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Old 02-03-2018, 08:44 PM   #1
Fentum
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E Type Series 1 2+2 Franken-Jag Resto-mod

I have been asked by several members here to open a thread on the restoration of my E Type.

I propose doing a series of posts to make the format more readable than one long scroll and I'll start with the background in a few posts, followed by the brief for the restoration and modifications, including how my thinking evolved into resto-modding the car - hence Franken-Jag.

I'll then do a monthly summary of work done, with bonus extras where serious automotive porn is involved like wire wheels, the braking system or the new electrical loom system.

So kicking off, why an E Type?

Background

I had been day dreaming about buying a car I had lusted after since I had first seen one, aged about three or so, in 1967 or 68 - the E Type Jaguar. So a few years ago, I had started casting around for one in a rather desultory fashion.

As my son hit eighteen and left boarding school, I found myself considerably more solvent than I had been in a very long time.

I had also bought a house in Italy to which I intend to retire, and am progressively spending more time there so I had a place to store a car where it wasn't guaranteed to be nicked in five minutes - you simply don't park E Types on the street in London unless you are after an insurance payout!

The E Type

I soon discovered that good (and not so good) ones cost more than I could, or was prepared to, pay for a car, anything up to £150,000.

There were plenty of wrecks around but mainly in the USA where they were called the XKE and sold in much bigger numbers than in the UK.

Happily, the E Type market is divided into collectors who prize originality and buy and maintain garage queens or race them seriously, which keeps prices buoyant (TBF some do drive and race their cars) and more down-to-earth enthusiasts who often do their own restorations and ongoing spannering and who tend to use their cars more often. There are various forums full of very helpful people who have been there and done it all on these cars - I'd commend joining them to anybody contemplating taking on an E Type.

There is a hierarchy of desirability, at least in the UK, with RHD favoured over LHD and manual over automatic for all variants. In all cases, as with other classics, known history and matching body and engine numbers command a premium.

There was then a pecking order with the Series 1 trumping the Series 1.5, 2 and 3, so that a Series 1 will usually cost much much more than a Series 3, for example. This is reasonable as the E Type's purest form is probably in Series 1 before US Federal road safety regulations demanded alterations to the lights, height and the car became rather bloated.

Body style matters too: OTS (Open Top Sports in Jag-speak, or convertibles to anybody else) being the most desirable, with Coupes next and the 2+2 (a full 9" longer), introduced in 1966, the least favoured. The 2+2 was designed for the American market where buyers with families wanted to drive E Types. It has a higher roof line and differently raked windscreen because Jaguar wanted standardised tailgate door and vetoed the rather more elegant original 2+2 design. The Coupe was dropped for Series 3 and only the OTS and 2+2 were made from about 1972 or 73 IIRC.

Next, within Series 1, the early cars are more favoured than the later ones and the ones with the 3.8 straight six engine are prized over the 4.2 straight six. However, generally, the straight six is preferred to the V12 of the later E Types, although the V12 engine has a strong fan base, justifiably. But they are all great engines.

Whole books are written on this car and I have jotted this down from memory, so feel free to correct anything I have mis-stated.

Next up, the car I bought.

Peter
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:52 PM   #2
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Oh I have been waiting for this moment for a while my flask as filled and popcorn ready bring it on I’m in
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:57 PM   #3
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The car

In mid-December 2016, after several months of drawing blanks, I was reconciling myself to a visit to the USA or South Africa/Australia to try to find a reasonably rust-free example which I could afford and which would not entail too much restoration.

I then found within three miles of home what appeared to be a reasonably straight, reasonably affordable E Type. It was a Series 1 2+2 Automatic in "resale red". It had been imported from Dubai, but was originally sold to America.





The car

I got to see it the same day and it became immediately apparent that it was cheap-ish for a reason. It had suffered "lumping". The old 4.2 motor and Borg Warner gearbox had been removed and a Small Block Chevy 305 cu in V8 with a TH350 gearbox put in instead.



The lump

Our American friends have a habit of doing this and, I guess at some point in a Jaguar's lifecycle, it makes sense. As the car depreciates and parts still cost a lot, especially in the back of beyond in the American heartland, it must make more sense to drop a crate engine and GM gearbox in. This is stuff any backyard mechanic can work on. Unfortunately, it misses the point of the E Type with its skinny wheels and beautiful balance.

OK, so first impressions were poor. If I made an offer, I'd need to factor in the cost of a replacement straight six engine, ancillaries, gearbox and exhaust system.

I examined the interior. Again, I was not expecting much in a 50 year-old car. It had been retrimmed within the past ten years, badly. With cheap leather. But the seats and the trim were in good physical shape and everything was there. All the instruments and gauges were intact and operational, although a previous owner had buggered around with the rev counter (presumably when dropping the new engine in).

The electrics worked but the loom had been modified by Edward Scissorhands. Budget for a new loom.

But there was more bad news. It was immediately apparent that the transmission tunnel had been chopped. For readers familiar with DVLA's Eight Point Rule, any interference with the structure of a monocoque chassis would cost five points, making it impossible to get the car recognised as substantially unaltered for the purposes of registration. I did not want drive an E Type around on a dreaded Q plate.

The body, however, looked a lot straighter than most of the others I had seen and that, after all, is where the money gets spent in restoring an old English or Italian classic. All the original Triplex glass and chrome was there. I measured the dimensions against spec and was within mm on everything. I got underneath the car (helpfully covered in some kind of bitumen). The floor looked solid. The IRS looked solid. I could see evidence of new brake pipes. The dampers seemed OK. I ran a magnet across every inch of the car and it was looking and sounding really good. There was a minor crack in the paint in the bonnet but the shut lines all round were better than OK.

As a bonus, and I don't think the vendor had clocked it, the car was shod in Borrani 6" wire wheels - an expensive option when new and a very desirable feature. These were instead of the 5" or 5.5" standard Jaguar wheels. Sadly, several of the spokes were broken but I knew that I wasn't going to risk driving a car with 50 year-old wire wheels without having them reconditioned. I think a new Borrani is over £1000 a corner and the three eared spinners come on top.

So, on the face of it, here was a car which could not get an age-related registration, which required a replacement engine and gearbox, rewiring, retrimming, a new paint job and some general restoration. On the other hand the SBC and gearbox would be worth a bit and the body itself looked and measured fine.

On the plus side, I was confident that I could knock at least 25%, and possibly 50%, off the already low asking price because of all the faults and I could always walk away at the end of the day.

I also asked an old mate, Nick (a mechanical engineer and old car nut), to give it the once over. He confirmed my analysis but warned me that I really needed to get a boroscope into the sills if I wanted to be absolutely sure. But replacing the sills was common and not that costly in the scheme of things. His conclusion was I wouldn't find better body for up to twice the price but I did have an engine and gearbox to find…

Time to retreat and do some thinking. I told the vendor that he was asking too much and it probably wasn't go to work but I'd ring if I changed my mind or he could ring if he was prepared to move on price. I could sense he wanted shot of the thing before Christmas and he knew I was about to go on holiday. As I left, I knew he'd call me shortly.

To buy or not to buy?

My thinking went along the lines of:

Baseline - neither for nor against the car

Some costs I would be bearing more or less whatever car I bought to restore - £5k for paint (if lucky), £3-4k for trimming (I had not seen a car which did not need a retrim), probably £2k for a loom and rewiring - they don't call Lucas the Prince of Darkness for nothing! £500 for refurbing the clocks. Same again for the wiper motor and mechanism. Same again for the heater (unless I could get an American friend to score an old Fiero fan and matrix). So in deciding the fixed costs, none of this affected the choice of this particular car.

Against

Costs - a new motor and gearbox. Well, there is the well-known E Type premium: an unadorned rebuilt E Type motor can cost up to £8000. Equally, the Jaguar XJ 4.2 engine is not exactly uncommon. How much would a decent rebuilt one cost? Say £1k?

What were the additional ancillaries? I knew that the sump was almost unique to the E Type to allow the motor to clear the engine frame and allow the pipes to reach the back boxes. I also recalled that there was an armoured car which had the same sump, so I might get lucky with Army surplus (say, £500 - £800 if from an E Type or remanufactured). And budget at least £1500 on top for ancillaries (including reconditioned carbs or an EDIS lash up).

There is a healthy aftermarket in XJ gearboxes and my 2+2 could take a manual XJ gearbox with overdrive without any adjustment to the propshaft and a minor adjustment to the top plate. Let's say £500 and if I was lucky I'd get motor and gearbox together.

There would clearly need to be some remedial work to the transmission tunnel, say £400 of welding and making good. Allow another £2k on top for contingency in case there were small pockets of rust lurking.

The other issue was the engine frame which had been cut into to fix the V8. I thought another £500 might be needed to fix any issues there.

For

It looked a good, honest car.

The bodywork seemed in good order, so no major panel work required.

The brightwork was intact, the glass and lights were all there, the suspension, brakes etc were all fresh and good, and no major bits were missing.

Compared to some cars I had seen, those factors swung in favour of the car anything in a range from £15k to 45-50k (not that I was contemplating spending £50k on bodywork! - this was simply a rough mental P&L account.)

On top:

It was local, so no sorting out trucking etc.

It was keenly priced and negotiable.

I wanted a LHD automatic anyway (my wife has an only automatic licence and this was to be based in Italy).

Conclusion

On balance, I thought the car had more going for it than against, given the price bracket and the things I thought needed doing to it and the things that didn't. I wasn't worried about sourcing the engine and gearbox. And the rest didn't seem too daunting, although I'd need to find a decent and not too expensive body shop.

Next up, the deal

Peter
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:58 PM   #4
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Looking forward to this too
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:11 PM   #5
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The Deal

The vendor gave me a couple of days before he rang to ask if I was still interested.

He maintained that he was still holding out for his asking price (well north of £30k), so I told him I probably wasn't but as he had been so civil and had taken his time showing me round the car, I was happy to meet to explain why I thought he was being a touch optimistic.

So we met. All a bit of an anti-climax. I was expecting a long struggle but...

I had the Hagerty's numbers and some current examples for sale, and went methodically through the types of car and series and their relative desirability.

I explained to him that, give or take, a replacement panel would cost the same whether it was going on an early Series 1 3.8 OTS valued potentially at £150k or a Series 3 2+2 valued at £35k restored, and that the labour costs in fitting it would be the same. This was why less admired models traded at a significant discount to the premium market. The economics had to stack up.

I then went through the specifics of what was wrong with his car for the money he was asking and explaining how much it would cost to put right. I might have trowelled it on a bit, but that's negotiation! He knew he wasn't going to hear different from anybody else.

My opening gambit was telling him that in a competitive market he'd be waiting a long time (months, maybe years) to get two thirds to half of what he was asking and was more likely not to sell at all if he stuck where he was.

I told him I was prepared to buy the car for the right price but I had been looking for years and was happy to bide my time.

I wasn't going to insult him with a derisory offer but the price I was prepared to pay reflected what I thought the car was worth. The offer was also being made at that moment and the deal could be executed that day. His body language was shouting that he just wanted out with as much cash as he could muster.

I offered him £15k cash (which gave me a £7.5-£10k buffer on Hagerty's median guide price (and no auctioneer's commission either).

After five minutes of half-hearted haggling, we settled on £16.5k and I finally had the car I'd dreamed of for fifty-odd years.







And that's when I started ageing prematurely

Next up, thinking about engines and finding the right bodyshop. After that, I'm on the road for two days and will resume the narrative mid-week.

In the meantime, a little bit of Metallifacture porn for the older gents amongst us:



And some Borrani action, too:



Unrestored



Restored

Peter
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:24 PM   #6
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Peter, this is going to be a truly epic thread! Can't wait to read more.
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:25 PM   #7
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Subscribed !!
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:35 PM   #8
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Garage
Looking foreword to this one

Thanks for sharing Peter
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:53 PM   #9
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Oh hell, this is going to knock every single other thread in this section into the weeds.

Id love to subscribe but the truth is, my phone won't get a minutes peace from the constant emails saying someone has posted on this thread.....

Damn, don't be shy with the updates fella. An E-Type Jag is a thing of beauty, and this one, for all its other faults, still looks the absolute ticket.
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:55 PM   #10
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Subscribed, what a fantastic read so dpfar, very jealous Peter as have liked them for years

Really looking forward to the next chapters
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