And so it began, since the tender age of 10 or so - long before it was possible to cruise the internet looking at every imaginable car - I found myself buying books and old car magazines (I think I had my first subscription to Cars and Parts by the age of 12). There was something about that old musty smell of the interiors of antique cars that triggered some instinctual sense of well being that has been a part of me since childhood -so much so that hanging in my locker in high school was a picture of Triumph TR6 in British racing green with that small Union Jack decal, rather than a pin up of Farrah Fawcett or whoever was the teen boy icon de jour at the time.
OK - so much for the sacchariney back story - the bottom line is that all of these inexplicable car infatuations finally translated into my ability to live out some of those fantasies, thanks to a respectable job, that while does keep me completely out of financial stress, has allowed me to indulge in some completely incomprehensible (or so my wife claims) ventures in automotive lunacy. It started with a 1958 MGA (not including the 1983 280z) and has recently culminated in the inspiration to start this blog - a beautiful, but very decrepit 1984 Jaguar XJS 6 cylinder coupe with a rare manual Getrag transmission (ironically my iTunes is playing "Mint Car" by the Cure at this very moment...).
I actually almost purchased this exact car some 10 years ago but thought it was a bit pricey at the time and thus entered the MGA into my life - which was fun, but the choke and non-synchromesh transmission made the car somewhat intimidating for my wife to drive. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the little MGA coupe, I was obviously disloyal as I was always turning back to my "usual" haunts on the internet searching for another XJS coupe with a manual transmission to no avail. I finally decided to sell the MGA (quickly purchased by a Swiss collector and the little bug was soon carted off for its transatlantic trip to a good home) and miraculously the very same week the XJS of my desires appeared for sale once again on Ebay.
This was the very same car that almost ended up in my garage 10 years earlier - and after a few emails back and forth with the current owner who assured me the car was in great shape and with no know rust (mind you all of this negotiation was occurring while I was at a meeting in Malaga Spain - things had certainly changed from my old 'Cars and Parts' magazine days...), I placed a bid with a max end point and, hoping for the best I boarded my plane back home with the auction scheduled to end midway on my flight back.
After briefly saying hello to my family upon landing I logged into Ebay to find that I had "won" the auction, and at slightly under $4,000 - OK, so I should have been excited - but something was gnawing at me: why did this rare car (and one that was so rare and desirable) go for so little? Regardless the car was now mine - and i embarked on the trip up to the Bronx (red flag?) to pick up my classic British steed. So let's just say I likely made a number of classic mistakes in purchasing an old car: 1) bought it sight unseen, 2) believed the used car sales man trying to unload this car, 3) bought with my heart and not my brain - I wanted this car and I was blinded to any warning signs, 4) actually picked it up and drove it (uninspected) from NYC to Philly...
I did make it back to Philly uneventfully but did have my suspicious but supporting wife following me (along with my then 4 year-old daughter and her then 79 year-old mother) in a very reliable new Japanese import.
Well now the car of my desires was safely sitting in my garage (leaking radiator fluid) and the adventure was to begin - this was to be no ordinary undertaking and this poor orphan car, which by and sane measures should have been hauled off to the scrap heap or dismembered and sold for parts (if there was any single part that could be salvaged) was somehow fortunate enough to have found its way into the home of an irrational car nut who made the decision after several sleepless nights to attempt to bring this car back to its former glory.
This blog will attempt to chronicle a story that has played out over and over in many an enthusiasts garage or in the garages of specialists who may actually have the ability to actually complete the job of restoring these unforgiving beasts...I hope to be able to complete this story (both the actual restoration and continuing the updates to this blog - both of which will be tempered by the demands of family and a job in academic medicine, all of which conspire to keep me away from the project at hand and will sap the resources (aka $$) needed to carry this project to fruition). A side project that will provide the soundtrack to this project is my resolution to copy all of our CDs into iTunes and to finally be rid of those pesky discs that seem to spill out of every nook and cranny in our house - and so I have dedicated myself to writing this blog as my CD collection is converted to digital formats - there is some analogy there to the car thing but instead of trying to be poetic, I will just insert all exceptionally ironic tunes that come up while I work on this into the wee hours...
The next posting will tell of the woes of a mis-recorded VIN and dealing with the PA and NY MVAs and then actually discovering the extent of problems manifest in this XJS.