Blog 21 December 2018

Off Piste

This month’s Off Piste is again a non-automotive topic. What to do about Brexit?

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XK150 Refurbishment



Work on the ‘150 is underway. I knew there was a bit of corrosion in the driver’s side floor but when all the trim was out it was decided that the most economical approach was to renew the entire floors both sides. We also found some corrosion in the rear corners so repairs were made there as well. It seems that the rest of the body is rust and rot free and prep is underway before painting. The engine and new gearbox will go in before she goes to the booth.

F Pace


I had to take in my F Pace for its first service the other day and frankly, I was dreading the experience. The social media comments I have seen denigrating the service provided by Jaguar dealerships in general seems legion and decidedly terrifying. Well, it’s been my first experience of JLR dealer service for a long while and in any event I took my SUV to Harwoods in Croydon. I have to say I found them on the ball, courteous and helpful. Karen Murphy, the representative I was allocated, is a consummate professional who dealt with supplying a loaner and with the whole transaction most effectively. All in all, a positive experience. Thank you JLR and Harwoods.

Things on the engine front have gone pretty well. The original 3.4 engine has been standing in a corner of Brian Stevens’ workshop since 1994 and although the head was a little tough to pull off, things didn’t seem too bad once it was removed; the waterways were reasonably free from corrosion and ready to go again.. The head has had new seats and been cleaned up. The crank has gone off for a regrind but all the bores need is honing. With new pistons and rings she should be singing again.


Nothing succeeds as planned but all being well, she’ll go to the trimmer at the end of  February and home, with luck ,in the spring.

Corvette Update


After an absolute age the Corvette seats are back and in the car. The trimmer has remade them in red leather rather than the original vinyl and they look great. I gave the notion of what material to use a bit of thought but, as she has so many variances from standard, including all round discs, power steering and American Racing wheels, I figured a little further modification would make no difference. In any event, she has turned out well.

Jaguar Mark V , Back in the Land of the Living


The mouse and moth damage to the Mark V has been repaired at, I may add, a truly prodigious cost. The trimmer avoided fitting a new outer hood but I’m not so sure that wouldn’t have been a more economic option. He is however a real artist and the finished job is a tour de force. He tells me that much of the underlying woodwork was in terrible condition and much of the labour cost was in extensively renewing wood. 


She has been thoroughly fumigated and drenched with anti-moth chemicals. I have two mouse traps inside the car as well a patent rodent noise repellent sounder. Fingers crossed!

    Happy Motoring in 2019 to You All.


Lizzie, good sport that she is, agreed to come home for the day to shoot our Christmas card. The weather was foul but we found a dry few moments. I’m not sure many recipients got the joke; perhaps a little too obscure. We dressed up as Steam Punks, à la Jules Verne, with Santa proclaiming that he thought we’d asked for a ‘time’ as opposed to a ‘timeless’ machine (nod to Mr Wells). The SS being the machine in question. As I say, a little too obscure but I hope good fun. It’s too late for Christmas but, in any event, we wish you all a terrific New Year.

These poor images are scans of pictures taken in the trimmer’s workshop. The top shot shows the installation of the mattress  that sits between the outer hood covering and the inner West of England wool lining. The fitting and the thickness is vital to the smooth line of the erected top.  I was lucky that, when the top was first replaced  many years ago, the trimmer used  a synthetic material that the moths didn’t eat. The middle image shows  some of he woodwork repairs. To the left, the remade hood with it’s smooth outline.

Jaguar Mascots


My friends will know of my penchant for collecting and giving the tendency its head  so I set about putting together a small set of Jaguar mascots. Although much disputed I can’t believe there is any doubt that Gordon Crosby’s inspiration for the Jaguar we all know and love, was the 1925 Casimir Brau Panthère , later fitted to the 1930 MG Tigress 18/100 and, incidentally to Gordon Crosby’s own MG saloon. The slim Prince Michael mascots were fitted only to the prince’s ‘100 and a 3.5 saloon. In the fifties the GC design, with folded back legs, was modified to fit on the bonnet of cars like the XK150. Getting hold of a Brau is almost impossible but one came up at auction and I indulged myself. I already had a PM copy and getting a later GC was easy. The ‘38-51 variant proved a little more tricky but where there’s a will there’s a way


From the left the 1925 Brau panther, which some say was Gordon Crosby's inspiration, the Prince Michael mascot on the royal Romanian SS100, GC's original design with the folded back legs for fitting on a rad cap and the later model with outstretched rear legs for bonnet fitting. Sorry for the awful shot of them sitting on my study window sill but I'm so pleased to have them.

Head removed afer a 25 year wait. Nothing seemed too terrible. Waterways that tend to corrode badly, seemed  OK.

New hardened  valve seats  cut in and head cleaned and prepared