Good day to all the Jaguar Club Members. Yessir, Melody and I are sill around even though we are playing it safe when it comes to staying away from gatherings. After months of studying for and passing the Public Adjuster exam for California and putting together all the sample contracts plus all the other paperwork, by ambitious task of starting my own business in the insurance industry might be getting closer. The application is still under review.
Today was the day for a drive in the XJS. Built in 8/1991, our car was delivered to Hornburg on Sunset and finally sold Valentine’s Day 1993. According to the Heritage Trust graph, just 352 V12 Coupes were built that year. Was that just US models???? Oh well, after low-milage year, I decided to take advantage of Friday light traffic and get this thing out for a good run.
So, it was on Friday the 13th of November I set out on a self-guided horror/suspense movie tour. I picked three influential movies that scared the “knickers” off me when I first viewed them as a young boy. Let us begin during the 1970’s. The Jaguar XJ-S had the unenviable task of filling the shoes of the E-Type. Great. Many were skeptical, especially in 1975, a year before Carter when the Toyota Celica and Corolla ran away with reliability and MPG while the Chevy Vega began to rust while still in the showroom. Good luck with that.
Jaguar pressed on while under BL and by 1978 was priced at $23,900 according to the current NADA website. That is a lot of quid for the day. A V12 was all you got in the 1970’s. What a smart looking coupe, though. It was sexy, with Connelly leather, and all the bells and whistles. I think they are better looking than the Merc coupes and dropheads of the day. 1978 was also a great year for Debra Hill and John Carpenter. With just $300,000, a small crew and great cast put out a movie that still reigns today. “Halloween” went on to gross over $50 million. Too bad Jamie Lee Curtis did not take a percentage! Everyone remembers the scene when Laurie and Annie are walking in the street. Mike Myers drives by in a Ford Country Squire. Annie yells out, “Speed kills!” As a young boy, watching the Ford slam on the brakes had me on the edge of my seat waiting for Mike to jump out and slash Annie to bits! This was filmed at the intersection of Highland Street and Fairview in South Pasadena. The two photos of the street and me standing next to the XJS are at this location.
Everyone remembers the Mike Myers house. “The Boogey Man is gonna gitcha!” This house scared every kid on the block. 15 years earlier, Mike Myers took a knife to his sister and her boyfriend who were engaged in “adult activities” which I will leave to your imagination! Laurie is tasked with dropping off the keys for her real estate parents which Myers does not like too much. She has a big target on her back for the rest of the movie. The house used for filming in the movie sits at 1000 Mission, South Pasadena. Built in 1888, it is painted blue now. The house was on the demolition block when a future councilman bought it for a buck and moved it to its current location. Lots of sun made for a great pic here.
The next decade for Jaguar brought a win for the 24 Hour Le Mans. The V12 XJ-S was still a sexy coupe and priced competitively at $34,000 in 1983. From 1980 on, the V12 XJ-S got an injector system called Digital P. This system uses a “throttle potentiometer providing smooth variance as the throttle moves.” (http://jag-lovers.org/books/xj-s/07-FuelEFI.html#:~:text=FUEL%20INJECTION%20SYSTEM%20TYPES%3A%20The%201976-80%20XJ-S%20used,to%20Bosch.%20The%20two%20systems%20are%20completely%20different.) 1983 was also another great year for John Carpenter. Stephen King had written a book and thrown it in the trash. His wife dug it out because she liked the plot. “Christine” was then made into a movie and, like “Halloween”, scared the pants off anyone who ever dared to lay eyes on a 1958 Plymouth for an awfully long time. “Ain’t no finer smell in the world than a new car, except for %^&*&.” The other cars in the movie were not too bad either. Arnie’s friend drove a 1969 Dodge Charger. Buddy Repperton drove a Camaro RS before he met his demise at the “hands” of Christine on a clear night.
I am out of the order of events. After Arnie buys Christine for $250, he brings it home to the house that my XJS sits in the photo. “Not in my driveway!” says Arnie’s parents. I know the feeling. In 1985, I caught sight of a 1959 Caddy Sedan De Ville behind a fence in Georgia. It needed some body work, but the car ran decent. It was a steal at $800, but Dad, for real, said, “Hell no.” I digress. Arnie’s house is in great shape today and still photographs well. I jump in and drive to Leigh Cabbott’s house. After Arnie “fixes up Christine”, he loses the glasses and gets a hot girl. Arnie’s friend even loses a bet asking her out on a date. She replies, “Already got a date!” Leigh’s house was built in 1900 and in perfect shape with the manicured lawn. The lady across the street even said that her neighbor’s house is always being photographed. This house is in Monrovia.
By the 1990, the XJS really got it together. The motor lost all those fuel lines over the top and quality control issues that came with British Leyland were on the way out, though mine still has a lot of that Lucas “skinny” wiring. I had to fix a couple of bad ground issues as well after a wire literally burned up after attempting a hot start at the petrol station. The plastic at the side rear windows disappeared. “XJS” was neatly etched into the windows. Different wheels made cleaning them a 60-minute task requiring a toothbrush! Geez! Pack a lunch for that! The extra quality control came at a steep price. My XJS sticker says $61,500 in 1992. That does not include the $3000 gas guzzler tax imposed separately. By 1996, the black bumpers were gone, and the cost was $61,570 for the Coupe. These rare V12 were now 6 litres and very sought after by purists because everyone else wanted the I-6. Everyone has their own preference. Mine is on the record. If you have an XJS V12 from 1992 on, keep it because you might not ever find another decent one. Trust me, the extra cost is worth the exclusivity of having the badge on the back lid or sides that display “V12”. It is one prestigious motor.
We said good-bye to the XJS in 1997, but Curtis Hanson gave us movie buffs a real treat the very next year. 1997 gave us Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Russell Crowe, Kim Bassinger, David Straithern, and Danny Devito in “LA Confidential”. This was a tough one to do because I could have spent two days on this movie alone. I decided on the two places closest to the other locations to keep the travel time and get back to Placentia. After a quick lunch on Highland Street in South Pasadena from my lunchbox, I headed to a house that is a turning point in this movie. Jack Vincennes decides he is going to dig into the Night Owl murders. He solicits Captain Dudley Smith to fill in the blanks because he was the Sargeant for an earlier case. The Sargeant, now Captain, is the corrupt figure now taking over Mickey Cohen’s drug/prostitution racket unbeknownst to Jack. Since Dudley cannot have any witnesses, he whips out a 38 and shoots Jack in the kitchen of this house. “Rolo Tomassi”. The house is painted gray now, with a bare front wall where the green hedge used to be located at the front. It is located off Huntington Drive at Kendall in Los Angeles, near Alhambra. “Just the facts, Jack!”
My last stop on this Friday the 13th tour was in East Hollywood on Franklin. I really lucked out here. Franklin Ave is a nightmare to drive on with little parking opportunities. However, street parking at 5121 Franklin had ended just 30 minutes earlier. No cars parked on that side yet! This scene provided the best pictures with my XJS in front of the Snowden House on Franklin built by Frank Lloyd right. This house is no secret to movie buffs of California. The interior of this house was the location of the party of debauchery hosted by Pierce Patchett, a heroin dealer who employed women, like Veronica Lake lookalike Kim Basinger, to fulfill “whatever you desire” as the slogan goes. This house has been in many films and includes interior photos on Google as well. Also, a keen eye will reveal a red Jaguar XK from the 1950’s next to the Packard when Pierce opens up the electric garage doors. That house is a real residence built in 1929 by the great Richard Neutra in the Hollywood Hills. I somehow missed that one during this tour, which bummed me out when I found out how close it was to the Snowden House on a map. “I wouldn’t trade places with Edmond Exley for all the whiskey in Ireland.”
There you have it. I picked out three great movies, one from each decade that the Jaguar XJS was in production. These movies might be understated even today, as is the case with the XJS because it had such big shoes to fill. Most XJS’s can be had for a song. Just bring some good eyes and ears when you buy one, negotiate to the end, and find a good place to service them. You will be glad you did. We got ours in 2012 for $7,600. It has just under 68,000 miles. Enjoy a good movie after the long drive. I put 116 miles in one day on mine. I had freezing air the whole way and the temp needle did not go above half. It was indeed a great Friday the 13th.