LHD E Type Project
This project has been quite an unusual one and has proved to be right up our street. When you're choosing a workshop to restore your car it's important to be clear about what you want to achieve: whether you want a concours job or a car to use every day will determine the advice you're given.
As I run a large fleet of classic hire cars we tend to be from the 'daily driver' school of classic cars: I like to see them used and I'm not sufficiently precious about them to worry too much about it. But that isn't to say we don't respect owners who chase concours awards: I get that as well.
The owner of this rare Series 1.5 E Type was very clear about what he wanted: a reliable, presentable example that would he wouldn't worry about using daily.
The car had been bought at auction in Los Angeles and we collected it from the docks at Southampton. It had lain unused in Beverley Hills for some time and arrived dusty with flat tyres and drained of fluids. At first glance it looked as you'd expect: cracked black paint, deteriorated int interior but otherwise dry and sound.
When a car like an E Type has been off the road for several years, recommission doesn't quite nail the complexity of the task.
We approached this task by undertaking a ramp assessment. We run several E Types on our daily hire fleet so are familiar with their weaknesses and the typical areas for attention. This car was surprisingly solid, thanks to life in a dry climate, but our report to the owner was inevitably lengthy. The engine had not run for some time so would need a full service, carburettor overhaul, new starter and distributor plus various hoses replaced.
The fuel lines were also in very poor condition, along with the fuel tank and brakes. New pads, calipers, servo and master cylinder would be required. The exhaust system, clutch master and slave cylinders, ball joints and track rod ends all needed replacement. To some extent this is exactly the list you would expect when a car has been unused for many years. There were also localised areas of rot to the chassis, but nothing particularly significant.
Getting it Running
Next we attended to the welding and fuel system, including replacing the tank. The carburettors were sent off for refurbishment along with the calipers: these items tend to have long lead times so are best tackled early on.
Comparing this LHD car to our V12 and straight six RHD cars has been interesting: aside from the engine specification changes, the LHD car features the above unusual dashboard arrangement. On an E Type the heater and choke controls are on opposite sides of the car. Rather than switch the heater and choke controls around to suit LHD markets, Jaguar just left the controls in the same place. So American drivers have easy access to the heater controls - less so the for the choke, which is in front of the passenger.
Fire it Up
During November the exciting start of this restoration began to take shape. With the carbs back from the specialist, the fuel lines and tank in place and new ignition barrel fitted, we could finally fire it up. We're not sure when the car last ran but it appears to have been looked after: the engine runs very smoothly with no untoward sounds.
The suspension improvements have now been done - new track rod ends, new ball joints and steering gaiter - and the new stainless exhaust system has been fitted. Most of the brake work is completed - we are simply waiting for the calipers to return.
Back on The Road
The final step was to will be to fit new tyres and then MOT the car. The owner wants to keep the paintwork and interior 'as is' for now, treating the car as a running project to use and enjoy. We completely agree.