Friday, September 27, 2019

Changing the 12 sparkplugs in my XJS, Act Three.

I picked up a few things that I thought might help.

I left off last week after removing all the sparkplugs.

There was a little bit of drama involved in just getting the replacement plugs. This was an engine that was pretty rare in the U.S. when it was new, now twenty five years later even the plugs are not that common. It had Bosch Super R6 665 plugs  installed and they had worked fine until this last bout of unpleasantness. I figured that I wold just replace them with the same type. My local "good" auto parts store didn't have them in stock. They would have to order them and could have them by the next day. Great, I was dedicating the entire weekend to getting this job done. I tried one of my local chain auto stores and again they didn't have them in stock again but "we can order them for you."

Well, if they're going to be ordered than I'd rather give my business to the "good" shop. I should have pulled one of the easy plugs right away and taken it to the store with me. Eventually they found an NGK equivalent BKR6E-11. And they had twelve in stock. The H.E. V12 has tapered spark plug seats but the Bosch plugs that I pulled out were gasket seal plugs. Well, if they had worked okay to this point than I guess they would still do.

The moral of the story is, source the plugs before you start the job. It could eliminate a long delay.

Who would have thought that gapping and installing twelve spark plugs could take so much time?

That little "trouble light" has really come in handy. My eyesight is not that bad, but I really can't make out precise detail in low light situations. I had a couple of lights set up under the hood but It helps to be able to position a light source right where you're working.

We are living in the "Golden Age" of plentiful, extremely bright, inexpensive lights. Everything is halogen or LED and they come in all sizes and kinds of configurations. 

Luckily you will never have to manage with a 60 watt droplight and a two D cell flashlight!

That light is quite bright
 and easy to position where it's needed.

I managed to remove the two sparkplugs that were located alongside the base of the throttle tower using a universal adapter and a "wobbly" extension. I was very concerned about re-installing the plugs because of the tight fit. I was fearful of cross threading them. The plugs located under that silver tube weren't going to be easy to re-install either.

I decided to remove the throttle tower. It is held down by four bolts. The two front bolts are easily accessible, the rear are almost impossible to reach using conventional sockets and extensions. That's where that crow's foot wrench set came in handy. I had to run down to Harbor Freight to buy the SAE set to match the Metric set that I already had. I'm removing the two rear bolts in the picture above.

Opening up these bolt holes into slots will help speed things up.

I'd been referencing Kirby Palm's book for tips. One of the contributors mentioned cutting slots in the rear bolt holes so that the bolts could be started in the block and the base slipped under the heads of the bolts. It sounded like a good idea. I just added some bigger washers under the bolts and taped them to the head of the bolt to hold them up while I installed the tower. It worked out well. In the future I think that I could remove the coil first, then disconnect the throttle rods from the throttle bodies then loosen the bolts holding the tower, and could just shift the tower around a bit to remove and install the plugs.

I could probably replace the rear four spark plugs easily, then re-install the throttle tower.

That little spark plug tool I bought was worthless. It was poorly made and just too short to be of use. Oh well.

Those crowfoot wrenches do have a few applications.

This picture was actually taken while I was removing the tower, note the intact bolt hole area. It's just a clear shot showing how the crow's foot wrench was used.

Be sure to check if the spark advance springs are working properly, clean and lubricate as needed. Read Kirby's book!

All the plugs were installed, then the distributor cap was placed into position. I left it loose so that I could shift it from side to side or front to back to make it easier to reattached the plug caps. I found it easier to remove the coil from the front of the throttle capstan plate before I installed the assembly. Then I added the coil.

Reattaching all the hoses and wires calls for a lot of caution. The coil and amplifier wires are likely to be very crispy with cracked and missing insulation. There is a coax wire from the amplifier to the ECU that will likely be fragile and easily damaged. I ended up peeling back the wrapping and re-insulating the inner wire, then wrapping up the whole thing in electrical tape to secure and protect the connection. You would not believe how thin that inner wire is! It's just sitting out there next to a hot water manifold that had reduced the connector housing to the constitution of a soda cracker! I plan on reinforcing this connection and insulating it from the heat. If this wire breaks, that motor is dead in the water. I broke one amplifier wire and had to splice in a new section of wire and connector. I plan on redoing this whole area of wiring in the future.

Okay, it looks like everything is reinstalled and hooked up. I had placed the battery on the tender for several days and it was up to full charge. Nothing left to do but crank it up, Right?

No guts no Glory!

Total time invested Today, 6 hours and 45 minutes.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Changing the 12 spark plugs in my XJS, Act Two.

It's a tight fit.

This is my working space, It's kind of tight but I can't complain. I'm just glad to have my car in the garage. Those white drawers, the two roll aways, and my roll-about work table let me make the most of the space. I'm very happy to have my XJS warm and dry inside. That's where a collector car should live. Right now my '96 Mustang is sleeping right beside it. After the Tahoe trip I took the Mustang out of the rotation for a couple of weeks. The XJ6 has been my daily for a while, it's going into the garage soon. It's important to keep all the cars "exercised" so that problems that can evolve from disuse don't occur.

Nut, bolt, hose and wire soup!

I was careful to label each wire, hose, and plug lead with blue tape. There is a lot of them. This is important because the next step is to remove the "Gorgon's head." That's a good name for the 12 lead distributor cap. I'll bet many a mechanic has turned to stone when they first confront it!

The extra long pliers made it easy to remove the plug caps.

Avert your eyes! Luckily I had those long pliers to make removing the plug leads easier. Another Harbor Freight purchase.

First I vacuumed up all the big chunks.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness, or something like that. I decided that it would be  good idea to vacuum out the motor valley. It wasn't that dirty, but I wouldn't want any dirt or stray particles falling into an open spark plug hole. A little shop vac comes in handy.

Having a full size air compressor comes in pretty handy also.

A full size air compressor can be helpful addition in any garage. I have some air powered tools but I rarely use them. I mostly use the air to inflate tires and clean things.

This compressed air gun is quite handy.
This is what I used to clean around the plug bases. Don't forget to wear eye protection!

After blowing the area with compressed air.

Typical plug seat area looks pretty good. Actually, the valley looked pretty clean without a build up of leaked oil. The wiring loom looked to be in good shape also. It looked as thought it might have been replaced recently, before my purchase. Still some of the wires are pretty crispy. Everything under the hood is exposed to a lot of heat. I wonder why Jaguar didn't incorporate some "baffled" louvers into the hood design. My old 280 ZX had a functional set, for the identical reason.

Kroil is supposed to be the nest penetrating fluid there is.

I thought that it would be a good idea to spray some penetrating fluid around the plug base, just in case they were a little stubborn.  Kroil is supposed to be the best, that can cost me 20.00.

There's a pool of penetrating oil around the base of the plug.

Two bolts support the back of the a/c compressor.

You might be amazed to know that there are a few spark plugs on the V12 that are easy to access. Well, after you remove the cruise control servo. These are the A 3 and 4 plugs and their corresponding B side counterparts. There are two plugs located directly under the a/c compressor. Some guys have good luck removing them without moving the compressor. They will modify a plug socket by shortening the skirt and drilling a bigger hole on the top to allow the top of the plug to stick in deeper. Then they turn it with an open end wrench.

There are two more bolts holding the front on.

I found it easier to block the compressor up to remove the two front spark plugs. There are four bolts holding the compressor to it's mount. First you'll have to loosen air pump mount to loosen the belt. Then you can slip it off the a/c pulley. I propped up the compressor with a couple of pieces of 2X4.

No, it's not the Titanic tilting down before it sinking below the waves.
It just feels that way.

Black and sooty, why am I not surprised?

I expected the plugs to be fouled and they were. I also am hoping that replacing them with new ones will cure my problems. Hope springs eternal.

This episode was an investment of four hours and forty five minutes.


How did I ever grow to love-- a four door?

 Grace, Space, and Pace. On the Road at Depoe Bay Oregon.
photos of my actual XJ6.

I have been a car guy since I was a little kid. The Jaguar E-Type, then known as the XKE, and the Corvette Stingray were two of the significant cars introduced during my childhood. I learned about other European sports cars but I never had any real contact with them. My favorite cars were the two door variants of standard American Cars. Actually, my favorites were two door versions of the big luxury cars. Usually Cadillacs. Can you say, Coupe De Ville?

At this time, four door cars, especially posted sedans, were considered to be fuddy duddy old man cars. A young guy usually only drove these things when they were family hand me downs. Once they saved up enough money they would buy a more appropriate vehicle.

There was a good reason for this.

Four door sedans were the cheapest and least glamorous models offered. They had the most basic specifications and fewest options. The power train choices were usually the least powerful.

Coupes offered snazzy interiors, with bucket seats, consoles, and hard top body styles.

Coupes and two doors usually have  swoopier roof lines and cozier interiors. Perfect for a single person or young couple. They don't have to be practical and carry a bunch of kids and their baggage.

There were a few four doors that caught my eye, however.  My Dad had a '63 Continental sedan. This was a close coupled, somewhat sporty sedan that was actually a personal car. It also had what we then called "suicide doors." Now these are referred to as "coach doors." Very cool!

I got to drive my Dad's car quite a bit.
It was special. This not my Father's Lincoln, his was powder blue.

I had a few Coupe de Villes and a few hardtop Sedan de Villes. The sedans were bought because they were the best example and the best buy that I found at the time. Hardtop sedans are pretty darn cool though. Nothing like rolling through town with all four windows cranked down.

As the 1970's rolled around certain European manufacturers began producing high performance vehicles based upon their sedan models. While they were still producing small two seat roadsters and GT cars, those suffered a bit in real world practicality.

Jaguar debuted their iconic XJ6 model for 1968. It was the perfect combination of beauty, style, performance and luxury. And prestige, lots of it! BMW developed their 5 series and Mercedes lent a lot of cachet to their smaller sedans.

The first Eurosedan that really caught my eye was the BMW Bavaria,

The Audi Fox also was a sporty lower priced alternative.

But it was always the XJ6 that stayed in the back of my mind.

That driver's seat is extremely comfortable and supportive.

After I bought my XJS I realized that it was going to be a long range project. I started looking for a Jaguar that I could actually drive. After some on line research I decided that an X300 series XJ6 would be the best choice.

I found a car that was in good shape and had been owned by a mechanic. I picked it up in L.A. and drove it back home. The car ran great and it was a great bonding experience. Once I got it home I drove it everywhere, all the time. I drove it up to Oregon and Washington State on my Summer vacation. I decided that I would just drive the heck out of it and let the chips fall where they might.

The long wheelbase version has limo like back seats.

Luckily they never did.  I discovered that I had a beautiful car that was a pleasure to drive. It was so comfortable and such an incredible road car. Plenty of room for passengers and cargo,

But best of all It made a every trip a special event. It made me feel special just because I owned it.

The instrument panel has my favorite gauge layout.
My current odometer read is over 158,000 miles.
The X300 Jaguar XJ6 from 1995 to 1977 is considered the most reliable and trouble free older Jaguar, and it has started to enter collectible status.

I've found that this car delivers on so many levels.The performance is more than acceptable. The fuel economy is not bad either, at 25 mpg. I just like being in the car enjoying the interior ambiance while driving it. I don't find myself missing driving a coupe or convertible.

Jaguar really got it right.

Luckily, I found a car in very good shape cosmetically. A Jaguar has to be like a cherished heirloom. Preserved and treasured. Then it is something that really provokes a pride in ownership. I really like this car a lot. It's very possible that I could do without an XJS or even an XK. Or even that old Mark VII I have stashed in the side yard.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Changing the 12 spark plugs in my XJS, Act One.

This is the engine before I started.

Even without doing any research I knew that it is going to be a very complex and labor intensive project. I went to the Jaguar forums to look for some advice. One of the members Doug D. gave a pretty good rundown. First thing that he advised was to relax, take your time, and look carefully to see just how things are assembled. The first part of the operation requires removing much of the components that are bolted to the top of the motor.

I'm going to log how much time each steps takes. I will take photos to document the adventure.

First I removed the throttle linkage rods.

I started out by removing the Y shaped steel breather line. Then the throttle capstan. After that, I removed the coil. Finally I removed the cruise control vacuum motor. All this was necessary to open up some working room. Now you can actually see the plug leads that are attached to the spark plugs.

Throttle capstan, coil, cruise control motor all removed.
Looks much less cluttered right? 

That's all for today, Next I will vacuum the valley and use compressed air to clean out the areas where the plugs seat. So far I've invested one hour. Not too bad.

That's enough about spark plugs for this week's post.

The Lincoln Mark VII, There's a lot to like.

I've been posting about how I was interested in getting a Lincoln Mark VII. I did more than talk about it. I went to go check out a car located in Hayward.

White isn't a common color on these cars. 
Most were painted darker colors like gun metal grey, burgundy, or blue.

White outside and tan inside, that's my new favorite combination.
I don't want anymore cars with black interiors!

This was the white car that was advertised for 2,200.00 When I actually saw the car I was a little disappointed, the paint was kind of chalky in places and it could use a touch up in a couple of spots.
I have to remember that this car is only about thirty years old! It was actually in quite good shape for it's age.

The car was straight with no major body damage and really only a couple of little dents and dings. I'm sure more would be obvious if the paint was nice and shiny. There wasn't any visible rust and of luckily there wasn't a vinyl top to be concerned with.  The interior was in pretty good shape. It was clean and only had one cracked area of leather on the passenger seat back. The upholstery was tan corduroy -like cloth, with leather bolsters. The headliner and door panels looked good except for an issue with the driver's door panel. It was a Bill Blass designer edition which accounted for the cloth upholstery, electronic digital dash, and BBS style alloy wheels. By 1990 the mechanical specs of the Bill Blass and the Lincoln Sport Coupe (LSC) were almost identical. That was good because the designer editions had trailed the LSC in horse power for quite a few years, Now they all shared the 5.0 H.O. motor that was also in the Mustang GT. This mill put out 225 horses and 300 ft/lbs. of torque. The 300 lbs./ft. of torque was equivalent to that produced by my North Star Cadillac motor, Plenty of grunt. This is the same power train that is in my '96 Explorer. It's a strong, long lived, reliable engine and transmission. It only suffers in slightly poorer fuel economy compared the the DOHC design that was adopted with the Mark VII.

With a wheelbase eight inches longer than my Mustang, there is plenty of room in the back seat. I found myself quite comfortable back there. The trunk is only a bit bigger than the Mustang. This car is also equipped with a glass sunroof. Ford invented the "moon roof" and it wasn't adopted by European cars for quite a while. I wish that my XJ6 had one.

This picture looks like a period advertising photo.
The seller works at the airport in airplane
maintenance and service.

The seller installed a new set of Arnott's air shocks up front, preserving the air ride system. The digital dash works but the message center/trip computer is no longer functional. The digital dash would not be my first choice, Actual gauges would be easier to repair and much sportier looking.

Another Bill Blass model in the more typical silver, but check out those wheels!

Here's a closer look. It's actually an alloy wheel with two rows of laced  wire spokes.
My favorite Mark VII wheel.

The add is punching a bit above it's weight, but the Mark was fine
and well suited to American highways.

So would I actually buy one? It's a good looking car that in my opinion bridges the gap between traditional American luxury and contemporary aerodynamic designs. It was cleanly styled in and out in very good taste. In my opinion it's styling has withstood the test of time.

While it is a much more complex car than my Mustang or Explorer, it's power train is good old American Blue Oval engineering. It will run and run, and can be easily fixed. The airbag suspension gives a smooth ride with good handling. According to the President of the Mark VII club, replacing an air bag is much easier than replacing conventional springs. That makes sense as there's nothing to compress.

Comparing the Mark to my XJ6 finds the interior quality lacking, but my Jaguar was a more expensive car and it shows. Still, the quality of the Lincoln is plenty high for an American car. I was very attracted to this example's tan cloth and leather interior, Like my Mustang's tweed like, cloth interior it is cooler and holds the driver in place.

The Lincoln Mark III was labeled the "Chairman of the Board's Mustang," The Mark VII actually comes much closer to fulfilling that role. It was designed to be a Gentleman's GT. Lincoln designed it to to be an effective high speed touring car for American highway conditions. Yes, I would like one. It could replace my Mustang. It is larger with a usable back seat, larger trunk, and a much smoother ride. It also has that neat moonroof!

If not this particular example, than maybe another. Definitely something to think about!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

What could I buy for around two grand?

photo source:
I'd better up the ante, two large ain't going to buy much!

Why am I even looking?

I'm always looking! Everyday I check Craig's List to look for any interesting cars that are for sale. I'm always looking to replace the cars in my stable. Last week I kind of hinted that I'm getting tired of messing with finicky cars like my Jags. My trusty old Fords have been a lot less headaches.

It's not that I don't like the cars that I presently have it's just that are still many cars that I would still like to own.

I've been deeply involved with cars forever, since I was a little kid. I've been involved with vehicles as a driver and owner for fifty years! That's a long time and there has been growth and change in my preferences over the years.

In my youth I was only interested in the Big Iron: Cadillacs.

I've had a string of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s models over the years. A couple were even my "dream cars". The '56 Sedan de Ville was the first car that I ever dreamed about owning. It's funny that it turned out to be the last Cadillac that I've owned. Cadillac got my interest when they introduced the original 1975 Seville. I knew that Cadillac was on to something. When they unveiled the 1977 DeVille series I was totally jazzed, these were cars that could satisfy the traditional Cadillac lover, and the real automotive driving enthusiast! I couldn't wait until I could get my hands on one. It lived up to all of my expectations. Then my interest in Cadillacs waned for a few years until the '92 Seville came on the scene. It was a quantum leap over that undersized little lump of a brougham that preceded it. With the addition of the NorthStar engine it was the whole package. I managed to acquire a three year old '94 STS and another Dream Car was attained. That was year's ago.

Could it be time to revisit my Cadillac roots?

I've always wanted a Sixty Special, a real one,
with the extended wheelbase.

Even though certain older Cadillacs still hold some appeal to me, a '63 Sedan de Ville or Sixty Special  comes to mind. I think that I no longer want such a big car with such poor fuel economy. Also, these cars drive like old cars and I don't think that they would satisfy me.

How about another '77 Coupe de Ville?

This was one of my dreams that I actually owned during what was probably the best time of my life. If I was going to try to recapture this youthful period, maybe one of these would be a good idea. There's only a couple of problems with that. First of all, I don't believe that you can recapture the past by merely acquiring relics from that time. Second, I think that we should grow from our past and move onto new experiences.

As special as my '77 Cadillac was to me then, there's no point looking back.

3,800 dollars.

Now that I'm a Ford guy, I can consider the Mark VII. It was the car that sat at the top of the Ford status ladder. I remember seeing the prototype of this car in Car and Driver at the New York Auto Show. It was called the Concept 90. At the time I thought that it was the next step in evolution of the American Luxury coupe. While I was mulling it over, Cadillac introduced the 300 hp. NorthStar engine. It made the 225 hp. 5.0 H.O. engine in the LSC (Lincoln Sports Coupe) look pretty weak. Many referred to the LSC engine as the Mustang GT engine. But the heavier LSC was always going to be slower than the comparable Mustang.

1990 2,200 bucks. The color combo is right, White with a tan interior.

My '96 Explorer has the same 5.0 engine. It's considered a classic among blue oval performance fans. I had a new '94 Mercury Cougar, and while it is quite similar in size and concept to the Mark, the Lincoln is clearly a couple of levels above that car. The Mark VII is still a very strong  possibility.

1992 El Dorado 1,900.00 
Here's a car that I admired greatly at the time, but I decided to go with the Seville instead. I had considered the two door El Dorado first, because coupes were more my style. The Seville was more like the European sport sedans so popular at the time, and also appealed to me. The Eldo was decidedly more American and besides, I had promised my Son that I would get a car that allowed him to have his own door.

Here's an Eldo that I might consider. Since I've had my experience with the NorthStar engine I've been looking for an example with the older 4.9 OHV engine. The NorthStar was an impressive performer with 50% more power, but it had certain reliability and service problems. I had test driven a 4.9 model and it had more than adequate performance with it's 200 hp. It also has a very good reliability history. When I bought my Seville my buddy Rick bought a pearl white Eldo, and that was one nice car.

1972 Mustang coupe 3,500 bucks

Why do I keep coming back to these cars? Maybe I just like to help the under dog. These models have been lambasted by classic Mustang fans for years. They are too big, porky pretenders to the Mustang lineage. Speaking from the perspective of someone who has actually owned a 1966 and 1970 model Mustang I have a somewhat different opinion.

They are actually not that much bigger than the 1970 models but they were styled to look much larger. They do have more room inside and more importantly to some, under the hood. Even more importantly they incorporate some important safety improvements They have a collapsible steering column, split circuit braking, and a fuel tank housed outside of the trunk compartment. They are also more likely to come equipped with a V8 motor, disc brakes, power steering and a/c. They require a lot less updating to build into a safe, comfortable cruiser. And the kicker is, they are the lowest priced Classic Mustangs. I still think that I can do something with one.

1992 4,700

Oh, the classic second gen Acura Legend Coupe. I will openly admit to loving these cars. They have an elegant look that somehow manages to reference the Nissan GTR of the time. Yes, they are FWD, but so was the excellent Honda Prelude. A Type 2 with the six speed manual is the Holy Grail. Old Guys like me believe that Acura lost their way after producing this car. This is a nice one. There aren't many out there for sale. Most were pretty thrashed by now. It won't get any easier or cheaper to find one in the future.

1993 SC300 5 speed! 3,500

Along with the Acura Coupe is the Lexus SC series. You've got the choice of two engines! A smooth V8 or an equally smooth in line six that was shared with the legendary Toyota Supra. The six is available with a manual five speed transmission. Not only the engine but the chassis was shared with the Supra. These are cleanly styled and very well built, they are Lexus after all. The SC 300 is a bit harder to find but many are in the process of being thrashed as we speak.

2000 XK8. Coupes are for Chickens. Cluck! Cluck! 6,500.00

Will I actually make a move on any of these cars? Maybe. But I've got another plan in action.

I've been trying to make contact with the seller of a 2000 Jaguar XK8. It's been two weeks. I started  a week before the Labor Day holiday and my e-mails have gone unanswered. This is a particularly nice example and it has had the problem areas addressed,and it's a coupe! Yeah, It's gonna cost me a lot more than two grand!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

photo source: the web

This is a phrase that any old Jaguar enthusiast is well acquainted with. I posted a while back about how, after replacing that suspension bushing in my XJS I decided that it would be a good idea to "prime" the motor, before starting it, because the car had been sitting so long. I accomplished this by turning the ignition on, then counting to five, then turning it off, I did that five times. Not a good idea! I must have fouled the plugs but the engine caught but I didn't keep the rpms up and it died. I manged to get it to start again but stalled it trying to back out of the garage. Boy, was that thing blowing smoke out of the exhaust!

You would think that I had learned something from that experience. Today I tried to start the XJS up again. It caught but was running rough but I managed to back it out into the street. It was smoking pretty bad but I could hold it to 3,000 rpms. Of course I tried to let it idle with predictable results. Didn't I learn anything? "What was the old definition of insanity?"

I was sitting outside and tried to start it up again. Several times actually. No luck, I was going to have to push the car back and re-position it to go down the driveway into the garage. I was so lucky to have my Wife come outside and ask if I needed help pushing it. Yes I did. Thank you Dear.

There's no way around it, I've to change out the plugs. It's funny because I've never had any problems starting it before. I thought that I was being smart but I wasn't. At least the car is back in the garage.

The cold start valve is enriching the mixture with extra fuel until the engine warms up a bit. It probably didn't need any priming. I remember a warning that I read on the Jaguar forums years ago. It was to never start an XJS from cold, unless you plan on running it for at least fifteen minutes. There was a post where someone started the car to move it from the garage and park it out at the curb. When he went to restart it, it flooded out and wouldn't run.

That V12 is a big chunk of aluminium and it must take a long time to warm up. While the motor takes a long time to warm up, I'm afraid that my enthusiasm for the car is starting to cool.

I've been spread pretty thin over my stable of old cars.

I just drove my '96 Mustang up to Lake Tahoe for a vacation. It was just me and the Wife and a back seat full of a big ice chest, three suitcases, some small bags and things jammed into any available spot. Why didn't I pack these things in the trunk? The truck is pretty tiny and it was already filled by my Wife's craft and art projects. Still, it was an enjoyable drive through the mountains with the top down, which was the whole reason to take it.

The Mustang turned over 211,000 miles on the way home. It ran great without any problems. I had replaced the broken driver's seat track and repaired the seat upholstery before leaving. This has been a very reliable and easily serviced vehicle, which contributes to a satisfactory ownership experience.

Several weeks earlier I had driven my Explorer down to Indio. I had replaced the front shocks prior to that trip. There were three of us in the vehicle with plenty of room for supplies and luggage. The Explorer ran up over 263,000 miles on the odometer. It ran without a hitch in the 107 degree temps. Combine the heat, the terrible headwinds and relatively high speed travel fuel economy suffered quite a bit, with an average of around 15 mpg.

Now I'm not saying that these high mileage road dogs are the ideal vehicles for extended travel. But if they are maintained and repaired conscientiously they can be depended on to take you there and back, which is all that is really important.

Why can't old Jaguars be like that? Now, I will admit that I've never committed myself to getting the XJS into top shape. These are challenges in cost and effort. But the result is that this car has never been a car that I can actually drive anywhere but around town, occasionally. This means that I've never developed a relationship with it.

My XJ6 was in pretty fine fettle when I bought it, and the trip back from L.A. was a bonding experience. Then I proceeded to use the XJ6 as my Daily Driver. I drove it everywhere close and far, culminating in a trip to Washington State. For about a year and a half I used the car constantly. Unfortunately my commitment to maintaining it properly has waned. As a result the car was laid up for quite awhile. Lately I've been driving the car as a daily again, the faults are not serious enough to make it unsuited for this use.

I made a commitment to maintain my Mustang properly and have spent more on that, than I paid for it. That's what keeps it reliable. My old Explorer came with a thick folder of service receipts, that's what prompted me to buy it. The previous owner was committed to keeping it in good shape.

It's time to make the commitment or move on. I'd like to find a car that can be more reliable, easier and cheaper to service and repair. I'm seriously considering some alternatives. There's still a few cars that I've been interested in for a long time. The right car is important, especially to an enthusiast, but the experience is even more important.

My next experience will be changing the plugs in that V12. I'm going to document the process on this blog. Sometimes you just have to do the work!