Well at least Gerald won't have the worst XJS on the forum now. Although your's does look clean. Is it?
It's pretty good by XJS standards - two years ago it was being advertised as a rust-free belter of a car at Ã‚Â£6,500, and I can see Pete didn't pay that much for it from the paperwork, but it wasn't a cheap one and doesn't look or feel like a cheap shed, either. The arches look and feel good, but it's been undersealed with Schutz-type stuff and the floorpan repairs I've found suggest that the lumpy bits in the arches may not all be dirt, The plain and clean front numberplate, fisheye-paint bonnet with mismatched catch, quad-lights all hint at minor front end damage, but the inner wings look sound and straight.
Anything the body throws at me, I really don't care - the XJS is well documented and it's not like the depressing feeling of say, welding up the S210's manky behind-bumper secrets, because it's restoring a genuinely appealing, classic car with a classic engine and a fair chance of one day being worth the same as the restoration/repair costs, if done sensibly. Haven't checked to see if it's got recorded damage and don't care, it's almost quarter of a century old with 9 owners and 91,000 on the clock.
An unscrupulous dealer could probably bung some sort of temporary fix for the headgasket to mask it for a test drive (it sounds absolutely fine, bar a slight mis-beat, but I have only run it long enough to reverse into the garage and that's all it's getting until it's fixed), get an MOT on it and probably convincingly put it up for Ã‚Â£4K. And then someone would buy their dream classic V12 Jaguar and enter a world of misery when all the bits let go. I'm very happy with it as it is - it wasn't too expensive to just take on and hope for the best, and if nothing else it's given me a better understanding of the appeal of the XJS. The frameless windows on the facelift make a huge difference to how special - and not dated - it feels.
Quad lights. I quite like them. They're reputedly much better than the single-piece units. If I get all the trim and bodywork back to normal then I'd be very tempted to revert to the proper units, but it's way down the list. First I need to sort the loose door mirrors and make a decision on snapping up a reasonably priced NOS JaguarSport steering wheel rather than trying to refurbish this one.
As for engine transplants, if I want a car with a yank V8 in it, I'm sure when this is done I wouldn't find it too hard to find someone who'd swap for a Mustang, Camaro or Corvette, but I reckon with an SBC in it it would be just as expensive to convert as to repair, and worth considerably less when it was all done. I remember one doing the rounds with a Japanese diesel engine.
(Though a perverse thought does wonder what an XJS with X308/X350 developments would be like - 2.7 V6 diesel).
I've never removed the head on an XJS or anything else, the Twingo will be the first I do, the XJS, the second (and third). But I do have the luxury of dry, clean working space, no pressure to get the car usable, and possibly the best network of contacts I could have to get advice and warnings from - both here and IRL, where my friend Elwyn who did all the driving and fetching with me knows several people who worked at JLR and also Ralph Hosier, who has written a great deal about XJS V12s (partly his fault I decided I could take it on!). Access to Jaguar specialists will be used as much as possible!