Desolation Row

Ever wondered why so few XJ40s remain on the roads? One word: scrappage.

Image: The author
Where XJ40s go to die. Image: Driven to Write

I stumbled across this place on the outskirts of Romney Marsh in 2014 – the largest and most depressing collection of Jaguars I’ve ever witnessed. And while hundreds of decrepit Jags of every stripe were littered about the place, there were entire compounds full of condemned XJ40’s – part (it would appear) of the 2009 government stimulus package aimed at propping up the motor trade in the wake of the financial crash.

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It had been something of a mystery to me how this, the most fecund of the XJ series had become such a rare sight on our roads. Of course, it’s well known the early cars were not as well protected against rust and the ravages of time as they later became and it need not be stated that XJ40 remains amongst the most unloved of the series, but even allowing for expected levels of entropy, their sudden mass extinction was disconcerting.

However, a visit to this dolorous place (a sort of reverse-polarity Browns Lane) removed all doubt. Most of those in the compound appeared in reasonable nick – (as did many stored inside the building), but were nonetheless destined to meet the same grim fate. The next time I passed the site, some months later, every single car had vanished.

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Author: Eóin Doyle

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One thought on “Desolation Row”

  1. Not just XJ40s. I suspect that scrappage will create a future dearth of mundane cars in otherwise excellent condition. Often the only reason these “weirdly immaculate” examples continue to exist is because their financial value is not commensurate to their condition, leading people to hold on to them out of sheer bloody mindedness. Assigning a £2k cash value to any old vehicle suddenly took a lot of these £500-£1500 cars out of circulation.

    A friend in the trade told me tales to make a gearhead weep. People were trading in proper classics against scrappage: XJs, Spitfires, Dolomites, Cosworths, all sorts. He even took in cars that were worth way more than £2,000. But because of the way the whole scheme was audited, none of these cars could be set aside and sold on. The scrap yards must have had a field day breaking up those classics for “recycling”.

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