Brucie arrived in November 2010, the 16th in a long line of Jaguars I have previously owned, and replaced Swallow, an XJ40 3.2 S.
Brucie is a 1997 long wheel base X300 (technically an X330) 4 litre Sovereign in Spruce Green (hence the name, as Spruce Green always sounds like Bruce Green, when said quickly over the phone!)
Those of you who read Xclusively Jaguar News will already be familiar with Brucie, my 1997 4 litre X330 Sovereign.
So, why did I choose a 1997 4 litre Jaguar Sovereign LWB limousine (X330), offering 5 star accommodation, in preference to other models?
Having previously owned an assortment of 15 Jaguars, and driven over 75 varying examples, I decided that the model I liked most was the 4 litre long wheel base Sovereign from the X300 series, with the ultimate refinements of the 1997 model year. Not an easy decision, with models from six decades to choose from, but dictated by practicality, pocket and past experience.
If, like me, you were tantalized by the 1996 Daimler Century, but unwilling to give up your Growlers and Leapers, then move on a year, and you can claim almost the equivalent level of luxury in a highly specified Sovereign, without the expensive limited edition status price tag!
XJ40 grown up!
Unlike the majority, I adored the XJ40, and an X300 is a grown-up XJ40. It has all the charm and attributes of the Forty, but with all the niggles ironed out, and the curves put back in! Bridging the gap between Forty and V8, the X300 is an amalgam, combining the XJ8’s looks with XJ40 power units – 6.0 litre V12, or a more refined version of the 3.2/4.0 litre AJ6 power unit, known as the AJ16. Additionally, a 4 litre supercharged version was available, though not in the LWB! For this we had to wait for the arrival of the Daimler Super V8 in the next generation! Superior electrics, build quality and other enhancements ensured reliability and practicality, but the underlying structure of the XJ40 is still there, hinted at in the mechanics, instrumentation, general styling and trim details. Yes, it is truly a grown-up XJ40, and a swan if ever there was one!
Long Wheel Base
The LWB version is not to everyone’s taste – though not blatantly obvious, some consider it to be unbalanced, with its larger rear doors, however, I think there is something stately about its higher roofline – reminiscent of the Bentley at the front, and gently fading in to the more rounded rear roofline of the S-type. Designated the code X330, the LWB X300 launched in 1995, is not as rare as the XJ40 LWB but far less commonplace than the X308 LWB, and with the X300 growing in popularity, I didn’t think I would ever find what I was looking for at a price my husband was willing to allow me to pay!
4 litre waft!
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to own a 1996 LWB Sovereign, and I adored it, but the only thing it lacked was a 4 litre engine! It never seemed to offer the kind of refinement one would expect of a limousine. A 3.2 is fine in a SWB Sport, where the onus is on “driving”, but it contradicts the character of a LWB Sovereign, which is expected to “waft” so ruling out the thirsty V12 powered X305 I decided that if I ever had another LWB it had to be a 4 litre, for refinement, combined with economy and reliability. The faster 4 litre V8 is an admirable piece of engineering, but there are a number of reasons why I personally prefer the powertrain and trim details on the X300 series, so for me it had to be the longstanding straight-six, in its final manifestation as an AJ16.
1997 Model Year
Having decided that I wanted a 4 litre LWB Sovereign, I then began to impose other restrictions on my dream Jaguar – it had to be a 1997 model (as opposed to a 1997 registration!), as this was the first year that Jaguar fitted 3 full (3 point) seat belts in an XJ with a rear bench seat. The bench seat is also less contoured than in earlier years, to allow the middle passenger more comfort, making it a true 5 seater. The long wheel base very comfortably seats 4 large adults with no crumple zones and should you need to put 3 people in the back, the one in the middle won’t end up embedding his teeth in your expensive centre console, in the event of an emergency stop! The 1997 examples are set apart from their older siblings by smart 20 spoke alloys with covered centre hubs and a wooden gear knob! A Jaguar press release for the X300 1997 model year promised a half-wood and leather steering wheel as standard, although in reality this appears not to be the case!
According to the same press release, the LWB would become the standard body for the 4 litre Sovereign, so in theory you would expect a 1997 MY SWB to be the rare beast, but according to the figures I have seen, this is not the case and in 1997 only 904 4 litre X330 Sovereigns left Browns Lane, compared with 3264 in SWB form. With these figures including exports, I thought that finding a Jaguar which fitted my search criteria was a tall order, but surprisingly, over the years a few examples have cropped up, and still do, although some are unfortunately in scrap yards!
Finally, my dream Jaguar had to be in a dark colour, and with cream hide trim! I was unsure of whether I wanted a Sovereign or a Daimler, but if it was a Sovereign, it had to have a sunroof. The sunroof is standard on the Daimler, and rare on the Sovereign, and although the Daimler obviously benefits from the highest specification, it loses its Jaguar identity and badging, so a highly specified Sovereign, with sunroof seemed a good compromise.
One such rarity came to my attention in November 2010, and became the 16th of a succession of various Jaguars I’ve owned over the years, from Series 3 to X308 XJ saloons, with a couple of XJS’s and an X200 S-type thrown into the mix, along the way!
Affectionately known as “Brucie” because he is “Spruce Green” which said quickly sounds like Bruce Green and appeals to my sense of humour! “He” because a hefty dark green 4 litre long wheel base XJ saloon is far too masculine to be considered a girl! He’s not pretty – he means business!
Manufactured on 10th March 1997, aside from a few obvious deficiencies which a Daimler would carry as the norm, Brucie left Browns Lane bound for Henlys North London branch, very well equipped and I have embellished him with chrome door mirrors and chrome centre wheel hubs, which I think is just enough “bling” to give him real presence without going over the top!
Attending Jaguar related meetings and events nationally, as owner of Xclusively Jaguar and a member of the JEC Events Committee, I have already added 40,000 miles to the 132,000 genuine recorded miles which Brucie had previously covered when I purchased him. I have in the past tried to keep the mileage down in a cherished Jaguar, but trust me, it’s no fun! Every mile which should be pure joy, is tainted with the regret of knowing you are piling up the mileage – with Brucie I have no such worries, and my ambition is to see just how many miles I can get out of a well maintained AJ16/X330.
I intend keeping Brucie and making him the face of Xclusively Jaguar. Brucie isn’t perfect, but he is the right specification, in good working order, and with the help and support of Rob Jenner and abundant Jaguar Specialists to hand, anything else we can conquer in time. He has already had an extensive programme of mechanical work completed since 2010, all parts having been supplied by either Jaguar Classic Parts or SNG Barratt, and maintenance is carried out by XJK and Scott Brown Cars.
I have always enjoyed driving high powered saloons, as opposed to sports cars, and I purchased Brucie for practicality, comfort, longevity and to fill my own personal dream, and this he does admirably.
Recognised as one of the safest cars of its time,* as well as one of the most reliable Jaguars, and offering 5 star accommodation, why would anyone want anything else?
*According to the UK Department for Transport’s road accident statistics on a model-by-model basis (Table A, Page 10), which shows risk of injuries to car drivers involved in two-car accidents whenever an injury is reported, the X300/X308 series Jaguars were among the safest cars on UK roads (measured in terms of chance of death in an accident during the four year assessment period) – three times safer than the safest Volvo models and matched only by the Mercedes-Benz (W140) S-Class….
Information provided by Jaguar Cars Ltd
Pictures by EJM Car Photography
Please note that these pictures were taken in 2011, and since then steering wheel, alloy road wheels, bumpers and engine bay have all been refurbished, and maintenance is ongoing.
Brucie’s Service Record
|Pre-delivery Inspection||25/03/97||30 miles||Henlys, London*|
|1st Service||19/11/97||10,110 miles||Henlys, London*|
|2nd Service||11/06/98||19,933 miles||Henlys, London*|
|3rd Service||27/01/99||30,294 miles||Weybridge Auto’s|
|4th Service||05/08/99||40,509 miles||Creamer, London*|
|5th Service||31/01/00||49,673 miles||Creamer, London*|
|6th Service||30/08/00||60,344 miles||Stratstone, W3*|
|7th Service||07/08/01||69,829 miles||Stratstone, W3*|
|8th Service||30/08/02||78,949 miles||Mead of Burnham*|
|9th Service||12/11/03||88,849 miles||Mead of Burnham*|
|10th Service||05/02/08||115,284 miles||Fratton Bridge|
|11th Service||16/11/10||132,693 miles||Xclusively Jaguar|
|12th Service||05/03/12||139,918 miles||Grange of Exeter*|
|13th Service||19/06/13||147,553 miles||XJK|
|14th Service||13/01/14||154,483 miles||XJK|
|15th Service||01/05/14||159,712 miles||XJK|
|16th Service||11/11/14||163,666 miles||XJK|
|19th Service||16/09/17||172,030||Ken Jenkins|
* denotes JAGUAR MAIN DEALER
Index to Brucie’s Diary
|February 2011||Work done immediately after purchase|
|March 2011||Fitting X300 chrome mirror caps|
|April 2011||Amending DVLA records|
|May 2011||Removing factory fitted X300 phone cradle|
|X300 air conditioning service|
|June 2011||X300 gearbox service|
|July 2011||X300 front wheel bearings|
|August 2011||X300 transmission fluid leak|
|December 2011||X300 water heater valve and circulation pump|
|XF test drive|
|X300 Visual Health Check|
|January 2012||X300 engine bay detailing|
|February 2012||MOT work including;|
|O/S/F lower suspension arm ball joint dust cover deteriorated|
|N/S/F brake calliper leaking|
|Paintless Dent Removal|
|Accident Repair Services (Exeter)|
|March 2012||Chrome number plate surround|
|April 2012||X300 basic service|
|May 2012||Brucie at International Jaguar Spares Day, Spring 2012|
|June 2012||X300 transmission fluid change|
|July 2012||JEC International Weekend at Weston Park (XJ220 Reunion)|
|March 2013||Watercolour Classics|
|April 2013||X300 suspension and steering service|
|May 2013||Brucie visits CMC of Bridgnorth|
|June 2013||JEC Northern Day 2013|
|July 2013||Brucie’s first service at XJK Independent Jaguar Specialist|
|August 2013||Brucie goes to Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb|
|Brucie at Coventry Motor Museum|
|Brucie visits Jaguar Heritage|
|Brucie at Castle Combe Autumn Classic Press Day|
|Brucie pays respects to the late Alan Jenner|
|Brucie reaches 150,000 mile landmark|
|September 2013||Brucie at JEC Southern Day 2013|
|Brucie in Jaguar World Magazine|
|Wheel alignment and tracking (general info)|
|Applying X300 bootlid badges|
|Replacing X300 bootlid release|
|Replacing X300 radio mast|
|Removing X300 original mobile phone module|
|Replacing X300 bonnet release|
|Replacing X300 bonnet struts|
|October 2013||Past/Projected work schedule|
|Replacing X300 fuel lines|
|Renewal of X300 under body protection|
|Replacing X300 thermostat|
|Replacing X300 window regulator motor|
|Replacing X300 drivers door check arm|
|Replacing X300 drivers seat module|
|Replacing X300 steering column|
|November 2013||Brucie’s 3rd anniversary in my ownership|
|Contacting Brucie’s previous owners|
|Brucie’s car cover|
|Brucie’s pilgrimage to Brown’s Lane|
|December 2013||Brucie looks back at the events of 2013, of which he was a part|
|January 2014||Plans for Brucie during 2014 at XJK, including;|
|power washer fitment|
|X300 Bootlid can only be opened with a key in the lock|
|X300 door lock not flush with trim when locked|
|X300 door veneer not sitting correctly|
|XJK – other services and involvement in JEC events|
|February 2014||Fitting new X300 steering wheel rim|
|Fitting X300 rear console air con vents|
|Fitting X300 powerfold door mirrors|
|Fitting new X300 drivers door memory switchpack and walnut veneer|
|Used Jaguar Parts from XJK – Independent Jaguar Specialists|
|Car detailing and detailing Brucie|
|March 2014||Fitting X300 chrome waistline strips|
|The Sentinel Business Awards – Apprentice of the Year Award|
|April 2014||The pheasant and the front grille!|
|Replacing X300 n/s/r shock absorber bush|
|Brucie at The Mike Hawthorn Memorial Lunch 2014|
|Brucie at Jaguar Mark 1 Day 2014|
|May 2014||Jaguar XF restricted performance|
|June 2014||JEC Jaguar Timeline, X305 and XJ40 Majestic|