed in depressing them about a quarter inch. I doused them with Liquid Wrench and let them sit. I then tried to use air pressure to get them loose. There is only one piston on these wheel cylinders, that's why the system uses two wheel cylinders. There were some early 50's Chrysler models with a similar setup. Dual leading shoe brakes. I remember this system was used on many high performance motorcycles before disc brakes were adopted. Each shoe is pressured, this results in greater shoe friction and better stopping power. At least when proceeding in a forward direction, rolling backwards they were not so effective. The rear brakes were the conventional design. The previous owner told me that his Dad had removed the vacuum booster, I'll have to take a look at those later. He included two different type boosters with the car. The system is similar to the HydroVac system used on my '56 Cadillac.

I tried the old compressed air method and found some success with one cylinder. I tried to turn one piston with a wrench and it moved a bit. A bit of working back and forth, more Liquid Wrench and then the air popped out the piston. Inspecting it I didn't find the pitting I expected, instead it was more like the piston had been stuck with mucilage.

I had read that it was possible to use a grease gun to remove the pistons. If a grease fitting can be screwed into the line port or the bleeder screw than it could be pumped full of grease forcing out the shoes. I've read that up to one thousand psi could be obtained. My cylinders have rather large line fittings, 3/8 ths of an inch, much bigger than any available grease fitting I found. I have considered drilling out a bolt and tapping it to allow for the grease fitting. A lot more work than I really need, but I might have to try it. There are four more cylinders waiting for me. 

The second cylinder is still stuck solid.  Today I tried putting it in the press without any success. Then I dot the great idea to place a socket over the piston and strike it with a hammer, maybe a little shock would break it loose. I initially held it in my hands and used a small hammer. Then I placed it on the concrete and used a small sledge. Bad Idea, The impact cracked part of the mounting system. It looks like it isn't critical still will hold with the broken rim, but the cylinder will need to be replaced.

I've tried to source some new or rebuilt cylinders from Worcester Classic Spares in GB. The price is 600 Pounds with a 400 Pound core charge, refundable only if the cores are rebuilable. Rear wheel cylinders are sold outright for 94 Pounds each. I'm going to contact SNG Barratt customer hot line to inquire about availability, through their company.

Over the time I have been reading Jaguar World magazine I have seen an English brake component company advertised. I contacted Coopercraft, about their disc brake conversion. It will cost about 1,500 dollars but is very complete and compatible with the original booster. This will probably be the best way to go as everything at the wheel would be new. 

I placed a WTB add on the Jaguar forums and will see what might show up. 

Oh Well. I really didn't think that it would be that easy.

I know that the car looks pretty scruffy, The remaining paint is quite oxidized. It is quite chalky looking on the sides, if the paint was in better shape I might just try to buff it out for now. So I did. I hit it with liquid rubbing compound and some areas came out looking pretty good. The majority of the rust is on the top surfaces of the roof, hood and deck. I'll also polish up all the chrome and stainless trim. It's kind of a fun project when I'm tired of messing with the mechanicals. Cheap too, just rubbing compound, cleaner wax and chrome polish. I also hit those dried out tires with some vinyl/rubber protectant. 

It's about time to get my XJS on the road. Is it ready? Let's see.

Registration, check. Smog check, likewise. Insurance coverage started, yes. The plan will be to start using it around town a bit. I still have to get both windows to open, among other things. Time to get moving- again.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why is this car considered a "White Elephant?"

Opinions may vary, but I think this car is just amazing
photo source: Jaguar cars ltd.

I guess that would depend on how you define the term. Not all value should be expressed in dollars and cents. The value of this car to me, exceeds any auction results.

It's a lot easier to buy cheap unwanted cars then it is to sell them. If something "fantastic" comes up for sale, you've got jump on it while you can. You can always sell that other car some other time, right? Sure.

This old, forgotten Jaguar sedan called out to me from the automotive "personals" column commonly referred to as Craig's List. So what made that Mark VII so attractive to me?

Well first of all it IS a Jaguar. That alone gives it a lot of appeal and interest to me. Secondly it is a pre smog car, in this case a really, really,  pre smog test required car. As I've stated before, it's not that I don't care about the environment because of course I do. It's just that the requirement that it pass the smog test before the transfer of ownership is completed can sometimes delay things. Thirdly, it is a manual transmission model. Manual transmission cars are easier for the hobbyist to repair, I wanted to learn how to rebuild an auto transmission but haven't got there yet.

As it has always been, sedan models don't command the interest that the sport cars do. Four slams, no clams. Therefore they don't command the dollar values that the sports models do. Jaguars from this era that are of interest and value are the XK models: the 120,140, and 150.

I am cheating a bit. These FHCs are not as popular as the roadster.
 But the Classic Jaguar design cues are shared with the Mark VII.

Open cars rule. That's why my XJS is a convertible.

This is a Bentley Continental. It was released after the Mark VII was introduced.
Who was influenced by whom?

But the Mark VII is interesting. It is actually a cut rate Bentley competitor. The front end styling and flowing bodywork, capped off by the distinctive Jaguar signature curved rear roof treatment, are obviously meant to be aristocratic. In size, accommodations and luxury appointments it was conceived as a alternative to the Bentley or more conservative Rolls Royce. Upon first seeing it most people would mistake it for a Rolls. RR kept this same type of old fashioned, traditional styling until 1966, when they decided that the Checker cab look was an improvement. Jaguar had abandoned this type of pre war design by 1961 when the Mark X debuted. That design was a complete break from the earlier style and was controversial and not completely well received. During the Sixties, an even well into the Seventies, the pre '66 Rolls appearance was the definition of the atmosphere of great wealth and privilege. Movies and television programs would set the scene by having a chauffeured Rolls pictured on the screen. This was even spoofed by the unforgettable commercial and question, "Do you have any Grey Poupon?" Most viewers of a certain age have a clear recollection of that commercial.

This is the last traditional Rolls. As you can see they all kind of look similar.
Actually many British higher end car look like this, during the Fifties,
the Alvis, the Armstrong Siddley among others.

This was the contemporary Cadillac Fleetwood . These had the 133' wheelbase. This is actually a '53, which was the last year of this design, which started with the 1951 MY.  The earlier models had smaller  "bullet over riders."

Despite it's dignified and traditional styling, the Mark VII was the repository of the legendary Jaguar XK engine. In fact, the engine was designed specifically to power this sedan. The XK sports model, the XK120, was originally just supposed to provide "good press" for this power plant. This motor made the Mark VII one of the fastest sedans available the time. It was immediately used in competition. Then Mark VII placed 4th in the 1952 Rally of Monte Carlo, finally winning overall in 1956.

Overall Winner
1956 Rally of Monte Carlo

So this car had a legitimate performance and racing heritage. There are lots of new videos on you tube of Marks being raced at recent Goodwood events. It's not like they were racing contemporary Cadillac Fleetwoods!

The XK 120 used a shorter version of the Mark VII chassis, brakes, and suspension. The Mark uses torsion bar springing and as I was surprised to see when I looked underneath, ball joint suspension. As well as the drive train; motor and four speed manual transmission are shared with the sports model. The low values of saloon models and interchange of components has led to so many Marks being used as donors for a sports car restoration, or replica car builds.

The unfortunate truth is that these cars are really very much "White Elephants." They cost many times more than an XK Type to restore, and even when properly restored, are worth far less. From an economic standpoint then, most "investors" (speculators, flippers, etc.) will avoid putting any money into them. That makes a lot of sense, it's easy enough to lose money even when dealing with popular cars.

My particular car had been offered on CL for over a month before I stumbled upon it. The original ad didn't include any pictures and the seller later e-mailed them to me. What really caught my eye was that it was a manual transmission example. The best thing was that the car was complete and unmolested. All the parts were there attached and that it had been a running car before it was parked. My first encounter with my future car was in the seller's backyard, it had been covered with a car cover and several tarps. The last registration year was 1991! Now I don't know if it had spent all those twenty six years out in the yard and I didn't ask. I'm thinking (and hoping) that it may have spent some of that time in the garage, then driveway, then curbside, being being banished to the back forty.

It has a great story. The seller's father was a British car guy and bought this car brand new. It was used as an everyday driver until the 1990s,  The seller told me that this was the car that they took family vacations together, he had learned to drive in this car. The seller told me that his Dad drove this car until he found the effort of operating the clutch and unassisted brakes uncomfortable. Assuming that his Dad probably bought this car when he was at least thirty years old, and drove to for at least forty years, that would be understandable. The next car to replace the Mark, was a Bentley! (an automatic, I imagine). So I get to be the second owner!

Overall the car looks pretty good, I've only found some moderate rust in the rt. front door sill. Some of the door bottoms have some bubbling which isn't unexpected. The car had been repainted and reupholstered in blue vinyl when the original leather wore out. Interestingly, the original owner has added a bunch of little improvements, transistorized ignition, extra gauges and a cassette stereo. I discovered a switch box and  various toggles placed under the dash. I will have to discover what their various functions are.

The car has a lot of surface rust and of course it was filthy. My first job was clean it out and wash it. I pulled the plugs and put some Marvel Mystery Oil in the cylinders and let it sit overnight. I hooked up the battery from the XJS and pressed the starting button. The motor spun over eagerly! Now I have to clean and flush the fuel lines and tanks, change the oil, and rebuild the brakes and clutch hydraulics. My plan is to get the car running and further evaluate it's condition. It needs lots and lots of things, but I'll take it one area at a time.

One thing is for certain. Not only am I a custodian of a bit of British automotive history, I have a deep well of content for further blog posts. More to come.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Visiting the Petersen Museum, Part Two.

Of course there are movie cars.

My favorite Batmobile.

Christine and Herbie, a match made in Heaven?

Upstairs was the "70 years of Ferrari exhibit." I remember reading in a magazine column once, that car enthusiasts can have two reactions  to viewing these exclusive, hyper expensive cars.  One ( the Lover), will find them amazing, and they are glad to have the opportunity to just see these cars close up. The other (the Hater) will grumble that that these have no relevance to the average car guy and they are just owned by snooty rich folks. I will admit that for many years I was lined up behind the Hater. Now, I have softened my attitude towards these machines. Yes they are exclusive and will always be way beyond my reach. But so what. There are architectural and artistic treasures that can be appreciated by all, even if only possessed by a very few. At least they are shared with the rest of us. These cars usually debut performance and styling features decades ahead of the mass produced hordes.

The first Barchetta. These early Ferraris are my favorites.

Nothing like a Red head.
The exposed front wheels were  a design theme explored on many late Fifties dream cars.

My favorite car in the entire museum. How could a car from 1961 still look so good?
                                         Bueller? Bueller? I hated the movie but loved this car.

Its like looking at a fighter jet. I can't warm up to these, yet.

There were only three Jaguars on feature display. Being a Jag fan I had to include them. The poor XJ220 suffered from being powered by a twin turbocharged V6. Buyers in this price class wanted an actual V12, like the first prototype.

1930's Jaguars are amazing. I guess it's no wonder that these have been reproduced as kit cars.

This was Steve McQueen's D type. The man knew how to have fun.
Personally I think the competition C type has better lines.

This was the first street car capable of 200mph. The styling has grown on me over the years.
                               These have just started to develop a strong collector following.

The NieKamp roadster. A classic hot rod.

I decided that I wasn't going to try to do a whole running documentary on the museum. Enjoy the pictures. You can enjoy the actual cars during your visit.

There are enough different displays to satisfy almost any auto enthusiast. There were things that I found fascinating and other just as worthy things that I kind of glossed over. One of the best things is the mix of people that came to the museum. Like LA in general, people of all ethnic, social and economic strata will find themselves rubbing elbows, just like on the LA freeway system. You could say that the freeway is the great equalizer, it is shared by the late model Ferrari, the Lowrider, ( I was actually passed by a '39 Chevy Lowrider while negotiating the East LA interchange) the beat up over loaded mini truck, tired Camry, immaculate vintage car, and any other vehicle you could imagine. Mercedes and BMWs are so common they don't even rate a second look, actually not even a first look.

As I was looking at Gypsy Rose,  I got into a conversation with a middle fifties aged Chicano fellow who was there with his twenty something year old son. It turns out that this gentleman had been acquainted with Jessie Lopez and had even been a member of the Imperial car club back in the day. We spoke of the difficulty of hanging onto our cars over the years, and how our interests were likely to change as we aged. It was obvious that Lowrider cars were more than a styling affectation to him, they were a part of his identity.

While looking at the Ferrari display I made the acquaintance of a young fellow in his late twenties. He was very impressed by how advanced the cars were for their time.  I told him that it was interesting to see if you can pick out the influences that filtered down to the mass produced market over time. We talked about currently available, affordable cars that would be worth holding onto. He mentioned the Honda S2000 and I heartily agreed with him. He told me that he had an Acura RSX and that he was looking for a second car, the S2000 might be it. He said he wanted to learn to fix his cars and was hoping to buy a house someday with a garage he could turn into a workshop. He had a young family and I knew that it would be a real challenge for some years, but to try to hold onto something that he loved. I wished him well.

While checking out that blue hot rod I had a conversation with an affluent older gent. I mentioned that while I had grown up in the mid Sixties I never remembered seeing any hot rods on the street. This guy was about five years older than me and had grown up in Southern California. He said that he had owned several old hot rods in the day, and some of his current neighbors had built up some Offy powered rods. We were discussing some high buck, hot rod building. Still, he said that he couldn't see himself actually driving one of these traditional hot rods anymore.

At the Jaguar display I spoke with a gentleman in his late Thirties who was there with his young son. He was surprised when I told him that Jaguar was building a continuation series of the D type. When I said that I remembered when you could find a running E type for a grand in the early to mid Seventies, he was quite surprised. When I mentioned that there were still fixer uppers available for less than ten grand, he mentioned that in his experience starting out with a better example was usually more economical. He was right of course. He told me about some of the muscle cars that he had restored and how it was easier to get a loan to buy a finished car, than to get any financing for the restoration.

There are lots of people there with their own stories and experiences, Don't be shy, start up a conversation with the person next to you.

I hope you get a chance to visit the Peterson Museum, soon. Enjoy the cars and take the time to talk to your fellow enthusiasts, it's nice to get different people's viewpoints.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Instead of a random grouping of old Jags, I may have a real theme in my collection. Each of my cars appealed to me for  certain specific reasons.

"You talking about me? Because I'm the only one here!"

Through this collection of random models I have found a way to be a "participant" in a wide range of Jaguar's history and mystique on several different levels. None of my cars is the exact model that has become highly valued and therefore priced out of my reach, but they are realistic substitutes for those models. I'll admit it up front that almost everything is priced above my means! The challenge is trying to find the models that have the connection. They are all still worthy on their own merits. Let me begin my examination with my first acquisition, the '89 XJS convertible.

There is no reason to rehash the history of the fabled E type, It is well known. The XJS came along after the series three E type was considered to be obsolete. I have read reports that described excess inventory of this model that was stored at an airport near the factory. Why were these cars sitting around? Because the model had lost it's appeal. Recall that the Jensen Interceptor was introduced in the later '60s and it's more modern styling, luxury orientation and the use of brutish American muscle under the hood shoved the E type out of the limelight. The Interceptor was a bonafide luxury GT. The E was forcefully massaged by the factory into that mold, which seemed to dull the luster even more.

A great name and not a bad car.

The XJS was the answer. Svelte avant garde styling, great refinement and the fabulous V12 motor decisively stole the Jensen's thunder. It was so successful that it remained in production for over twenty years,  That, of course is part of the root of the problem, well over one hundred thousand were built! If familiarity doesn't always breed  contempt it surely will breed indifference. And that was where the XJS sat, for years.

A similar thing has happened to the XK8. How can these beautiful cars be so ignored?

This has book ended the XJS between the well loved, well valued, E type. A very strong pressure from below. Above the XJS the values of the X100 are steadily dropping, Instead of capping the values of the XJS , these lower values are allowing the XJS to rise through this permeable barrier. The X100 values are sinking around the rising XJS valuations. All of this is just my convoluted opinion that XJS values are slowly on the rise.

So what does this mean to me, or any other Jag hobbyist that would like to own one of these fantastic cars?

Well the XJS is finally being appreciated for what it has always been, a very attractive grand tourer. The styling, while unappreciated for so long, is being seen through new appreciative eyes.  So how do I perceive the situation?

Having my XJS convertible allows me to enjoy a true luxury GT car at a buy in price that was accessible to me. The XJS was considered just one step down from an Italian exotic. That Jaguar V12 engine installed in any model, E type, XJ12, or XJS makes for an interesting and worthwhile automobile.  A twelve cylinder powered anything is really something!

As with most collectible older Jags, there is usually a performance and racing pedigree that you can delight in. The XJS was the fastest four passenger car in the world at the time of it's introduction. It won the European Touring Car Championship. It was the Trans Am champion with Bob Tillus and group 44. Just think, it raced against Corvettes, and other American Pony cars and won! And then there is the Aston Martin connection.

The DB7 was built off the XJS platform. The design had originally been planned for the XJS replacement, The early DB7's used the supercharged version of the Jaguar six. Basically it was the XJR engine but in a higher state of tune.  Even though the DB7 was hand built in small numbers by TWR operations, the XJS roots are apparent.  I went to see a 2000 MY DB7 at a dealer in Studio City, and standing alongside and sitting in it, it sure felt like my own XJS. They are in truth, brothers under the skin. In my mind, my XJS is pretty convincing and attainable equivalent to the DB7, and best of all, I've got mine!

Jaguar has rightly been famous for building some of the most desirable sporting luxury sedans in automotive history. The introduction  of the XJ6 in 1968 led to a continuing design series that ran for almost thirty years. Grace, Space and Pace all wrapped up in fine Connolly leather and exquisite wood veneers. Jaguar moved to the XJ40 design which many felt was a bridge too far. That was rectified by the introduction of the X300  in 1995. This model combined the classic design cues with a more modern cabin design.

A redesign of the AI6 motor resulted in the ultimate and final version of the Jaguar straight six motor. An all alloy, dohc, fuel injected, four valve heads, and crank fired coil on plug ignition system. This great motor can only be surpassed by the XJR, boasting an Eaton supercharger. The first of a continuous series of supercharged engines.

The reliability of this design has led it be a favorite of Jaguar hobbyists. The styling pays tribute to the earlier series of the XJ6 and maintains beautiful proportions. The body styling was successfully used on the successor, the XJ8, which debuted Jaguar's new V8 engine. My XJ6L features the extra long wheelbase that makes the interior capacity equal to any of the classic Jaguar predecessor. My '97 XJ6 is the final model in that series, and the final straight six powered Jaguar. And what a six!

Ownership of my XJ6 allows me to participate in the continuing history of Jaguar luxury sedans. While few were campaigned when new as racers, The XJ6 has found popularity recently as a historic racer. There is a special series for these sedans, The front pages of Jaguar World are filled with colorful photos of XJ6's and XJS' decked out in their finest racing regalia mixing it up on the track.

photo source race

My latest acquisition is the '51 Mark VII that I just  bought. It was the first saloon powered by the XK engine. I've got a lot to say about this car so I'll give it's own post.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Visiting the Peterson Museum. You do get your money's worth. Part One.

All photos sourced from the Peterson Museum website.
Yes, He was there!

I was having a bit of a problem on how I would approach this post. I wanted to cover some of the vehicle exhibits but I also wanted remark on how the museum brings people from all walks of life and levels of automotive interest together, in many ways just like the LA freeway system. I didn't want to cover every detail of the displays and exhibits but give you my reactions to them. I have my own feelings about visiting museums like this. I like the opportunity to study the cars closely, and at my leisure. I will spend a long time looking at the details.

Even though they have Lightning McQueen on display and an entire Cars themed exhibit, this is not the ideal place to take small children or most under the age of thirteen or fourteen. They will not enjoy themselves and will spoil your visit. Also do not take any adults that are not really interested in cars. They will quickly become bored at looking at one shiny car after another, that's fine, but they will want you to hurry up, move on, and let's get some lunch.

Do you see that fine little wire that is positioned about a foot or so off the floor? That is the only thing that separates you from these fabulous cars! You can lean over that wire and take a really good, close, look. At the interior, at the undercarriage , at anything that is exposed to view. I leaned over, bent down and knelt down then stood back at various angles to take in every possible perspective of the cars on display. You are free to take photographs of any of the cars on display, but you are never, ever, free to reach out and touch or handle any parts of the cars. Oh, you will want to, but please don't. The museum expects the public to respect the vehicles on display, there are many, many, many, vehicles that are on display there that are valued at multiples of millions of dollars. That is just for one car! I would hate it if the museum felt that they had to put up substantial barriers to keep the public away from them. I value the opportunity to really study these cars from inches away. And I take my time. It's best not to have someone waiting behind you, tapping their feet, bored out of their mind. So this is someplace that you might enjoy going to by yourself, I know I do. 

That said, there are quite a few different exhibits going on at the same time. I was aware that there was going to be an exhibit of Ferraris, and this was the first reason that I thought I would make a visit. I have been to the Museum three of four times before and besides the exterior remodel, the previous displays have been completely changed. I checked out the website to be sure that they were going to be open that day, and saw that besides the Ferarris, there was going to be a Lowrider exhibit, an exhibit on the art of the Bugatti,and a Harley versus Indian motorcycle display. That was good enough for me. 

Parking is now 12.00 for the entire day, The first half hour is free, but you will want to spend your afternoon, my visit was at least five hours. The museum has a bookstore and now a restaurant, that is open to the public. There is also a 
gallery that has several displays that are free. General admission for adults is 15.00. A bargain.

                                          This is the chassis of the last Bugatti. This body was designed as a tribute.

Gypsy Rose, recently featured in Octane magazine.

'39 Chevy Gangster Squad, a movie connection.

As you enter you will see the two pictured Lowriders, The '64 Impala Gypsy Rose and a '39 Chevy Gangster Squad. In an adjacent gallery there was a display of several other cars and a collection of artwork and photography on the walls. The El Rey is a '63 Impala that features a completely custom painted, chromed, undercarriage that featured engraved brake and drive train components. The amount of detailing of various components was very extensive. The quality of the bodywork, chrome and paint is impressive. Whether or not this type of automotive expression is to your taste, you would have to give the builder kudos for their attention to detail and  level of craftsmanship

                                 This is the El Rey, does chroming and engraving brake components raise it to art?

Displaying these Lowriders in the same gallery as the next exhibit is an interesting juxtaposition. While the Lowrider is a mass produced vehicle that has been elevated to an extraordinary level of finish, the Bugattis were produced as singular works of automotive art.

                                                       There were artists, sculptors, and writers in the family also.

                                                                             The pure essence of the automobile.

                                            These little blue cars have been immortalized as VW powered kit cars.

                                                           The Buggati Royale, the Mag Opus of the marque.
                                                           It looks like a limo out of a Betty Boop cartoon!

Following the curvature of the gallery will lead you to the display of Bugattis. There were many models on display and these have always been considered some of the finest cars that were ever built. They were not produced in large numbers and they could be considered individually crafted. The marque did not weather the storm of the second World War and the line of true cars ended. The exhibit chronicles the history of the family. They were a creative bunch. Engineers, artist sculptors, writers. A Renaissance family if there ever was one!

Upstairs there was the Indian and Harley Davidson display was in the center area.

                                       1957 HD Sportster, 900cc, the first, and for so long the fastest thing on two wheels.
                                       (Well, except for the occasional Vincent Black Shadow!)

This Indian was displayed without the sidecar, in slightly different form.

This is the HD Sport Model, a fore and aft oriented, opposed flat twin motor of 350cc powered this popular, but now forgotten cycle. Note the enclosed chain. 

If I could only build a modern custom with this vibe!

The bikes were displayed in rows in the center of the room and along one wall. Plenty of room to get close and check out the details. My favorite bikes are the board track racers. These were brought to life in the recent History Channel special, "Harley and the Davidsons".

There was an exhibit of Dan Gurney Eagle racing machines. If you like racing cars you would be in heaven.

There is also a large display devoted to technology. It showcased the platform of a Tesla, and a naked Alfa. 

On the third floor was the display of the Cars replicas. I just kept on walking.

Besides the general admission to the museum there is an added tour of "The Vault" available for twenty bucks. This is a tour of the basement of the building where cars that are awaiting their display, or being in the process of rotation are stored. There is also a reconditioning shop area. This tour runs about an hour and is well worth it. I recommend it, you are probably not going to return to the museum that often.

Part Two coming up.