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 http://penforhire.wordpress.com). 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.
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.