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Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercedes & AC Model 70 - 24/01 - Self Repairing Faults.

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6 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

Interesting to see that one of the previously dead lights in the stereo came back to life earlier today.


...Which then refused to go out.  Will this be my first electronic gremlin eviction mission I wonder?

Alternative solution, remove stereo and give it to me. I’ve been after an original Clarion stereo for my XJ for ages.

Also, let me know when you figure out the headlamp wipers as I have yet to do so myself either. I even went to the bother of replacing the missing arms, purely for aesthetic reasons, despite the lack of pantograph action.


The blades on the XJ are shared with the BMW E30 (and cost a fortune) but I’m not sure the XJS blades are the same.

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Blades on my headlamp wipers will just get the rubber replaced, cut down from normal windscreen wipers.  Always did that on my Saabs where the blades were ridiculously dear from most sources and usually disintegrated after six months anyway.

Afraid the original head unit will be staying right where it is.  This is very much a car where anything newer would really look out of place so I'm glad to see the original unit is still there.  Assuming the damned thing doesn't flatten the battery anyway.

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Good call on the stereo, it really looks the business, hence my lust for it. The dodgy cassette orifice illumination is probably an internal fault as the LCD backlighting is off, suggesting the fault is not in the dash illumination circuit.

It sounds like the headlamp wiper blades are different to the XJ ones as they are a single piece unit with a ball type mounting point. This means you cannot replace the blade with a generic item, instead you have to buy a genuine BMW part after selling a kidney or two due to E30 scene tax.

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1 hour ago, MorrisItalSLX said:

Good call on the stereo, it really looks the business, hence my lust for it. The dodgy cassette orifice illumination is probably an internal fault as the LCD backlighting is off, suggesting the fault is not in the dash illumination circuit.

The rest of the illumination doesn't appear to work (I'm assuming there should be some lighting of the buttons etc), though there's no LCD backlight involved...because this is old enough not to use an LCD display, all LED based!  Which surprised me.


Though I'm guessing that it would normally dim the display when the lights were on, and it doesn't currently.  I'm certain it was brighter on the way home, so it's quite possible something has gone funny with the detection of that input to the head unit.  Need to figure out which circuit the radio is fed from and see if pulling the fuse puts it out

Speaking of lighting, the reversing lights have now been sorted.  One had a dead (correct) 21W lamp in, and the working one a 5W one which was as much use as you would expect.


Fresh pair of 21W lamps now in place.  Nice of Jag to have used stainless steel screws for things like the lens retaining screws.

Also had a peek under the bonnet.

Yes...it is as much of a three dimensional jigsaw as I remember.



Curious as to the obviously modern red anodised filter visible by the nearside bracing strut...


I'm assuming this is replacing a decayed or lost muffler/filter on a vacuum breather and that this shouldn't actually be attached to anything.  At the very least it will get painted black so it disappears.

When we get to service time changing the distributor cap will be fun...


As for the spark plugs...I don't think I can even *see* any!

Glad to report that she hasn't used a drop of oil or water so far.

Poking around I managed to restore life to this...

...Which is both ridiculously overcomplicated and cool at the same time.  Think it was just jammed up through disuse as after fiddling around with it a bit it burst into life next time the ignition was turned on.  Now it seems to run reliably every time the windscreen washers are used with dipped headlights on.  Nearside one just rotates on the spindle so has deeper issues.  No pantograph action there either.  Assume they went with this so the wiper didn't poke up into the driver's field of view.

Someone on another forum I frequent has suggested that the pressure sensor may in fact be responsible for the odd behaviour of the oil pressure gauge.


There are apparently three types of pressure sensor used through the years which are physically compatible but electrically different...and an early style sender used incorrectly would apparently give exactly nthe symptoms I have.  So maybe time to track down the correct sender (this one doesn't appear to have any part number on it) and see if that sorts it.

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Back in 1998 I owned a 1987 XJS V12, loved it but started my business so it was sold (a 205 1.9 GTi came in P/Ex). Two things I remember. The cruise control button on the central arm rest bit was basically digital. Having it set at 70mph then engaging it at 30mph resulted in full bore acceleration back to 70, almost caught me out first time! The second was that speed is invisible in one of these, poodling down a back lane at 50 and almost losing it on a bend, looking at the speedo to find I was doing 85 was scary.

Oh, if I remember correctlt, the book time for changing all 12 plugs was 8 hours! The A/C pump needs lifting out of the way to get to the front two, and the throttle tower needs removing to get to the back four! Buy REALLY good plugs, and good luck!

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Both oil pressure sensors are new (and a bugger to fit) and are the correct ones from the chassis number. The problem is the gauge itself and is a TADTS. The gauges also used to read really low, bad connections behind the clocks arr cleaned sorted out most of the gauges but they all read low by about a third.

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55 minutes ago, xtriple said:

Both oil pressure sensors are new (and a bugger to fit) and are the correct ones from the chassis number. The problem is the gauge itself and is a TADTS. The gauges also used to read really low, bad connections behind the clocks arr cleaned sorted out most of the gauges but they all read low by about a third.

Could this be due to a faulty voltage regulator?

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That time to change the plugs doesn't sound too far fetched given the access!

Probably the first job in the engine bay will be setting the throttle sync properly as they're definitely out of balance - at idle the left bank is definitely doing way more than the right purely based on the amount of air being drawn in through the air intake based on what can be observed by the air intakes.

The best WTF moment regarding cruise control has to be in an ex demonstrator Optare Spectra (double decker bus), where clicking resume resulted in it calculating the fastest way to get to the set speed, overriding all the normal gear change set points, the usually conservative rev limiter etc - and the thing springing away from a standing start at a truly unnerving rate, in a huge cloud of black diesel smoke.  It was a great fun toy to play with once you knew to expect it...to be fair I'd always expect pretty crude behaviour from a system of this age, would be nice to get it up and running again though.

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The red cylinder in the engine bay is an air filter.  That line is the intake for a ventilation system for the distributor assembly.  They normally have one of those little plastic disposable fuel filters fitted.  That's what I'll be installing...this blingy thing which belongs somewhere not on a Jag.

My assumption regarding idle air balance was wrong.  Apparently at idle all air is drawn through the left hand intake via a crossover pipe at the back I hadn't spotted earlier.  I'll still check and adjust the balance tomorrow as I'll feel better knowing it's been done.

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Very nice! One of these was the very first Corgi car I ever had. It was metallic red. I've always had a soft spot for the shape. Looks like it shouldn't be anything other than 80's rubber parts and electronics to worry about, all of which are moderately easy to remedy.



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Two tasks were set for today.  Checking the idle throttle balance and figuring out why the stereo illumination wouldn't go out.

First task was pretty simple, not least in that the throttle actuator rods were so far out of adjustment that the pulley to which the cable operated (which has the throttle position sensor underneath) was never returning fully to the closed position.  Reckon that probably won't have been helping anything.

Didn't manage to get the banks perfectly balanced as I couldn't adjust the linkage rod on the right hand side as the adjuster is seized.  Have left it soaking in Plusgas and will poke it again next week.  As it is though we're at least close now.



Pretty much spot on 1% CO.



1.3% CO.  1-2% is the acceptable range according to the handbook.  When I started out we had 4% on the left, 0.5% on the right.  Idle is now noticeably smoother and she no longer smells obviously rich.

With that done I moved on to the stereo.

The issue I had was that the illumination for the cassette slot had spring into life randomly halfway through my first full day with the car and had then refused to extinguish ever since.

Upon pulling the radio from the dash it became immediately apparent that someone had been in there before me.


No idea if this is more recent (when the speakers were changed possibly) or from when the head unit was replaced, presumably due to a fault, in 1988.


Helpfully the handbook for the stereo has a pretty clear wiring diagram.


Thanks to this it didn't take more than a few seconds to discover that someone had connected the memory backup wire to the input for the illumination power supply.

I couldn't initially find the wire which should connect to the illumination line though, that took several minutes of digging around in the dash until I eventually fished out a stray connector.


Which sure enough, had 12V on it when the lights were on, zip when they were off.  So I connected everything up, tested it then stuffed everything back into the dash - and replaced the missing retaining screws for the head unit cage.

With everything back together I then checked if everything still worked.

Lights off...


Lights on:



You can't really tell, but the display does dim when the illumination is on too.  I imagine the buttons should be lit too, sadly the bulbs for those have failed.  I'll investigate sorting that at a later date. 

I do have to wonder how long that this has been miswired and how many times it's caused a flat battery to be a problem...

Sadly the speakers are pretty well stuffed from the sound of them so they will need to be pulled out anyway.  Wonder if I'll be able to find some more original looking grilles for the replacements...

Edited by Zelandeth
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1 hour ago, Minimad5 said:

Good work chief.

Sad to see the Lada go, but looks like you're cracking on with this Jag' very well.

I'll miss it.  There's no doubt there. 

I don't doubt for a minute that the Jag will drive me to distraction.  Probably in addition to bankruptcy.

Fuelled up again this afternoon (because taking the battery off overnight of course wiped the trip computer, and I like to keep tabs on things like that...the mechanical trip counter currently won't reset)... probably somewhere in the region of 30-40 miles mostly around town covered.  £45 worth of fuel went in.

Yep...she likes a drink!

Be interesting to see how much difference a tune up makes to that.  Speaking of that, I found a spark plug I could actually see today...yep, they look ancient!

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On 1/11/2020 at 1:10 AM, MorrisItalSLX said:

Alternative solution, remove stereo and give it to me. I’ve been after an original Clarion stereo for my XJ for ages


It appears I might have found another head unit - though it's operational state is currently unknown.

If it turns up, is in working order and IF I don't kill my one trying to sort the button illumination it will have your name put on it.  Main plan from my part at this point is to have it as a backup in case my microsurgery kills the one I have.

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Let's have a look at the non functional full throttle kickdown.

Having done a bit of research I discovered that the kickdown system is meant to be triggered by a microswitch on the throttle cable right next to the throttle cable tower. 

The way it works is that when the throttle itself hits the stop at full travel, if you press the pedal further it then pulls the sheath of the cable back against a strong spring, which then acts against a microswitch.

This relies on the cable being pretty much perfectly adjusted to get sufficient travel to activate the switch...and sure enough mine wasn't even close.  It's a quick and easy thing to adjust though (probably the only easy to access adjustment in the whole engine bay!), so was a quick matter to correct that.

Sadly it hasn't apparently resolved the issue, though I've yet to confirm the switch itself is working (they're apparently not particularly reliable) as the meter was making a bid for freedom the moment I let go of it because of the wind.  I gave up when the bonnet blew shut on me for the second time.

If that switch is working, there's a deeper issue...but I'm not going to worry too much about it just now.  It really doesn't affect the driveability of the car (the normal "mild" kickdown feature works fine, it's just the "kick in the pants" mode that is acting up).  On a car with more mild power availability it might be more of a headache.

Something a bit less involved needing looked at is the state of the wood trim.  It's the first thing people notice in the car.




The wood itself actually looks to be in good nick.  It's just the lacquer layer that's peeling off - not unlike a Dante Red Citroen!

I've never dealt with anything like this but have a rough plan of attack in mind.  The bit I'm expecting to be the biggest headache by far is physically detaching the bits of trim from the car so I can work on them. 

Probably the trickiest bit with regards to the actual wood I reckon will be getting the remains of the old lacquer off.  I'm not expecting it to just peel off nicely, and will probably have to get some paint stripper involved.  I don't think sanding is an option as I reckon because it's patchy it would leave high and low spots...also I don't know how thick the veneer is and really don't want to risk rubbing through it.

Once I've got rid of the old manky lacquer it should be pretty simple I think.  Quick coat of stain to give it some colour, a skim over with some really gentle sandpaper to key the surface, then a load of light coats of clear coat.  I believe polyurethane varnish is normally used commercially...though part of me is wondering if normal automotive clear coat could be used?  Both because it removes the requirement for brush painting (which I hate) and I have it in stock in the garage. 

Open to suggestions from folks who actually know what they're doing there as this is a bit of a new challenge for me...is the first car I've had with actual wood trim for one thing!

I mentioned a couple of days ago that the lights in the boot which I had revived were pretty pathetic.  Having a rummage through the box of "misc automotive bulbs" this morning I came across a couple of 5W LED festoon lamps which I'd stuffed in there a couple of years ago.  They're a horrible 6000K bluish colour, which is why I had just stuffed them in the box and forgotten.  However for a boot light I'm not so bothered about the colour temperature as it's purely practical.

With the first one in the difference in brightness is immediately obvious!  The one on the left is barely even visible.


Reckon that will be a bit more useful when digging things out in the dead of night.


Hopefully the weather tomorrow will be slightly less ridiculous and I can get a couple more things done.

The brake judder should soon be sorted as a set of discs has been ordered.  Was braced for eye watering prices but they weren't too bad, can't remember exactly what the number was, but I think the pair of discs and pads was around £100.  Was bracing for several times that.  Will be nice to get that done as it's really the only thing that's really obviously amiss from the driver's seat to be honest.


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This really is a car which encourages you to go the long way to get places.

Like home to the charity shop over at Kiln Farm I check in on semi regularly as they usually have a good selection of vinyl that's mostly £0.50 apiece...a trip that's about four or five miles...but I ended up going via Buckingham, just because I could.  Still didn't want to get out when I got there!

The windscreen washers have decided to pack in today.  I'm guessing as with most cars of this age this is due to slime growing in the bottom of the washer bottle.  It's easily accessible though so no problem.  I'll pull it out tomorrow and give it a really good clean, then blow all the lines back through with compressed air.  Sure it will be absolutely fine once that's done.

One modification I am definitely going to do is the deletion of the 15 minute "warm up timer" system.  What this does is that if the coolant temperature is below 45C (measured by its own sensor to the rear of the right hand coolant manifold), for the first fifteen minutes it disables the vacuum advance system and retards the timing.  This makes the engine less efficient, producing more heat and helping it heat up more quickly.  It also means that for the first fifteen minutes it absolutely massacres your fuel economy.  You'll be lucky to see the instantaneous MPG figure make it into double digits until this has timed out.

Given there is 5.3 litres of quite highly tuned V12 producing heat, it'll warm up in a perfectly reasonable amount of time, even though the engine weighs something ridiculous... there's really no need to deliberately make the thing use more petrol than it needs to!

Luckily this system can be disabled really simply by unplugging the appropriate temperature sensor.  The associated hardware can also be removed to help improve space in what's possibly the most cluttered engine bay ever designed (I'm not sure designed is the right word..."happened" seems more accurate), though that's not necessarily.

Speaking of heating, the heater is something which needs help. Pretty certain that the tube has come adrift from the duct used to sample the cabin air temperature (or the thermistor value has drifted) as the only way to get any appreciable heat out of it is to set it to the demist mode. Bit of explanation needed here for those who have never used the heater in one of these. When it's set to anything other than demist the temperature is dialled in to a set value between 65 and 85F. There's no "as hot or cold as possible" setting.  See below...


Which is fine and good when the system is correctly sampling the cabin...but a pain when it's not. The demist mode overrides this and just chucks out as much heat as possible, with the blowers set to maximum. It's also worth noting that there's no air distribution control like on most cars. So the only way to get air into the windscreen is to set it to demist...which puts the blower on full!  This is the fan control which also incorporates the demist option.


I reckon that will be less of an issue once the air conditioning has been sorted as the cabin will then always be dehumidified...however it's currently a pain to keep it demisted - though the fact it's never stopped raining since I picked the car up hasn't probably helped. When it's set to demist you should get as much heat as possible, full power to both blower motors and air distribution set to 90% to the windscreen, 10% to the floor level vents. However the air coming out of the lower vents is never warm. So reckon there's an air distribution issue there. That's a job for another day though, I'm not pulling the dashboard apart yet.

Hard to believe I've done nearly 400 miles in it already!  Wonder how many years of its previous life that would account for...

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450 miles in. MPG on the last tank?  Uuuuum...10.98MPG.  Yeah, economy isn't her strong suit.  That warmup timer needs to get in the sea and we'll see how much that helps.  The trip computer is far more accurate than most modern ones seem to be.

Been busy most of today, so aside from briefly introducing a local friend to the Jag (yep, they were as surprised as I was to see it in my fleet!), I've not had a chance to do much with cars.  Weather has been distinctly miserable anyway and not really conducive to working on cars.

However on departing the house to run one of many errands I was presented with this:


The way the lamp failure system works in the Jag is that a bimetallic switch closes after 10-20 seconds after the respective lighting circuit is turned on to tell the system that the lamp is good, at which point the indicator on the dash goes out.  If it doesn't detect this "lamp good" signal, the indicator stays lit.

In this case examination revealed that a number plate light was indeed out.  Simply tapping the fitting restored it to operation though rather than the lamp needing replaced.  So I'll add "clean number plate light contacts" to the to do list. 

Good, because I could have done without standing in the pouring rain sorting that!

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1 hour ago, Broadsword said:

I really didn't get on with the HVAC system on the XJS. It's trying to be too clever and results in you never being able to get the air/heat to where you really want it.

Yep.  I can see that.  It absolutely requires the A/C to be working too to be vaguely useful.

Having to have the blowers on full blast to get any airflow over the windscreen is just daft.  I can see that flap being permanently locked in the open position in the future...

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Made a quick run out of town today, partly for a change of scenery and partly as it's an excuse to drive on slightly nicer roads.  

This has definitely improved my average fuel consumption from the previous 11mpg, but is still "far from frugal."


I think one of my jobs for this weekend will be getting stuck into the distributor and making sure the vacuum advance system is working properly.  Apparently the old grease dries up and causes the system to lock up.  The obvious consequences of this being an engine that's down on power and horrific fuel economy.  The former is quite hard to detect given the abundance of torque available from this power unit!

This also has a huge impact on the exhaust gas temperature which really isn't great for the exhaust valves, which is something we want to rectify sooner than later I think given my reading seems to suggest that these engines dropping valve seats isn't unknown if the heads get unduly hot.

Now, to figure out how to get at the distributor without having to remove the cruise control assembly and half of the fuel injection system...

The "Hey, that's a lovely looking car...wait...that's *my* car!" reaction when walking back to it in car parks definitely has hasn't worn off yet.



Managed to get it a very quick blast over at the jet wash today (hoping to do it by hand at the weekend so mainly wanted to get the moss out of the window seals etc), get the impression this won't come up bad with a bit of work.


At least I've got rid of the huge greasy hand print I left on the bonnet a few days ago now.

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 I would be seriously tempted to fuck lacquer off and wax the trim.  It's not like it will be touched with grubby fingered children eating ham and mustard sandwiches, and it will leave it as real wood, not some shiny monstrosity.


Much respect for taking this on, I just couldn't but I'd love to try it.

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20 minutes ago, J-T said:

It’s a PROPER car this, a lovely old thing. I can smell the aroma of fuel, un-catalysed fumes and old leather from here. 12mpg is fucking frightening though

The smell is something impossible to describe isn't it.  Old leather, old wood, bit of oil, a little more fuel than is probably ideal...I need to give the breather system on the tank a going over as the boot smells far more of fuel than it should do.  No signs of actual leakage, so just the breather I expect.  It doesn't get into the cabin at least.

Likewise the howl above 3500rpm.  It's hard to believe it's the same engine that makes the silky rumble at the bottom end as the spine tingling howl at the top end.  Still utterly refined and turbine smooth...but very much saying "I mean business, don't mess with me" rather than almost silently wafting.

Have to admit to being very curious to see what difference servicing the distributor makes to performance.  ...and economy hopefully!

10 minutes ago, loserone said:

 I would be seriously tempted to fuck lacquer off and wax the trim.  It's not like it will be touched with grubby fingered children eating ham and mustard sandwiches, and it will leave it as real wood, not some shiny monstrosity.


Much respect for taking this on, I just couldn't but I'd love to try it.

It's a valid approach.  I do personally like the gloss finish though so we will be looking to stick with shiny.

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Speaking of in your face, another thing is the windscreen itself. I could extend my finger from the steering wheel and it would be touching the glass! Very closed in feeling, but I liked it. The detail in this thread is giving a great description of the upsides there are to a XJS. Mine was so much rougher, I never really got the luxury feel. Yours is just magnificent by comparison.

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Finally had the opportunity to actually wash the thing today.




Which gave me the chance to give the bodywork a bit of a better appraisal.

The rear arches definitely need some attention sooner rather than later.  Probably not a massive job to sort now, but give it a few years and it will be far harder. 

Not quite sure what's going on with the number plate lights.  Looks like the lenses have sort of disintegrated.


There are a couple of wide washers on the original screws which are sort of wedging the lens half in place.  Methinks replacing these will be on the cards.  Though they're £25 apiece so might not be particularly high on the list just now.

Spotted something which I'll need to attend to at some point shortly.  Looks like the seals under the feed hoses to the brake master cylinder need changed.


I'll make sure it's not the hose weeping first though.

While the car was actually clean for ten seconds I decided to grab a couple of better photos.









Figured that the next thing it would be sensible to do would be to throw some wax on to protect the paint until I have time to fully polish it.  This it turned out was a mistake.  I didn't spot the words "new and improved formula" on the bottle of aqua wax until after I'd sprayed half the car with it.  Being new and apparently improved of course translates to "no longer behaves as I expect it to." As such I then spent nearly two hours trying to buff it off, without seeming to get anywhere.

Tomorrow I'll set about polishing and waxing it properly if the weather plays ball. 

Planning to get into the distributor in the week when I should have a couple of afternoons with a decent chunk of time without interruption.  Don't want to do that tomorrow as there's too much chance of me getting dragged off for other tasks and it's a job I'd rather get done in one shot rather than having to down tools and come back having forgotten half of what I'm doing.

Last little job I had a look at before tidying up was to see if the foggy reversing light lenses would clean up.





That scrubbed up nicely, could probably do with a second pass (and the polish residue cleaning out of the lettering), but looks far better.  I'll probably do all of the tail light lenses as even though they're not as bad as the reversing light ones they're all quite dull.

Speaking of tail lights, I do wonder how much of the US spec running lights is present in the cluster...I believe over there the little retro reflector in the side facing part of the indicator would have had a little 5W lamp behind it. 


Sorry, I will stop spamming the thread with photos of this thing eventually...

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My word it looks gorgeous. Black must be the best for the HE XJS, it really brings the lines out just right. There is one other colour I really like on the pre-HE cars and that is yellow weirdly, but this is really just brilliant, as are all the little details you are fixing along the way. Looks like no option but to replace those number plate light lenses.

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      while the seat covers are not original some of the plastic kitkat seat coverings are underneath, the rear seat especially




      The head has some nasty corrosion very near the fire ring seal, 

      When I refitted the head one of the bolts tore the thread out. bastard but not entirely uncommon with the alloy blocked RV8

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