Left handers - Faine 458

By: Jon Faine

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jaguar jaguar

Jon is convinced Jaguar forgot about them as home repairers

Dear Jaguar, I write to complain. I do not do so out of malice nor to seek compensation. I am not one who tries to leverage an advantage from frivolous and sometimes vexatious complaints. It is my sad obligation to draw to your attention some design flaws in one of your products, as I am sure you will want to rectify them as Jaguar is a proud company with a formidable history.

The 1970 Jaguar E-type coupe is not suitable for left-handed home mechanics. I distinguish between home repairers and professionals as I am sure the skills acquired in pursuing the vocation of mechanic would overcome the many design faults that are insurmountable for owners who prefer to attend to minor works themselves.

It is generally accepted that around one tenth of the population is left-handed. You made around 50,000 six-cylinder E-type Jaguars, and maybe a third of them survive word-wide. There are several hundred E-types left in Australia, and it is therefore reasonable to calculate that around 20 or maybe 30 Australian E-type owners are left-handed.


This is where the fun, or tortue begins if you are not right-handed according to JF

Most owners of E-type Jaguars do not repair them at home, but entrust the exotic and magnificent offspring of your production line to people who by and large know what they are doing and charge like wounded bulls. I estimate – based on absolutely nothing at all – that about 20 per cent of E-type owners do any significant work themselves. Thus, I estimate there are probably four, five or six left-handed home repairers of E-types in Australia.

Around half of all Australians wear glasses in order to correct their vision. Assuming that E-type owners are typical of other Australians, that means two, or maybe three left-handed home repairing Australian E-type owners wear glasses.

It is well known that around 20 per cent of the population of Australia have back problems and endure daily and significant pain and discomfort as a result of injuries at work, or from sport, or gardening, poor posture, inadequate ergonomics at their desks while writing articles for car magazines or other more serious causes. If E-type owners are typical, then there is probably one left-handed glasses wearing back-pain carrying E-type owner in Australia. Me.


Job unsuited to lefties

Last week, I had cause to attempt the re-installation of the repaired speedometer in my car. Your factory Jaguar XKE Service Manual, Section ‘P’ titled ‘Electrical and Instruments’ on page 45 simply says "refitting is the reverse of the removal procedure…". It inconveniently, and in my view negligently, makes no mention of specific measures for left-handed, glasses wearing sore back home repairers. I submit for your urgent consideration that this is a gross oversight and in need of immediate rectification.

You see, I found myself upside down in the footwell of my car, wearing a camping head torch and cheap chemist magnifying glasses, Voltaren starting to wear off by about mid-afternoon, folded like a freak show contortionist trying to impress a crowd at a country fair, when I dropped one of the tiny knurled threaded retainers your service manual talks about.


The procedures described therein make it seem that the knurled threaded retainers willingly leap onto their mounts and do themselves up. Nothing could be further from the truth and may I suggest your manual ought to elaborate upon "refitting is the reverse of the removal procedure…" and instead read as follows:

"Consume pain killers at least thirty minutes before attempting to reinstall the speedo. Once they start to dull the ache in your L4-L5 disc, and bending into a pretzel shape seems feasible, carefully check the batteries in the old head torch from the camping gear as it is all but certain they will fail just after you manoeuvre yourself upside down into the footwell of the car. Whilst facing the rear of the car, position your right buttock on the driver’s side door sill, place your right ear on the driver’s seat cushion, slide your head under the steering wheel then push yourself forwards and down until the back of your head is resting on the brake and clutch pedal. Take several deep breaths to recover and then with the head torch shining up and under the dash, realise you have mislaid the small knurled threaded retaining nut that has to go up and into the spaghetti of wires. Once the nut is found – it takes fifteen minutes to realise it has attached to the magnetic base of the second torch – and with your nonpreferred and clumsy right hand, hold all the braid covered wires out of the way while you attempt seven times to get the knurled nut to catch. Repeat for the second retaining nut, then curse loudly three times for each of the five bulbs that refuse to sit in their "aperture" until you discover the correct approach angle by inserting them with your right hand not the left. Extricate yourself from the footwell [which is the reverse of the installation procedure], and then test each warning light for high beam, ignition and fuel. Realise you have inserted them in the wrong apertures. Position your right buttock on the drivers sill etc. again and move the frigging horrible nasty annoying little lights around until they are in the right spot. Go and have a cup of tea."

I note that your service manual has been updated with regular inserts since it was first published in 1961 and I expect my contribution will be included in the next update.

If there is a factory tool for "re-inserting the bulbs if the owner is an idiot who tries to do things himself and is left-handed, glasses wearing and in pain", I would be more than happy to test a free sample for your quality assurance department.

I remain, as always, yours faithfully...Jon Faine.


From Unique Cars #458, Oct 2021

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