My name is Richard, and I live in Derbyshire, England.
15 years ago I was out walking with my brother. We both were and still are car
mad, our father having owned Jaguars when we were younger, and both held a
desire to own one. The route of our walk took us past a haulage yard. At the
edge of the yard was a footpath, which took us past the back fence, where all
the old lorries were put out to grass. Walking along the fence line we noticed
a gap in the lorries next to a large hedgerow, and a low slung dirty blue coloured shape just peeking out.
We walked closer and were surprised to find in front of us a sorry looking
Jaguar XJ6C. It was squadron blue, with a black vinyl roof, and a lot of junk
piled in it. It was also bearing the scars of attempted restoration, and missing
At 11 years of age, you can’t do much when you find something like this, but I
summoned up my courage and went into the office of the haulage yard to find out
more about it. The owner of the yard told us quite firmly that the car was not
for sale, but if we promised to be careful, we could have a look around the car.
This I did, noting that it had no drivers floor, the snapped off remnants of an
ignition key in the ignition, and no front seats. It had the 4.2 litre engine,
a blue leather interior, and an automatic gearbox.
For 10 years I walked past the car, keeping an eye on it, noting how it seemed
to cling on. Then one day I walked past and the inevitable had happened; the yard
had been cleared and the Coupe had gone. The business had moved.
I still wanted a Jaguar and several came and went some of which I still own, mostly
XJ6’s with the odd XJS. Every time I walked past or drove by the yard I would wonder
what became of that old Coupe.
In 2006 my younger brother started a small classic car garage, and I helped him.
On one of the jobs we were called to a haulage yard in the town near to where we
live, to view an Austin A30. After looking round the Austin, we were making our
way out the yard, when between a large hedgerow and a shipping container we noticed
the faded rear of a Jaguar poking out. We went and had a look and were amazed
to find the same Coupe we had walked past for all those years, now in another
yard. She now looked slightly worse than before, with the bonnet askew, but
still hanging on.
New negotiations ensued, and we were told the last owner had left the car and it
may be for sale. We left our phone numbers and went away full of excitement.
Weeks passed, and the Austin was due to be collected, so my little brother went
down to the yard while I was at work. To his horror, the Coupe was sitting all
forlorn in the middle of the yard having been dragged out of its resting place.
The owner of the yard walked up to him.
“I’ve been trying to find your phone number for days. I was going to scrap that
car. Do you still want it?”
The obvious answer was given, but the car had to be moved right now, that minute,
as there were a lot of lorries were due in due to a new contract. Frantic phone
calls failed to get hold of any transporters, then one of the outgoing lorries
turned out to have a flatbed and a sympathetic driver… a little negotiation and
the Coupe was secured on the back, and deposited outside our garage, for free!
Total cost of securing a dream... £ zero so far.
The following day I was off work and we decided to have a look what we had got.
The car had most of its missing pieces apart from the rear bumper, and front
seats stacked inside it, including a new driver’s floor panel. We couldn’t find
any keys, but managed to unstick the glove box and found gold...
A complete service history, up to when it was taken off the road, all its former MOT’s and tax discs, the
bill of sale from Jaguar to the dealer, and its subsequent sale to its first owner all wrapped up in its
“Leyland supercover” folder. A full set of keys, including the certificate with
the numbers on for replacements, and all its operation manuals. We also found
the ultimate Coupe accessory… a genuine pair of 1980’s Ray-ban sunglasses!
The next thing before launching into a restoration was curiosity.. would it run?
We checked the oil, and despite it having been in there for years it was right up
to the mark, so we turned the engine over by hand - it wasn’t seized. Coolant
was still good and green; whoever serviced the Coupe last had been good to her.
A fresh battery was put on and the recently found keys put in the ignition and
turned. Long dormant lights lit up on the dash and the starter coughed and turned
the engine over... it didn’t catch but the oil pressure gauge flickered into life.
So far so good.
The ignition was worked through and a nice fat spark was to be found at the plugs.
Fuel hoses were replaced and fresh fuel was poured into one of the tanks. On turning
the ignition again the pump was heard to buzz away, but fuel poured out of every seal
on the old SU carburettors. I stripped them off and a couple of hours later had them
in something resembling running order, so I refitted them.
A large crowd was now watching as the mechanics from the BMW dealers opposite had
been watching the Coupe with interest. The key was turned once more… the pump buzzed,
with no fuel leaking, we turned it to start.
The engine coughed once, coughed again, then caught and settled down into a smooth if
slightly fast, rumbling beat. Cheers were heard from across the way at BMW!!
We managed to test the gearbox and brakes on the yard outside the garage.
A friend of the previous owner came down to see how we were getting on, and was
blown away to see it running and moving under its own power.
Since then the Coupe has sat at the side of one of my other XJ6’s, being slowly
stripped down to prepare the bodyshell for dipping. This will get rid of all the
old rust, and leave me with fresh shiny metal to start the repairs from.
Meanwhile I am collecting the parts I need to repair and complete it. I can’t wait.