Here is the story of the purchase of My S-Type, and the subsequent restoration. Photographs here are of after the restoration, others from before are here.
For enlargements please click on the picture
I have also written a piece about headlining installation in this car!
It was early Fall when I first noticed the Jaguar. It was sitting to
one side of a lineup of vehicles outside an auto repair shop. The most
striking thing was the colour of course. Where else would you find a car
with a colour anything like Cotswold Blue except on a Jaguar. The winking
of the late summer sunlight on the chrome trim seemed to beckon me to come
and have a closer look.
The car was elderly and had the air of a well-to-do matron that was sadly somewhat down at the heels and much in need of some active TLC.
It's amazing the way the latent spirit of an inanimate object like a Jaguar can be transmitted through your finger tips as you walk around the car looking and touching. . . gently.
"I just have to find out more about this car! Maybe the owner wants
to sell it? Doesn't look in too bad shape for the age of it. . . . Hmm,
Seats are in tough shape. Wire wheels. Maybe they can be rebuilt. I've
done that before. Glass is good but then there is the rust that's showing.
. I'm going to ask in the shop who owns it and if it might be for sale.
Yup, it was still there OK. I got favourable sounds. . . .
She was hooked too! I'm sure I had a stupid pasted on smile from ear
to ear for at least the next hour!
After a few more visits, the car was dragged into the shop and put up
on the hoist so that we could look underneath.
This is what I found:
1966 JAGUAR 3.8 LITRE "S" TYPE SEDAN, MANUAL WITH OD
Observations, November 22, 1999. 4pm, -2 degrees, windy, 5 inches snow on car
Cotswold Blue with navy blue leather interior
I believe that car would rate:
#5 "In need of complete restoration, but is complete and not a rust bucket beyond repair. May or may not run and drive . Not roadworthy."
Values taken from "Collector Car and Truck Prices", January edition.
#5 $1150 US $1690 Can
Average is $3570 Can
The history of the car as I was told it was interesting.
front 3/4 closer view
My purchase 10 December 1999
I was told that the car had an engine rebuild 10,000 mile previous by Fitzgerald, due to going off the road and putting a hole in the sump and running out of oil. Ouch! This also explains the new sump and other dents underneath the car.
The car was ignominiously towed home and pushed into our garage on 11th
First thing I decided was to give the brakes a good going over, THEN get the engine running. No point in having the engine going and not have any capability to stop the vehicle moving if I needed to.
A major concession was that our two car garage must be made back into
a TWO car garage again. Over the last few years we've only had need to
garage our Jeep, our old truck relegated to living outside. Consequently,
the garage got filled up with other good stuff.
Parts suppliers and pricing:
Used parts that I managed to find in Canada were too high a price for
me, being almost the same price as NOS in some cases. Some used parts I
found were not good enough quality or corroded too much for use. This was
especially true of brake parts. The interior trim parts were original equipment
from a Canadian supplier at quite a high price, but the quality was excellent.
Wheels were eventually replaced with Dayton stainless wire wheels and I
selected Michelin XVS 185-15 tires.
Brakes and Clutch
Brake servo was overhauled. Had to make a wrench to remove the back
All the brake calipers were removed and disassembled. Some pistons were pitted too much and were replaced with good used ones from Australia. New seals installed. Some bleed screws were seized and had to be drilled out.
Two caliper cross-over lines were made up and replaced. The rear end assembly was removed and the disks were cleaned up. The parking brake calipers were disassembled, cleaned and lubricated.
When the rear calipers were reinstalled the 1/4" bolts holding the inner cylinders on to the caliper head were shortened to allow future removal of the cylinder without removing the whole caliper assembly. New brake lining was installed all round.
The clutch slave cylinder was re-sleeved at a local machine shop.
The reservoirs were cleaned out and filled and the systems bled. Everything seems to work well but a road test will confirm this or not.
Rear axle assembly:
Transmission and driveshaft:
The fibreglass cowl was repaired and a new rubber shift boot installed. The top of the transmission has a plug in it similar to the filling plug on the side. The top plug was removed and a hose made up so that the transmission could be filled from under the hood rather than trying to do it underneath the car. As I do my own servicing at home this was important. The OD solenoid did not work so it was taken apart and fixed. The solenoid linkage was checked and adjusted. The OD wiring was a mess. It had been changed by a previous owner for some reason. This was returned to original and the switches on the transmission checked. The driveshaft could have been shortened by about 1.5 inches as there was almost no free play in the slip joint. I will do this if needed after some lengthy road trials. Another solution would be to replace the Moss box with the original full synchro unit. If I can find one without having to pay a kings ransom, I'll consider that option for the future.
As the transmission seems very close to the fibreglass cowl, I lowered the rear mount by about 3/8".
Once I had the engine running I tried out the transmission and OD when the car was on stands. It seems to work well although the OD shifts somewhat slowly . . . Hmm!
The fuel pumps were disassembled and cleaned. They worked well on reassembly.
I had to replace some of the flexible pump mounts as they were broken.
The fuel lines were flushed out with a 50/50 mix of gas and alcohol. The
carburetors were completely resealed and regasketed. The old gaskets were
completely brittle and came out in bits. I have never seen gaskets as bad
as those. I used the old jet needles as they seemed good. New seats were
installed. The floats were good with no dings or dents. New float needle
and seats were installed. The solenoid for the starting carb was checked
and cleaned out. It was very dirty. The thermostatic Otter switch checked
and verified working. The wiring had to be returned to standard though.
I did not replace the throttle plate or shaft seals though. Once I got
the engine running I squirted some Ether (starting fluid) from a spray
can in that area and no increase in RPM was noted so I'm assuming that
the seals are OK. The carbs were set up and seem to be operating well.
A road test will confirm this.
When I had inspected the car before buying it, I turned the engine over with a wrench. It was not seized. When I got the car home I removed the spark plugs and squirted some transmission fluid in each cylinder to free up any stuck rings.
The carbs were removed to overhaul them and to get easy access to the
The starter was removed and the armature cleaned up. I made new brushes by filing down some Ford ones. The bendix drive was cleaned and the ring gear on the engine inspected for excessive wear. It was OK The ring gear teeth were cleaned up slightly. A compression test was done as soon as I could get the starter to work. Initially it indicated one cylinder low but the pressure came up with oil squirted in the cylinder. May be just from sitting for ten years though. I put liberal quantities of penetrating oil into each cylinder and let the car sit for about a week before I tried it again. This time it was a little better.
The timing chains were not in need of adjustment and inspection indicated that the front cover had been removed recently. In fact, all the covers looked as if they had been off not too long ago. The generator was removed and cleaned out. It was saturated in power steering oil. New bearings were installed. The armature commutator was turned down and undercut. Brushes again made from a Ford or GM source. The power steering pump was overhauled using parts from a friendly Caterpillar dealer. Same with the reservoir. A new filter was installed. Had to make a seal for the steering reservoir lid. A new thermostat was installed and the radiator flushed out. New points and condenser and the wiring checked out. I set the timing and tried the engine. . . . It took a while but eventually it started. I had changed the oil and put in a 10w-30 oil for initial running. The engine was running rough due I think to a combination of sticky rings and leaking valves. Not to mention newly overhauled carbs.
Oil pressure was good, about 40 psi, coolant seems to be circulating OK. Eventually the carbs were tuned sufficiently and the engine run enough for the compression to get close to normal. The oil and filter were changed again and the filter cut open to inspect for damage. None! The engine seems to have a slight miss on one cylinder when cold which goes away once warmed up. Again, after sufficient running under load on the road, this should improve. Touch wood!
The rear engine mount was changed as the rubber was as hard as a brick. The steel heater lines were straightened out and put back into their original places. New hoses and fan belt were installed.
I installed a new battery mounting base and hold down clamps that are not original but work better I think. I also connected the battery negative directly to the engine block rather than to the body of the car. I made sure that I had a good heavy ground wire from the engine block to the frame of the car near the front motor mounts.
The old horns were not working and had to be replaced. Air horns would have been nice but maybe next time. . . Some horns are polarity sensitive so check them out before you buy any. The signal lights on the front were broken and I had a tough time getting replacements. They are available as NOS from many sources but I resented the price of about US$160 each! I ended up getting some used ones from Australia for significantly less.
The front park lights had the mounting screws seized up tight when I got the car and those were broken when I tried to remove them. I ended up using stainless steel machine screws and making spacers to properly position the lights in the body of the car. Headlights were replaced with Bosch Halogen units. My car did not have spot lights so I did not put any on the car at this time. Maybe later. They sure look nice though! Maybe for Fathers Day?
The rear lights were functional but needed to be taken apart and cleaned and new bulbs put in. There were a couple of dash light bulbs that needed replacing too.
The interior courtesy lights needed cleaning and the retaining clips for the lens' were missing on one. I fabricated some from some spare bits of light spring steel and a file.
Gauges and switches:
The Tachometer did not work and I found that the generator had a drive dog that was not properly engaged with the camshaft. I tested the Tach Generator with an electric drill attached to it with a short length of rubber hose and it seemed to work well. A little bit of silicone rubber as a spacer behind the drive plate and a bit of filing and the unit was reinstalled. It works.
The glove box light didn't work and after fiddling with the wiring and door switch for about two hours I finally looked in the wiring diagram and found that it worked perfectly . . . when the side or head lights were on! Which reminds me of a saying. . . . If you can't get it to work. . . Look in the Book. If that doesn't work FOLLOW the book! Bah Humbug. . . Point taken!
The Wood Trim:
When I got the car the wood was water stained near the windows, and had whatever the coating was, blistered and peeling. The finish on the dash and other parts that would get direct sunlight was opaque and blotchy. I removed the existing coatings on all 32 pieces with either 3M Safest Stripper (slow and gentle acting) or Circa 1850 Stripper (fast and furious). I then washed the wood parts carefully in water and TSP, then rinsed them to remove all the residue from the stripper then let the pieces dry for about 3 days or so then repaired the parts that were easy to fix. Some will have to have new veneers put on sometime in the future but for now they looked OK after some minor repairs and touching up with a dark walnut stain hand applied with a fine artists paint brush borrowed from my daughter's art supplies.
I used Watco Light Walnut Danish oil finish to stain and even out the areas that were bleached with sunlight. Then left the parts to dry for about 3 days or so (as per instructions on the can). I then applied a coat of Flecto Varathane Elite Diamond Finish gloss (water based) to all parts. Within a couple of hours the varathane had dried and showed a very fine blistering and discoloration and was slightly rough to the touch. The blotches appeared on pieces of wood that had veneer on it and some that didn't, so I suspect that the problem is not associated with the veneer or the glue used to attach it.
Previously, I had tried a test piece of wood with various colours of Watco oil and the Flecto Varathane before I tried the wood from the car and everything worked perfectly.
Watco even recommends the use of Flecto Varathane Elite Diamond Finish as a top coat. I then tried another can of Flecto and had the same discoloration and blistering effect. Putting on additional coats of varathane seems to fill or absorb some of the discoloration but it can still be seen after it dries. It looked bad! I made sure that the temperature in my garage was at least 60 degrees F when I used the Varathane.
Guess what. . . .
The finish was completely stripped off again of course. What a mess! Then, starting from scratch again I applied the Watco oil and let it dry then tried an oil based Spar varnish on a couple of pieces. That worked out real good but I did not like the shiny finish. So I stripped that off as well.
Back to the Watco, followed by a coating of Minwax rubbed in with bronze wool. I loved it. . . . it buffed up beautifully and felt very natural to the touch!
After all that I was determined that it was worth the effort and my wife Diane was glad that I had finished rinsing stuff in the kitchen sink! Also everyone who has seen the car to date just loves the wood finish and says that it looks very natural.
Getting all the wood trim back in place took a while, especially the dash area with the gauges. I was not successful in finding a source for the special conical washers that are used under the #6 wood screws that hold on the covering pieces at each door. I was missing about 5 or 6 of those.
Also those screws are chrome not stainless. I had to substitute. The glove box door lock didn't work so I took it apart to see what was the problem. TWANG! And some small object was slung into the nether reaches of my garage never to be found again. It took about three hours with a file and some scrap metal to make a small piece that holds the latch spring in place. The latch now works again.
The leather was a perfect match and the workmanship a little less than perfect. Some stitching holes could be seen and some of the sewn panels varied in distance from seam to seam. The shop claimed to have used three cow hides and there was not much left over. Some of the foam was replaced, and all of the Mocquette. The front and rear seats were completely done as well as the center console, the knee pad on the parcel shelf and the two cheek boards at the rear near the rear doors. I got some change from $3,000 Canadian so I figure it was good value.
Headliner and Other Trim:
The car looked very poorly when all of that was stripped out of it. Just an empty shell. The nice part of this is that everything you do from here on makes the car look much better and as a result, you feel better too! I bought all the interior trim from a trim specialist house in Vancouver BC and everything including new rubber seals for the front and rear windshield, trunk lid seal and a few other odds and ends came to less than $3,000 Canadian.
Wheels and Hubs:
Dayton 72 spoke 15 x 5 with michelin XVS 185HR15
This didn't stop me from poking my nose into the shop from time to time
to check things out. It must have been more often than is normal for after
a while they would say. . . . "Hey! Here comes Dave the Jag Man!" Anyhow,
they stripped the car down to bare metal with a chemical stripper. It took
lots so I was told. The hood and trunk lid were removed. All the chrome
trim was removed. The chrome window channels were removed. The rust was
completely cut out from everywhere it existed and new metal welded in.
All the old Bondo was removed and the damage underneath cut out as well.
Old slide hammer holes were welded closed. The body was completely sanded,
etched and primed, sanded again, then painted in two part Cotswold Blue
with a few coats of clear over the top. All Dupont stuff. Door hinge areas,
under the hood and the trunk lid as well; everywhere paint colour was visible.
. . . Lovely! An excellent job for an extremely fair $2,300 Canadian.
LR door and window
I had to put all the chrome goodies back on of course so I had to promise to bring the car back to the bodyshop when it was finished for them to take photos. Now I was getting excited about finishing this project! I completed the bodywork before refitting the glass and the interior.
The front and rear bumpers and the grille center vane were sent out to Calgary for re-chroming. The grille was still in quite good shape although some of the vanes had to be lightly straightened. Overspray from a previous paint job was polished out with Brasso. A new 3.8 liter emblem was purchased for the center vane. A note here is that either the assemblers in the Coventry factory must have had very small hands or the grille was installed before the radiator was put in place. That's an exceptionally small hole to stick your arm into to get all the screws installed! Re-chroming costs came to just about $1,000
Windows and chrome strips:
John Miller, the owner of the local Glass shop came to help me install the Glass. Once the glass was in place, we injected a little bead of Butyl sealer between the rubber seal and the metal lip on the window aperture. The sealing bead was then inserted in the groove in the rubber seal and worked all around. We left the sealing bead sticking out for a few days till everything shrunk into place then trimmed it off. The chrome strips on an S Type are wider at the back than the front one is. I had forgotten about that and needed to order new clips for the rear. Expensive! About $10 each! The front clips are the same as the Mark 2 and consequently easy to come by and reasonably priced. The front chrome strips were cajoled into position using first silicone lubricant then later liquid soap. The soap is much easier to work with. I used a couple of special plastic spatulas that I got from the local Glass shop. They were about 8" long and tapered to a broad point something like a screwdriver. They worked really well and allowed me to flip the edge of the rubber molding over the chrome strip quite easily. The rear chrome strip was harder to position. I think it may have been bent too many times for I had to resort to weatherstripping glue and double sided tape to hold it in place. It doesn't look great either and is threatening to pop out of place. I'll have to put a new chrome strip on my list of things to get later on.
New fender mirrors installed:
May 19th 2000. A great day!
The government inspection was done! The certificate taken to the local insurance office. Licence plates and insurance were purchased. The cheque signed with a somewhat trembling hand. (And no, this was NOT because I am a cheap Scotsman!) The licence plate attached to the rear of the car. . . fumble, fumble. . . . and I was ready for the first trip I'd ever made in this car!
Here's what happened. . . .
Headed north out of town for the next town about 25km away. Cel phone with me just in case I have problems (pessimist!) Engine was responsive with no major misses, stumbles or flat spots. Accelerated smoothly under load. Temperature eventually stabilized about 90 degrees Celsius. Oil pressure steady at 2000 RPM at 35psi. It idles with hot oil at about 10 psi. First speed is noisy. . . It's a Moss box with spur gears so this is probably normal. Other gears sound OK. Speedometer is totally wonky! Although it registers MPH it is reading more like KMH. The speed registered at 2500 RPM in top, no OD, is about 100MPH It should be more like 60 MPH?? This may be something to do with the transmission that was changed some time before and the speedo is set up for the later style gearbox? Clutch is smooth but engages with the pedal closer to the floor than I would prefer. Hmm! I'll try adjustment later and see what happens. Overdrive works well although a little slow to engage. However once I had driven about 25KM and the oil heated up the OD would not engage at all. I'll try changing the oil for something heavier. I was using SAE 30 straight grade like the book says. The brakes worked evenly without pulling and brought the car quickly to a stop. The brake servo seems to work well with no heavy pedal feel. Turn signal light won't cancel from left turn position. A check later revealed that only an adjustment of the cam was required. Steering tends to wander somewhat. Probably insufficient camber? Anti-sway bar rattles slightly on RHS going over bumps so may have to change bushings there too. Fairly loud wind noise at left and right passenger doors. I'll try to adjust the window camber inward a little more with the shims inside the door later to see if that helps.
At times during the first run I stopped and checked underneath for leaks etc. The radiator coolant expanded somewhat which is normal. An expansion tank would be nice. I checked the temperature of the front and rear bearings by touch. The front bearings were cool and the rear were warm after about 25km. Later that day my wife Diane and I went for a ride about 60 km south of town and back. It was really fun. The car handled well through the winding roads and we got quite a few waves from passers-by. For the first time out on the road I was a little cautious, not forcing the car through the curves or running the RPM up. On one stretch we opened it up to 4000 RPM which is about 90 MPH or so. Very Nice! Later on that day the right fuel pump failed totally and left me with an almost empty left tank. Just made it home with the gas gauge needle bouncing off empty! When I looked at the wiring for the pump I found that the ground connection had come loose.
Right now the car is sitting in the driveway (can't put it in the garage yet!) It looks just great in the late evening twilight with the Cotswold Blue reflecting the pale blue evening skies of the high mountains and the chrome wire wheels seemingly winking at us. . . . We must have gone to the window more times than was politically correct before we finally went out and put the car in the garage.
Maybe tomorrow we'll go and . . . . . ?
For those who are interested the total time I spent on restoration was about 400 to 500 hours and for the most part I enjoyed every minute of it!
Thanks to all the Listers for helping me with our dream.
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Last Updated 30 May 2000
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