In many V12 HE cars (all of which up to 1993 are fitted with the GM400 box) a common issue we’ve encountered, and one that can worry its owners, is for large clouds of white smoke to emanate from the back of the vehicle, particularly on a hot run and after a service.
This is usually a result of the gearbox being overfilled, with the excess being blown out of the breather, which is invisibly placed on top of the box. The oil drips down, hits the hot exhausts and produces an impressive cloud of smoke. Equally, it is easy to under-fill, as the procedure is not widely understood, and dipstick readings can be misleading when oil accumulates in the bottom of the dip tube.
Currently enjoying their new ‘classic car’ status, many iconic models from the 1970s are becoming popular all over again. This is evident from the number of articles appearing in classic car media, highlighting models from the era and looking at ‘ones to watch’ in terms of investment potential. For example, Classic Car Magazine’s lead article this month, entitled ‘70s scorchers’, looks at the Ford Capri, BMW 3 series, Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Ford Escort and the Opel Commodore.
Of course, the Jaguar XJS would be at the top our list of classic cars from the era, but there are a few other cars we think are worth a mention – ones that have in some way influenced car design or the progress of automotive technology. None of these cars, in our opinion, match the XJS in terms of durability or lasting elegance, but are influential none the less.
Saab 99 Turbo (1978 to 1981)
This chunky-looking car put the Swedish car manufacturer Saab firmly on the map when it was introduced in 1978. It was one of the first family cars to be fitted with a turbo engine and, although it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, it was well received from a performance and technology point of view. Its four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine offered 135bhp, outperforming many cars in its class at the time.
Just over 10,000 models were made. Some, like the limited edition five-door in Carnival Red, carry an upward price of £10,000 in today’s market.
BMW 3 series (E21 – 1975 to 1983)
This model was the bigger, boxier successor to the much-loved, but rather out dated 2002 series. When it was launched in 1975, Autocar described its performance as ‘zesty and smooth’. Thanks to a very high build quality and angled centre console – a totally new concept in terms of cockpit design – it soon built up its own reputation as an executive saloon car. Specifically the 323i model became the iconic sports saloon of its time.
High specification, restored 323i models today can fetch anything in the region of between £10-15,000, but they are hard to come by as – like so many BMWs from that era – corrosion was a major issue.
Audi 80 (B1 – 1972 to 1978, B2 – 1978 to 1986)
With its Bertone/Luthe styling and robust (and now legendary) EA827 engine, it’s easy to see why the Audi 80 was voted 1973’s European Car of the Year.
Audi added a sporty 1.6 GT version to its range in the same year, which became a well-known Q-car. When Audi revamped the range in 1976, the GT became the GTE (E for ‘einspritz’, which in English means injection). VW used the engine from this model for its Golf GTI.
Earlier models are rare; so expect to pay upwards of £10,000 for a car in good condition.
Porsche 924 (1975-1988)
Initially conceived as a VW sports car, Porsche replaced its unpopular 914 model with the 924 in 1975. Despite its superb build quality and financial success – sales of this car allowed Porsche to take the 911 upmarket – the car was thought to be somewhat lacking in performance. This led Porsche to develop a turbo version in 1978, and a Carrera GT in 1981.
There are still quite a few around today, at auction expect to pay upwards of £2,000 for an early 1980s turbo model.
VW Scirocco (first generation 1974-1981)
The Mk1 Scirocco was a big success for Volkswagen and an instant hit when it was first released in 1974. It was styled and engineered to be a much sportier car than the Golf or Jetta – the platforms from which were used to underpin the design of the Scirocco. The desirable 1.6 litre ‘Storm’ also shared its engine with the Golf GTI, making it a very fast front wheel drive for its day. Now in its third generation, the Mk3 was reintroduced in 2008.
Sadly, issues with rust mean there are very few good-quality early edition Mk1s around to buy today.
Which models would be on your list?
Of course these are just some examples of influential cars from the era. There are many more; for example, we haven’t mentioned the Lancia Delta. We’d love to know which cars would be on your list. Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.
For more information on the history of the Jaguar XJS, click here.
Thinking about restoring a classic Jaguar XJS? Well now’s a very good time, as this model is becoming an increasingly good investment opportunity. But how can you ensure you’re getting a good deal? And what can be done to minimise restoration costs? This post aims to shed some light on what to look out for when buying an XJS; it could save you a great deal of time and money!
First of all, it’s important to consider that sellers – in particular garages and dealers – will have gone to some trouble to make the car look pristine on the outside; but it is very unlikely that a seller will have done a proper restoration-quality repair of rusted areas. Therefore, a perfect-looking car is often in much worse condition than one with visible rust, which has not yet been ‘tarted-up’.
As with all cars made of steel, the most important area to consider is rust, both the less visible painted areas and, more importantly, the hard-to-see underside and hidden cavities. The most expensive part of a restoration is usually the stripped re-spray. If you are careful in selecting a low-rust car, you could save around £10,000.
In order to counter these restoration costs, it’s important to examine a car extensively – inside and out, top to bottom. You will need to look underneath the car for any signs of decay, ideally on a vehicle lift or on axle stands. It’s even possible to form a reasonable judgement by kneeling down and looking at the important areas.
Jaguar XJSs have a tendency to rust in similar places – some more than others – so it’s possible to form a view of the total rust condition just by looking at a few of the usual suspect areas, as outlined below.
These areas are often weakened and can be disguised with filler and underseal. With the seller’s permission, have a good prod with a blunt metal object, such as a car key, all around the jacking points. Look for uneven surfaces, or suspiciously fresh-looking underseal.
There is a weakness on all the coupés around the seatbelt mounting re-enforcement, where a strengthening plate on the outside allows water to get trapped, which then rots through the floor. Not a good area to be weak.
On facelift cars (post-1991), rot in the windscreen scuttles is a very common issue that needs to be examined carefully, as the car may appear perfectly fine everywhere else. It is an expensive job, but needs to be repaired properly. For a more in depth look at scuttle rot, visit this link on our website.
The bottom of the front wings where they meet the sills are often rusty on an XJS, so will have to be repaired, possibly more than once. Look for the bottom of the wing being flush with the sill. If it sticks out a bit then there is, or has been, rust.
This is a very common area for Jaguar XJSs to rust. This should be something you aim to avoid, as it’s difficult, and expensive, to repair well.
On late facelift cars (post-1993), there is often rust on the forward edge of the roof where it meets the ‘chrome’ finisher (actually stainless steel).
Large city cars are often in worse condition, as they are usually only used for shorter journeys. A seemingly low mileage vehicle may have completed a lot of shorter journeys, which can lead to worn out brakes, door hinges, leather and carpets.
The ideal car is one that gets regular, light use on suburban or rural roads in the South of England. Up to about 100,000 miles is good for a V12 before it gets too expensive, and at least 150,000 miles for the XJS six cylinder engines. The old 4.2 XK engine in the XJ saloons needs reconditioning at about 80,000 miles on average.
In general, avoid cars that have spent much of their life further north than London, as winter road salt accelerates rusting by at least 10 times.
Don’t be tempted by the lure of a cheaper vehicle. Initially you may save on upfront costs, but in the long term, you are likely to spend more on restoring the car.
If you want expert advice, why not consider one of our two-hour condition assessments? Visit our website for more details or call on +44 (0) 1635 30030 for further information.
Here are a few news highlights from the classic car industry from the last couple of months…
The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index notes that classic cars have beaten everything from art, watches and coins over the past 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. This is telling people that classic and vintage cars are a viable investment asset class.
We’ve recently completed the restoration of this now-stunning classic car. We were asked by the client to source a low-mileage donor car – it had to be blue, V12 and a convertible.
The car we found was actually Solent blue (a mid metallic blue). It was stripped back and repainted in Jaguar Westminster blue (a gorgeous dark navy).
Is your Jaguar XJS ready to shine this summer? If not, then why not call on our professional valet and paint protection services and treat your classic car to a thorough spring clean.
Select from three levels of valeting and a leather refurbishment service, prices start from £90.
For a long-lasting shine, we also offer Advanced Nano Coating paint protection. This is a highly developed nano-scale protective film that lasts – with yearly polishing – for up to 15 years. To find out more, visit our website or call 01635 30030 for an appointment.
Here’s one we did earlier – a KWE-restored Jaguar XJS in solid black with paint protection and one happy owner!
With the Jaguar XJS celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, we took a look back at this iconic car’s somewhat turbulent history.
Design plans for the XJS got underway in 1965, with the first production car being sold in 1975. The car was primarily designed by Malcolm Sayer, with input and control from Sir William Lyons. With Jaguar struggling financially at the time, the XJS needed to be a big success.
The highly anticipated XJS was seen by many as a direct replacement to the very popular E-Type. However, when the XJS was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1976, it was clear that the car was intended to be in a league of its own.