Jaguar Breakfest - Driving Gloves At The Ready!
Jaguar Breakfest - British Motor Museum 2nd April 2016
The first event we attended this year, and a rare treat was in store:
A collaboration between the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club and the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire, saw the museum's doors flung open to fans of the marque for a private viewing of their Jaguar collection of cars from the early 20th century to the latest models. Not only production models, but concept cars, racing cars and one-off projects.
Amazingly all these cars work for a living and are all regularly driven to events, displays and film sets. There were so many highlights, it's unreasonable to pick one, however, a 1950's Daimler with over 600,000 miles on the clock is one of the rarest (and these days only allowed out on short journeys). The curator drove three cars out into the sunshine to prove these are not just pretty faces. One of them was this fabulous D-Type.
Our Transport For The Day
We were fortunate to borrow a 1987 Jaguar XJ-SC 5.3L V12 Cabriolet for the journey from Essex to Warwickshire. After its Winter slumbers we knew the car would need to stretch its legs a bit. We collected the car from its barn a few days before the event. Having jump-started the car, half a mile down the road the brake pedal went soft and the smell of hot brake linings boded ill. Things went from bad to worse when the car failed to restart after we stopped for fresh fuel. The car felt as though the winter cold was still in its bones. A friendly (and very lost) van driver and his mate helped get the big Jag started again.
After reaching home, the next few days included a careful wash and brush up, the usual daily checks and a good look at the brakes. An interior valet revealled a parking ticket from the South of France lost long ago under an ashtray. It always amazes me that cars seem to respond so positively to a bit of care and attention. We took her out for a short shake-down drive and everything started to feel better.
Saturday 2nd April dawned fresh and bright - just the sort of day to put the hood down and turn up the heater. A quick stop at Starbucks for the driver and passenger and fresh premium unleaded for the car, and we were off. Gently around the M25, as much as not to spill the coffee (no cup holders) as to avoid the unsporting SPECS cameras. A 5.3 litre engine generates a lot of heat, and the heater was doing a fine job keeping us in a warm bubble of air at motorway speeds. A pair of unlined driving gloves was all that was needed to keep my hands comfortable at the surprisingly large and slim steering wheel.
The exit from the anticlockwise M25 onto the northbound M40 is a long parabolic curve that seems to go on forever. For a 30-year old she handled the bend with aplomb although the seat of my pants says the dampers and suspension bushes might usefully be looked at next! Coffee drunk, we could let the old girl have her head for a while. Even with her ancient 3-speed gearbox, this grand tourer made short work of the distance to Gaydon. Not everything works quite as it should, including the fuel gauge and the state-of-the-art (1980's style) trip computer showing a very over-optimistic 23 mpg average consumption. All is forgiven when you gun the effortlessly smooth and torquey V12 up front. It is a revelation to those more used to a four or six pot diesel.
By the time we got back home, we'd covered 250 miles without a hitch and the car felt at ease. A little more fettling will be required before some longer runs over the summer, but for the first time out in very long time, this Jaguar XJ-SC clearly demonstrated that she wants to get back to long distance European touring. As she's a 2-seater, this is going to take some careful negotiation with the rest of the family (and the car's owner)!
Many thanks to the JEC and the British Motor Museum for organising the event. We'll be back soon.