Baby Jaguar Update – those stinkin’ blinkers!

Baby Jaguar looks really sharp... from a distance. See the "50 Foot Car" comment in the article 🙂

I said when I bought the the Jaguar it was going to be a restoration project – and it’s definitely turned into that 🙂  I also said I was going to post updates… OK, I’ve been rather slow about that. 😉

I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my previous post, but, the car – like all of my cars – has a name:  Baby Jaguar.  Yes, it’s a Dora The Explorer reference – though I think I’ve maybe seen 5 minutes of the show.  It happened to be a comment that Kat made that ended up making me post on Facebook “Baby Jaguar goes ROAR!” after the first time I fired it up with a new fuel pump. 🙂

A couple of observations on the 1990 Jaguar now that I’ve been driving it for a bit:

1) It’s nimble.  It’s a 4-door car that corners and maneuvers like it’s the old Eclipse Spyder I used to drive (except it doesn’t bottom out over bumps 😉  Coming off of I-135 onto West Bound Kellogg I can take the cloverleaf at 50 MPH and the tires never squeal in protest.  The Caddy, in contrast, would make the tires howl at 35 MPH on the same turn.  I’ve yet to find a speed in which the car felt like it was rolling too much or that the tires squealed – and I’ve given up pushing it much further (unless I find a nice open place to do a skid test 😉  I’ve taken to referring to it as an “Adult Sports Car”.

2)  The engine is anemic.  Sure, it may handle great, but the in-line 6 isn’t particularly powerful.  I still have more tweaking to do, of course, and a few tune-up items left, but I don’t expect to get a whole lot more out of it.

3)  The engine also seems rock solid.  It sounds good, runs good, all that good stuff.  I really haven’t found anything that makes me afraid it’s going to fall apart anytime soon.  Same goes for the tranny.

4)  The door handle mechanism is one of the worst ever constructed.  All four doors are broken in one way or another.

Eventually I need to find out why the flow meter for fuel isn't working right. I KNOW I'm not getting 91 MPG!

5)  It’s a flat out fun rid, and Baby Jaguar is always asking to go faster.  I use cruise control a lot to keep my foot from getting me in trouble.

6) “But it’s a Jaguar”  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that phrase now – I even heard it today when Doc when I was detailing out all the little problems.  I can pretty much tell someone it’s a P.o.S. and they’ll say “But it’s a Jaguar!”  For something I spent $900 (or was it $800?) on it carries a weirdly high prestige value.  I suppose I’d feel differently if I had paid $60k for a brand new one.

7)  The first time filled up Baby Jaguar I stopped and made sure there wasn’t a hole in the gas tank, then looked it up online real quick.  I had put $50 premium in it, and it didn’t sound like it was ready to stop!  There’s a reason for that – 24 gallon tank.  Even the Caddy doesn’t match that one.  That’s a whole lotta premium!

Now, for some actual rundown of things I managed to get done (followed by the problems I haven’t fixed!)

When I started the wiper fluid, charge, battery, check engine, burned out bulb, and three other idiot lights I can’t remember were on.  Now I’m down to two:  check engine (valid) and the burned out bulb indicator (sort of valid.)  A lot of them weren’t things I went out of my way to find – while working on something else, I’d do the “while I’m here” sort of thing, and check – there, problem fixed.

The exterior is still pretty rough – and I don’t expect I’m going to change that for a bit.  However, I did pick up a $15 buffer at Harbor Freight and some rubbing compound – after about an hour on the hood it looked better.  BUT – the hood has been repainted sometime or another.  There’s a seam down the center where the paint on the left side -vs- the right side are subtlely a different color.  Just enough that if you are close to the car you can tell the difference (of course, I can see it a mile away now.)  A couple of people at a craft fair today were looking at it from a distance, and thought it looked great – then I explained what the paint really looked like up close.  One of the gals referred to is as a “50 foot car” – looks great from 50 feet away 🙂

Half of the hood hit with rubbing compound. After a serious deep cleaning, some rubbing compound and some wax, it was a major improvement 🙂

Longer term it’s going to end up with a paint job – but it’s not a priority yet.  There’s body work to be done first.

Along the way I caused a new problem by fixing an existing problem.  The radio worked at the time I bought it… sort of.  And then it started getting really really messed up.  So I picked up a $50 radio on sale, and slapped it in there.  MUCH better.  And I replaced the broken motorized antenna unit with a cheap, flexible non-motorized unit.  I think motorized antenna units are silly anyway, and always end up breaking.

But in the process, something went wrong – after putting it in I have no instrument cluster lights, no turn signals, and no lights on the controls for the HVAC.  Uh, what?  I started the obvious route and backed out the stereo to see what I did.

And ya know what? I STILL haven’t found the problem!  Right now I have the console removed, all the bottom side of the dash, the radio, and the climate controls.  Now, there’s some horror involved here – as I’m going along I’ve found multiple (obviously factory) plugs that don’t seem to has things to plug into.  I’ve also found custom wiring that was done and then undone (the best was finding a wire with three crimps and one splice in a 5 inch span.  Sheesh!)  So there’s been extra unhooked wiring just laying around, so I spent a little extra time finding both ends (both ends having been cut already) and pulling them out.  An extra 10 feet of wire that was running parallel to the real wiring harness.  That never inspires confidence.

While tracing wires I also managed to take a glance at the climate control stuff – when you rotate the fan from off to (any fan setting) to defrost it would make a noise, but it wouldn’t turn the blowers on. With the console of I was finally able to stick my fingers in the vent area to see what was going on.  It’s actually changing modes – the flap moves from closed to open to defroster mode.  So that’s good.  But why no fans?  No idea.

Finished hood. Far from perfect, but you can see the clear coat on the fender beside it as a contrast. Now I just need to do the rest of the car!

Right now the front half of the electrical system is all exposed – and I’m still not having any luck with finding a problem. :-/  That’s the worst problem I’ve had with Baby Jaguar yet – everything else has been pretty easy.

Well, almost everything else – I do have one more mysterious issue that makes me curious.  I’m missing a wheel lug stud on the driver side rear tire.  Those are threaded studs that you have to take the disks off to unthread.  Why one is missing is a mystery to me.  I have one here – it cost me all of $3.50 online – but getting the disk off is a problem.  There’s an oversized phillips screw that holds the disk on (what? OK, that’s wierd), and it’s a #3 phillips.  From the looks of things, someone tried to take it off with a #2 phillips, destroying most of the head.  And I really need access to an impact wrench and an easy out to remove it (if I’ll drive out to Doc’s farm apparently he’s got one out there!), but I’m seriously concerned that if I do try and take it out it’s going to bust the head.  So, I’m going to get some parts available nearby before I try that one.  The effect of the missing wheel lug stud gives it the same feel as an unbalanced tire when you’re more than 70 MPH.  Not good, but, the solution at the moment is to not exceed 70 MPH 🙂

I haven’t spent tons of time on the Jag – well, until I tore apart the electrical today – but so far it really does seem like it’s been a great investment!  Love the style, drives great, rides good, and sound OK (still have an exhaust leak somewhere, which apparently at 65 MPH is enough to get the attention of a Highway Patrol officer, who ended up pulling me over because of my lack of working blinker, then giving me a warning for both, and the crack in my windshield.  Oops!)  Still tons of little fixes and a few big fixes to do though:

  • Working A/C & Heat.  It’s going to be 103 F tomorrow – Kansas summer kinda sucks.  And it will probably hit -10F again this winter – Kansas winter kinda sucks.  (Wait… why do I live here again? 😉
  • General Body Work
  • New Windshield
  • Fix Wheel Lug Stud
  • Finish Tune-up (needs cap, rotor, and wires.  Plugs, filter, etc. replaced already.)

    Inside of the driver's side door. Seriously, I hate these doors.
  • Explore suspension system.  It rides pretty good, but, I keep thinking it’s riding too low.
  • Fix headliner.
  • Fix the stupid blinkers!!!!

I’m sure I’ll find more to add to that list eventually.  But really, that’s a pretty short list, all things considered 🙂

All six plugs pulled during the tuneup revealed no real major problems. Plugs were all worn and WAY out of gap (Jag is .25, the were .4!)


Talk to me (and everyone else) by commenting!