Veteran Ford Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Searching for a new home
Adventures in Jagland
A chance conversation the other day reminded me of the joys I have had with Jag/Rover/Leyland product over the years. For the edification of those who haven't experienced the unbridled joys here is a brief (well not detailed anyway) look at the pleasure(!).
For someone of my generation, the Jag stands as a thing to be admired for it's elegance, quietness and inherent beauty - much like a woman (in many ways) they allure you with their curves and tactile pleasures - to your doom.
Like a moth to a flame they drew me as a young man in the svelte form of a "one owner, low mileage" Series 1, XJ6L. The glistening burgundy paintwork, cream leather and silky smooth driveline (and low price) overwhelming the senses as I signed on that fateful dotted line.
Much like signing on that other dotted line (the one with marriage certificate at the top) - this was the beginning of the end for SEL221 and I.
It didn't take long to hit the first speed hump on the road to happiness with this car. On the way home from the dealer it gently glided to a halt with something very clearly dead. As an introduction to the wonders of Jaguar electrics this was relatively simple with the ignition fuse having decided to give up the ghost. The manufacturers had very kindly left a spare in the fuse box (that should have been a clue) and I drove the rest of the way home admiring the driving experience.
I won't bore you with the details of the next 19 months of ownership except to say that I learnt the following things very quickly (and very expensively).
1. Jaguar incorporated Lucas based electrics in their cars out of some misguided loyalty to the old country and a post WW2 dislike of anything German like Bosch electrics - the fact that Bosch made reliable, lower cost electrical components was deemed a conspiracy by some remnants of the Third Reich.
2. Lucas didn't gain the name "Prince of Darkness" for nothing. Things would cheerfully stop working at random and then start working as soon as there was a mechanic in sight.
3. Jaguars of that era had dashboards that were littered with switches - many of which were three posiiton toggle switches. It soon became apparent that the three positions were - not working, might work and let's start a fire. Made you a bit relucant to actually use them.
4. The electric windows were of the permanently closed position type - unless it was pissing with rain in which case they (and the sunroof) were stuck in the permanently open position.
5. I had wondered at the extremely low mileage on the car when I bought it but it didn't take me too long to figure out that the previous owner was actually too old to walk after it broke down at the roadside and had wisely chosen to take the bus.
6. Standard boot equipment needed to consist of the following items:
(i) A torch (it usually broke down at night).
(ii) An emergency triangle (to save some poor bastard hitting it stranded on the side of the road in total Lucas induced darkness).
(iii) Several rolls of electrical tape, spare fuses, electrical wire and a Jag workshop manual - the latter being useless but it gave you something to read while waiting for the RAC.
(iv) An emergency box of matches if all else failed.
(v) A roll of masking tape and some black plastic to cover the windows with.
(vi) A large fire extinguisher.
7. Trips needed to be planned so that there was either plenty of spare time to call a cab/mate/tow truck on the way or you simply stayed at home.
8. They were not to be taken on frist dates. For some inexplicable reason, being stranded in some out of the way place, holding a torch in the pouring rain, didn't actually impress women. Hard to understand really.
9. Whilst the notion of gently cruising in gentlemens attire was appealing to me at the time, the only practical clothing was a pair of coveralls. Didn't matter what the occasion.
Sadly, like most things that are attractive from a distance; day to day living with this car was always going to end in divorce. - the only difference being that the financial pain came before and not after the separation.
It was a happy day when another young man came along in response to my (almost pleading) ad - with stars in his eyes and his heart set on driving happily into the sunset. If you're still out there somewhere mate - I'm sorry.