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Daily Grind: a Chev-powered 1973 Daimler Sovereign from left field

3 September 2015

NZV8 magazine isn’t just about fully modified vehicles — we also look at cool daily drivers too! If you’re passionate about it, and you drive it to work every day, we can showcase it. We had a chat with Andrew Robertson about his deceptive 1973 Daimler Sovereign.

NZV8: Hey Andrew, that doesn’t sound like a Jag motor in there, what’s the story?

Andrew Robertson: It’s an injected 383 Chev with Comp full-roller valve train, Edelbrock heads, and twin Master Power GT37s. It’s controlled by a Link G4 and runs a Toyota R154 five-speed manual gearbox and a modified Jag Powerlock rear end.

Did you buy the car with the intention of building a monster like this?

No, it just sort of ended up like this! It was the sister to my other XJ. I used that other car in club competition and did three Targas in it. It ran a 461ci big block Chev with twin T04 turbos, and was fairly wild. I just did this as something a bit more sensible that used my learnings from the race car.  

Why a Jag? It’s not the sort of car that’s commonly modified.

They are well engineered, strong, and bits are plentiful and cheap — I don’t think you’d find another 1968 design anywhere that you could drop 500hp into, fang pretty hard, and not put a big hole in the scenery. When properly set up and maintained, they are a very good handling chassis, and the early cars are straightforward to work on. 

Do you intend to keep it a sleeper or have you got plans for the exterior too?

My wife loves the look of the early XJ — that’s why we first got into them. I think the wheels are enough, and the interior’s got a nice aged patina to it.

What do the Jag people think of it all?

Most of the real car guys think it’s cool, and most Jag guys are real car guys.

Any plans to drop the motor into a different body at any stage?

No, but I’m building a McLaren CanAm replica at the moment, and it’s running a 434 Hilborn set up, so I’ve got plenty on my plate to have fun with.

Has the conversion been plain sailing or have there been a few unexpected dramas?

This is evolution number three. It’s gone through three stages: Jag six to SBC, carb to EFI, then atmo to turbo. They all went pretty well. Other than an ignition-cut problem that turned out to be an ECU firmware fault, it’s never let me down. 

Any advice for people who’d like an engine set up like yours?

Don’t be afraid to run a fair bit of static compression if it’s a street set-up, use a mild cam, properly intercool it, make sure you can measure and finely manage spark and fuel, and have top-notch cooling systems for oil and water. 

Thanks Andrew, keep us in the loop with the next project. If it’s anywhere near as impressive as this one, we can’t wait to see it. 

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