Saturday, November 30, 2019

Going to a Toyota dealer to see a used Jaguar XJR in a very used Mustang.

It's hard to believe that this car is twelve years old.

If I bought this car, would it make me happy? Would I now be "satisfied"?
Not an easy question to answer.

I spend a lot of time on the Internet on car related activities. Besides preparing this blog, I'm active on a couple of forums and as a frequent contributor and watching the latest automotive videos.

I also spend an inordinate amount of time looking for, and at, various cars for sale. I look at everything. Old cars, recent cars, American cars, Japanese cars, European Cars, restored cars and most favorably, project cars. If during the day a certain type of car pops into my consciousness I'll start the search when I get home.

During my cyber travels I encountered this lovely 2007 Jaguar XKR coupe.

It was offered for sale at a Bay Area Toyota dealer. I generally have a rule that I never go to look at a car if I'm not really interested in buying it. Especially  with a private party. I would not never want to inconvenience the owner and waste their time.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule.

First, is if the car is advertised by an actual used car dealership. Especially if it's the kind that just parks them in an open lot. Not one of those fancy enclosed showroom collector car emporiums.

Second, if the advertisement advises the buyer to come by and check out the car parked at such and such location. This is the comparable situation to stopping to check out a car you see on the street displaying a for sale sign.

Thirdly, if it's offered for sale at my favorite consignment lot. I love going there. Lot's of different types of cars, no sales people. No pressure, in my mind, it's the equivalent of an automotive zoo.

Several years ago when I was in L.A. I saw an Aston Martin DB7 Volante offered up for sale at one of those non dealership lots that line the Main Streets of most cities. It was an import specialist lot, a couple of notches up from the "buy here, pay here" dealers with the sales office sitting on some mobile home axles.

I drove over thirty miles to check out that car. It was well worth it. I got to get up close and personal and really look closely at it. I got to sit inside of it, look under the hood and chassis. This was how I learned that there's an awful lot similarity between this Aston Martin and my XJS. (They are in fact, platform mates, kind of half siblings) That little kick up in the quarter panel ahead of the quarter window is present in both. (Aston did add a cool little winged emblem to that spot). They felt the same when I sat inside, I think that they even smelled the same! Perhaps I'm going a bit too far!

Okay, back on subject!

Earlier this month, I took the day off for my Birthday and after we went out for breakfast I took my Wife to the Toyota dealership to take a look at the XJR. It was a surprise to me that the car was not displayed in the showroom or even proudly parked in front. In fact, when we arrived, they didn't even know where the car was or if it had been sold. After asking around and making a couple of phone calls they figured out where it was and advised me that the car was "out back."

Even though the car was relegated to the rear of the dealership it was in beautiful shape with only 35,000 miles. The paint and interior were in excellent shape and the car had obviously always been garaged until now. I really liked the color scheme. The exterior was a light metallic pearl blue and the interior was even better. White leather seats with a blue dash and blue and white door panels. My only complaint was the white wood "poplar" veneer on the dash and console. Poplar was not too popular with my Wife. I think that a blond or white wood grain would have been more attractive.

Either way the car was beautiful. I no longer care for black or dark colored interiors, or exteriors for that matter. The car was offered at 21,000 dollars which was a bit high for the year. Originally it was priced new at around 80,000 bucks. Cars do not perform well as investments.  I checked NADA values, and it was a bit over priced. But the mileage was very low. The car had been offered for a few weeks already and it was still being advertised for another couple of weeks after we saw it. The price was dropped a couple of thousand bucks during that time and at now it is no longer listed. I'm guessing that it must have been sold. The unique color scheme probably had a lot to do with it's slow sales. Resale red would have been a safer bet.

While I was probably never actually going to buy this particular car. I would consider buying something like this. A fairly late model, relatively speaking, example in excellent condition. I am not going offer my critique as an example of "sour grapes."  It's obvious that later models replace the earlier ones. They are different, but the important thing is that they are newer, and can be found with lower mileages and in better condition. The time is approaching when I will want to buy the newest model that I can afford, because I'm not going to find it desirable or even practical to do extensive work on a project car. I'm not getting any younger!

Looks kind of like a surprised fish out of water.

I find the previous XK8 to be a more attractive car. While the proportions are similar, the earlier car is a more curvaceous homage to the E Type. The detailing of the lights and grille blends into the overall image better. Yes, it was a retro design, but it was beautiful in my eyes and my opinion was shared by thousands of other enthusiasts.

My Wife asked. "What's that silver thing on the fender for?"
Good question.

I think that the profile is the best view. 

The 3/4 view displays the dramatic roof line to it's best advantage.
Again, I find the rear lighting to be overly busy.

Ten out of ten! Love it!

I could get eventually used to the veneer.

XK8s have been around for quite a while. Their beauty is now overlooked by the masses. They are just seen as old cars. The XK would be perceived as a more up to date expression of the GT look. Though the XK has been replaced by the current F Type.

The passage of time doesn't make a car ugly. The styling cues of the past might now seem dated, or quaint, or ill advised, or sometimes just passe. It's the same passage of time also allows one to take a less jaundiced view of a car's styling.

Nothing I've written is meant to indicate that I think that the XK is an unworthy car.

I still like the XK8 and the XK but I already have a car that I find pretty nifty. I think that it's starting to look better and better as the years go buy

My XJS, as found.
Elegant simplicity.

The bumpers are a product of the times.
Those headlights will never yellow.

Time has not dimmed it's beauty.
In fact, the passage of time has allowed it to become more appreciated. 

Recent posts have detailed how I got my XJS up and running again, I'm ready to make a real commitment to getting it into shape. The great thing about being a car guy is finding something like this, especially at a bargain price.

My Adventure began that day.

Of course, the "buy in price" is just the beginning.

I never answered the question posed in the beginning. Would I be completely satisfied with the XK? Or even the XJS? Well, I've already got the XJS so let's just see what happens. No promises.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The wheels on the Jag go round and round, Part Two.

Here they are, all lined up in a row.

I just finished installing the wheels with the new Cooper tires back onto my car. I had previously noted that I had a problem with one of the wheels being rusted on to the hub. A little judicious encouragement wirh a dead blow hammer and a section of 2 X 4 got the wheel free.

I hit this steel portion of the hub with a wire brush.
It was the first time that I've used my new Makita drill driver.
A most welcome Birthday present from my kids.

Before reinstalling the wheels I hit the mounting area area of the wheel and the hub with a wire brush to clean up corrosion. Then I applied some grease to the mating surface to eliminate the problem in the future. Those wheels had been in place for quite a few years.

After wire brushing this area of the wheel I added a coating of grease.
This will eliminate the problem n the future.

The tires look pretty good to me. They are a bit narrower that the 235 s that were mounted before. Those looked a bit wide for the rims. They had a slightly "balooned" look.

I had mounted one of my XJ6 dimpled alloy wheels to the right front of the XJS after I removed the original wheel. Just to see how it would look and fit. It fit well and looked good. The "lattice" style wheel is a nice looking wheel that reminds me of the popular BBS wheels of the period. I'm glad that the car car came equipped with those wheels  as they are my favorites until the later face lift types. I don't think that would be any clearance issues using this wheel. But since I just paid 500.00 for new tires with a 70,000 mile wear guarantee that idea will probably go way back on a back burner. I don't expect the tires to achieve that kind of mileage, several of the reviews complained that they had only lasted half as long. Still, how long would it take me to put on 35,000 miles? I hate to say it but probably most of the rest of my lifetime. If I put two or three thousand miles on the car a year, that would probably be a lot. Especially since I have so many other cars that I need to, and can use.

Either way I'm anxious to see how they feel on the car.

The tires looked a bit under inflated when I installed them on the car. I added enough air to bring them up to 35 lbs. front and back, for my initial test run.

I went to the manufacturer's website to check the exact specifications on these tires. They were recommended for use on passenger cars, SUVs and CUVs. I was primarily looking to see what the what the weight ratings were. The tires were rated at over 1,700 lbs per tire. That's a total of over 7,000 lbs. well over the approximate 4,000 lbs. of the XJS.

My first impression was that they rode softly and quietly. I drove through my neighborhood streets and then onto the local expressways. Speeds were from 25-50 mph. I took it a little aggressively around low speed corners and down a curvy little back road. Later I tried higher speed turning on the expressway.

I'm not really used to driving the XJS so it's still a novel experience. Visibility is good and the seats and driving position are comfortable. The cabin is nice and cozy. It has a very heavy feel which used to be described as "road hugging weight." It's very quiet and the acceleration is much quicker than I remember, but it's no Hell Cat of course. The car is very low and it's quite apparent when I was mixing it up on the Expressway amidst all those huge trucks and SUVs. It got plenty of double takes as these are pretty rare on the streets. There are also no immediately recognizable Jaguar cues in the styling. I remember the first time I encountered one of these in the wild. I had no idea what it was, even after reading the nameplate on the rear deck. To me, a Jaguar was a XKE.

The tires were much quieter and seem to stick to the road better than the old set. Not really surprising given the age of those tires. Even with brand new tires, problems can make themselves known pretty quickly. I once  put a set of Sumitomo tires on my Seville and they were very noisy going around turns right from the beginning. This is one reason why I stay with the Hankook DynaPros on my F150. I'm on my third set. They are the OEM tire and they have great handling, ride, and grip. They are silent while I hustle the truck through the turns, and believe me, it can hustle. There's no way I would want to trade off that performance to save a couple of bucks!

My XJ6 has been sitting out the dance in the garage for the last few weeks. I took it out Today and put the '96 Mustang in the garage in it's place. I am planning on leaving my XJS's space in the garage empty so I can easily put it back inside after use. The top isn't watertight and keeping moisture out of the car is extremely important.  I'll bring it outside and using it some on the weekends.

I'm sure that my XJS has spent a lot of it's earlier life properly housed in a garage. It was an expensive car when new and I'm sure that the original owner didn't keep it parked in the driveway. The car is very well preserved and most areas of the paint look really good. Luckily there isn't any rust or corrosion on the car which is a constant problem back home in Great Britain.

To be completely honest, until this year the car spent all of it's time outside. Parked curbside in front of my house, in the driveway, and even in the side yard. During this period it was always properly covered. When the rainy season arrived I placed a tarp covering the top, that also extended over the side windows to prevent the entry of water. No the ideal situation, but I could only do so much.

Unfortunately with so much going on, like getting my Daughter's car smogged, I forgot all about the XJ6 and it's registration coming due. It was almost two weeks overdue and that cost me an additional 33.00 for a total of 170.00  I need to track these things better. The XJS will be due in December and I don't want to be saddled with late fees. The XJ6 didn't need a smog check this year, so my plan is to drive it as much as possible and take care of a few things before that becomes a priority.

They call these "lattice' wheels but they are obviously an alloy, simulated wire spoke wheel.
A very attractive design, even with the chrome.

I rushed out to the garage this morning to snap a photo of the installed wheels and tires. I had forgotten to take any pictures after the test drive. The car will have to sit until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving to all and a happy start of the Holiday Season.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

It's the start of the Holiday season, and like the Autumn leaves, the expenses start to pile up.

photo source;

Basic vehicle registration fees have risen over the last few years to 137.00, and by happy coincidence, many of my cars become due as the year draws to a close.

I have written about my Smog Test drama that I went through last year with my two Jags. Now I've got this year off, all I have to do is pay the fees (!) and I'm good. In fact, I once again visited the Smog Hut to have the 2007 Mustang smogged. No drama this time.

It was the only vehicle that needed a smog test this year. The fees were already paid to avoid being tardy but getting a hold of the car from my Daughter so I can take it to the shop takes a bit of planning. As anyone with adult kids knows, they have a busy life of their own and trying to coordinate a plan of action takes a bit of doing.


The wheels on the Jag go round and round...

Now that the XJS is running again, I have to replace those old worn tires.

The suspension of the car is better than it was, but I'll have to keep a close eye on the wear patterns to avoid having the tire worn excessively on the inner edge. I'll even see if I can have an alignment performed.

I remember "back in the Day" when 15 inch wheels were the top of the line. Most American intermediate models and even some full size cars used 14 inch wheels. Thirteen inch rolling gear was found under "compacts" like the Dodge Dart and Ford Falcon. I once owned a '66 Mustang that ran five lug 13 inch wheels.

Fast forward to Today and the 15 inch wheel is now seen as a quaint hold over from the past. There are replacement tires available in corresponding sizes of course, but there are not many "popularly priced" performance type tires available. The XJS was originally equipped with high performance tires commensurate with it's very high performance capabilities.

Of course it's highly unlikely that I will ever drive my XJS anywhere near it's potential top speed of over 150 mph.

Found on many an old Chevelle or GTO.

Even a casual survey of the market looking for replacements for American muscle cars reveals that many lower priced RWL (raised white letter) tires only carry an S speed rating, which is the lowest rating. Luckily the Internet makes it easy to search through the different tire manufacturers' offerings and find something that should work.

There are suitable high performance tires available from Michelin and Pirelli. They are the actual specified replacements for the OEM tire using the factory wheels. Very pricey. Of course I'm not the only one with this problem.

I'd like to welcome Rhett, the producer of the blog "My Jaguar Experience" back to the active Internet community. His latest post concerned his search for replacement rubber for his XJS.

High Cost.

Rhett related that the replacement Michelin XWX tires cost around 400 dollars a piece. If I recall correctly, these tires were used on the Mercedes 6.9 SEL sedan also, a real autobahn burner.

Rhett ended up choosing the Pirelli replacement tire. It was a bit less in price, but he didn't share exactly what the cost was. But I'm sure that it was pretty substantial.

I congratulate Rhett on his choice. Equipping your car with the appropriate tires maintains the authenticity. It also is a dramatic statement that you are serious and committed about maintaining your vehicle properly.

The elusive Ohtsu 225/60/R15

The Ohtsu FP7000 tire has been discussed on the Jaguar forums as a low cost, readily available replacement tire. It is "H" speed rated up 130 mph. which is more than adequate in my view. The tires retail for around 75.00 which seems reasonable. I did a lot of research on the web and read a lot of user reviews. I've found that tire reviews are often all over the place. Some love them and claim they are the best tires around. Many, fewer fortunately, berate them as pieces of junk. It makes it difficult to make an informed decision. The biggest indicator in my eyes is that there is no mileage guarantee at all. This doesn't instantly disqualify it as an unsuitable candidate. It just means that extended life was traded off for other priorities. But with so many contrasting reviews, how could I know how good it might be?

Luckily, in this case there was an extended review posted on the Jaguar forums entitled, "A budget tire journal."  The poster concluded that the tires were adequate over a wide range of circumstances and conditions. The poster did admit however that he later replaced them with a more expensive set. I would hate to show up at some snooty "cars and coffee" event with el cheapo tires adorning my machine. The horror!

Cooper CS5 Ulta Touring tire.

The salesperson at my local tire store, Wheel Works, advised me that the Ohtsu tires would have to be special ordered. I asked him about the General Altimax and he remarked that I had done my research. He then asked me if I had  considered the Cooper Ultra Touring. He then advised me that there was a sale coming up this weekend and he could get me a good deal. I had done some internet research on both tires. Again, the results were inconclusive.

At Pep Boys even with the Ohtsu marked down from 74.99 to 67.49, by the time all the taxes, disposal fees, road hazard, balancing, and valve stems were added up, the total cost would be 479.15. Wheel Works total price added up to 483.00. For an "H" rated tire that carries a 70,000 mile warranty. I have dealt with this tire store for over twenty years with good results so I decided to go with the Coopers.

I chose to remove the wheels myself and bring them to the dealer loose. I don't want to leave my car at a very crowded and busy installer with very few available parking spaces. That would mean that the techs would have to jockey my car around several times to accommodate the other patrons. I don't want my XJS to be started, stopped, and run for such short intervals.

I jacked the car up in the garage and squeezed myself around to the right side and removed those wheels. Things were going good until I tried to remove the left rear which decide that it didn't want to part company with the hub. I previously had to do do a little wrestling to remove the right rear.

These wheels are hub concentric which means that they fit snugly onto a round protrusion on the hub that centers the wheel. The hub is steel while the wheel is aluminium and the corrosion that has built up over time has "welded" the wheel to the hub. It's a good bet that the wheels hadn't been removed for ten years or so.

I sprayed some Kroil into the lug openings and behind the wheel, and let it set overnight. This morning I broke out my dead blow hammer and a length of 2 x 4. I crawled around under the car until I could reach the back of the wheel and carefully placed the end of the 2 x 4 against the inside of the wheel. I repeatedly struck the end of the wood. I rotated the tire to distribute the encouragement around the circumference of the hub. After a few strikes I noted the the wheel was beginning to slowly move off the hub. Success! I'll clean off the mating surfaces with a wire brush and spread some grease on the joint before I remount the wheels. 

The rear tire's tread looks almost new, but checking the build codes reveals that the newest one is already ten years old. The tires always made a lot of screeching sounds going around turns, even when I increased the air pressure. We'll see if the new tires eliminate that.

I considered buying just a couple of used tires to keep costs down. However I think it's time to put some real effort in getting the XJS squared away and suitable for daily use. I need to have a clean slate to evaluate the car's behavior.

Five hundred dollars is not pocket change but it only works out to 125.00 a tire, not too bad. I remember twenty five years back when I had my Seville STS, a set of tires would run close to a grand!

Am I embarrassed that I'm putting cheap tires on my XJS? I'm the same guy that has admitting putting used tires on my XJ6, so the answer is no!

My goal is to improve the car as best I can, I've got to work within the boundaries of my available resources.

Sometime in the future I hope to be able to upgrade to a larger diameter wheel from a later model XJS or XJ6.  Until then I'll just have to work with what I have.

Nothing new about that.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

I have been thinking a lot about my Mark VII lately.

This is how many Marks have met their demise.
Partially disassembled and forgotten.

It's a good idea to keep the disassembled bits in the trunk.

I need to remove the old tires from the wheels. then discard them.
Then the wheels will find a home inside the car.

I have done some research looking into aftermarket universal master cylinders from Wilwood. My thinking is that if I could just replace the master then I could use the existing brake wheel cylinders and clutch slave cylinder. I need to get this thing stopping and moving under it's own power.

These replacement masters are not really that expensive, they are just around sixty bucks a piece. I'd need to cobble up some fittings but that shouldn't be too much of a trouble or expense.

As I detailed in previous posts, my Wife has been very helpful in assisting me to push my dead XJS back and forth into the garage. She always says that she thinks that the XJS is beautiful. Gradually the subject of my having too many cars comes up. She thinks that I should thin the herd a bit---- for my own sanity and peace of mind, of course. Of course Dear!

She will reference the Mark VII and will say, "Even if it was up and running, you wouldn't actually drive that thing to work, would you?

Actually I would. Joyously!

But of course it would have to be running first.

Where are those carbs?

Still sitting in a box, now in the trunk.

I removed the carbs because the throttle of the front carb appeared to be seized. It turned out that it was the throttle shaft that was seized. Gummed up might be a more accurate description. I also found a broken part on the carb. Luckily, I found that S.U. carbs are still well supported and ordered the part and a rebuild kit.

I haven't done anything with the carbs since, as I became involved with the braking and clutch system. While this is important, of course, these are not really needed to get the motor started and running.

However, looking at the situation through my low buck filter, inspired by last week's post, I came to the obvious conclusion.

Since I already bought the rebuild kit for the carbs, why not just work on them?

If I can get the engine to run, then I'll really be jazzed to do something about the brakes.

Time to start another written outline.

1) I know that the engine is free to turn over. I've already done that with the starter motor.

2) I have a good battery that I can use for this purpose.

I keep this thing charged up with a trickle charger.

3) I've already changed the oil and filter

4) I've removed the plugs, checked them, and introduced some Marvel Mystery fluid into the combustion chambers

I also added some to the spark plug threads

5) I'll need to check and clean the points. Then verify the spark. Maybe Tomorrow.

6) The radiator is dry, What's up with that? I'll just add some water and see it leaks out.

7) I'll have to rig up a gravity feed, fuel  tank under the hood to feed the carbs. I'm not even going to try and mess with the existing twin tank/ pump system. I just need a little fuel supply to run the engine for several minutes.

Okay, so my course is clear. Now, let's take a look at those carbs!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Fall colors and a running XJS. It's the most wonderful time of the Year!

Those Autumn leaves...

Northern California is being pounded by record gusty winds. Further North they have contributed to several wildfires and power shutdowns. We endured our own power shutdown a couple of weeks back. Today, in the South Bay, the winds are refreshingly blustery.  I love this time of the year, driving down my local streets through a whirlwind of Autumn leaves.

What could be better than piloting my XJS after a period of crushing frustration?

Interestingly enough, this component was manufactured in Italy.

I had finally traced the engine's problem to an inoperative CTS. I had rebuilt the ignition amplifier, replacing the ignition module and disconnecting the condenser per Grant's List. I don't know if the module was failing or not, but I will say that it had been assembled without the heat transfer grease. Maybe it had broken down a bit, and I can attest to the fact that it was producing some pretty pitiful sparks. 

I originally tried to start the motor with the jumped CTS plug. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts I decided to replace the sensor first. I wasn't going to foul those plugs again! I was concerned that coolant might drip out when I removed the sensor so I had the new one ready to go. I had wrapped some Teflon tape around the threads. After I removed it I heard a couple of gurgling sounds but nothing dripped out. I quickly inserted the sensor and carefully tightened it 

I started the engine and it started immediately and settled into a high idle.  I let it run for a couple of minutes then checked the sensor for possible leaks. It looked good, but I would check again after it warmed up.

I put the car into reverse to back into the street. 

Clop, clop, clop, the sound was accompanied by a shaking, side to side motion. 

Hmmmmmmm. What could be causing that? I made a quick check of all tires and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Had I left something loose on the suspension? I was most concerned with the engine so I figured that I would just go around the block slowly, so that I could listen to the motor. The swaying feeling got worse as I sped up. I pulled over and checked the front wheels. 

The driver's side tire looked like a disfigured bagel! It was a classic tread separation, but much worse than the one that had affected my XJ6. 

The left front tire has assumed an interesting profile.

I returned to my driveway to check the situation more closely. I used my small floor jack to raise the car to spin the tire. I knew that these tires were old and worn to the cords on the inside, but I didn't expect this!


This is why you have to regularly check the condition of your tires. These are pretty old tires. They have always squealed quite a bit in regular driving. Luckily my car had a very good spare that was just low on air. The spare might be the original as it's a Pirelli. Second and third hand owners are reluctant to spend the money for authentic replacement tires, primarily because of cost. Costs will factor in during my selection of tires. I'm going to be looking at a new replacement set pretty darn soon.

My car had been missing the original jack when I bought it. Luckily, I located one for sale when I was down in Anaheim, a couple of years ago. It came in the original carpet bag. The kit contained the jack, winding crank, folding lug wrench, and a spark plug wrench and T bar.  It's nice to have the original equipment in the trunk.

Let's see what's inside.

It doesn't look any of these tools have ever been used.

After I added air to the spare tire, as it was a bit low, I headed out. 

The steering did feel better and there was less groaning coming from the front suspension. I initially applied the brakes gingerly and the first harder application did cause the car to pull to the side. I continued driving around the neighborhood. Their was little traffic and I did some progressively harder braking trying to see how they would behave.

The rate of deceleration was very good and the ABS light had turned off. 
I actually made some pretty hard stops that kind of settled the steering and suspension. 

The car ran very well as it always had. 

I had let the car idle for an extended period and had been driving quite slowly around the neighborhood. I turned the motor off and the fan remained on. I checked the coolant sensor again and it had not sprung any leaks.

On the second go round the car fired right up. I drove for ten miles varying my speed up 40 mph. This time when I stopped the fan stayed off. I knew would run cooler once it was moving down the road. I had never had cooling problems even when the Summer temperatures were in the 90s.

So what does all this mean?

I find myself at the beginning.....again.

At least I now have a running car. There are still quite a few things that I have to follow up on. But my mood has changed.

I will admit that I was quite elated. Quite a change of mood from several weeks ago.