Blog 30 - February 2024

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This Off Piste blog is a reprint of a piece I wrote some time ago.  It explores my genuine respect for modest classic cars.


XK120 Fixed Head

Before we set off for XK75  I sent in the ‘120 for a full service and it seems to have paid dividends as we had a faultless run up to the midlands and back. 

I entrusted the car to Twyford Moors and I have to admit I was surprised but delighted that they found a number of serious issues, like a faulty crank damper and an incorrect fan belt pulley, both of which could have caused grief on a long run.

The car went back to Twyford to have a few bits of extra work. Kathleen, sensibly doesn’t like to travel without seat belts, so she (the car not Kathleen) now sports a set of inertia reels. The other XKs have harnesses, easier to fit but which  usually require adjusting for each passenger, the reels make life easier.

We knew that ‘120 windscreen wipers are pretty hopeless and so, while the car was in, we had Twyford fit their two-speed system that requires a bit of bodywork to fit thicker spindles.

While to and from XK75 we had a couple of near misses  using the wing mirrors at the end of the front mudguards, which are pretty useless, so we underwent minor surgery and had mirrors fitted to the door frames.

Right: Wing mirrors fitted to the door frames, a worthwhile modification.

Left:  Two-speed wipers will, I hope, make a big difference to seeing where one’s going in the rain.

2024 Plans

We’re into the New Year  and  although I’m not one for resolutions, this year maybe different. I have to admit that even ever youthful Rog is getting on and I’m beginning to feel the weight of years.  I still have ten old crocks in the sheds, indeed one of the reasons for choosing our  new home was the very good and extensive garaging.  So, at this early stage  of 2024 I am determined (it might not turn out that way)  to get out there and use the cars as much as possible.

Frankly, I’m no fan of static car shows where one drives to and parks in a muddy field and sits behind the exhaust pipe eating cheese sandwiches. God bless the enthusiasts who delight in displaying their stationary engines on the perimeter - one ‘boomph’ a second. Sorry to say, I’m not a fan; I’ve now pissed of a whole cadre of car folk.

We started the year with some pretty awful flu like infections and, when able, decamped to  Gran Canaia for some wonderful warmth and sunshine. Kathleen and I have made a pact to take at least two winter breaks from now on. So this year we will, I hope, be off to another Cararian island in December and then back to our familiar Porto Morgan  in February 2025.

There  are  two definite XK events in the Spring/Summer. The XK weekend in April and the JDC National day in July where the XK Register will hold our fun concours.  This year’s weekend will be centered  around Stratford on Avon. An idea, I unashamedly picked up from the XK Club’s XK 75, was the idea of a final  night gala dinner  with a really good dance band, so that’s what we are trialling this year. We already have a bumper set of bookings and in fact if we don’t get any cancellations, we’re full.

By complete coincidence our XK day, held to coincide with JDC National Day, will be held at Whittlebury Hall , the same venue as XK75.  I hope it works well for us, no reason why it shouldn’t. I’m already busy sorting out the very handsome prizes we award our XK winners.

Each year, I make an exception and take a couple of cars along to the Staplefield fete and car show at the end of May, where I‘ve been a regular for the last ten years. Particularly, as we have moved away, it’s good to meet up with old friends.

The rest of the year is open but I hope to get in as much old car activity as I can. I continue my feature writing and apart from the JDC , I have produced copy for a number of other magazines. The plan is to continue although, it’s all too easy to slump in front of a screen and keyboard and not move; I’ll have to be cautious of this too sedentary pastime.

A bunch of red nosed XKs at an earlier XK Day,

Enjoying the sunshine in Porto Morgan

Someone’s pride and joy, a gaggle of stationary engines

Interior coloured inertia reels, a small contribution to road safety

Fettling old cars never stops but my last planned task is to fit  flashing amber indicators fore and aft. On my other XKs  I have fitted some clever electronic boxes that use the existing, original  light units to flash orange. However, this time, having run the necessary wires I plan to fit extraneous but discreet additional flashes. Not, I add, screwed to the bodywork. Watch this space.


Most of those who regularly read the blog may be surprised to learn of my XK140 that I have owned since 1987. A car acquired in Houston,Texas and brought home with us in 1988. Some will know of the almost heart breaking tale of  her appalling, rust ridden  near demise, until a change of heart resulted in a complete restoration .  It took fourteen years from stripping off the paint to getting her back on the road but that’s a story for another place.  I’m sorry to say that, perhaps because she’s lived in a less accessible part of the  garage, she’s always seemed to be the poor relation.

With so much attention devoted to the ‘120 fixed head  and the other XKs,  I’m determined that 2024 will be the year of the ‘140. In the next few weeks, I plan to pull her out and undertake a few jobs before she goes in for a full recommissioning service.

The petrol gauge hasn’t worked in an age so I’ll try and sort that out. I also plan to fit  an ali expansion tank (she already has an aluminium radiator).

Although she still has her Moss gearbox and overdrive, I hope young Lizzie will get the hang of her.

Above: The ‘140 with the registration mark first allocated by the DVLA when I imported her from Houston. She now has an age related plate.

Below: Gear stick into standard Moss box with overdrive. The ‘140‘s dash mounted  overdrive switch has been replaced with a switch in the gear knob (taken from a Triumph Stag) fitted to a modified Triumph 2000 stick.

‘140 engine bay, a photograph taken soon after she arrived home following a fourteen year rebuild. I suspect it will need a lot of elbow grease to get her back to looking like that again.