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How I built an E-type

How I built an E-Type

by Ulrich Pfeiffer

(click on pictures to enlarge)

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I'm living in a place near Stuttgart in Germany and have been restoring cars as my hobby for a number of years.
One day I decided to build my personal car completely from scratch in a way it will never rust!

                                                                For the exterior the choice was simple:

* It had to be a Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Roadster *

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I found a manufacturer near Munich producing a three dimensional steeled frame for Cobra Replicas. I liked the construction of the frame allowing to use any engine and transmission of choice up to 400 HP according to the German TÜV. I was able to adapt the frame in a way a fibre glass body made exactly from an original E-Type Series 1 Roadster fitted on it.

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                                                                        After 60 hours:
Trying to find the optimal driving position. You see, besides myself, the frame structure and the main part of the fibre glass body roughly adjusted. Front and rear axle have already been revised and are in place.

The chassis is galvanized and all areas which need to be covered like the leg compartment or the driveshaft tunnel are made of aluminum and screwed to the frame. I can't remember how many holes I drilled but now the plates can be removed for better access if necessary. Position for motor and transmissions mounts already fixed. Nearly all holes for later use have been drilled before galvanizing the chassis.

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                                                                             After 250 hours:
Aluminum plates mounted on now galvanized chassis. Pedals, gear shift (initially automatic), instruments and steering column mounted as well as brake hoses, engine, transmission and propshaft.

The axles came from an XJ-6 but had to be shortened to the smaller width of an E-Type. To be on the save side I took the ventilated disk brakes from the XJ-12 model for the front. Similar story for the rear axle. Of course all parts have been totally revised. The rear differential has a 3.07 ratio. I installed new hubs to mount original center bolt 6.5*15" chromed spoke wheels  with 205/65/15 tyres in front and 225/60/15 at the rear axle.

                            When the question to the engine came up the choice for the second time was simple:

* It had to be a Chevy V-8 *

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After having made quite some experiences with used parts and facing the fact that used US parts are fairly hard to get in Germany I decided to go for a brand new Chevy 350 HO (High Output) with the following performance data:

                                                                Capacity:         350 ci = 5,7 ltr

                                                                Output:             345 HP @ 5250 RPM

                                                                Torque:             386 lb/ft = 521 Nm @ 3250 RPM

                                                                Compression:     9,8:1

To have the car registered in Germany you must have catalytic converters and I found a supplier in the US offering a bolt-on fuel injection system helping to achieve that. It is a fully adjustable TBI system providing great performance, driveability and fuel consumption. Inside the car you find the computer with function keys to adjust everything from idle speed, cold  start behavior, acceleration enrichment etc to WOT (wide open throttle) with engine hot. The engine has been placed towards the center of the car to achieve a good weight balance.

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After 500 hours:

After the paint job is half way through. Bonnet, doors and boot lid are still to follow. Complete electrical components and wiring have been attached and are working. Seat mounts, fuel tank, door locks, exhaust system, oil coolers, radiator, three windscreen wipers all installed. All chrome parts, lights, finishers and badges were adapted before painting. The first cooling system in this picture had to be upgraded to a custom made heavy-duty radiator. Also I changed  the position for the air filter to a cooler corner afterwards. Engine cables and tubes are not yet in final place. Some might notice that those days 6*15 wheels had been mounted.

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After 900 hours:

Shows the chassis from underneath with the flat aluminum floor, chromed oil pan, manual transmission, two exhaust pipes, without cats yet.

The final exhaust system starts with performance headers followed by 2.5 inch tubes to the catalytic converters. A crossover connection between the pipes enhances torque at low RPMs. Two very big Walker Dynomax main mufflers reach into the original chromed tail pipes. Needless to say that everything is self made. It has been quite a welding exercise.

Looking at the car today you can't see any difference to the original besides some details in the interior. The complete
dashboard came form a Jag the seats however from a Porsche 914. Of course when opening the bonnet (the V-8 hardly fitted underneath!) or starting the engine the people immediately will recognize the difference.

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After 1000 hours:

The interior finished with carpets, leather, insulating material, rubber sealings, side windows and so on. Below the radio is the injection controlling unit and a security key device.

Driving the car is BIG fun, even more after I have swapped the initial automatic to a 4-speed manual transmission.
The engine has torque and power like hell and the overall weight of the car is around 1050 Kilograms which is about 2315 lb.I have measured 6.0 seconds from zero to 100 Km/h and 5.1 seconds from 80 Km/h to 120 km/h in fourth gear. To 100 km/h it mainly takes so "long" because it has significant wheel spin. When driving on wet roads in third gear at around 70 km/h it's enough to floor the throttle to have the wheels spinning.

My Jag (we at least name it so) is the only one built in that fashion. Originally the chassis manufacturer planned to create a Kit to sell to the market. Unfortunately for him (fortunately for me) he never made it.

In total I spent about 1100 hours on the car. After the registration it has mainly been improvements, detail work and the soft top installation.

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After three years on the road I had to see the TÜV again and the examiner only faulted with the front license plate position. Meanwhile a new exception for F-40s and E-Types was released which allows adhesive plates. Looks much better this way but is still hard to get in my country.

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If anybody is interested in more details please let me know.

Best regards,
greetings from Germany

... Ulli ...

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Word and photos are copyright Ulrich Pfeiffer
Presented by Nick Johannessen


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