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When Two Are Too Many

Charles Anton, Club Photographer | Published on 1/18/2021

When Two

Good day to all club members.  This has been a different year for everyone.  I miss the car events, the Jags ‘n’ Jam, the socializing.  I call Mark Mayuga for vehicle advice and just to shoot the bull and it is a great way to lighten up the day.


My latest conversation with Mark involved my latest car repair on a 1992 Jaguar XJS V12 Coupe owned by Melody and me.


In 12-2018, a coil pack and injectors gave out while I was driving.  I made the mistake of trying to limp the car home.  It was a bad move.  After $5k in repairs and a plug/wire/distributor replacement, it was off to get the car tested for emissions.  To my surprise, it was labeled a gross polluter.  Do I have more repairs in store?  After a tense conversation with the CARB referee while at a muffler shop looking for cat converters, I called Mark who said five words, “Take it to JP!”  For those who do not live near Huntington Beach, JP’s European is the shop to take your car when complicated repairs are needed.  He has a top-notch reputation.  However, it can take up to an hour one-way for me to get that done.  I made the trip in 1/2019.  I asked JP to get the vehicle to pass the emissions test and tell me what went wrong.  He said all injector and tune up repairs done by the other shop (Import Service Center) were completed correctly.  The problem was the Auto Chek SMOG station not doing the test correctly.  JP took it to his SMOG guy and the car passed.  This was great!


Every two years, this car must be tested.  Last month, I took the car into a 5 Star testing center in Brea and, again, failed as a gross polluter.  This time, I was not going to mess around.  JP was the last shop to touch this car.  He was going to be first to try again. 


I told him about the emissions issue, and he was surprised.  He also mentioned his SMOG center from two years prior going out of business.  He said he would have to use another shop.  I told him that was not a problem and the car must run perfectly anyway.  Why bother with a Jag that does not run right?  I might as well go buy a Dodge K-Car from 1983.  After some back and forth with diagnostics, I received the bad news.  Mark also had some insight on this repair.  It is great to have second opinions on a repair that is tricky.  It was going to be four new cats and a $3000 bill.  I have 3-way cats that are more expensive than the older configuration.  Remember the $5000 I already spent two years ago?  This was not a good call but had to be done.  I said go for it.  There was no other choice. 


When I received a call from JP, he said, “Your car is ready, and the emissions test is complete.  I got your bill down a bit because the cats were sold at a good deal.”  That was Friday morning.  This was great news.  I would not have to come back two years from now with the same issue.


I looked at my phone Friday night and my phone showed missed call at 4:52 from JP.  I wonder what that was for.  I called him Monday morning.  He asked if I had the name “Melody” in my caller ID.  I told him that Melody, my wife, has the house phone in her name.  Every time I called JP from that number; “Melody” would pop up.  JP then told me that four XJS V12’s came in last week for the same issue: SMOG test fail.  Mine was one of them.  Two of the four were green coupes.  Mine was one of those.  Then JP says the guy that owns the other green coupe also has a name with “Melody” in it.  His name is Kevin Melody.  You guessed where I am going with this.  Every time Mr. Melody called, the caller ID would have “Melody” on the screen.  The car owned by Mr. Melody is a 1990, remarkably similar in looks to Melody’s (mine) 1992.  I jokingly asked JP if he installed 1990 catalytic converters on Melody’s 1992!  He laughed and said, “No, sirree.”  However, he did say that Mr. Melody’s car needed cats, but Melody’s (my) car did NOT.  The caller ID threw JP’s staff off when either of us called.  It turns out that my bill, including removing the cats and doing everything on the bench to get them cleaned out, was only $700, not $3000.  I told JP to give Kevin Melody my number and get this guy signed up to the club.  I have lots of practical jokes in store for the member attending the next event if Kevin and Melody both show up with our cars!  It is a hilarious story all around and my bill was reduced by $2300.  Happy New Year to Melody and me! 


Please keep in mind that JP is an experienced facility.  What are the odds of two XJS V12, one with a production run of 352 for the year (mine), showing up at the same shop for the same issue during the same week?  Remember that an inexperienced shop probably would have gone ahead and installed 1990 cats on a 1992.


As I was talking to Mark M. about this episode, we concluded with some remarks about the kind of year we are having.  I have had my share of ups and downs when it comes to job history in California.  Every time there is an economic crisis, CA goes straight to the top three for highest unemployment.


I have had to pull rabbits out of my hat a few times.  Melody, on the other hand, works for a school district.  She has had the same job since 1995.  I reflect on how lucky Melody and I are right now.  We have spent money wisely in the past, currently adjusted our lifestyles, and are benefiting from that now.  However, not everyone is in the same boat.  This C19 virus has cleaned out many people financially because they have lost their businesses, homes, lifestyles.  Melody and I were not happy to get the call about a $3000 repair, but we are able to do it. We are into this XJS for about $25,000 in receipts since 12/2012. There are many folks, some who may be in this very club, who would not be able to absorb a repair in that size on a “weekend driver”.  Many folks have had to sell their weekend drivers because they cannot afford lose their daily driver.  I hope this pandemic ends soon so that the number of these folks, who worked so hard to run their businesses and keep their private sector jobs, can once again relax on the weekends in their Sunday drivers.  It is also worth noting that the older generations, like Melody’s mom in a family of 12, did not have a car in Canada at all.  My own grandfather used to get with his brothers behind the ice delivery trucks in Canada to pick up the ice chunks fallen off the back and take them home to put into the icebox because his family could not spend money to purchase the ice directly.  I hope these facts put our material losses into perspective.  I am looking forward to the Jaguar Club coming back stronger than before.  All my best to the club members and their families.




Charles Anton


Club Photographer Jaguar Club Los Angeles.