Plan your projects, Jag woes, a Taunus and a slick Torana - Mick's Workshop 447

By: Mick McCrudden

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workshop 1 workshop 1

Rabbit holes, restos, hoists, Chev transplants and tired Jaguars


Mick's Workshop 

Greetings tax dodgers. We’ve just inherited another project car recently and it will be a big job. We love these gigs, as they’re always a bit of a challenge and there’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing a completed project rolling out of the shop with a happy owner at the wheel.

However, sometimes I wonder how many of them were the result of some late-night optimism, perhaps the odd drink, and an online auction site. Because every now and then we come across someone who has a fantastic idea, but has clearly got into much deeper waters than they ever planned.

So here are a couple of tips for that next project. First, maybe avoid late night decisions when we’re tired and emotional.

And, pop into your local workshop and chew over the plan with them.

I get people ringing me the whole time with assorted plans and I’m happy to offer a bit of advice. Sometimes I’ll see traps or combinations that won’t work out and steer them in another direction. And you never know, maybe that person will become a customer.

Sometimes, it is decisions on the run that can send a project down a new path. For example, is that engine/transmission combo going to work and will it cost too much to engineer the car to make it fit? Or is there an easier and more cost-effective alternative?

Or, if you’re going to restore one set of trim and make it look new again, does that mean there are other areas that will need to be done as well? Flash side strips look great and now you’ll need to get the bumpers re-chromed.

Nutting all this out is part of the fun. On a big project, there will always be a few unexpected twists and turns, which is what makes it interesting. Nevertheless I always try to plan at least a few steps ahead to minimise the ugly surprises.


Speaking of twists and turns, we recently surprised Tom, the owner of the Monaro coupe build we’ve been working on for a while, with this sump. His project was inspired by his brother, who has since passed away, so we came up with a tribute in paint and gold leaf and covered in clear. Something a little different…



Topping up


Who’s been topping up the coolant on your alloy engine? We were out getting fuel the other day, and saw some well-meaning person topping up their car’s coolant with water from the servo. You’ll actually get away with this for a fair while on alloy engines, but the long-term damage, though invisible for years, can be massive and ultimately expensive, especially if it ever comes to a resto. So, yep, the 50:50 coolant water mix can be critical.


Jag Man

Hey Mick, I thought I’d drop you a line about my dear old 78 yr old Dad’s XJR Supercharged Jag (1999-2004). For a start, he loves it. It runs 11.4 quarter miles and is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

But Jeez what a money pit! The latest is whenever he drives it the dash does Christmas tree impersonations, gearbox failure, traction control failure, brake failure etc. Apparently there’s one guy interstate who can rewire this magical gizmo, but he can’t book it in. Send the part and he’ll look at it when he can. Meanwhile the car’s immobile.

As an aside he was told, Jag, for years, has put out two service manuals, one for authorised dealers and the other for non-authorised dealers and owners. The second manual has wrong specifications and details.

Colin Francis

YOU HAVE my sympathies, Colin. It’s one of the frustrations of a surprising number of sophisticated cars of that era – fantastic to drive, but very complex and sometimes flaky electrics. Pretty much every capital city has at least a couple of Jaguar specialists, so I wouldn’t hesitate to call around and see if you can rustle up someone who can give you an actual time frame. Alternatively, you should investigate if there is someone in the UK (where the real volume of these things will be) who does a repair or exchange service. Rejuvinating ECUs and Body Control Modules has become big business, and you may do better in the auld dart. Interesting theory on the alternative manuals – it’s an urban myth.


Scissor Me


Scissor lifts are space savers

In regards to the hoisted article in issue 442 I would like to share my experience.

Late last year after a lot of research I purchased a scissor hoist. It took me a long time to decide on which style of hoist to purchase (two or four post)

After several months of ownership I can say I’m happy with my purchase. For someone who has a number of old cars I find the exit hoist ideally suited for all applications. I can put the car up and open all doors (something a 2 poster doesn’t allow) I can complete general services including gearbox oil changes.

Best of all it takes up no room when not being used. The vehicle simply parks over the top of it. For me, it’s worked out well.

David Camilleri 

THOSE COMPACT scissor lifts can make a lot of sense. We did the hoist story a few issues back and my recommendation for the home workshop was a four-post unit, as they’re fairly foolproof and still give you access to open the doors of the car.

Those scissor lifts were primarily designed for tyre and wheel shops, and generally don’t give you as much height as a full hoist. However, as you say, they can be a space-saver. The general rule is to make sure it’s of reasonable quality and, most importantly, has a fail-safe mechanism to prevent it dropping unexpectedly. Aside from the height, you also have a compromise when it comes to access to the centre of the car. That said, they definitely have their uses.


Chev Jag


Here’s my 1977 XJ12 Jaguar with a 350 Chev transplant. It’s in and now we’re starting on the under bonnet clean up and paint.

Noel Pidgeon

SACRILEGE! No, seriously though, this has been a well-trodden path for owners who found the old V12 was just a bit too much to deal with. Funnily enough the big double six engine, in carburettor or injected form, was reasonably solid. However they look like a plumber’s nightmare, workspace is tight and a common issue was the fuel hoses not being kept up to scratch and eventually catching fire. The Chev engine has huge appeal because it’s much simpler and much more accessible, plus there is a fantastic support out there for them, right down to a specific mounting kit for Jaguars. One issue that used to crop up is the additional torque and somewhat different placement of the motor could cause cracks in the shock towers. I haven’t heard of that happening in recent times, but it’s something to be aware of.


FIFO Falcon


Great idea: What do you do when you’re part of a fly-in fly-out crew that needs wheels? Buy a cheap EB Falcon and put gaffer tape GT stripes on it, of course. Perfect!

Here’s our 1994, ED Falcon ‘Cobra GT’ FIFO village communal car. We picked it up from a local in Onslow for the cost of the rego and third party. And we just added some electrical tape stripes to give it an extra 200kW!

Nothing pretty, hardly a classic, and we’ll probably have to pay someone to take it away, but has kept us car enthusiasts busy and mentally active, ‘Macgyvering’ it to keep it going while we are away from the east coast from the family. Enjoy your new freedom from lockdown!

Shane Charles

LOVE IT! You can’t kill those old Falcons with an axe and they seem to be pretty happy so long as they have petrol and oil.

I suspect there are a few of these FIFO cars out there. We heard of another, an old HQ shared by a bunch of pilots, who reckoned they spend more on bug-spray to evict the spiders than they did on oil.


Slick Torana


She looks a million dollars now

Have just finished my first-ever full-on buffing job in the UC Torana. It’s not perfect and still has a fair bit of ‘patina’ – in other words some light scratches and dents.

I borrowed a mate’s buffing machine and went nuts with the Meguires ultimate compound. Pretty happy with this first attempt.


Nathan ‘Dobbie’ Dobinson

I HAVE a lot of time for the UC Torana. If the Commodore hadn’t come along so soon, it would have been further developed into a really interesting car. All the pieces were in place to produce V8 versions, which I reckon would have been very special.


Ford Taunus Revival


No it’s not a Cortina, it’s a Ford Taunus

Here’s my Ford Taunus TC from Germany. My grandpa bought this car new in 1973. In 1989 we did an engine swap from the original inline four to a V6 engine.

Peter Sappert

INTERESTING CAR, Peter, and to local eyes looks very much like a TC Cortina. Our version offered a four-cylinder powerplant as well. But where we diverged from Europe was we skipped the Ford V6 engines and used local straight sixes out of the Falcon range.


GT’s Circuit Breakers


(Ed: this was in response to a Glenn Torrens' piece about setting up his old Pajero.)

I have just read your article in Issue 445 re your Pajero Battery setup, a serious word of warning on the 50A Circuit Breakers, I installed two of these on my Bash F100 (Photo Attached) that look exactly the same as the one in your photo.

They click off on the first rough bit of road or corrugations you encounter, mine only stayed on my truck for half the day (actually it was the lunchtime break on the first day of the Rally) I didn’t throw them into the bush but I should have, they are more trouble than they are worth.

Strongly suggest you throw yours as far as you can as it will let you down at the worst time (when you are trying to have some fun!).

Stephen Scott

HEY THANKS for the feedback, but I’ve had one in my other 4WD, a later-model Hilux, for 270,000km and prior to that fitted one to a touring-spec Nissan Pathfinder. The Hilux has been used on some of the worst corrugated roads in the country – such as to Mt Dare and along the Plenty Highway out of Alice Springs - and around and across the Flinders and Simpson twice. Mine are sourced from Jaycar but I have little doubt there are - shall we say - varying levels of quality evident in what appear to be the same product. Happy travels!


Wipe out


In 1903 the US patent office awarded Patent number 743,801 to a Birmingham, Alabama woman named Mary Anderson for her "window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window." Yep, the first windscreen wiper. Anderson tried to sell it to a Canadian manufacturing firm, but the company refused: the device had no practical value, it said, and so was not worth any money. Though mechanical windscreen wipers were standard equipment in passenger cars by around 1913, Anderson never profited from the invention.


Want some advice on a build or a potential car purchase? Heck we’ll even tackle long distance diagnosis.

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From Unique Cars #447, December 2020

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