XJC.COM.AU - John Mann's Coupe Story

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  Jaguar and Daimler XJ Coupes

John Mann - My Coupe

XJC ~ CAT: 1977 Jaguar XJ4.2C Restoration - August 2006 to September 2008


James Dean.

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More than twenty years had passed from when I last owned a Jag. But I’ve always admired the coupes, which were produced between 1975 ~ 1977 in limited numbers and with only 139 of the 4.2 litre 6 and 97 of the 5.3 litre V12 being sold in Australia, they weren’t exactly plentiful. Plus life’s events (marriage, children, house renovations, work, travel, etc…) also greatly influenced getting another car for one’s self indulgence, placing that treat right down the bottom of the list of life’s priorities.


August 2006, whilst conducting my weekly browsing of the used car sales ritual, starting with “J” and working my way through the alphabet, I spotted the white 1977 XJ4.2C for what didn’t seem a ridiculously high asking price. Excited, I went to have a look and for an almost 30 year old car, it didn’t look too bad. It had some visible rust, a few dents, transmission slipped, non original interior, didn’t handle, steer or stop properly, made some very strange noises, etc… but what the heck, it was a coupe that I always wanted!


Well, working on the premise that; “It is far easier to beg forgiveness than it is to seek permission”, I bought it! Claire loved the look of it, the number plate was cute (XJC~CAT) and that it didn’t cost a great deal. At least not for now, anyway! We drove it for about a week, but then it was time to do a little bit of work and fix those things that were obviously in need of repair, cut out the rust, replace the heater matrix, fix the transmission, brakes, suspension and a little tidy up, nothing major. Yeah right! Within a couple of weeks of having purchased the CAT and started work on it, another one of life’s little events arose.


Although feeling fine at the time, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of Cancer, not all that dissimilar to what had infected the CAT, I guess. An initial visit to the surgeon culminated in being given the old pat on the back and told “really sorry John but there is not much I can do for you.” The coming year was an intensive emotional and physical rollercoaster involving great uncertainty, chemical warfare, radiation, being pocked, injected, cracked open, studied, parts removed and reassembled. Not unlike what was to happen with the CAT.


As it was, the coupe formed the basis of a major distraction for me, as I totally immersed myself into its partial restoration in those few early months while I was still physically able. As is usually the case, the more bits I pulled off the more I found that needed doing, until after a few months all I had was a bare rolling shell, a garage full of boxes full of Jaguar bits and me not being physically able to do a great deal at all. At which point the covers went on and the garage closed for a year. During this time I managed to search and purchase an assortment of parts, both locally and from the U.K., which would be used for its eventual completion, one day!


My treatment went well and although having some fairly severe side effects, good and bad days, I thought that I may still get to complete and see the Cat finished and back on the road, an event that was looking very doubtful for a while. A loss of fine motor skills, severe numbness of hands, feet and limbs meant that I had to rethink what I would have otherwise normally done myself. Reluctantly, I decided to contract out the body work, rust removal and painting which was completed by a local panel shop over 3-4 months and then returned to myself for the reassembly.


This in itself took quite some time as it was rather time consuming especially not having any feeling in ones hands meant that I was continually dropping nuts, washers, spanners etc... For instance refitting the outside door handle took me about 4 hours, this is a relatively simple job that would normally not take any longer that 2 hours! Also, as it was now well over a year since I dismantled the CAT, trying to remember where everything went was a bit of a challenge. I think the chemo had taken its toll on the few good brain cells that I had! Although not an exhaustive list, some of the work completed included:

· New replacement door sills, cut out and removal of all body and floor pan rust
· Detailed Engine Bay and rewire, including central locking
· New Series III Steering Rack
· New Suspension Bushes, ball joints and set LIP shockers
· New Radiator
· Set of original alloy Kent Wheels & centre caps (polished and detailed)
· New Michelin tyres (becoming difficult to find in the correct size)
· New complete set of door/weather & front/rear windscreen seals
· New original Russet Red Flock felt Carpet
· Reinstallation and leather upholstering of original coupe seats
· Reupholster/colouring of interior panels, centre console and new roof lining.


The goal was to have the CAT completed and back on the road for Spring 2008. This was achieved in late September, along with a major reprioritisation of ones life, family and work balance.



I now enjoy using the Cat on sunny week-end drives through the hills and around our local community with the family, whilst continuing to attend and sort through the odd little thing that needs attention or could do with improvement.