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JEC Glasgow Region 1966 Jaguar S Type

A story of an S Type - by Alastair Reynolds

I once was an electronics design engineer, and one day somebody promoted me to managing R&D projects. As one of the benefits of junior management my employers gave me a company car (SAAB 9000). I have always run cars on the cheap by doing my own maintenance and repairs. I found that having a new modern efficient company car with no worries at all caused something to be missing in my life. I really enjoyed those hours lying under the family transport in the freezing Scottish winter. I was going to London on business one week in 1993 and I decided to look at the classic Jag market. I have always admired the 60's Mk2 and of course the 50's XK's. I decided to hire a car for the weekend prior to the weeks business, to look at some Jags. I cannot afford an XK and as it turned out the Mikes were all rot boxes at a price I could afford. I decided to look at S Types to compare value for money. My budget was the value of the car I sold to take up the company car offer (8000 pounds).

Overpriced 1966 S Type

After a number of abortive visits to some overpriced MkII's I came across what looked like original condition Jaguar S Type with only 25,000 miles on the clock. It was owned by this chap with a private collection. He had fallen on hard times and as a result was selling part of his collection.

The car was overpriced at the 8000 pounds in strict value terms but the history and the documentation was quite unique. It was my feeling then and still is today that S Types are a superior car to the MKII in mechanical terms because of the better rear suspension.

The following table is a list of that history, so you can share my impressions.

Documented history for Jaguar VTE 617D
Date Name Address Recorded
28/02/66 Jaguar Cars Ltd, Browns Lane,
24/03/66 Parkers Garage Preston,
18/04/66 Mr & Mrs R L Prince, Preston, Lancs 890 890
No Date Mrs Prince Letter of authenticity 00890
Mid 1975 Dr G Donovan Family friend of above 00890
01/06/75 MOT Liverpool 00902
14/05/76 Milage at time of sale
01493 603
14/05/76 Mr A C Wakeling, Aldershot 01493
18/05/76 MOT
25/05/76 Radio Fitted

13/05/77 MOT
05/12/77 Letter of authenticity
& Milage at time of sale

01813 320
05/12/77 Mr R Karmali Datchet,Slough 01813
25/02/80 MOT
15/03/80 Milage at time of sale
15/03/83 Hurst Park Garage,
Mr D E Morrison
Kingston Road, Staines,
17/05/83 Letter of authenticity,
Milage at time of sale

12391 10578
17/05/83 Mr B McGrath Portsmouth 12391
29/05/84 MOT
20/06/85 MOT
16783 4392
21/08/85 J B Ringnala Heathfield E Sussex 16783
01/07/86 MOT

Assumed milage at time of sale approx 18338 1555

Documented history for Jaguar continued....VTE 617D
Date Name Address Recorded
26/03/87 Breakspear Car Sales,
Mr B P Hicks
Ruslip 18338
01/07/86 David Byrne Ickenham 18338
03/07/87 MOT
30/10/87 MOT
25/09/89 MOT
20/09/90 MOT
??/05/91 Invoice
03/03/92 MOT
03/02/93 MOT
24452 6114
19/02/93 Sold to present owner, Milage at time of sale 24452

The S Type IRS being reinstalled

Before cleaning the engine bay


The History

You can see from the fully documented history that the original owner did only 890 miles in the first 10 Years. Part of the documentation (a letter from the wife of the owner) hat came with the car described how the first ten years used up so few miles. The original chap who owned the car became ill (blind to be precise), but he had always wanted to own a Jag, so much so that he could not dare to part with the car. His wife eventually gave the car to the family doctor to sell for them/her.

The next few years saw a fairly large mileage all of 10000 miles in 14 years. Some of the recent owners are alive and residing at the last known address however they refuse to respond to any communications for further information. Several of the original owners have either died or have moved out of the last known electoral register area.

Taking the purchase home

The history of the car is quite unique and a car well worth the effort of preserving. The condition (bodywork wise) when purchased by me was good, excellent for it's age, no structural iron worm. There were two areas where some welding was necessary below the bumper and immediately in front of one of the rear wheels. The body work otherwise was excellent with a major re-spray only recently been done, pity the welding had not been done first. I opted not to completely re-spray (again) the car so some remedial work was undertaken by Thorn's Garage the same chap who did the welding. Considering the task I set him he made an excellent job. His view of the car was the same as mine in that it is a very good example of the type.

The mechanical condition of the car was similar to the bodywork, very good but needing some attention. The main problems were brakes and anything on the suspension made of rubber. The steering was awful (20 deg slack) and there were lots of clunks on the corners. The engine ran rough as a badgers a__e.

The engine problems were two fold, 1) the carburettors were unbalanced and flooding. and 2) the ignition timing was out by a mile. The compression and oil pressure were perfect (as I would of expected from a nearly new engine). I decided to rebuild the carburettors because some ham fisted mechanic (I have a copy of the bill) cracked one of the bodies. After replacement some tuning and a seized distributor fixed the engine was running like a dream. This I thought was what the classic experience is all about!!! wow, first success. This spurred me on to greater things.

I decided to tackle the rear suspension next, I am not poor but nothing could have prepared me for the bills I paid and the willingness with which I parted with the cash, I cannot believe it, yes I did shop around. My wife is very tolerant by now, she also thinks I am mad.

I found Classic Spares of London UK to be one of the best suppliers, being very helpful and giving one of the best set of prices. I completely refurbished the brakes installing stainless steel pistons and re-plated the calliper bodies. I completely stripped the IRS and sand blasted, etch primed and chassis painted all the steel parts. Two of the drive shaft hardy spicers had to be replaced the other two at the wheel ends appeared to be OK requiring only lubrication. The two that I did replace were seized due to lack of lubrication and heat damage. I replaced all the suspension bushes with Kugal nylon parts (for street racing machines in California). I had the limited slip diff rebuilt as the output bearings were suspect, possibly being overheated like the hardy's. The callipers (one half) seized overheated the discs and as I suspect caused some damage to the hardy's and diff. As you can see the bills were mounting up. All the rubber parts had to be replaced of course (perished) and the hand brake cable (rusted) and the brake pipes (while I was there). While I was waiting on some of the contracted out jobs being done (Like the diff rebuild), I decided to have a look at the petrol tanks which are mounted in the rear wings. After sand blasting, they had micro holes next to where the fabric covered straps hold them up. I managed to swap some of my chassis paint for a welding job on the tanks, not before scrupulously cleaning them first with hot dishwasher detergent and water. The whole lot was reassembled after 3 months work (1500 pounds spent so far) and a test drive to look forward to. The test drive only confirmed the perception that the front suspension was naff, so guess what I spent the next 3 months rebuilding it too, even although I intended to leave it for another year and another years salary. New bearings, stub axles, brake pistons, steering box rebuild, sand blasting and 3 coats of paint followed. By the way, the coil springs front and rear were and still are original, why replace if giving the correct height, testament to the low mileage. Another test drive followed, a much better experience altogether. All the clunks and bangs had disappeared. I do wish I could have used nylon bushing in the front just like the rear........ .......Kugal could not quote me for some reason, they could not recognise the model type, they kept asking me if it was a sedan I said it was like a MKII with a different rear, my explanation did not help, can You? The next job was to make the engine bay match the now excellent condition of the rest of the project. I am as a rule not over fussy about engine bays especially as this is never going to be a concourse example of an S Type (not with my budget). I re-polished the cam covers, replaced the battery for the correct type (black rubber) and cleaned the engine bay. It still looked a bit poorly so I had the manifolds blasted and painted with black high temp paint. I have since been to a few classic shows and a number of better educated Jag lovers have complemented me on my work, most non S Type believers do not even recognise the model. I have had the bumpers re-chromed this winter to complete the cosmetics of the outside. The interior needs some work (woodwork and carpets) but not before the gearbox oil leak is attended to. My ambition is to go touring in Scotland and France with the car I have spent so many rewarding hours working on.
The gearbox oil leak has now been fixed and a new set of carpets installed. I have realised my ambition to tour the car in Scotland to Alness near Inverness ant to Torridon in Wester Ross. The trip to France, well maybe this year.

Alastair can be contacted at

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