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wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
2/4/19 7:46 a.m.

My name is wetpossum and I have a sports car problem.  

 

Around 2007, one of my professor friends asked me to help him fix up an old E Type that he'd kept around as an engine swap mule so that he could sell it.  I proposed that instead he should hold on to it until I'd gotten a job after I graduated and then sell it to me.

Since it was 2007, you could go online get a car loan for a 40 year old sports car that hadn't run in a decade despite not having a job, a place to live, or any idea what the hell I was getting myself into.  Through a combination of stupid and lucky, I ended up with a matching numbers 1965 E Type S1 FHC for about the price of a new Civic at the time.

 

Original engine stored for at least 20 years, reunited with the car.  Tidy wiring not courtesy of Joe Lucas, more like Bubba Lucas.

With the future mrspossum:

Anyway, this might be an exercise in narcissism, but I figured I could start a thread showing the realities of owning a beater E Type.  Maintenance, troubleshooting, "lifestyle" etc.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/4/19 8:26 a.m.

Very interested. I've talked to a couple of E-type owners over the years and more than half of them have told me that they hate the ownership experience. Something along the lines of getting the attention of an exotic with the maintenence of a decomposing Land Rover. I still want one. 

TED_fiestaHP
TED_fiestaHP Reader
2/4/19 8:53 a.m.

This should be a great story, please tell us more!

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
2/4/19 9:16 a.m.

From the title I assumed a Mercedes or BMW. Seeing the E-type, I audibly gasped. Sweet car. The E30 M3 is fine and all, but that E type!!!

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
2/4/19 9:31 a.m.

This right here is all I know about vintage Jag ownership, but I think it speaks volumes. 

Yes, I still want one!

bigeyedfish
bigeyedfish Reader
2/4/19 11:44 a.m.

I'm at work and said, "Holy E36 M3" out loud when I saw the first picture.  Gorgeous cars.

wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
2/4/19 12:08 p.m.

The Jaaag was purchased by my friend Ray for his wife to drive sometime in the early 80's.  His wife wanted a dark grey Mercedes Benz, so naturally Ray bought a metallic blue Jag for her.  Since she doesn't know how to drive a manual transmission, he swapped a Sears Roebuck 289 crate engine with a 3-speed auto into the Jag, and took it to Earl Scheib to get it painted in whatever grey was cheapest.  

I don't think she ever drove the car.

Ray occasionally drove the car with the ~150hp V8 for a few decades, eventually killing the engine in the late 1990's.  When he took it apart, he said all the pistons were different compression ratios, and one of the rods was a different length surprise.  

After the 289 blew up, he swapped in a Ford 2.3 Turbo, but before he could get it running was bitten by the Bonneville bug.  Naturally, the logical thing to do is to put a steam engine from a White Steam Car into the Jag and take it to the salt.  Because don't you have a spare steam engine laying around your shop?  So out came the 2.3 and he began taking measurements for the boiler and steam engine.   Thankfully at this point Ray was given a Ford Model A frame and a fiberglass body so the Jag was never cut up for land speed racing.  But he had carefully stored the original 4.2l engine full of oil and wrapped in plastic.  An miraculously, not a single tube of the front engine frame was cut to squeeze in the V8.  Only the transmission tunnel and one engine mount was damaged in the whole affair.

 

After taking delivery of the car, I got a job and proceeded to buy all of the missing parts needed to put it back together.

Spent lots of time in the standard British motoring position:

Before trying to crank over the engine, I filled a capped PVC tube with oil and connected it to the oil sending unit to force pressurized oil through the engine.  Took about 3 quarts at 15psi before I saw oil squeezing out around the cam journals.  I don't have any video of it starting up, but there was no drama, made oil pressure immediately, and purred like a kitty.

 

I also replaced the engine wiring harness and the behind the dash wiring harness.  At the time, I think a full harness for the S1 E was around $450.  The E Type and Saloons of the 60's have a cool way to access the wiring and fuse blocks.  The center dash section with the gauges and switches folds down for easy access to almost all of the electrical connections inside the car:

 

Back when Ray was driving the car he ran out of gas on the freeway, so he pulled over and left the doors unlocked while he walked to a gas station.  When he returned, both side windows (original Triplex glass) were broken out and the original AM radio and surround panel was stolen.  So he fabricobbbled a new panel to hold a nice 80's tape deck which is still in the car:

 

All in all, it took me about a year and a half to source all the parts I needed (driveshaft, wiring harness, throttle linkages, exhaust, countless other tiny detail parts) to get it running and driving.  I rebuilt the carbs, synced them up, and then did minimal maintenance on the car for the next 5000 miles over about 7 years.  I drove it to work on nice Fridays, parked it outside at mrspossum's apartment and generally enjoyed the hell out of it.  I was laid off in 2011 so I let the insurance lapse and didn't drive it for a couple years until I got back on solid ground.

 

 

 

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise HalfDork
2/4/19 12:09 p.m.

Etype and E30 M3?  Some people do live the dream. 

wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
2/4/19 12:46 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

Very interested. I've talked to a couple of E-type owners over the years and more than half of them have told me that they hate the ownership experience. Something along the lines of getting the attention of an exotic with the maintenence of a decomposing Land Rover. I still want one. 

I think it's a question of expectations.  The early S1 cars are simple in most areas.  The engine is basically a tractor with twin cams, and is perfectly reliable and easy to work on.  The S1's have a minimal electrical system as well, basically fuel pump, fan, horn, and lights and that's it.  The rear axle is amazingly complex in its parts count, but the theory of operation isn't too crazy and was used from '61 to about '96 so the parts and knowledge are widely available.  The most complex aspect of the E Type is the monocoque body with the steel tube engine frame.  Any tweaks or rust makes for expensive repairs.

 

If you look at it as a big mechanical puzzle that you enjoy learning about and tinkering with, it's going to be an enjoyable experience.  Same as any 60's sports car.  If you pay $250k for a perfectly restored big mechanical puzzle and expect it to be as reliable as a modern car, you're going to be disappointed.

 

Mechanically, they are identical to XJ-S's and XJ-6's, and I find it to be much easier to work on than the E30.

 

S3 V-12 cars on the other hand, terrify me. They were designed post-Leyland with emissions controls, increased complexity, and numerous shared parts between the worst that 70's Britain had to offer.

This right here is all I know about vintage Jag ownership, but I think it speaks volumes. 

Funny, that's exactly how I see myself. 

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 Reader
2/4/19 1:19 p.m.

So long as you keep oil and water in them, the engines run forever. Yeah, sure the rubber parts on the chassis go bad from age, but so does everyones. E types are great cars, and now it is valuable too. Don't let that keep you from driving it!

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
2/4/19 2:32 p.m.

Man, I love an old E-type. But probably not enough to actually own one. Looking forward to hearing about it though, and welcome to GRM!

spandak
spandak Reader
2/4/19 5:10 p.m.

You’re currently living the dream my wife and I came up with. Buy a beater E- type, fix it and enjoy it. Carry on sir 

Doc Brown
Doc Brown Dork
2/4/19 5:14 p.m.

The steam engine would have been epic,  but I glad it didn't happen.    The pressurized oil primer thingy has been added to my  list of things I need to build.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
2/4/19 5:16 p.m.

For what it's worth, get collector car insurance. Now. I had my 64 el Camino t boned last year with allstate. They did their best, but i was underinsured.  The jaaag is worth way more.

wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
2/4/19 5:37 p.m.

Let's do some deferred maintenance!

When I bought the car, it came with 5 mismatched 165/85/r15 tires on original rims.  Stock size for the E Type is 185 VR15, so the width and diameter were wrong.  Additionally, there were some damaged spokes (10-15 without tension and 2 completely fractured) and there was a pretty serious knock during braking and acceleration from the right rear, indicating serious damage to the hub splines.  I drove it anyway, because why not, but doing power slides with an LSD on ancient undersized tires with broken wheels is probably not responsible adult behavior.  I should do my power slides with fresh tires and safe wheels  devil

After putting it off for way too long, I got a nice Christmas bonus from work and purchased 5 brand new Daytons, Vredesteins, tubes, 4 hubs, wheel bearings, u-joints, rubber bushings for the front and rear suspension, and steering rack mounts.  Also brake booster and master cylinder, brake lines, fuel pump, fuel lines, and I don't even know what else.

The Dayton wheels are pricey at $415 each, but the cost of restoring a stock wheel is similar and involves replacing the splined hub and spokes and straightening and re-chroming the rim, so really you might as well replace the whole thing and get a warranty with it.  

I decided to start out by doing the easy things first: Steering rack mounts.

Hard to get to, so lets remove some parts for better access:

 

Well, at least now I won't bang my head.

 

An after photo, but it shows you where the rack sits in front of the "picture frame" underneath the cooling fan motor.

 

There was always a slightly sticky spot in the steering, maybe I should take the rack apart to see if the bearings are ok:

 

If it's apart, I might should blast and repaint the rack so it looks nice


Steering Rack re-assembly - painted, re-bearinged, and re-sealed

 

Beautiful, with fresh bearings, new bushing (quite the job itself) looking minty fresh

 

Let's inspect the front suspension.  That extrusion used to be the wishbone bushing:

 

Filthy but original

 

Disassembly begins.  The original lower ball joints use shims between the two halves to adjust the pre-load and drag on the ball.  As the ball joints wear, you're supposed to periodically measure the pre-load and remove shims as necessary.  Don't forget to grease the ball joint every 1500 miles!

 

Or simply replace the whole thing with a sealed ball joint from an 80's XJ-6. Not quite as pretty or interesting, but it's a lifetime part.
 

 

More to come if anybody cares.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
2/4/19 5:37 p.m.
wetpossum said:

he swapped a Sears Roebuck 289 crate engine with a 3-speed auto into the Jag, and took it to Earl Scheib to get it painted in whatever grey was cheapest.  

After the 289 blew up, he swapped in a Ford 2.3 Turbo

out came the 2.3 and he began taking measurements for the boiler and steam engine.

All I can say is Yikes!  smiley  I'm glad you've reunited the original engine with the car.

wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
2/4/19 5:39 p.m.
Dusterbd13-michael said:

For what it's worth, get collector car insurance. Now. I had my 64 el Camino t boned last year with allstate. They did their best, but i was underinsured.  The jaaag is worth way more.

Don't worry, I just let it lapse while I was unemployed and not driving the car.  As soon as I was back in the workforce I re-upped before even trying to start the car.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
2/4/19 5:54 p.m.

In reply to wetpossum :

“...if anybody cares.”

Dude.  *everybody* cares!

codrus
codrus UltraDork
2/4/19 5:54 p.m.

You hadn't mentioned the Elan-shaped part of your sports car "problem" yet. :)

 

wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
2/4/19 7:21 p.m.
codrus said:

You hadn't mentioned the Elan-shaped part of your sports car "problem" yet. :)

 

I was hoping nobody would notice that. I’ll have to do a full-length effortpost about Lotii. 

 

a_florida_man
a_florida_man Reader
2/4/19 7:45 p.m.

Dad bought one new in 64. Much like this one FHC, 6cyl.

As I recall he bought it in West Palm Beach (traded in a 60 or so Healey) and was told that it had been on the first shipment to Ft. Lauderdale from England that year. When he picked it up it still needed a radio because the American radio had not been installed yet.

He said the quartz clock worked for several weeks from new. 

He did have a few comments about it for the few years he had it.

As a contemporary owner of a new type 1, (no old car mystique) it wasn't his favorite, but it did impress folks back then.

Always thought the number of switches on the dash was entertaining. (Last car had been a Healey which is very spartan by comparison.)

The inboard brakes caught fire under warranty. Had to be put out rather dramatically in the service drive with a fire extinguisher.

The Jaguar scheduled maintenance was an adventure. The dealer tech wore a white lab coat and had a stethoscope around his neck. Was not cheap.

Got married and his new BIL wrote "Just Married" on the side of the car in Brown shoe polish. It was a white car.

Traded it on a '66 Corvette Convertible.

Here it is shortly before the BIL wrote on it:

 

 

He said the salesman bragged to him that if it did not do 150, he could bring it back.

Dad said he did it. Once. 

 

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
2/4/19 8:04 p.m.

Great story.  I can’t wait for more.  I had a chance to buy a fellow grad student’s 65 E Type roadster in the mid-late 70s for $3500.  As a grad student I was making around $250 a month on assistantship.  

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
2/4/19 8:24 p.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

I’ve owned several. My Jaguar buddies all seem to love them, while we differ about which are best, no one seems to hate them. 

The OP explained how simple they are.  Plus people  like Enzo Ferrari said it was the most beautiful car ever made.  Road and Track called it the greatest crumpet collector. 

The money they are worth reflects what value the market place puts on them.  

 

 

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 Reader
2/4/19 10:29 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

The worst part of E types is that they became very inexpensive in the early 1970s. Thus many were owned and beaten by people who could not afford to maintain a bicycle. Most of the bad ownership experiences you hear are from folks who are still rectifying the previous neglect. Not as reliable as a 21st century car, but far better than most of their contemporaries.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
2/5/19 6:42 a.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Well said, also true of the XJS in the 2000’s. A luxury car with sporting capabilities became available for pocket money.  

Heck pretty much the same thing can be said of nearly every Jaguar. Magnificent value for money as they age but require knowledge or the intelligence to seek that knowledge in order to keep them at their potential.  

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