Lee Morrison is not your typical have-a-go DIY mechanic. Dressed in vintage suits and handmade shoes, the ladies’ hair stylist says he actually hates to get his hands dirty.
Take at look at his Instagram videos detailing the numerous repairs on his 1984 Jaguar XJ6 and you wouldn’t know it, though. Working on the street outside his Nottingham house in sleet and snow, rain and shine, Morrison estimates he has spent more than 1500 hours on the XJ since buying it in the summer of 2020.
The lifelong Jaguar enthusiast has owned big cats for over 30 years and always done the maintenance himself but “Beelzebub the Jag” has taken Morrison’s roadside repairs to another level.
“I know what I’m getting myself into by buying these things, because I’ve had them for so long,” he tells Hagerty. “The name is tongue in cheek, because it dazzled me from afar. I first saw it a year before I bought it and it carried on dazzling me for about 12 months and it slowly drew me in. I know absolutely 100 per cent it is going to bite me in the arse very, very hard one day. And I fully deserve that, because I’ve been daft enough to be drawn in when I do know better.”
Beelzebub is Morrison’s only car and he relies on it to drive 1000 miles a week, commuting between Nottingham and Brighton, a round trip of around 400 miles. To save fuel costs the car runs on Liquid Petroleum Gas. The conversion is the only time he has had to seek outside assistance for work on the XJ.
“It was converted to LPG and that was one of the things that I wanted, but it was really, really badly done and could have destroyed the engine, so I had to pay a specialist. I have a digital system that injects a microscopic amount of additive with each stroke of the engine to protect it. And if it runs out, it automatically switches back to petrol so it is a very clever system.”
That was just the start of Morrison’s mission to get the XJ6 in perfect order for his weekly mileage marathons. He wrestled with removing cracked manifolds, battled broken studs in the depths of winter and spent literally weeks lying on the pavement, working with hand tools.
“I spent about 400 hours on the front and rear suspension,” he says.
Morrison has documented his whole journey with Beelzebub on Instagram, introducing each video with softly-spoken “Welcome back to Beelzebub the Jag” that’s indicative of his seemingly endless levels of patience.
“That’s just my nature, but everybody comments, ‘I wouldn’t have the patience to do it.’ I’ve always been the same; it just doesn’t seem unusual to have that level of patience to me or that level of commitment to a project. I might spend 75 hours re-stitching a pair of vintage John Loake shoes because they’re very special, and the car is the same.”
Morrison reckons that he has driven over two million miles in Jaguars since getting his first one in his late teens, and every mile has been earned.
“People think I enjoy this, I don’t actually enjoy it. I don’t like getting my hands dirty and getting cold and hurting myself. It’s something I tolerate in order to have such a nice car.”
Now that the XJ is running sweetly the next job will be the bodywork, he says.
“It’s a very original car, it’s got all its original panels and it’s got all its original paint, but it is faded. I know from experience, once I’ve started rubbing it down, I’m going to find rust so I’ll have to fabricate new sections. To be truthful I am a much more skilled body worker, painter, and trimmer than I am a mechanic, so I am looking forward to doing that.
“The only way that I can possibly do it with the facilities I have is to do one panel at a time and I will have to coach paint the car in the traditional way like they used to do in the 1930s. I’ll do one panel at a time, take it off, repair it and paint it, then flat it and paint it again and it will come out like mirror gloss. It will be stunning. I think it’ll probably take four months to do the body work. I’ll probably start in May and get it finished before the autumn.”
Now that should be quite something to watch.
Via Hagerty US