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    PAUL WALTON – EDITOR 2000-Jaguar-XK8-4.0 / Jaguar-XK8 / Jaguar / Jaguar-XK8-4.0

    With his XK8 finally back on the road, Paul drives it over to Diss, in Norfolk, where he plans to photograph the Banham XJ-SS featured in this issue.

    / #2000-Jaguar-XK8-4.0-X100 / #2000 / #Jaguar-XK8-4.0 / #Jaguar-XK8 / #Jaguar / #Jaguar-XK8-4.0-X100 / #Jaguar-XK8-X100 / #Jaguar-X100 / #Jaguar

    In the same way that I wouldn’t wear my best suit for gardening or my favourite watch for decorating, I rarely use my XK8 for work. And not just because it has been massively unreliable for most of the last year, but mainly due to the amount of miles I need to drive and the often-isolated locations I use. I want to enjoy my car, not spoil it.

    However, when Andre Ling from Norfolk-based auctioneers TW Gaze invited me to see the rare Banham XJ-SS that we feature on page 38 of this issue, I decided the 73 miles from my house outside Peterborough shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Plus, I’m interested to compare the two cars side-by-side. Although Paul Banham tells me that he didn’t take any inspiration from the XK8 (how could he? The X100 arrived a few years after the XJ-SS), there’s still a similarity between the two.

    Thankfully, the skies are blue on the day of the shoot so, following the car’s successful run to Hunstanton and back, it is with excitement rather than concern that I load the XK8’s large, 307-litre boot with my camera equipment. The rear seats might be useless unless you are chocolate-factory Oompa Loompa-sized, but they do increase the XK8’s storage, making it surprisingly practical for a coupe. Plus, I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can pack for my trip to Le Mans in June. My journey today is a simple one: A1 heading south before taking the A14 eastbound. At Bury St Edmunds, I pick up the A143 that takes me straight to Diss. On the dual carriageway, my car feels fast and strong as if all of its past problems are long behind it. Time will tell, but I hope they are.

    I arrive at TW Gaze a little under two hours later and, after the shoot, park the XJ-SS alongside my XK8. Coming a few years before and with no input from Jaguar, it is amazing how similar the XJ-SS appears, but it’s not identical. The Banham’s grille is too wide and although the Corsa-sourced lights are also a similar shape to my XK8’s, they’re much smaller.

    Yet judging by its voluptuous curves, it’s clear Paul was thinking along the same lines as Jaguar’s own designers. The drive home is as enjoyable as the journey there, proving the XK8 would make a decent work car if I needed it to be – and it’s much easier to clean after its 140- mile round trip than my wool suit would be after a day weeding flower beds.

    “MY CAR FEELS FAST AND STRONG AS IF ALL OF ITS PAST PROBLEMS ARE BEHIND IT”
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    Paul Walton – EDITOR

    / #2000-Jaguar-XK8-4.0-X100 / #2000 / #Jaguar-XK8-4.0 / #Jaguar-XK8 / #Jaguar / #Jaguar-XK8-4.0-X100 / #Jaguar-XK8-X100 / #Jaguar-X100 / #Jaguar

    After suffering yet another setback, Paul finally manages to take his XK8 for a drive to the Norfolk coast, but will he make it back home again?

    You couldn’t make it up. Just two days after collecting my now legal XK8 from the bodyshop (to repair a small rusty hole close to the offside sill so it could pass the #MOT test, which it had failed the week before – see #Drive-My ), it has suffered from more bad luck.

    Due to visit friends who live an hour away in the Lincolnshire countryside, I figure this is an excellent opportunity to drive my now rejuvenated XK8. So, while my wife changes for the umpteenth time, I go into the garage and start the car. It fires normally, but soon falters, eventually stalling. When I turn the key again, the engine cranks unevenly, starts hesitantly, then idles awkwardly before stalling again. The big V8 eventually runs smoothly, but only after I give the throttle the beans, something I hate doing when the engine is still cold. I grudgingly leave the car at home and take my less-stylish Nissan SUV.

    After the problem persists all week – eventually resulting in an amber engine warning light – I finally cave in and contact Nene Jags Specialists (www.nenejags.co.uk).

    Even proprietor Clive Kirton is surprised to see me back so quickly, joking the car must be on a piece of elastic. He soon diagnoses the air mass flow meter is at fault and also discovers the air filter is incorrect, meaning it doesn’t fit correctly.

    With typically poor timing, as soon as the car is fixed and ready for action, the weather takes a seasonal downturn and, frustratingly, I have to leave the XK8 in the garage.

    Waking to an unusually warm and sunny December morning a few days later, I decide to blow caution to the wind and take the green Jaguar for a drive. With little time on my hands due to our hectic Christmas schedule, I choose Hunstanton, on the Norfolk coast, as my destination. The 100-mile round trip is enough to test the car and I can also be there and back in an afternoon. That I know an excellent chip shop on the seafront isn’t a factor at all.

    As I start my journey along the eastbound A47 that cuts through the flat, empty, but still beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside, I swear my XK8 feels a little faster, the engine slightly more responsive than it was before. I’m guessing this improvement is because the car can now breathe properly thanks to Clive fitting the correct air filter. More importantly, as I reach King’s Lynn 40 minutes later there are still no warning lights.

    As most of my recent long journeys (and some short ones) have ended in a dashboard filled with more flashing warnings than a Boeing 747’s console after a wing drops off, I’m constantly expecting something bad to happen. But nothing does, not even when I turn onto the tree-lined A149 that passes through the Sandringham Estate. Or even when I enter the outskirts of Hunstanton 20 minutes later and make my way down to the town’s pretty seafront. It might be just 50 miles from home, but I feel a real sense of accomplishment as I park the XK8; it hasn’t put itself into limp mode, broken down or blown up. Although that could still happen. Even though it is a glorious afternoon, Hunstanton’s seafront is deserted as I go for a stroll. The amusements are empty, the beach is quiet and, even worse, my favourite chip shop is closed. My run of bad luck continues.

    My journey back home, though, is enjoyable and trouble-free, and, with the Jaguar’s immediate issues taken care of, I return my attention to a most pressing task – replacing the original plastic tensioners with metal ones from the 4.2 #V8 . When Leeds specialist Tasker & Lacy removed the head to inspect them in 2016 they were in good condition, but knowing that the engine could still self-grenade at any minute, should the tensioners snap, is never far from my mind. I plan to drive the XK8 to Le Mans for the 24-hour race in June, so it’s something I need to get looked at, and sharpish. Other jobs for 2019 include having the increasingly crusty rear wheelarches tidied, and repairing the worn driver’s side seat bolster.

    But that’s for the future; today, I’m simply enjoying the warm sensation of my XK8 getting me to Hunstanton and home again in one piece.

    The XK8 beneath Hunstanton’s famous red-striped cliffs.

    Paul cuts through the desolate Cambridgeshire countryside using the A47.
    The amusements are empty. Well, it is December and Hunstanton is deserted
    The view down Hunstanton’s beach in bright sun is gorgeous.
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