Saturday, April 29, 2017

2017 California Mille Rally participant involved in fatal collision.


The article in Autoweek didn't give the cause of this incident. The driver may have sustained a tire or suspension component failure. The driver may have swerved to avoid a deer or other animal. I have driven in the Mendocino area for many years and there are many locations where the trees are right alongside the narrow roadway. There isn't a great margin for error. So there are many possible causes

This is very sad. Running off the road into a large tree is about the worst scenario for an automotive collision. Early cars were not designed to absorb impact nor were occupant restraints engineered into their construction. An aftermarket seat belt seems to have contributed to the passenger's survival, who didn't have to contend with striking the steering wheel and column. Hard to say if it would have helped the driver. These cars are from the era where people thought it was better to be "thrown clear of the vehicle" in a serious collision. Which is obviously not the best approach.

I have commented on this subject before, that when you are driving a vintage car you are operating in the driver's safety standards of that era, which unfortunately were pretty much non existent. We are so used to driving modern cars with deformable energy absorbing structures and full passenger restraints including numerous air bags. In these vehicles it is quite rare when a driver or passenger is killed, and usually only in the most extreme impacts. This same situation occurs in the "Hot Rod" and "Street Rod" communities. Authentic early cars or their modern reproductions are just as lacking in passenger protection.

I rode motorcycles for over thirty five years and I accepted the fact that there was an inherent danger in the process. I did use the appropriate safety equipment. While these old cars are lovely there is a similar acceptance of hazard in their use. I have read articles where enthusiasts that have been participating in non professional racing competitions, like vintage or SCCA type of road racing events have been tragically killed or seriously injured. High speed competition is always risky, However the sanctioning bodies for these events usually require specialized safety equipment, vehicle inspection, driver's training and licensing requirements. Racing is safer than ever, but the risk of injury can never be eliminated. When I participated in auto cross events these usually took place at regular "street driving speeds." These were not considered speed competitions.

These were considered to be the entry level events. There was another step up, where two cars run mirror image courses at the same time. Then there were timed speed events run on an actual race course, which of course results in higher speeds. Track days are popular with many enthusiasts and of course the opportunity to damage your car or your body are always present. At the highest level there is of course, actual amateur road racing. No one is ever required to compete in any of these venues. If you enjoy and are comfortable at any level you can always stay at that level.

We all drive on public highways to fulfill our transportation needs. We share the roads with many different drivers of varying skill levels and interest. Many are paying more attention to their texts and tweets than traffic conditions around them. Some have emotional and aggression issues that can erupt as road rage incidents. How about those drivers that engage in a makeshift speed competition to "prove something " to another driver. I know I've had cars blow past me at close to a hundred miles an hour in freeway traffic! So driving back and forth to work has it's own level of danger.

I extend my sympathies to the families for their loss. I also hope that this does not bring a storm of criticism upon the promoters of these types of events. These rallies are clearly described as touring events. There is no expectation, and there should not be excuses for treating this as a high speed competition. However it has been reported that several European Rallies have been met with tragedy when some participants have decided that they are going to try to fill the shoes of legendary race and rally drivers. Some have met with tragic consequences.

I'm not trying to be negative about the hobby of driving older cars for fun. I certainly enjoy driving them. We have to be realistic about their abilities in modern traffic conditions. I put quite a few miles on my drum brake equipped '70 Mustang coupe. This was not the best stopping car in the world, and I was constantly aware of this. There were many times when I felt very stressed because I had to be constantly hyper alert to changing traffic conditions. In my situation I had the option of upgrading the braking system. I didn't do that, I just ended up selling the car. If the emphasis is on maintaining the vehicle's originality sometimes you don't have that choice.

photo source: Jay Leno's garage

Let's be careful out there. This old car hobby is about having fun. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

There is an old saying that you should never meet your heroes. That could be good advice.

Photo source: Wheels and

Last week I went down to my favorite car lot, Wheels and Deals. I'm not really looking to buy a car right now, but I find the place quite entertaining. As I mentioned on a previous post, It's nice to view an eclectic collection of used cars, and since there are no salespeople you are not wasting anyone's time except your own. My current score there is three bought and one sold. Plus, I refer a lot of people to the lot.

Not only do you get a chance to take your time looking at the cars, you can also have the opportunity to sit in them see how they feel,

As I walked in I saw a 1987 Jaguar XJ6 Series Three, the last of the breed. I've always liked these cars and now that I am more familiar with the marque I have a much better understanding. This was a black car with a grey interior. The front seats had been re upholstered in vinyl, the rear were quite worn looking. The dash veneer looked pretty good but the door cards were a little wavy. The paint was somewhat faded but the body was straight with only some minor dings, but there was some pretty bad rust. It was visible at the left rear of the lower back light, there was actual rust through in an area about the size of a wad of gum. There was also some bubbling at the right bottom of the windscreen. Strangest of all was the huge rust blister on the top of the sunroof panel. I found myself wondering how the rust started there. Wouldn't this be a spot that the water would run off pretty quickly? Shouldn't it have been one of the first spots to dry out since it was directly on top? Maybe the car had been sitting under under a tree and a thick layer of leaves had fallen on the roof trapping the moisture and leading to the rust.

Perhaps. The placard stated that the the seller had owned the car for thirty years though it was "hardly driven" being a third car. Even so it had managed to accrue over 196,000 miles, which is not really a bad thing. That means the car has actually been in constant use. It appears that the seller may have been the original buyer and it stated that the services were all done. When I looked in the glovebox I found the smog test results from about a year ago. It had passed with a safe margin. Chances are good it would pass again and best of all it was currently registered. Many old Jags spend their twilight years languishing in the garage or driveway piling up unpaid registration fees.

The car was complete, with all trim and a set of Kent wheels. The engine started right up and settled down into a nice smooth idle no smoking or knocking. The price was under 1,900 dollars and I know that it will probably sell for a lot less. But this isn't about buying it. It was about having the opportunity to sit in it and see how much room there is inside etc.

The first realization was how tiny and delicate it appears. It is very svelte and very low, it's hard to believe that this was considered a big "saloon" in the Old Country. I sat first in the passenger side (the driver's door wouldn't unlock) and was impressed by how much room there is, the seat adjustment provided plenty of leg room and the seat was quite comfortable. I then sat in the rear seat directly behind. Even with the seat moved back there was enough legroom and plenty of headroom. After fussing with the inside door lock I managed to open the door and sit in the driver's seat. Again enough legroom, the seats recline and the steering wheel easily telescopes. (unlike my XJS). And what a beautiful view of the wooden aftermarket wheel, the Smiths gauges and the exquisite dash veneers, truly beautiful.

The motor sounded pretty healthy. This was the last version of the classic XK straight six. Although it was at it's final revision with fuel injection and electronic ignition, you could gaze upon it and dream of the victories at Le Mans.

Old, dirty, used, but unbowed.

That in itself has real value. Now, I wouldn't suggest buying this particular car with an eye towards restoration, even if you got it for a grand, there are much nicer examples available that have less or no rust, shiny paint, and a much better interior. All for only a price that is only three to four times this valuation. No, if I were to buy this car I would fix the rust with POR 15 epoxy paint and putty. Blend in and touch up the body repairs, then really clean and polish up the entire car. Make any of the necessary repairs it needs to keep it an honest functional car that has to work for a living. That would make it a pretty presentable driver. Then I would drive it! Maybe you might fall in love with it and decide that it deserves a more thorough restoration. If not, you could at least get a couple of years use out of the car before you need to worry if it will pass smog. For a car in this situation that's about as good a fate as it gets.

After viewing this car, have my feelings for this breed of vintage Jaguar changed? Not really. It is a lovely car and one in good fettle would be a great source of pride and pleasure. Would I want this more than my '97 XJ6? My '97 is in much better condition and it's a much better performer than a Series Three. The X300 owes it's design heritage to the earlier model. That was not an accident. I look upon my X300 with appreciation and affection. Besides the beautiful styling and interior design it is powered by the final version of the Jaguar straight six motor. It is the ultimate version of what I consider to be a masterpiece. The car is extremely satisfying to own and drive. I don't know if I would derive more pleasure from the ownership of the earlier car.

The Jaguar company has given quite a gift to the enthusiast, producing "modern" versions of their most revered classics. The passage of time and massive depreciation has made these car extremely affordable to average hobbyist.

If you have always wanted a Mark II but have watched the prices of these models climb out of attainability, could you consider an  S Type as a suitable alternative? How about a V8 or even Supercharged example?

The Series Three XJ6 has been considered the most beautiful sedan ever built. The X300 and X308 model XJ6 and XJ8 might be considered as runners up. They are available with straight six or V8 power, or as the highly desirable XJR models, your choice.

And what can be said about the E Type that hasn't already been said? It might be heartbreakingly beautiful, but the real heartbreak is that the average enthusiast is no longer be able to afford one. Could you find joy with an XK8? There are more convertibles available than coupes, in a bizarre twist of fate, and damn, those things are cheap!

There was an article last year in Jaguar World magazine about an enthusiast who bought an example of all three, for the very reasons presented above.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" In this case the beauty can be guaranteed but the joy is always in question.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Let's build a Hot Rod!

photo source: jalopy

I always felt I was born twenty years too late!

photo source: jalopy
I grew up reading Hot Rod fiction by Henry Gregor Felsen at a young age. In those stories teen aged hot shoes bought those pre war Fords for a song and chopped them down and souped them up into hot rods. These cars were cheap and plentiful. They were worth so little they were pretty much disposable. By the time I was beginning to be aware of the cars around me in the early 60's I don't ever recall seeing an actual Hot Rod on the streets. I did see that Model T coupe in a used car lot on E.14th. St. near my house. This was probably in 1960 or 1961. If it was a later model, like a 1925, it was only 35 years old at the time! My '70 Mustang was 45 years old when I bought it in 2015.

This must have been way before my time! photo source: jalopy

I kept my eves open, but don't recall seeing a hot rod or even a stock pre war car on the street at all, during my grammar school years. (K thru grade 8). This would have been the period between 1959 and 1969. There was the occasional late forties car, but mostly early and mid Fifties Chevies and Fords. I have read in  car magazines from the early 70's that in the Fifties, old cars were looked down upon, and their owners, unless they were Dust Bowl Migrants,(or especially if they were Dust Bowl migrants) were considered "peculiar". In those days you only drove a really old car if you were just really, really poor.

There were so many many improvements and real advancements that took place in the twenty years spanning the late 20's to the late 50's. Cars really changed a lot. Resale for the prewar cars plummeted after the post WW2 auto shortage was alleviated by increased production.

This was more like what I saw in the 60's photo source

I entered high school in 1969. There certainly weren't any hot rods in the student parking lot. Most of the students cars were from the 60's. Although one of my more eccentric classmates drove a 1958 Cadillac limousine!

So when was this "Golden Age" of Hot Rods? Obviously quite before my time. Probably in the early 1950's as returning GI's and others bought up the supply of low priced cars and modified them to suite their own preferences. In some of the Felsen stories there were characters that by the end of the story had traded up to a late model car, like a 1949 Chevy or a shoebox Ford.

While I was in high school I was busy reading car magazines like, Hot Rod, and later Street Rodder, and Rod Action. I found  Hot Rod books in the library by Leroy "Tex" Smith and others. I probably could have bought some old car and fixed it up, but at the time I wasn't interested in some old pre war car. I wanted a '56 Cadillac! I was busy buying and fixing up Honda motorcycles. An authentic Hot Rod wasn't even on my radar.

Years pass, it's the Eighties, and the older Baby Boomers have re- embraced the classic Hot Rod. Now they are called Street Rods. They are evolving from the mostly stock appearing " Retro Rods" to the awful monochromatic smoothie-billet era. As legions of Rod owners discarded their original steel bodies and vintage running gear for repop frame rails, fiberglass bodies, and the ubiquitous 350 Chevy motor. Little did they suspect that these cast off parts would fuel the birth of the "Rat Rod" movement in the next decade. Change is never ending. The new era of the Muscle Car begins and the price escalation of cars and parts begins in earnest.  The birth of the Cable TV car shows sparks a wider interest in Hot Rods and muscle cars. This does nothing to improve affordability.

Where was I at this point? Oh. I think I was messing around with my Harley Davidsons and my '56 Caddie and my Rivieras. The price of Early Iron had definitely been on the upswing and as usual I was finding myself priced out of the picture. I was a reader of a magazine called "Custom Rodder" and there had been some noise about creating high boy style cars from 50's and later cars by narrowing the bodies until the wheels stuck out like an old fender less high boy. It sounds like a pretty ghastly idea although a few cars were actually built. I even saw one at a GoodGuys show a few years back. Well somehow Custom Rodder staff got wind of a builder in Texas named Joe Pinkston. Pinkston was a fabricator and had been involved in making some streetable Nascar racers. I read the article and was engrossed. Joe was quoted as saying that if we keep basing our builds on pre war cars, which are limited in supply, that the movement would eventually come to a halt. He said that we have to accept other types of cars as open wheel hot rods. He touted his idea as a new low buck alternative. I visited the web site where I found an article from Popular Hotrodding that reported Joe's tour of the South and the car's debut at a Hot Rod happening. I was quite excited by this new thinking outside the box and ordered the two VHS build tapes.

The project starts with a 1970 thru 1981 Chevy Camaro. Cut off the top, remove the doors and remove an approx. 2 ft. section of the floorboard. Insert some reinforcements within a body channel and slide the rear part of the body forward. Rectangular tubing is used to bridge the shortened door opening. Weld all this up and cover the door openings with the salvaged door skins. Now the operator sits in what used to be the back seat. In order to enhance the proportions it is necessary to push the front wheels forward. The second video deals with this activity. Camaros have a bolt on sub frame. This frame is extended which will move the wheels up by the radiator. The hood is a fiberglass molding that is supplied with the kit. It tilts forward to allow access to the motor. The side panels of the hood come much fuller and it is up to the customer to trim them to their specifications. You could also insert a louvered or screened panel. Joe opened up his car's hood sides to show off the motor and side pipes. Joe relates that one of his customers is a musician and he cut out a design of musical notes in the hood sides. Joe said he thought that was a good look! Okay... The Z Rod pictured below was Joe's personal car and was featured in the article. The car is equipped with a hi po 454 so performance was not an issue.

I found the concept of the car to be refreshing in that there was some new thinking directed at an old phenomenon. Why not do something different? Well it was about this time when these cars, old 70's Camaros, started to become more expensive. One of the attractions to this concept was that it was supposed to be a low buck alternative. I remember when you could pick up one of these cars for a few hundred bucks. They were for sale on every corner. What about the look? Is this a success from an aesthetic stand point? Opinions vary but probably not. It looks kind of ungainly but mostly like a chopped up Camaro. The biggest question is why? What's the point? During the late 70's to early 80's there were factory authorized convertibles available. The next generation of Camaro and Firebird also included factory convertibles. These have not been particularly expensive on the resale market. There is an even larger supply of Mustang convertibles available. The Mustangs were even better performers than the Camaros in the early Nineties.

I really became very excited about the prospects for the Z Rod. I thought that I might build one and then become an agent for the company. I could take my car to shows, display it, answer questions, sell the build videos and maybe even kits. First I needed someone that would build the basic body tub and extend the subframe for me. I looked around for a body or fabrication shop in San Jose. I felt a little silly describing the build to a couple of welding shops who promptly shut down my inquiry. Finally one guy told me that he wouldn't open himself up to the liability of building this thing, all  he needed was the customer to kill himself in this contraption and he would be facing a massive law suit. I couldn't do it myself, and I couldn't find anyone to do it for me. I even called up Joe in Texas. His advice was to find someone with a welding rig mounted on a truck. Make all the cuts, mock up the connections with clamps and call the guy to come on over and weld it up. I guess that things are different in Texas. Joe said that I could approach a limousine constructing business. They have the experience cutting apart and welding up cars. ( Do you remember those god awful stretched and shortened first gen Cadillac Sevilles?) I finally approached a custom builder I learned about in Clearlake. I spoke to him and he told me that he could do it and charge by the hour. He asked me to supply him with the build videos and he would give me his opinion. Any idea of a low buck build was rapidly disappearing!

I guess Joe wasn't the only one with the idea!

Needless to say, my excitement came to a screeching halt. So did any plans that I had for ever building this car.

While it is true that pre war cars are a vanishing breed, the reproduction industry has been working hard to provide the parts needed to build up a car from scratch. There has also been a lack of interest in using authentic vintage parts in modern build ups. It seems to apply mostly to the chassis and drive train.This has resulted in the increase in the availability of genuine old timey parts.

I decided that I needed to have a real old time hot rod, at least once. I found a penny saver type auto related classified newspaper at a swap meet. Perusing this very studiously I found a project available for sale in Madera Ca. This is what I found. A shortened 1922 Dodge touring car body mounted on a custom (homebuilt) rectangular frame. The front suspension consisted of a "suicide" mounted I beam Ford solid axle, with split wishbones. The frame had a rear kick up holding a 40 ish Ford "banjo" torque tube driven rear end. There was a small block Chevy motor mated to an early Ford tranny with one of those vintage bell housing adapters. There was even a radiator from an unknown source. Some of the parts were quite attractive. I had always liked the look of the I beam axle. The banjo rear end was also a cool vintage looking piece.

I moved the project along as much as I could. Being able to have access to welder would be really helpful on a project like this. I went to several old car swap meets looking for parts for the brakes and what not. Prices seemed kind of high to me, a natural cheapskate. To make the transmission connection work I needed a certain Mercury clutch assembly, which I found wasn't cheap either. I soon realized that this wasn't exactly going to be real low buck project and my more practical side turned an analyzing focus to it.

What was I going to do with this car?  Would I drive it to work or the store? It didn't have a top, or side curtains. If I couldn't keep it in the garage, how can you lock something like this up? I had thought about sinking a post and metal ring in the driveway and chaining the axle to it. Then the ultimate realization occurred to me. That a car like this is really a death trap! There is no kind of occupant protection. The occupant is "thrown clear" in a collision. Yeah, we all know how well that works. If you are a motorcycle rider you can usually come to terms with this. I didn't want to make that decision for my kids.

So I sold it. The buyer a couple of years later sent me some pictures.

The buyer actually finished it! It looks pretty much as it did when I had it. I had included those queen bee headlights and roadster pipes, though he installed a Jag rear end and disc brakes. He also switched to mag wheels. I will give him a lot of credit for finishing it. Many projects will move from owner to owner, who move the build along a bit before selling it again.  Funny thing is that he asked me if I was interested in buying it, as it was up for sale.

It is a classic look.

Hey, it's areal Hot Rod!
I told the seller no thanks.

A few years later, really just a couple of days ago, I found this on Craig's List. It's a complete Model A chassis, complete with motor and tranny.  It has the steering system and control pedals intact. I'll bet that this car was purchased for the body and the owner placed it upon a modern repop chassis.

I can see a Hot Rod, Can You?

Sure it's rusty, but it is pretty complete. It would be easy (?) to go through the chassis and motor, refurbish it then find and build some type of speedster body. It might not be that cheap to build, but at 400.00 it is cheap to buy. Oh, I was tempted.

Plenty of opportunity to learn by doing.
I think that this would be a good way to learn about antique cars. I would want to go through the chassis and check critical components like the steering knuckles, springs ,brakes, and drivetrain if I were going to "recommission"  it for road use.

I have this "crazy idea" about taking a Model T or other antique car on a road trip up the West Coast, from Mexico to Canada. Sort of my own "Three Flags Run." I've started speaking to wife about it, laying out the groundwork. You have to plant the seed first.

Needless to say, she was not exactly enthused by the idea. But to her credit she didn't shut down the idea immediately. "How about taking a 1954 Jaguar sedan on a trip like that?" You've gotta keep your foot in the door!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sometimes you just have to finish the job!

I wouldn't want to have to pick out each individual piece of fruit.
Being a backyard Jaguar mechanic is hard enough! 

The engine support bar makes things easier and cuts down on clutter under the car.  Note the lengths of rubber hose on the ends of the threaded adjusting hooks. That will prevent closing the hood and making a nasty dent.

I'm still deep into the transmission replacement of the XJS, perhaps a more realistic description is that I'm still buried in the job. On this car access is very tight, and there are a lot of contortions that have to be made to reach and remove certain components.  Like ALL of them! It is a jello mold of a car, Imagine the engine and drivetrain as huge chunks of fruit cocktail and the rest of the car is Jello poured into the mold to fill up the remaining space.

Lying on my back I used a mirror to locate the bolts.
 It took this cheap old round head ratchet wrench to get enough clearance to actually turn the bolts.

Sometimes all it takes is an old length of pipe to add enough leverage.
This pipe has actually been around my family for over forty five years!

Certain jobs are somewhat maddening at first. Removing the torque converter to flex plate bolts for instance. Frustration could leave a lesser man near tears, but after awhile an answer makes itself known. Others jobs, removing the bell housing to engine block bolts is even worse. Tears may fall. (In your garage, no one can see you cry!) Ferrari may have said that he built his cars to go, not to stop. Sir William might have said that he built his cars to go together once, at the factory. Checking the forums, I found the advice to use a yard long extension on the socket and give it a go from on top of the lowered transmission! Yes, this does seem to work. I don't know how difficult it will be to reassemble it.

Jobs like this are very labor intensive. As in a lot of niggling little things. Having to get out from under the car to go to the tool chest to get a certain tool, picking the correct wrench from  a pile of them under the car. Just trying to read the size etched on the socket or wrench with the feeble illumination of a droplight and a dirty pair of reading glasses. At least I was smart enough to write the sizes in marker on tape wrapped on sockets and wrenches before hand. This has saved a lot of frustration. The socket fell off of my yard long wobbly extension and it bounced off somewhere. I couldn't find it. I must have looked all over for ten minutes, then I decided it was time to break for dinner. After dinner I found it mocking me, sitting under one of the car ramps. Smug little socket.

Those taped numbers make it much easier to select the proper size socket.
Those aluminum Spam cans come in handy.

At one point in my youth , I was hired as a mechanic's assistant at Coliseum Motors, a Kawasaki dealership in East Oakland. I learned two very important things while I was employed there. One, at that point in a job where your workspace is a cluttered mess of dirty tools and parts,usually about midway through the job, Stop, take a break, clean up the mess. (and yourself) Organize your tools, than continue on the job. Second, is to never take on the job of fixing a basket case. This is critical to a shop, because it will consume so many man hours, costing a lot in labor. The owner will likely balk at paying the bill and the results are likely to be unsatisfactory to all.

I took the time after removing the torque converter bolts to clean up my workspace. I moved the unused floor jacks away from the working area, cleaned and organized my tools, and even set up my radio cd player. Writing about these types of repairs is probably as boring as reading about them. So I don't see any reason to go into step by step detail.

The Harbor Freight transmission jack made the job really easy.
The only real problem was that the jack just doesn't drop down far enough.

Last night I actually got the transmission down. I found that I did have to use a yard long collection of extensions, both the wobbly type, and the usual rigid type. I found that while lying on my back I could reach around the bell housing and feel the top two bolts. I found that if I stick my head up in the area of the tailshaft and look forward I can see most of the top bolts. I actually fished one extension up blindly and found the upper left hand bolt with ease. The tranny jack did a fine job of lowering the transmission but it only drops to 8 inches so I will still have to jack the car up even higher to remove it from under the car.

The top three are the hardest bolts to access.
Those deep furrows make it a bit easier to locate the bolt heads.

I ended up stacking three two by fours on the on the lifting point of the floor jack to raise the car high enough for me to remove the transmission from under the car. Transferring the old transmission from the jack onto the floor wasn't too hard, but lifting the replacement onto the transmission jack was a bit of a problem. I paid the price with a sore aching back. I thought that it was good idea to tape the top four bell housing bolts in place before I lifted the trans back into position. It went back in much easier than it came out. These top four bolts are the hardest to reach. Taping them in place saved me the misery of trying to put the bolts into the holes blind.

The bolt head is hard to see but way up there at the top.

Something I found that makes this easier was just accepting the fact that the transmission to bell housing bolts have to be removed from under the car using long extensions on the socket. I wasted a lot of time resisting this idea, trying to find a way to access thee bolts from the top side. I found that once you drop the motor an inch or so you can reach the shifter cable much easier. I just unbolted it from the bracket and shift arm. I don't know why the Haynes manual tells you to pull the console! Also you can remove the filler tube bracket at the bell housing and then the filler tube. It just blocks your access to the cooler line fittings. It took me a long time to remove them when  was limited to just one eighth of a turn at a time.

Yeah, the ratchet is way back here!

I'm almost done, but I will admit that I didn't pull a marathon session to complete the job. I know it took me well over a month. It's not like I didn't have anything else to do. I ended up taking it easy some days, some days I didn't even look at the car! Other days I put in five or six hours. Since this is a hobby car it's not like I needed it to get to work. I also wasn't that motivated. I charged up the battery while I cleaned up the garage and put away the tools.

Last Saturday I finished up all the little things that always seem to take a long time to finish up. Last night I added the ATF and fired the beast up. The motor started up without any drama, I put it in gear and felt a very positive engagement. The first time I've felt this since I got the car. I backed it out into the driveway while the exhaust burned off the spilled oil in a hazy cloud. I reversed into the street and drove back and forth several times.  Success!  It does feel good to finish up the job and make a real improvement in your car.

What's next? Well the next issue is to get the smog check out of the way and finalize the title change. Am I concerned? Always. With all my old cars I always worry until I get that clean bill of health. After the smog test I can finally finish up the transfer of title and get my new license plates. The next big project will be to rebuild the front suspension system. Then I will deal with patching up the top and fixing the windows and other numerous little niggles. After the suspension is squared away it will be time to put the XJS into my driving rotation.

Now I can turn my attention to the XJ6 which will get the suspension attention first. I need the car up for my trip to Oregon this summer.

Yes, I am getting too old for this stuff. Luckily my latest venture was conducted in the privacy of my garage.