Car of the Month : May 2006

WE all love the Jaguar XJ40 around here – there’s a Jaguarness that sets it apart from its executive car contemporaries, but there’s just a teensy-weensy bit of BL in there to keep us hardened Leylandphiles satisfied…

After the enjoyment of Staples2Naples 2005 in an Austin Allegro, we’ve decided to take an XJ40 to the Sunny South of Italy later this year, but we couldn’t let the moment of picking up our new car pass without declaring it an Car of the Month. KEITH ADAMS takes up the story.

Saying it in style

It looks a million dollars, right..?

DRIVING down a rainy M1 on Friday in our ‘new’ XJ40, purring along, radio burbling in the background, and my rear end being masssaged by Coventry’s finest chassis engineers, it finally hit me – we’ve cracked this Staples2Naples lark once and for all. In 2004, we revved and screeched our way South, whereas last year, we limped – in 2006, we’ll be travelling like Kings…

If you’re a regular reader of Classic Car Weekly, or have dialled into our first Staples2Naples report, you’ll already know how we secured this Jaguar, and how much we paid for it. If not, it came as a result of an appeal to one our magazine’s, advertisers, Jagbreakers, and it cost us a princely £100.

What you’ll not know is just how tremendously nice it is to drive. I’ve been fortunate enough to pilot plenty of cars in my driving career, but none have offered anywhere near as much comfort for your money as this XJ6. Yes, there have been a few bargain Citroen CXes in my life, but none quite so conspicuously inexpensive.

So, that’s that – it’s a comfortable car…

On the road, we love the XJ40. Its ride quality may leave the driver more relaxed than a session in a Turkish Sauna, but there’s a great deal more to the XJ40 than this. Unlike previous XJs, the steering is tight and delivers plenty of feel and the manual gearchange is chunky and precise. These are positive bonuses because when the driver starts pushing, its low-roll handling, and sublimely controllable rear end make this a surprisingly capable driver’s car for one so large.

Of course, we didn’t buy a show car, and there’s a legion of problems we’ll need to contend with. There’s an ominous knocking coming from the front nearside suspension, but that’s been traced to a noisy shock absorber mounting (so one we can ignore en route to Naples). There’s a fair bit of structural rust, a slipping clutch, knackered clutch release bearing, learing power steering rack, and tempermental electrics, too… but do you know what – despite all this, there’s enough MoT to get us to Italy (and perhaps back), and I’m beginning to think that sorting these problems before we leave are counter-productive.

After all, do we want the run to be so simple that we don’t even think about the car failing on the way down (like 2004)?

We’ve painted a very black picture of this car thanks to its problems, but despite these – we love this Jaguar, and are positively looking forwards to giving it a stern test in the Alps.

Besides all that, it might be tired, and worn out, but it still looks a million dollars when washed and polished – and it still has that ‘wow’ factor that other cars only dream of. Of all the cars I’ve taken home in recent months, this is the one that got the most neighbours’ curtains twitching.

And who can say fairer than that?

Very tidy interior – not so keen on the ultra-low driving position…

Keith Adams

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