Actually I’d seen this Jaguar previously but only online on a vehicle recycling website. It was to be in an auction of salvage cars, most of them crashed. This XJ wasn’t, however, as its main problem was the absence of an MOT. It starts and drives for loading purposes, said the description, which also revealed a mileage of 22,000 miles and some history. It had a logbook, too, which often isn’t the case with salvage cars. Best of all, it was ‘not recorded/ which meant that it had not been registered as damaged.
So I went with a mate to a scrapyard in Rugby to see it. We’d studied the photographs long and hard, concluding that it was just possible that the mileage was genuine. The bodywork looked remarkably free of damage, the engine bay was clean and the interior intact. That the bidding started at £130 and had only got to £410 was another factor. Salvage cars, even the unrecorded, often go for buttons if they’re old.
It’s possible to pick up older Jaguars, such as an XJ40, at auction.
I was a bit surprised to see the XJ a good 15ft up in the air when I spotted it through the fence, the car resting wheels-a-dangle on a racking system with a couple of dozen others, awaiting their fate. It seemed a strange way to store a car that might be returned to the road. There were plenty of others with it, most of them reshaped by impacts. Those that don’t get bought online are broken for spares, and I suspect that’s quite a few of them. But, there was no time to look at those – I had this Jaguar to inspect. I did at least get a good look at its underbelly before it was returned to earth, and the forks had only dislodged some flaking underseal, to reveal unblemished paint beneath.
I WANT AN EARLY DIGITAL-INSTRUMENT XJ40 IN PARTICULAR, THESE BECOMING RARE IN CLEAN, LOW- MILEAGE CONDITION
The salvage yard was very helpful, and having retrieved the car from its steel bunk, fired it up and told us what they knew. Which was very little, beyond the presence of its logbook and the DVLA’s online MOT record That revealed recent history consistent with the 22,000 miles, but nothing during the earlier part of its life. The car’s condition, mileage and price had evidently excited quite a bit of interest, the yardman telling us that they’d decided to move the car to the front of the premises because others were coming to see it. And that gave me the chance to ride in it with him. It idled smoothly, and also moved forwards and backwards – you never know with cars in scrapyards. Closer inspection also revealed amazingly straight bodywork, very little rust and a mostly functioning suite of electrics, although the central locking had forgotten its mission.
I didn’t go for it in the end. Apart from the slightly off-putting pale-green paint, it was clear that it had done more than 22,000 miles, to judge by the dirt- grained leather and the wear on some switches. Not colossally more, though, and there was no question that it would make a fine set of wheels for someone. I do want an XJ40, and an early digital- instrument XJ40 in particular, these becoming rare in clean, low- mileage condition. But with mileage unknown and minimal history, this wasn’t the one. It sold for £820 and was worth every penny. I’m still searching salvage sites. Try ASM Recycling if you’re intrigued – be aware of the risks, but you might pick up a bargain.