Jaguar E-Type Series II - Reader Resto

By: Bill Kennedy, Photography by: Ben Dillon

Presented by

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What do you do with a tidy low mileage E-Type Jag? You strip it down and do a total resto, of course


Jaguar E-Type Series II Resto

I owned several Jaguars before the E-Type so when the opportunity came up to purchase a Series 2 coupe from a friend of the family in May 1989, I decided it was time. The car was first registered in Victoria in April of 1971, although build sheets tell us it was made in November of 1970. It’s a genuine right-hand drive vehicle with all numbers matching.

At the time I purchased the car it had done 66,000 miles; the previous owner had it for approximately eight years and the car had done 48,500 miles when he purchased it in 1980. It’s now showing 73,059 miles on the clock. I guess the question to be asked is why would such a low-mileage, well looked-after car need a ground-up restoration? In truth it didn’t need it mechanically, however it was getting fairly shabby in looks and the engine bay was in need of some TLC. While driving the car is a pleasant experience, it was just too hot in the Queensland summer. So in 2003 I decided to completely restore the car with some engineering improvements along the way.

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Having made the decision to do the restoration I decided that I would like to improve the car somewhat if I was going to keep it for the long haul, and with my engineering background I wanted to do the job right. This decision was made with the realisation that not destroying the originality of an all numbers-matching car was important so I set about making the changes reversible.

The improvements made during the project include a custom air-conditioning system along with other refinements to keep the engine running cool. If I was going to keep the car and enjoy the driving experience I felt it necessary to air-condition the car for year-round driving comfort.

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This has been achieved and the only obvious evidence that the modification has been made are two thumb dials on the dash – one activates the fan speed and the other sets the temperature. At the same time as fitting the air-con I have retained the heating and fresh air intake controls, albeit these features are somewhat different under the bonnet but subtle nonetheless. A new heater box was fabricated in stainless steel and the circulation fan was relocated to the passenger side upper footwell as per modern cars today. This box contains the heater and cooling radiators and fits up as a neat replacement in the same position as the original unit.

Conditioned air is ducted into the cabin through the original demister and heater ducts and is very effective.

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Demisting now occurs in seconds as the moisture is removed from the air.

For cooling the big six-cylinder engine I fitted an aluminium radiator. The Queensland climate is extreme and these cars were not designed for our consistently hot climate. Once again I decided that the cooling fan setup was not good enough for our driving conditions so redesigned and fitted a new setup. The main differences were higher capacity fans relocated such that the off-side unit was lowered, enabling air to be blown under the alternator and over the exhaust manifold rather than straight into the face of the alternator. The shroud was made to fit the whole length of the radiator, not just the top two thirds. I then made improvements to cooling air flow over the motor by removing the original louvered aluminium stone guards and replacing them with expanded metal guards to improve air flow.

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Ceramic coating inside and out of engine headers was the next step. The original porcelain coating on the headers always had a tendency to crack and peel with age so I had the headers ceramic coated internally and externally which has given the car a lift in performance due to less surface friction of exhaust gases. The smooth appearance on the outside is a vast improvement. Next up was the stainless steel exhaust system with all mounts replaced.

I then turned my attention to the running gear. Whilst the crankshaft was out being ground for the rear main seal modification, all bearing journals and bore diameters were checked and found to be within specification. New rings and shells were fitted along with a new high-performance oil pump. The cylinder bores were honed but not resized. Meanwhile the flywheel face was ground flat and the head was bead blasted and valves re-seated.

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The aluminium sump had a crack in it which had been caused by someone jacking the car up under it. They had kindly filled the crack with sealant! The sump was fully weld repaired and sand blasted inside and out to a high finish, potential crisis averted. The motor overall was found to be in good condition, as was to be expected with so few miles on it, but a further upgrade of a double-lip rear main oil-seal was deemed necessary. This modification is a vast improvement over the original rope seal which was the reason many E-Types leaked. Its housing had to be modified and the crank journal ground to match the new seal diameter but no oil leaks have ensued since, nor are any expected.

The brakes had all pads replaced and stainless wire woven flexible brake lines fitted. One disc was also replaced and the master cylinder was overhauled.

An electronic ignition was the next item to be fitted. This was done to improve performance and overcome the necessity to adjust points when tuning the car. The performance difference is noticeable. An uprated 110-amp alternator was fitted from a V12 Jaguar to accommodate the extra electrical load due to the air-con system. A gel battery has been included for superior cranking amps and long battery life, while all interior bulbs were replaced with LEDs with a much brighter display the result.

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All the heater/radiator hoses were replaced with Kevlar reinforced rubber hoses, while all the body rubbers were changed at the same time. New wiring looms were installed and much chroming of brake pipes springs and fittings was done to improve the overall visual effect.

During the strip down, the body was found to be almost completely rust free with only a small floor weld required on the passenger side floor due to moisture entering over time through the passenger side window. A full bare-metal strip down was carried out. Very little needed correcting.

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However, as is usual, it is the little things that make the difference. The cooling water pipes that run inside the firewall for the heater are mild steel. When these were removed they were found to be serviceable but I decided to replace them with fabricated stainless steel ones so this will never become an issue in the future. Very little filler was found in the body with no panels requiring replacement.

As evidenced by the photos, the car was completely disassembled including all bonnet metal parts. Each of the bonnet panels was separated and sprayed individually both inside and out. It is not commonly known that Jaguar only sprayed the bonnet after assembly and thus created an opportunity for rusting to occur where the panels meet. On reassembly all spacer washers and screws were replaced with stainless steel components before respraying the whole bonnet assembly.

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Inside the car very little work was required, with only some minor seat work carried out and the addition of a modern radio as well as a 14-inch Moto-Lita steering wheel. This smaller steering-wheel provides more leg room and better feedback from the road .On removing the fuel tank we found that the area underneath which rests on a felt pad had some surface rust. All of this was removed and all tank fitments were re-welded or brazed as necessary whilst the tank was out of the car, the complete unit was then powder coated.

The wire wheels were then sorted with all necessary rework carried out including re-chroming, resetting and replacing any suspect spokes. All suspension bushes and engine mounts were replaced while at the front end, upper and lower ball joints were replaced as well as tie-rod ends. The rear end was a little more involved, as it is with most classic Jaguars, as the whole assembly was removed for a complete strip down, spray and reassembly with new seals and bearings fitted.

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It was a lot of work, but it should now be a more reliable car that’s a whole easier to live with in a Queensland summer.

Bill’s E-Type is currently for sale on the Unique Cars website. Thanks to Phil Walker from Archerfield Jet Base for the photoshoot location.


Interior strip-out

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Things always look worse before they get better during a full resto

Body prep

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Stripped to bare metal, the body proved to be in excellent condition overall

Firewall prep

Jaguar -etype -firewallBill cleverly avoided any non-reversible modifications as he installed air-con

Bonnet panel prep

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Stripped of its components, the bonnet begins to look manageable

Fuel tank finessing

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The tank's only blemishes appeared where it had sat on felt pads 

Engine assembly

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Upgrading the rear main seal required a crankshaft-out engine strip 

Bonnet strip-down

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This bonnet paint process is superior to the original factory job 

Front subframe

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Multiple subframe sections required individual prep and painting

Bonnet assembly

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Bonnet components are finally reunited in this complex assembly 

Chassis Assembly

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The chassis complete once again with the body and front subframe combined

Rear underbody

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Once the masking tape is removed, the rear suspension can be re-installed

Rear suspension

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The rear suspension assembly was almost a resto project on its own




Vote for Bill's Jag in the Unique Cars Reader Resto of the Year and you could win one of five $100 Visa gift cards.



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