Your article this month on the restoration of XK Jaguars has prompted me to attempt a letter. It is not meant to be written in a cynical vein, as I considered myself at one time to he a true enthusiast and have read Motor Sport, enjoying every word of it, since about 1948.
Bluntly, I just cannot understand why people are rebuilding or even wanting these so-called ‘classics”. My dictionary giyes “classic” as “A work of the highest class and of acknowledged excellence”. My car was surely never that!
I owned an XK 150 a number of years ago and although old photos of it from every angle are in front of me now I feel it, like many cars, looked far better than it was. Make no mistake, mine was not rust-eaten rubbish. It was not split new certainly, but might pass for it in many ways. What was wrong then?
Let’s start with the chassis and running gear. The chassis was primitive and lorry-
like making road-holding and steering, etc., even with Konis, really quite dangerous if one attempted speeds for which one had bought the car. Other controls were heavy and of course the handbrake, useless.
Engine? The unit was ruined by having that electric choke and an air filter, of all things, in one of the wings! The position of the batteries! Words fail me! Taking a carburetter off was a mammoth job and what a place to put a petrol pump.
The body had many non-virtues too. Ghastly seats for a long run and the “legless dwarf” variety in the back quite ornamental. Boot? Hopeless, with a catch system of wires and pulleys surely thought up by an idiot or a sadist. Same with the petrol filler-flap.
The door hinges couldn’t be seen for lubrication, repair or renewal, and the rubbish behind a door trim was cheaper and nastier than the worst Ford Popular. Why did I ever buy it then? Well, people talk about development. The 120s and 140s on the roads had many vices even if special ones like NUB 120, etc., were getting world acclaim. Do you remember ever braking an XK 120 from 100 m.p.h.? And then trying to do it again!
The XK 150 had brakes, but it had many faults. I say again it looked good, but well I remember in those days of yore when you tried: 1. To get it repaired or serviced properly; 2. To insure it; 3. To sell it; no one wanted to know.
I’m awfully sorry if I disappoint some .people about to spend thousands at Messrs. Oldham and Crowther. I wish I’d kept mine. They could have had it for hundreds!
I tried hard to like it, keeping it for two years as an enthusiast should.
I have had a few models of your other classic cars but they’re another story. They will look fine in a Motor Museum or on your centre pages a la p. 52 this month and people may drool but what a joke to pay £5,000. For what?
If the purist in you allows, I hope you’ll publish this letter. People who have had or driven an XK model might like it. Or hate it. I’d like the answers.
My current car is a Capri which I consider sensible. A classic some day?!!
Carnoustie David G. Mathers