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Nigel Fisher, 1965 3.8 S-Type

Nigel's S Type Jaguar Restoration DLA 555C

Early days!
Since 1981 I have served with the Royal Signals as an Electronics Technician whilst stationed in Blandford Dorset. I decided I needed a challenge in my Life this came in the form of a complete rebuild of a 1965 3.8 S-type Jaguar. I cannot think of a greater challenge for a beginner, It was to be my first attempt at any rebuild of any automobile modern or otherwise. I have always liked D I Y type hobbies but this was to be like climbing Everest by comparison. You see in a lot of the magazines about abandoned projects, and I can now see why, If you could weld, spray & rebuild engines then you are possibly ok ! but if you have to rely on other people to do work of a high standard at a fair price then the problems that are likely to unbalance the success of the project start to arise. The impression that chitty chitty bang bang only took a week to build is strangely the view of a lot of people. 
The reason that I picked a 1960,s Jaguar is probably the fact that my father owned a MKII for thirteen years, a lot of people have asked why did I not pick a smaller car ! well the only reason that I can think of is that if it had been a smaller car I would not of had the same enthusiasm as I did with the Jaguar, and with all the hang ups which you face along the road of completion the car would most probably have not been finished. 

In 1990, I started looking around for a restoration project. Initially I fancied a MKII. After looking at the prices of a MKII I decided on settling for a S-TYPE which had all the qualities of the MKII but at half the price...... 


Rusty metal gone!
..... Having now got the experience and with hind sight I would have looked at a lot more cars than I did but at the time you just did not see decent examples without a silly price tag. 
A friend of mine ( I use the word friend liberally) told me of a 3.8 S-TYPE which had just lost the use of the barn securing it, When I went to see the car it was outside in the field I gave the car a good look but really I did not know what I was looking for in terms of potential problems. I just knew I wanted a Jaguar, I think this was printed like a neon light above my forehead. The car looked bad but had not been messed around like you see a lot of cars. 

The only thing that I really new what I was looking at was the interior, I thought could do a lot with that but the outside on reflection was terrible the "friend" that showed me around her said that it was ok! He was a body specialist and I believed him, I expect that I am not the first person that this has happened to, or the last. 

I did not buy it straight away, I went home and discussed it with my wife Nicola. She knew I wanted the car so I haggled the price with the owner and bought it. For about two weeks after I started stripping the car down and cleaned the underneath. It would be only time before I would need a professional to help rebuild her. This came with a bit of luck from a civilian worker on camp called Robert who used to service the military vehicles. In his spare time Robert used to do welding. So I asked him to take a look at my car with the view of completing all the welding which needed doing on it.
Iwill never forget the day when Rob came up and had a look at the car, I had realised by then what the major problem areas were, but to see Rob pulling large sheets of old petrol cans away from the underneath was just too much..... 

Dragging her out of bed - see dear - it does

Phew she believes me!

First day out(1) 
.....It was as if I would have to flip a coin to see if the car would be scrapped or rebuilt! I do not know who won that day, but five years later I am left with a very nice example of a rather diminishing car.
My Father always said that it was great to work with clever people, and if I was to get the chance I should learn as much as I could from them. Well I think that I got my Money's worth from Rob for I learnt so much. There was so many times were I wanted to cut comers to speed things up but Rob would not let me. He kept me on the rails and showed me how to do so much. 

It was at least six months before he trusted me with any major jobs. I started with small panels above the jacking points, parts which you will never see again because of the wheel arch around them. But still he made me do all the indentations, he was quite a perfectionist. The hardest thing to do for me was the wheel arches where if you made a mistake cutting them out you did not get a second chance. I was really surprised by the distortion caused by trying to do a continuous weld, this was reduced by using a special putty which Robert got for dissipating the heat. 

I used to take the metal which came from things such as the axles to get them shot blasted and stove enameled in a little factory in Blandford on the whole they were very good, although a few parts failed to return, or came back in the wrong colour. At one such point I got confirmation that I was to lose the use of the chicken coupe where I kept my car. I had to then really quickly rebuild the axles so that the car could be moved, this caused problems for the new paint was resting on the rusty underneath, but it had to be done.


First day out(2)

First day out(3) 

I managed to get a barn only a few miles down the road. Some time later I was to hear that this too was going to be converted back to a chicken coupe. Fortunately I had moved the car to the spray shop. Well, as with all Service personnel the big day came where I received my posting order to Germany for three and a half years. I had groveled to stay in Blandford for the last time, no more I was told! Well you have to try don't you! What do you do with all the parts new and old for a whole car. Well, the answer was to spread them around people's lofts like the Great Escape. There were bits everywhere carpet sets, door trims, windscreens, door frames etc. 

I had only been in Germany for about three months when I was warned about being posted to a NATO Satellite Station in Scotland with a three month course in Italy thrown in between. Not bad you are thinking, well by road it is probably easier to travel to Germany. 

All this time I had been keeping in touch with the spray shop on how the job was going, I think out of sight out of mind is the expression that I am thinking of. There is nothing worse than speaking to a guy on the phone when he is telling you lies about what he has really done. I even used to say that I was coming down to visit just to motivate him into doing something, but you can only do that so many times. At one time I even thought that he was going into receivership which really put the wind up me. 

After a very long time the car was eventually finished, I could not believe it nearly two years of continuous persistence, I used to make jokes to Rob that at least the coats of primer had dried, they had eight months in between each coat! ..... 

Those bloody carbs!!

Blinding shine of that engine
hope it dull's down a 
bit before I have to tell the wife 
how much it cost!

.....The next big thing was how could I get the car from Dorset to Scotland. Well I knew of a transporter who made regular visits to Scotland, this seemed the most economical way of doing it. 

On one hand I had the trasporter driver telling me that it was not ready for collection and the other hand I had the spray shop telling me that the transporter had not tuned up. Who do you believe! I just tripped, I had to go and sort it out, I was too far away to get to the bottom of it in Scotland. So we left on the Friday to go to Blandford, stopping off in Wales on the way down so that we could make the journey worth while and visit our folks as well. On the way across the Seven Bridge I rang a friend in Blandford to keep him in touch of what was going on, well, perhaps you can guess the rest "Just received phone call from Scotland your car is outside camp gates" You have to have a sense of humour in these situations or they would just get to you. 

Last Updated 10 November 2000
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