Seeing the light

I discovered that the switch’s innards had just fallen to pieces and fused the headlamp circuit. It had failed after being used about seven times – I’d previously not been able to find a genuine replacement Lucas switch, so had bought one of unknown origin from a reputable supplier. This alarming incident underlined the problem of poor-quality parts for old cars in all too dramatic a fashion, a problem from which Jaguars are not immune.

I have a slightly ambivalent attitude to independent parts suppliers for classic cars: on one hand, without their efforts and investment, often without any real support from original manufacturers or OE suppliers, many cars simply would not be on the road; on the other hand, some of these suppliers have sold parts that are not fit for purpose, and have made a lot of money out of them. Not that all customers are blame free. As Jim Patten noted recently, when confronted with paying more for a genuine part, too many people will opt for the cheaper non-original one, which hardly encourages the specialist to spend money on quality.


With the dramatic and sudden investment by JLR in the heritage side of the business recently, my hopes are raised that, aside from the headline-grabbing multi-million pound purchase of the James Hull collection, some of the new-found funds will be directed towards improving the quality of classic parts. I strongly believe that the same rigour in terms of quality should be applied to their manufacture as to parts for current Jaguars. I witnessed at first-hand the revolution in quality that happened at Jaguar during the Nineties, and believe that the same philosophy that pulled Jaguar from near the bottom of the JD Power index to the top should now be applied to the heritage side. Why should it be any different?

An unhappy Jaguar owner is still an unhappy Jaguar owner, whether the car is old or new.

I am glad this does, indeed, appear to be happening – at least in intent – as instanced by the encouraging words from Derek Weale of the new Jaguar Heritage, and by what appear to be constructive meetings between the Jaguar Enthusiasts’

Club and Jaguar Heritage. Personally, I would like to see a taskforce directed at identifying the parts that are most widely used and which most urgently need improvement, with the subsequent use of JLR’s buying-power muscle employed to get these items made to original, or better, standards of quality.

All these new Heritage initiatives are possible because a revitalised Jaguar is making real money. But, as I’ve remarked before, this success will be consolidated only if the new XE saloon hits the mark. The F-TYPE and even the very popular XF 2015 (including the all-aluminium replacement due around 2016) certainly cannot underpin the company’s security long term. I can’t lay particular claim to having the ear of JLR CEO Dr Ralph Speth, but when I expressed this view to him a couple of years ago, he replied that it was a case of “little by little”. Well, we’ve been patient, and when the XE goes on sale shortly we will see whether the Jaguar marque really is strong enough to sustain a genuine volume model.

Finally, many of you will no doubt be heartily relieved to hear that this is the last column I have been asked to write for Jaguar World So, after more than a quarter of a century of pontificating on all sorts of Jaguar topics, this is the final time you will have to endure my opinions and speculations. Which means it’s goodbye from him…

Classic Jaguars are, on the whole, well-served by specialist suppliers, but the demand for original Jaguar parts (like these items seen at the Jaguar International Spares Day) is high, simply because the quality is often better.

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