Working as a mechanic for a Classic Car Specialist has advantages, and in my opinion the best part of my job is being around some truly beautiful cars. Recently I have been working on a 1988 Daimler XJ40.
Being an 88 E Reg means it’s one of the earlier of the XJ40 range featuring the trusty 3.6 litre straight 6 engine and temperamental LCD Digital Dash. I have always loved the XJ40 and made a point of owning one myself. I don’t know what is so appealing, many enthusiasts do not agree with me citing the futuristic electrics and square design being too far from the Jaguar ethos, they therefore prefer the roundness of the Series 3 or X300 cars. For me though the XJ40 is just right and very undervalued.
This particular Daimler is a fine example, there are many tired cars out there but this has been cherished and it shows. I flick through the service book and see main Dealer stamps every six months regardless of mileage (that mileage being only 30,000 by the way). I also see notes in the handbook from the first owner detailing the journeys they made, dates, fuel use. A real motoring enthusiast it appears.
Driving her is a great experience, the great thing about the XJ40 is that although the difference in models are minor, more changes in badges than anything in depth, they all feel different.
The hydraulic self levelling suspension was removed long ago like most were but she still glides along the road and steering is smooth yet well weighted. For a large car they do not feel their size and the 3.6 engine gives ample power, even if attached to a rather lazy automatic gearbox.
Inside the cabin is a rival for a Jaguar, or indeed any luxury car today, the Daimler specific seats do not offer good driving support but for comfort there is little better. Compliment that with a luxurious deep grain walnut trim and you know you are in a special car. Then there is the smell. I have smelt it before, when I was much younger and sat in a new Rolls-Royce.
Not without faults I have steadily been working through the niggling issues to get the Daimler back to her best, lighting faults requiring a replacement lamp module and an ABS fault caused by dirty sensors. When she is done she will be a fine example, but she has always been special.
Bottom line? Well, of course the Daimler has a more luxurious outlook and feel, but the Jaguar of similar digits has a much sportier thought process attached to it’s design. So, that all important limited slip differential, sunroof and air con with climate control will cost you extra in a big cat, but not in your Daimler.
In good condition, both vehicles can still hold their respective luxury car heads high.
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