Paul Walton – EDITOR
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.