A Tribute to Phil Parrington – founder of XjRestorations
Words and pictures by Keith Parrington of XjRestorations
Sentiment. A strange and varied feeling, made more wonderful by chance. It is by chance that I came to own this 1993 XJ81 Daimler, igniting a journey of Sentiment.
In March of this year, I lost my father very suddenly aged just 57. Anyone who knows me or the business will know that my Dad was key to the business, and a hugely inspirational, supportive and important part of me. A vital part. I am known for XjRestorations. But without Phil Parrington, there would be no XjRestorations, and I would not be the person I am away from the company. Dealing with our loss has been, and continues to be very difficult.
My Grandfather was a Dalesman, born and raised in the stunning Cumbrian village of Dent, nestled deep in the Yorkshire Dales. We would often visit the village, and when he passed away in 1991 after a short battle with Cancer, his ashes were scattered in the River Dee which runs through Dent. As a family, we have our own special spot, which we visited every year for the first 10 years or so after his passing. The busy bustle of life saw the annual pilgrimage nearly 400 miles north of our Sussex home slowly fade away. When Dad passed away, there was only one place we were going.
Two weeks prior to our arranged journey, a gentleman walked into our workshops and explained how he was moving and needed to sell his ‘old Jag’ within the next two days – and were we interested. Getting up from under the car I was working on, I glanced outside at a 1993 Daimler Double Six and became awash with memories. The car was bought at that point.
My father was of course a ‘Jag man’ – his first was a 1972 Daimler 4.2. His last, and favourite – was a 1993 Daimler Double Six. His own pride and joy was sadly written off after many years of pleasure when he was T-boned at a junction. Beyond economical repair, the car was bought back as salvage and stripped of its many ‘as new’ parts for our joint company XjJaguar (the car featured in our company logo). Registered as K999 PJT, the car was his daily transport during his 8 year career with Sussex Police. This silver car was the perfect way to take Dad home.
The car itself also carries a little history of it’s own, being a Jaguar Cars directors vehicle for the first few years of it’s life, before becoming a company vehicle for Scottish Jaguar Main Dealer, Rossleigh (now Pentland Jaguar). XjRestorations are the cars 4th owners, with full Jaguar history and just 68,000 miles on the clock.
The car is basically sound – save for a few unpleasant MOT repairs to the sills. The car also ran it’s original 15″ alloys – with perished tyres. Finding replacement 15″ tyres is not easy – luckily, Adam from Jaguar Select had a lovely set of 16″ lattice alloys ready to bolt straight on.
A full service and checkover, the car performed effortlessly for the 800 miles covered in 37 hours. Time restraints meant that we left Sussex at 6am one Tuesday, returning by 7pm on the Wednesday. As we passed the Castle Bromwich turn off of the M6, I glanced to my right and mentally saluted the cars home – had time allowed, a quick photo stop off would have been nice, but it wasn’t our reason for passing by.
Into the Lakes, and turning off of the M6 and onto the A684, the Daimler changed from a sublime motorway mile devourer, to an able sports saloon. The road rises and falls through twists and turns, flint walls and rolling hills – at no point did the car feel unbalanced or hindered by its weight.
Once into the village, we booked into the Sunn Inn (formerly owned by my family in the mid 1800’s) before driving south through Deepdale and up to Dent station. At 1150 feet above sea level, the station is the highest mainline station in Britain. The 6.0 litre pulled us effortlessly up the winding narrow access road, the view getting grander by the second.
Our return down to Dent followed the meandering River Dee – its gentle trickle to be heard above the V12.
Following the evenings private events and a good nights sleep surrounded by family history, the M6 and civilisation sadly beckoned.
The XJ40/81 has been long disregarded by many as a black mark in Jaguars ledger. I have been guilty of over looking the model too. My thoughts have changed. Inspired by sentiment of course, but the reality is that dear old Dad was right. The XJ81 is a stunning car, and deserving of the appreciation that seems to be creeping in.
This particular example will be restored and treasured – not only for sentiment – but for being a damn fine car.