Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Look Back

For those of you that don't know me well, I thought I'd take you back to the beginning of this restoration project.
Not long after I got the E-Type.
I purchased this 1964 Jaguar E-Type Coupe in August 2001, just after we moved into our new house in Baldwin County.  It was definitely in drivable shape and I drove it a pretty good bit.  Mostly just around here and to car shows and such.
British Car Festival at Fairhope Beach

A sailboat beached by  Hurricane Ivan
It never won any awards to speak of, mostly because under the bonnet was pretty disastrous looking.  It was painted black first of all, which is wrong, but not only that, it was peeling and flaking and just looking bad.
Many of the components under the bonnet (hood) had surface rust and generally rundown looking.  The wiring was kinda scary, even though it didn't give much trouble.  One carburetor was prone to leak and it had a tendency to just run bad sometimes. But I still drove it occasionally.
In June of 2004, right after my nephew had started construction on my garage, I had major heart surgery.  While I was recuperating, Mike Darby, my very good friend, rebuilt the carbs for me and my nephew finished construction on the garage.

We had moved to a lot of about 5 acres so there was plenty of room to build a BIG garage.  It turned out to be 40x60 feet with 12 ft ceilings (my intention was to put a lift in it at some point). I figured that I might as well have it insulated while it was being built, it would never be easier or cheaper.  We air conditioned it and before anything was put inside, we put an epoxy coating on the floor (one of the best things I did or should I say, my nephew did.).

Once the car came back from Mikes, it ran really good, but eventually it got to where it would only go good for about 10-15 miles, then it would start running worse and worse.  I changed out everything..  coil, plugs, points, condenser, nothing changed.  Eventually, after a good bit of research, I ordered a Mallory distributor, coil and ballast resistor.  FIXED!!! 
Now that it ran so good, I decided to "clean it up under the bonnet" to make it more presentable.  That's where it all started....  I pulled the bonnet off and started cleaning it up...  it was hopeless, I was just making a mess so I decided to pull the engine and transmission out.  That's not much of a challenge for me, I have been taking things apart all of my life.

Once I got the engine out, I pulled the frames off of the monocoque body tub, took them to the blaster's to have them media blasted.
After he finished and had them primed, he casually mentioned to me that there were several holes rusted through them.  I couldn't believe it.  These frames hold the engine, the entire front suspension, radiator, bonnet...  everything that is in front of the driver.  They HAVE to be structurally sound (and they aren't real cheap)  sigh.... 

There was nothing I could do but order a new set of frames.
I had done some research and learned that there was a guy in England that made the absolute best frames for E-Types, Uryk at E-Type Fabs so I ordered some.
Meanwhile, I pulled out the old nasty looking wiring harness, ordered new and started stripping the paint off of the bulkhead. My plan at this point was to paint the bulkhead and frames with as close to the same color as the car as I could get mixed locally.

Mike came over and blasted it for me and I had it sprayed with primer.At some point, I received the frames from Uryk and was totally blown away.  They were a work of art.

There was welding like I have never seen. I'm not totally sure what made me decide to take the car apart further...  I think it was just the fact that since I had gone this far, I might as well do it right.  I removed the interior, and the rear suspension.

There was nothing detectable wrong with the differential, so my plan was to just clean it up.  

Fitting the frames before painting the body

There were a few things that I wanted to correct, and I knew that the only way was to paint the whole car so with a great degree of trepidation, I started sanding on what to most people looked like a pretty darn good paint job on the car body..
During all of this, my friends Mike Darby and Rodney McDonald and Stuart Waddington were a big help. I learned a lot about bodywork, which before now I had never experienced.

Once I had the body like I wanted it and it was approved by Mike,
Primed and ready for paint
I took it to the painter, Jerry Tomacek.  He has a paint shop at his house and a very good reputation in the area.  Once he had finished and I brought the car home, I started the long task of putting it back together..  Rodney convinced me to start a blog so...  here it is.  I had done a website outlining all of this but haven't updated it for a long time.  If you would like to get even more of the story go to also, I have uploaded nearly all of the pictures I have taken during the restoration.  You can find them at
I have to say this has been quite a learning experience, and a lot of fun.  It just might not be the last.