Restoring a 1962 Jaguar E-Type

October 24, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Penforhire @ 2:33 am

Hello dear reader. This blog will document the long sad tale (oh you’ll laugh, I’ll cry) of my attempt to restore my father-in-law’s 1962 Jaguar E-Type, a.k.a. XKE. It is a OTS model (Open Two Seater, meaning convertible). It is not one of the very first “flat floor” models but it is an early Series One, with covered headlights, turn signals above the bumper, and a 3.8 liter straight six fed by three SU carbs.

My father-in-law purchased it new. A minor accident, “shunt” in UK-speak, took it off the roads. It sat still in his garage for about 35 years. I figured when he retired, financially well off, he’d have a professional restore it but he seemed to have lost interest in it. I have two brother-in-laws and a sister-in-law (and her hubby) who had first pick to take it, me being the last into the family, but they never expressed interest to dad. It was some years after marrying my wife before I even knew this car existed. It lived under a massive pile in their never-seen garage.

The Series One E-type represents a sports car archetype to me. It is one of the sexiest cars ever made. Even Enzo Ferrari is said to have admired it. So you can imagine when I heard about it I began a campaign pestering my father-in-law to restore it for his own use. I’m sure my eyes glowed whenever I spoke of it. When he recently suggested selling it I performed substantial research on prices and model details. My continuous interest led to my in-law parents giving it to me, with condition that it stay in the family or else divide any proceeds should I ever decide to sell it. Sounds fair to me. Don’t let him know but I’m really looking forward to loaning it to him so he can drive it to local golf games, one of his passions.

What makes me think I can do this? I mean, these cars are very expensive to restore if most of the work is done by pros. All costs, parts & labor, have risen dramatically in recent years. Typical show-car restoration on these run over $100K with winners spending $150K or more. To give you an idea of value, top offerings, say the best sold by Barrett-Jackson, sell for $100-125K. Excellent condition cars can be found down to $50K. Daily drivers can be found down to $25K or less.

Anyway, why do I dare think I might contribute enough sweat-equity to this project? Well, my father passed away last December and I spent nine months doing a down-to-frame restoration of his 1973 BMW R75/5 motorcycle. I wrote a big blog, my first ever, on that effort (see I’m not like some mechanical guru. Mistakes are frequent in my work but I seem to enjoy the wrenching. My friends enjoyed watching my efforts in the blog, sometimes nearing slapstick humor, and not many folks post that sort of detailed information on doing the work and lessons learned. It is a big extra effort to maintain a super-detailed blog so I might play it a little looser here. We’ll see. As it happens, that BMW motorcycle restoration was a success, though I did come in at about double my original budget.

I wonder if I learned anything? Well, I expect to take five years or so to complete this XKE resto. I’m thinking I’ll spend $50K (I’ll share my budget assumptions in another post). I hope I’m more realistic on this go-around but the only way to tell is to do it. There is certainly more of a chance this machine will never be restored but rather join the ranks of basketcases in garages around the world. So this project will either build my character or explode it.

The serial number is 878256. According to Dr. Thomas Haddock’s “Restoration Guide” this means it was built September or October of 1962. The California registration says 00/00/62. Oddly to my mind, there are no actual year markings on the car. Did Jaguar not want to be locked into specifying the model year of its inventory? They certainly had no respect for running through a given model year with no changes. Dr. Haddock’s book is an attempt to track the nearly continuous changes in so many model details. I have no idea how concours judges can rate true originality since even the good Dr. mentions his findings are estimates.

Enough chit-chat. Time for some photos. Here are some pics of the car freshly flat-bedded to my garage.


You can see the shunt damage on the nose (slid under a truck). The car was originally black but somewhere along the way my father-in-law painted it blue. It was garaged in Harbor City, not on the ocean but there is widespread corrosion anyway. I’m going to become good friends with a chrome plate shop somewhere!

Here’s the rear end.


Notice the hole in the soft top at the right-rear? Yep, rats (or mice or ?). I vacuumed out quite a few rat droppings. Did you know the head, between the cams, makes a really nice rat nest?

Speaking of engine —


Hmm. I seem to be missing the intake and filter on the carbs. Have to ask dad about those.

Here’s the interior —

Dig those brown shag carpet remnants. Geez that aluminum paneling is cool!

Okay, a little more about this particular car. I believe it has 107K miles (odo says 07646). Dad replaced the tranny with a later-year item. I don’t know the ratios yet but it has first gear synchro (yay!). It has an intake camshaft from a later year (unknown details, oil passages where OEM had none) because the original snapped.

Well that’s all for now. As some of you know, I encourage you to leave comments, hopefully to help the next guy reading this blog who is wondering how to do something right. Not the way I did whatever.



  1. good luck…one of my favorite cars of all time. unfortunately all i have is a 1:18 scale model (silver tan interior) and a framed article about it.

    Comment by Andrew — October 24, 2007 @ 10:04 am

  2. I have a 64 FHC and I started on it’s restoration nearly a year ago, but I took the summer off to tend to all my other hobbies. I didn’t get very much done on the Jag, but I’m back at it now, in fact, I’ve been out there all day today. It’s a major undertaking, but it’s very satisfying and you will really enjoy the stares you get driving it around. I have learned a lot and still have a lot to learn, but if I can be of any help, don’t hesitate to write.

    Comment by Richard Cunningham — October 24, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  3. Eric,

    Congrats on the acquisition! I noted your link on the jag-lovers forum. I, like you, am a lurker. I’m currently working on a RHD Series 2 OTS. I recently began the re-installation work putting the engine frames, etc. back on. There will be times when you feel like you shouldn’t have embraced such a project, then you’ll make progress and be glad you did. Of course, you have the added bonus of acquiring a car with family history from new. That, in and of itself, is quite rare and exciting. Best of luck to you and I’m looking forward to reading your chronicles.

    Comment by Tad Todd — October 24, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

  4. Hi Tad,
    What a great car! I own 878877 and restored it and also a 64 S1 OTS which is just now being completed.
    If I can help in anyway, I’ll be happy to share my experiences. I suggest you take good care of your aluminum consolepieces as the aftermarket stuff doesn’t fit well at all. Most of the aftermarket stuff is problematic. I would replate chrome instead of replace.
    I think you have a great car!
    Mike Moore

    Comment by Mike Moore — October 25, 2007 @ 6:16 am

  5. I love seeing old cars and old houses restored and made useful again. I added your site to ‘favorites’ so I can follow your progress ( and perhaps give moral support along the way!.
    Free advice: develop a written “plan of attack” so when all the parts are strewn about you remember where you are in your overall progress. Good luck and happy motoring (soon!).

    Comment by Paul Taylor — October 25, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  6. i am currently restoring 63Rdstr in about the same condition so i know what you are up against…
    but never forget this car is the ‘Original Sports Car” all others have tried to copy….. the “Coventry Cat”

    Comment by Ken — October 28, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  7. Congratulations and good luck on your project. The nice thing about the E-Type is that it is mechanically modern enough to give a good driving experience, but simple enough to work on with basic tools and expertise.
    I’ve been working on my ’64 Roadster for about nine years. It’s been running since ’00 after a complete disassembly and mechanical restoration. I got it out of the paint shop in August after having the body work and paint done (which took two and a half years). Now it’s just details left to do.
    I appreciate the pictures that showed how the headlight buckets, etc. go together. I am rewiring the bonnet and it helped with the assembly.
    When I was doing my car I got great help and advice from a mechanic here in the Bay area who specializes in E-Type restoration. There is no substitute for hands-on knowledge.
    I’ve been through a lot with this project. Feel free to get in touch if you need a second opinion on anything.
    You can look up my car on, #880195.

    Comment by Tom — January 1, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  8. Hi guys,

    I am looking for a Jaguar E roadster project car, series I or III, every offer considered and appreciated.
    Eric, an excellent project and a right approach.Good luck.

    Comment by Peter — April 20, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  9. Oh, yes. Please, send your offers on

    Comment by Peter — April 20, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

  10. Eric,
    Good project. It will certainly keep you out of trouble for a while. I have a 68′ FHC that I have owned since march of 1981. As this was my only car, I performed a lite driving restoration when I first got it. I put 94,000 miles on it and it now needs a total re-do. The E-Type has been sitting for some years while I was restoring another car. Now I have all the new body panels to get started, all I lack is the time. I hope that as I follow your progress it will give me the motivation to get started on my E-type. I love the detailed photo record that you are maintaining. Good luck and enjoy the process. Sometimes the journey is more enjoyable than the destination.

    Comment by Bill — July 16, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

    65 96633606. I am an Singapore resident


    Comment by JOSEPH SAVERIAS — November 29, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

  12. GOod day. Yes the E TYPE. A very nice car. I have been shoping for some time now to buy a series one for my wife. If you would sell this one I would love to hear from you.

    Comment by Nick Freeman — September 1, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  13. Hi,
    I came across your site while trying to find a steel series 1 hood/bonnet for my 1962 roadster which is much sadder than your car (from corrosion)
    It is a flat floor and some day I hope to have it back on the road.
    I would

    Comment by Peter Bailey — November 14, 2009 @ 2:28 am

  14. Hi,
    I came across your site while trying to find a steel series 1 hood/bonnet for my 1962 roadster which is much sadder than your car (from corrosion)
    It is a flat floor and some day I hope to have it back on the road.
    If some one reading this could put me in contact with a hood for sale I would very much appreciate it. email I will follow your resto with interest

    Comment by Peter Bailey — November 14, 2009 @ 2:31 am

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