Jaguar Driver December 2021 Princess Diana’s XJS

Jaguar Driver magazine of December 2021 included an article, submitted by Tony Merrygold, entitled ‘Di… Another Day’ detailing a couple of problems that manifested when the car was used to support a Mission Motorsport event at Bicester Heritage.


Jaguar Driver
December 2021
Di… Another Day

One of my roles as Vehicle Collection Manager at the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust is to keep as many of our cars on the road and running and driving, as possible.  We MOT all cars we use on the road, irrespective of age and we always keep a number of them ‘on the button’ ready to go out at short notice.

When we received a request in September to support a Mission Motorsport event at Bicester Heritage, providing cars for passenger rides for Veterans, we had a number of cars ready to go.

Being military themed, the three obvious ones were our: Bond film XK8, complete with machine gun; Union Flag XK8 and Princess Diana’s XJS.  All three were already MOTed so arrived at Bicester without any problems.  But then doing a few passenger laps, at sensible speeds, round the very tight track on the airfield we found we had two problems on Princess Diana’s XJS.  The first was a strong smell of fuel and the second an odd intermittent noise.

A bit of judicious checking under the bonnet didn’t show up any fuel leaks nor was anything dripping underneath.  The smell persisted for a few more laps until we spotted that fuel was leaking from the fuel filler.  The filler cap wasn’t sealing properly, and the tight right-hand bend caused the fuel to surge left, up the filler pipe and onto the rear wing.  Regular mopping of the wing prevented damage to the paint and this hadn’t happened before as we rarely fill the tank or take sharp bends that hard.  A new seal was ordered on our return to the Gaydon workshop.

The intermittent noise was not such an easy find.  Under normal driving the car was ok and nothing had been picked up on the MOT.  It was only evident when taking the tight right turn quite hard and was a definite ‘rotating’ noise coming from somewhere, almost under the passenger seat.  It didn’t happen on a hard left bend, nor if the right-hand turn was taken at a gentler pace.

Clearly not terminal, so the car was nursed around for the rest of the day and driven back to Gaydon without incident.

Princess Diana’s XJS at Mission Motorsport at Bicester Heritage
15 September 2021

The initial assumption was that it was transmission or prop shaft related and a quick inspection revealed the gearbox mounting rubber was in the process of disintegrating, allowing some lateral movement of the gearbox.  New bush, spring and spring seat were ordered to fix this.  When it came to removing the bracket to fit these, we could see that a plastic clip holding a pipe to the side of the transmission tunnel had snapped, allowing the pipe to spring away from the panel slightly.  This explained why the noise only happened on a right turn as the gearbox moved over and clipped the pipe.

It clearly hadn’t been that way for long as the pipe wasn’t damaged, which is just as well as it is the return pipe taking fuel back to the tank.

This just shows that even a combination of normal maintenance with an MOT doesn’t mean that a car will be trouble free.  As we all know the best way to keep our classics working is to drive them, occasionally hard.

New filler cap seal, gearbox mounting spring and bush fitted, and broken clip replaced and Di is now ready for Another Day.


Author:  Tony Merrygold

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