Car Restoration Projects

Jaguar E-Type Series I – ‘E’ is for ‘excellent’

 

‘Objet d’art’ is the phrase that comes to mind when your eyes follow the timeless lines of Sir Williams Lyons’ 1961 creation – the E-type Jaguar. It’s definitely the most recognisable and arguably the most gorgeous looking sports car in the world, as Enzo Ferrari thought it to be.

The E-type featured is a 4.2-litre Series I roadster that was lovingly restored to prize-winning concours d’etat standard. Owned by Neil and Dianne Gould, it all started when Dianne wanted Neil to have a project to occupy this busy mind after his retirement from the New South Wales Police Force, ending his lifelong career at a high-ranking level.

   

For 10 years before the thought of the E-type project, Neil had experienced the joys of open-top motoring and the challenges of fettling a British sports car, by owning a BN1 Austin Healey 100-4.    

The story of E-type chassis number 1059 began in the backyard of Neil’s Sydney home while discussing the ad he’d seen for the car with a mate, and the consequent telephone conversation he had with the Victorian owner. 

Di came out of the house saying: “I’ve just booked you on a plane ride to Melbourne this afternoon, so you can inspect the car firsthand”.

He’d hardly had time to collect his breath, pack a bag and gather up the information he’d amassed on the marque, when he was in the air winging his way to Tullamarine. 

He spent the travel  time on a crash course, studying the advice of the experts about inspecting an E-type to purchase. He had selected the 4.2-litre Series I E-type as a project because of its higher torque engine and its all-synchro gearbox, as opposed to the earlier, cantankerous Moss box fitted to the 3.8-litre Series 1. 

   

A well-known Victorian car enthusiast owned the car, but it was far and away from perfect, with the usual rust points being evident and it was generally in need of some TLC. 

However, Neil thought it a solid investment, so, after a deposit was paid, he settled in that night at a local motel. After telephoning Di to advise her a deal had been done, he spent a restless night thinking about potential problems he may have missed during the inspection. 

Neil reckoned you should always take an expert with you with knowledge of the particular car you’re looking to purchase. 

The following week the car was transported to its new Sutherland Shire (Southern Sydney) home and Neil went about initially preparing the now Carmen red roadster that had originally been opalescent golden sand with red trim, for NSW registration. It stayed in this condition for three years before a total restoration was embarked upon. 

Retirement therapy

   

Neil undertook a full-time, intense and sometimes extremely frustrating two-year journey, bringing every single clip, nut and bolt to factory production standard, ensuring the car was as it was when it left the Brown’s Lane production line on December 9, 1964. The only variation was to paint it factory Carmen red and trim the interior, again to factory standard of the day, with matching black hide.   

“Without the help and guidance of numerous friends, the Jaguar Driver’s Club of Australia and knowledgeable Jaguar specialists – including Jaguar aficionado Ian Cummins –  this daunting task would not have been completed,” said Neil. 

“The restoration of an E-type should not be undertaken lightly, as the cost can easily exceed the market value,” he added.

   

This is truly a nut and bolt restoration, right down to the nuts and bolts that were originally cadmium plated. These were sent to de Havilland to be replated and then after the plating a process of de-embrittlement had to be carried out, because, when components are cad-plated, they have to be heated to remove a layer of hydrogen deposited in the molecular structure during the plating process.    

Neil said: “Even though I had some excellent publications, covering the various changes to each E-type model and access to a totally original 4.2-litre coupe owned by Ted Acroyd to examine firsthand and take photographs of, there were still many production running changes made that were not necessarily documented.

 

“Working on these cars can be an absolute nightmare at times – in particular the lack of forethought by the designers about those poor souls having to work on them. 

The removal and replacement of some components is frustrating in the extreme, to say the least and there were nights when I went to bed thinking: ‘If William Lyons wasn’t already deceased, I could have strangled him!’”

Neil said the best way of refitting the engine into the car, so as not to damage the aircraft-style chassis, was to lift the car up and lower it onto the engine and, if you ever needed to replace the clutch, the engine would need to be removed!

 

The late Geoff Lord carried out the engine machining, while his brother Graeme worked his magic on the gearbox. 

The suspension was rebushed and the brakes overhauled with stainless steel-sleeved callipers. The diff was inspected and re-raced. 

   

Part-time tech teacher, Charlie Zahar, repaired and lead-wiped the panels. Neil says Charlie’s craftsmanship in re-contouring the majestic lines of the body to Jaguar spec was pivotal to the restoration’s success. 

Neil’s good mate Stu Collins patiently undertook the tedious task of preparing the body for painting and also did some of the mechanical work.

   

The wiring was sent to Melbourne, looking like a bowl of spaghetti and was returned by a classic car wiring specialist beautifully braided, reconnected to the centre dash binnacle, in as-new condition with its new connectors – ready to be installed.    

Automotive trimmer Mark Wood at Classic Car Interiors stitched the new black leather and blended it with the moquette fabric to 4.2-litre Series I specification.

 

Fruits of labour

 

Neil’s car has won silver awards two years running at the Jaguar Concours and was awarded best E-type by the judges, with no points lost for non-originality.

 

He spent much time searching for original Jaguar embossed tools, to complete the E-type’s toolkit, an essential part of concours judging.  

“Restoring a car to these standards requires skill, knowledge, patience and a bundle of money,” said Neil. 

“Most parts are readily available from specialists, both locally and overseas, but they are expensive.

   

“An E-type Jaguar is not the easiest car for new-players to take on as a restoration project, because, with things you can’t tackle yourself, you always need an expert tradesman. 

“If an E-type is restored correctly it will become an appreciating asset and give its owner great driving pleasure and pride of ownership,” he concluded. 

After  the E-type was on the road and Neil had time to experience its immense pleasures, we wondered what was next on the agenda.

Di wanted him take on another project and encouraged all wives of a classic car tragic to get involved. She said: “I really enjoyed making sandwiches and cups of tea and coffee for Neil’s mates when they came around to help out on the project. 

“That was part of my contribution.”

 

Birth of a legend

The Series I E-type was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, to a jaw-dropping crowd of onlookers. This British masterpiece from Jaguar’s design studio under the leadership of Sir William Lyons was an instant hit.   

It was powered by Jaguar’s proven twin-cam 3.8-litre six, with 265hp on tap and an advertised top speed of 150mph. It was available in coupe and roadster guise.

In October 1964, the second Series I, also in coupe and roadster style, was introduced, with its engine capacity upgraded to 4.2 litres. The transmission was now Jaguar’s all-synchro four-speed coupled to a diaphragm clutch. The seats had better padding and it also had a revised dash and improved brake servo. 

In 1966 the 2+2 version was launched, with a nine-inch longer wheelbase, a fold-down rear seat and an automatic transmission option.

From September of the following year the colloquially known Series ‘1 ½’, with exposed headlights, was available.

The northern autumn of 1968 saw the launch of the Series II, with a larger radiator intake and increased windscreen rake on the 2+2. Its hallmark was an improved braking system. Other changes were reclining seats, altered dash and rocker switches, with a key start and steering lock. Optional power steering was also on the menu.  

In the spring of 1971 the Series III was released. It was powered by Jaguar’s hairy-chested 5.3-litre V12 and had a larger grille, flared wheel arches, wider track and electronic ignition.

E-type production ceased in September 1974.  

Specs: 

Engine: 

4235cc inline six-cylinder with twin overhead camshafts

Compression Ratio 9.00:1 

Bore 92mm 

Stroke 106mm

Carburation triple 2-inch HD8 SUs

265bhp @ 5400rpm  

283lb/ft @ 4000rpm 

Performance:

Maximum speed 150mph (241km/h) 

Acceleration 0-60mph (96.56km/h) seven seconds

Transmission:

Four-speed direct with synchromesh 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 

Differential hypoid 3.07:1

Brakes:

Discs vented front and rear inboard with servo assistance

Suspension:

Front – double wishbone type and torsion bars

Rear – lower links with radius arms and dual coil/dampers either side

Steering:

Manual rack and pinion

Body dimensions:

Length 4458mm

Width 1653mm

Height 1633mm

Wheelbase 2438mm

Turning Circle 11.3 metres

Kerb Weight 1232kg

 

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