1986 Jaguar XJ6 Series 3 Sovereign
Inspecting a series 3 XJ6. We meet the owner of a retirement present Sovereign. We waited a long while to see Ray Reed’s low mileage S3. Was it worth it? Spoiler alert – yes! Words: Ray Ingman. Photography: Matt Richardson.
GOOD THINGS COME IN SERIES THREES
20k MILE XJ6 SERIES 3 A TIMEWARP RETIREMENT PRESENT IN DETAIL
It needed to be a high quality saloon, capable of keeping up with modern traffic with contemporary standards of build quality and reliability.”
‘Patience is a virtue’ is a wellworn cliché, but it certainly applied to the meeting up of Classic Jaguar and a rather stunning 1986 Jaguar XJ6 Series 3 Sovereign, owned by ‘out of the ordinary’ enthusiast, Ray Reed. If that sounds rude, bear with us and we’ll explain that statement later. Ray first contacted us back in August 2020, responding to our ‘Fancy a Photo Shoot?’ question posed in the magazine and on social media. He wondered if we might be interested in his low mileage 1986 car that he had acquired 15 months earlier. Studying the photographs he sent us sealed the deal – yes we definitely were! The vagaries of lockdowns and weather issues conspired to the effect that it is only now we finally made the connection.
The first unusual aspect of Ray’s enthusiasm for Jaguar is, he isn’t especially enthusiastic about the marque! Since his schooldays he recalls admiring Mk2s and being aware of XK150s and E-types – an early indication of his leaning towards saloons perhaps? Upon leaving school at the age of 15 in the 70’s, his first job was as a mechanic with a BL Austin-Morris Triumph dealer, but following completion of his apprenticeship, he found the automotive life not very much to his liking, so he left and after a new job selling hi-fi for a couple of years, trained to be a sound engineer. This lifelong career spanned radio, film, TV and commercials and somewhat prophetically ended working on internet broadcasting for RM Auctions from prestigious venues in Paris, Italy and Monaco. Maybe this sowed the seeds of his future hobby?
“...this side of the show circuit it would be hard to find a nicer example.”
As is the way of advancing technology, the job of sound engineering waned as cameramen with sophisticated equipment assumed a dual role. Retirement beckoned in 2019 and Ray came to the realisation that, so involved had he been in his career, he didn’t actually have a hobby. From left-field he hit on the idea of treating himself to a classic car to fill that void. An analytical person by nature, he formulated the ideal specification for his classic: It needed to be a high quality saloon, capable of keeping up with modern traffic with contemporary standards of build quality and reliability.
Further research narrowed the field to an Egan era XJ6, the added complexity and running costs of a V12 didn’t appeal. The search was on with a notional budget of £12k, Ray was not in any particular hurry, he would take his time, study the market and only make a decision after a thorough professional inspection had been carried out. Many dead ends were encountered, mostly as a result of dealers misdescribing their stock. One promising lead to an ex. Jaguar employee in Coventry revealed a superficially tidy car, but a cursory examination proved it to be full of poorly disguised corrosion. Not disheartened, he returned home and cruised the Car & Classic website (www. carandclassic.co.uk/). There it was, an ideal specification 1986 Sovereign described as near concours with a guaranteed mileage of just 14360.
Even better, it was located only a few miles distant. He managed to be first to view and decided to buy it there and then, the air of genuine originality convinced him that the self promised inspection was not a necessity. The price was inevitably over budget (about £3k) but when compared to the other examples he had seen, it seemed too good to miss. Ray’s first classic car- a retirement present to himself. The car was actually purchased from its second owner, who very helpfully told Ray about its early history. The most intriguing fact, and one that may go some way to explaining it’s ‘time warp’ condition occurred when he travelled ‘up North’ to Telford to purchase it from the original owner, who ran a successful construction business. He presented himself at the front door and announced he was there to see the car; he was surprised to be immediately invited into the house rather than out to the garage. He was even more surprised to discover that the car was routinely kept in the dining room! We suspect that the gentleman either lived alone or had a very understanding partner. At that time the car had seen little use and the owner was besieged by dealers who seemed to want to export the car.
For some reason he wanted the car to stay in the country and welcomed the private buyer. During the second owner’s tenure, after a long period in storage, in 2018 he replaced the tyres, brake pads and battery and by way of preventative maintenance, the cooling hoses and drive belts. He also carried out the cars second wax injection rust proofing process, another reason for its continued structural health.
BRINGING HOME THE DREAM
Ray has never craved an impressive daily driver and is loyal to the Volkswagen marque. When he collected the Sovereign, he was used to the dimensions of a Golf, so found his first drive home down narrow lanes (unfortunately coinciding with school ‘kicking out’ time) to be a little daunting.
Two days later, on his second journey, things got even more challenging: pulling out of a sideroad to cross a dual carriageway, the XJ stuttered and died. Hurriedly pressing the fuel tank change over switch...nothing changed, and he pulled to the side of the road. After some investigation he found that the left fuel tank was empty, not as shown on the fuel gauge, and the right tank was full but nothing was flowing from it. After topping up the left tank with a gallon from a nearby petrol station the car sputtered into life and made it home.
This experience exposed the first ‘can of worms’ to be rectified. It transpired that, due to its light use and sometimes being stored with near empty tanks, thick rust had formed in the tanks and pipe work and now, with the car being used in a more normal manner, this had washed down, blocking feed pipes and stopping fuel from the right tank getting through to the engine. This ‘adventure’ resulted in having the system flushed out, the fitting of two new fuel tanks, a changeover valve and a replacement breather pipe fabricated. Welcome to the world of classic motoring! As more mileage was accrued, more age related faults began to expose themselves. A grinding noise was noticed under hard acceleration and cornering after a run.
This turned out to be coming from the offside drive shaft UJs which Ray replaced himself. A new gearbox mount assembly was also needed along with a new centre exhaust section. The early work was carried out by Chris Coleman at The Jag Workshop, Ealing. When that changed hands, Chris Palmer at XJ Motor Services was engaged. More recently, unable to find another Chris, he called once again upon his own early talents and has not been shy to expend a lot of personal effort on both detail improvements and more involved undertakings. These have included brake master cylinder replacement, taking the opportunity to clean and refinish the brake fluid damaged paintwork exposed by its removal. Sympathetic restoration of the camshaft covers and radiator top panel has further perfected the under bonnet appearance. An exception to DIY endeavour was the air conditioning system, which KWE rectified by fitting their uprated compressor conversion and regassing the system. Another specialist was called in when Ray suffered a wet foot whilst driving – the bonding on the windscreens had hardened with age, allowing the ingress of water. National Windscreens efficiently removed and resealed them.
The truly amazing discovery during this operation, was that no corrosion whatsoever was discovered in the screen surround bodywork, almost unheard of! Whilst keen to keep the S3 as original as possible, he fitted a modern radio/ CD unit in order to get DAB radio and Bluetooth for his mobile phone. The new DIN style radio didn’t fit the aperture in the heating/cooling control panel, but Ray managed to find a new old stock one online and cut it to suit.
He retained the old radio and facia panel so that it can be refitted at some point if ever required. Another detail tackled involved the coachlines which had deteriorated badly and gone flaky. He managed to locate someone via the good offices of ebay who manufactures them to the original specification and had them fitted by a local car graphics expert, the result is indistinguishable from standard.
LIVING THE DREAM
Looking round the car, I, like Ray am struck by its original ‘feel’, remembering looking at these models when they were a couple of years old, and this transports me back to that period. Details like the headlining, which often betray the passing of time by at best bubbling and worst sagging to touch the drivers head, are perfect. Ray imagines it has been replaced, but I’m not so sure, as it looks totally undisturbed. It is hard to fault the rare Antelope Metallic paintwork, Ray doesn’t agree with the vendors ‘near concours’ assertion and neither do I, but this side of the show circuit it would be hard to find a nicer example. The interior is simply a lovely place to be, I doubt that it has even been smoked in or the rear seats used.
It drives exactly as a good XJ should and all potential creaks and other intrusions have been eliminated by diligent maintenance. It is impossible to fault this car in any meaningful way, but Ray considers this is his hobby and strives to correct the few outstanding anomalies. Recently he made the cigar lighter and the rear reading lights function “with a bit of fiddling”. The only thing he reports not working now is the headlamp wash/wipe system, which he has vowed to get round to sorting out at ‘some point soon’.
Despite exceeding his original purchase budget, Ray is determined to treat the car in the manner it deserves and doesn’t begrudge a penny of the £5.5k he estimates he has spent since purchase. £880 of that accounted for by the air conditioning. He is not afraid of using the car and increasing its mileage from its current 20k, reasoning it was purchased for his enjoyment, and enjoy it he will! He attempts to make a point of taking it out at least twice a week. One of those trips usually involves taking his 93 year old Mum out for a ride, she loves the car and thinks her son has really ‘made it’ – so do we! n Employing another cliché, Ray’s car proved to us ‘patience is a virtue’.
If you own a Jaguar (or Daimler!) that has a similarly interesting back story or is exceptional in some way, please get in touch and maybe, sooner rather than later, your car could feature in these pages.
“...he was surprised to be immediately invited into the house rather than out to the garage. He was even more surprised to discover that the car was routinely kept in the dining room!”
Whilst chatting to Ray, he told us, “Interesting that you say I’m not the typical Jag enthusiast, I would agree. It’s been a fascinating couple of years of ownership. I’ve never been a sociable type and tend to keep myself to myself. I’ve made myself go to the events this year and I’m happy enough to walk round quietly to look at the other cars and perhaps ask the odd question or make a comment. Finding people admiring my car and wanting to talk to me about it is new experience. Along the same lines, putting myself forward for a magazine article certainly isn’t something I would normally do but again, with the reaction I’ve had to the car, and perhaps becoming a bit more sociable in my old age, I thought ‘why not’, others do so why not me!” We are far from alone in appreciating Ray’s car, he was awarded ‘Best Classic XJ’ at the Jaguar Forums UK meet at Denbies Vineyard in Dorking earlier this year. It needed to be a high quality saloon, capable of keeping up with modern traffic with contemporary standards of build quality and reliability.”
Richard Dredge 1 year ago #
The family XJ6
Heart-warming to read the article on Malcolm McKay’s dad’s Jaguar XJ6 (Our Cars), though a touch bittersweet I bet. I too have a 420; the model is only now getting the recognition I think it deserves. Could we get a better look at these as well please? I’ve been mad on all vehicles since I was a child but the personal touch really adds a dimension to a vehicle’s story for me. The Life Cycle features in Classic Cars are fabulous and much anticipated. I look forward to reading about Malcolm’s progress with his parents’ cars. It’s wonderful that they can be kept in use.