Tuesday, 2 July 2013


This post will be in two parts, this being the first. The second part will be completed on my return from Poole, Dorset to finally get to meet the cars first owner.  All being well this will happen on Thursday 4th July and I'll write up the visit over the coming weekend if not sooner.

My original plan was to make the 700 mile round trip the cars first major outing but a few well chosen comments from trusted associates made me think again.  The one that brought it home the most was to do with the point where bravery becomes foolishness.  I can't afford to miss this opportunity of meeting up with first owner Vernon Maitland OBE and with just 200 or so virtual miles on the clock (actually the speedo doesn't yet work because the cable end wont fit into its drive) the likelihood of having a trouble free drive down to Poole is probably less than 50%.  It still feels to me like a cop out but I must say that since taking the decision to trailer it most of the way my stress levels have reduced significantly.

As to the future of this blog now that the project is virtually complete, well, I still have a good deal of stuff to finish off, in particular the electric water pump project and some further work on the indicators and other electrical odds and ends.  The only difference is that the pace will be a little more relaxed but I still expect to be putting up a fortnightly post probably until autumn.

With an intended ETA in Poole of noon it meant an early 5.00am start for the 340 mile trip from North Yorkshire to the south coast.   I had driven the car over to friend Geoff's home the previous day, a distance of around 20 miles and even on this short trip a few gremlins appeared.  The drivers side rear corner seemed to have dropped an inch or so.  The gear lever had developed a sort of rubbery feel and in spite of great efforts to balance the wheels a distinct vibration could be felt at anything over 55MPH.  In some ways this was good as it validated the idea that driving around 700 miles without a few advanced shakedown trips would have been foolish.
Knowing that we could unload the car next to Vernon Maitlands home in Poole I was not too concerned about these minor problems so drove the car straight in to Geoff's very posh car transporter.  Worth mentioning that on the way over, my friend following in his BMW was showing 80MPH when I was showing 2500RPM  It will be interesting to see what the satnav says when I get around to checking.  My calculations indicated 71MPH at 2500 so either the Beemers speedo is wrong or my calcs are.  I'll let you know.  Also worth an article in its own right is the wheel balancing saga but as it is not yet fully played out, I'll save it for a future post.

By 11.00am we were about 18 miles from our destination with the Land Rover Discovery passing a string of HGV's on a fairly steep motorway gradient.  With cruise control engaged and the whole caboodle weighing I would guess around  four tons it proceeded to rapidly change down through the auto box in order to maintain its cruise controlled speed.  The rev counter whizzed round with each down change, then a warning light flashed and it went into limp mode.  We made a few attempts to un-crash whichever processor we had so badly upset but it would have none of it so we limped the final few miles to Vernons where the Land Rover Service man would meet us and hopefully sort it out.

Well met by Vernon's wife Monika and newly wed daughter Amber and Husband, Vernon quite a tall chap and very sprightly for I would guess 87 years had no problem climbing in and re-acquainting himself with his car (oddly I do still think of it as his car)

Vernon quickly at home

It was extraordinary to hear Vernon recall so many details about the car, how he came to buy it, with a good friend Alec Anderson buying one a little earlier, and registering it as KRU500, but it had to stay in Henley's showroom for quite some time because it was the very first one delivered to that branch.  Exactly what strings were pulled to extract a pair of early RHD 120's from Browns Lane I never did establish.  Vernon and friend Alec spent some fun time driving round Silverstone and from my initial searches on the cars history I just happen to have a fabulous photo of KRU500.  Its actually got a note on the back saying  'Happy Christmas - Silverstone 1950 - 100MPH - What Ho'  Does this car still exist - it's not on any XK data forum as far as I know. KRU600 was sold a year or so later generating a significant windfall profit, apparently due to a massive increase in vehicle purchase tax.
KRU500 - Alec Anderson - Silverstone 1950

KRU600 - Vernon Maitland - Exeter Trial New Years Day 1951

And zoom in - note hand position on steering wheel

4th July 2013  -  An amazing sixty plus years separate these two photos

Vernon with wife Monika

And finally a rare picture of a normally camera shy me with Vernon
Vernon and Monica live in Florida and only spend a few weeks each summer in the UK.  They will be leaving early next week and as Vernon says, as an octogenarian it becomes increasing difficult to look ahead, hence the need to ensure my commitment to meet up was discharged.

Fantastic view from Vernon,s balcony overlooking Poole harbour
Geoff signs off the warranty repair which mainly involved telling it that it only thought it was broken
The Jaguar / Land Rover service guy eventually arrives and plugs in his lap top.  Apparently the problem lay in some previous hiccough coupled with today's mishap.  He clears the fault, downloads a software upgrade and we're good to go.  I try to get him to pose with his laptop appearing to be plugged into the XK, it is after all a Jaguar, but he declines.   The irony of using a new Jaguar Land Rover product to get us there, as a pose to a rather older one, in order to mitigate the need to call for assistance is not lost on this very courteous and professional representative of the brand.

On the way back to my workshop, son Dan followed me in his Aston Martin Cygnet which he tells me he's pimped up and converted to a ''duckling' by fitting a Toyota iQ grill and binned the leather seats in favour of cooler cloth.  Trouble is, they won't let him join the AM owners club now.   In 5th gear I raise my hand at 2000 and 2500RPM and he tells me I was doing just short of 65 and then exactly 80 so I need to look again at my gearing calculations spreadsheet. This super high 5th gear felt perfect for dual carriageway cruising and had no problem whatsoever coping with any of the typical main road gradients encountered.

Next post mid July