Name Greg Bricher
From Kent Occupation Parts dept manager, motor trade
First classic AC 2-litre saloon
Dream classics AC Cobra 427; Bentley 8 Litre sports saloon
Favourite driving tune Voodoo Chile Jimi Hendrix
Best trip To Laon Historique, France, in ‘Goldjag’ (the 420G)
Bricher’s 420G is a regular at the Kempton Steam Museum Classic Show (see www.kemptonsteam.org), here with Jaguar-engined Kougar and a D-type rep.
EXPAT SALOON RETURNS HOME
Parting with a car after 20 years is not easy, but the engine of my 1951 AC 2-litre had cost me a fortune and it looked as if more was needed. Added to that, the car didn’t exactly gobble up the miles, which put paid to any hopes of ever taking it on trips abroad. So, after a spot of soulsearching, the 2-litre was sold.
I remember as a youngster being impressed by the sheer scale of our neighbour’s MkX and, some years back, I looked at a few but they were either rusting hulks or beyond my budget. With the AC gone, my thoughts returned to the big Jags. Then my wife Rebecca spotted a car on the web. “I’ve found you one and it looks really nice,” she said. And it did look lovely, although one glance told me that the pictures weren’t taken in England, but a lot further away… in New Zealand. “No way,” I told Rebecca.
I wouldn’t buy a bicycle without seeing it first, let alone a 45-year-old Jag from the other side of the world. But I was smitten and pretty soon the proud owner of a 420G that I had never seen in the metal, bought from a man I had never met.
Many people helped me with shipping and getting it registered, including members of the JDC and JDHT, which provided me with a sheet confirming chassis, engine and ’box numbers, plus build date.
It even found the name of the first owner, a Mrs NP Croft, who took delivery in January ’68 and, it seems, was a keen driver. The car covered 60,000 miles in its first four years.
When the call came, seven weeks later, that ‘Goldjag’ had arrived in Chatham, I grabbed two cans of fuel and a jump-pack, assuming that the battery would be dead and the tanks empty. “Where’s your trailer?” the foreman asked. “It’ll never start,” he exclaimed, with a laugh. “They wouldn’t when they were new!”
So, I filled one tank, connected the jump-starter and imagine my delight when Goldjag burst into life on the first push of the button. All it needed was a battery and a balljoint replaced to pass the MoT test.
We took the car to a number of events and enjoyed the glamour and comfort of the 420G but, a couple of years ago, I decided that it was time for a makeover. Out came the engine for a full rebuild and off came the old paint for a respray in time for Laon Historique in 2015.
Emerging from the Chunnel, we were met with grim weather and I winced each time a raindrop hit the gleaming paint. It was just as much of a shock to the car, because this was its first-ever outing in the wet.
Fifty-year-old cars are not famed for their ventilation and, battling through the biblical downpour, the Jaguar began to steam up. It was a balancing act between lowering the driver’s window an inch and keeping the fans on full, but it seemed to be working. Until, that is, we heard what sounded like a loud siren.
“Must be gendarmes,” said my friend Peter, peering through the back window. “No! It’s coming from the dash,” I replied. Rain was pouring in via the scuttle vent (which I’d brilliantly left open) and, because the airbox drainage pipe couldn’t cope with the deluge, the twin fans became swamped, producing a convincing WW2 air-raid siren.
Terrified that Goldjag was about to go up in flames, I pulled over and turned off everything electrical. To my relief, all was well apart from the trickle coming out of the lower vent and soaking my left knee. The rest of that weekend went to plan, but my enduring memory will be the comment of a young lad who, watching the 420G motor serenely past, turned to his dad and said: “Papa, la Jaguar… c’est magnifique!”
“Where’s your trailer?” he asked when I arrived. “It’ll never start. They wouldn’t start when they were new!”
With friends Katriona and Peter in Laon. ‘Goldjag’ by E28 BMW at Brooklands meet. Wife Rebecca takes photo of Laon line-up. Trim off and XK motor out during overhaul. Gleaming, polished leaper on French tour.