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Dave Symington's 1966 S TYPE RESTORATION
Dave Symington's 1966 S-Type Restoration

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!

Dave Symington

What other drivers will see!

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.

Front View, Cotswold blue 2 part + clear coats


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. .

View of full dash

speedo and tachometer

. I'm going to ask in the shop who owns it and if it might be for sale. . .
. Don't show too much interest though, because that'll push the price up. .
. Be cool and calm and not to anxious. . .
. Got to quit talking to myself too. .
. People will hear and think I'm nuts!"
A day or two later I drove my wife Diane past the place where the car was.

Yup, it was still there OK. I got favourable sounds. . . .
"Oh! What a lovely colour! It really looks terrific! What year is it?
What model is it? Is it a standard, or automatic?"

She was hooked too! I'm sure I had a stupid pasted on smile from ear to ear for at least the next hour!
Onward to the next step. . . find out about it's owner and get a set of keys and have a look under the hood.

front 3/4

Rear view, what most other drivers will see. . . quickly vanishing

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:


Observations, November 22, 1999. 4pm, -2 degrees, windy, 5 inches snow on car

Cotswold Blue with navy blue leather interior
Chrome Wire spoke wheels
Alberta Licence Plate:
Odometer reads: 95370 miles

Numbers Plate
Car: P1B79308DN
Engine: 7861529-9 Blue cylinder head?
Body: 4861462
Gearbox: JBN7453

front and rear brake disks are very rusty but may clean up.
No major oil leaks (Laugh here please!)
dented subframe underneath the engine.
Dented track arm for rear end subframe.

All glass looks original with no broken or cracked windows anywhere.
Chrome glass trim on door glass is in good condition for the year.
Right rear quarterlight mechanism is not original.
Chrome trim on rear windshield is loose
Chrome trim from front windshield is missing and believed in trunk.

Doors open and close well.
Strikers and hinges appear to be in good shape.
No loose hinges.
Inside and outside door handles operate
Door key works
Door locks work
Window handles not tried as windows were iced up badly
Rubber door seals disintegrated and leaking
Map pocket left side is wet from leaks at window and door.

All gauges appear to be original .. Working?
All switches appear original . . .working?
Blaupunkt Radio is original.. working?
Headliner dirty and water stained especially in right rear where it is loose.
Sun visors are not functional
Passenger vanity mirror mercury backing is black
Floor carpets soiled and water damaged (wet when inspected)
Seats have totally deteriorated. Need leather and foam.
No fold down trays on back of front seats . . On MkII's only??? Cant remember!
Door panels covering loose in places with water damage. Replacement is option.

Wood trim:
All present with no major cracks. Varnish is peeling or has peeled on all wood surfaces. Some bad scratches and gouges.
Dash and instrument pieces seem in fair shape
Front left and right door panels and door posts in poor condition with peeled varnish. Some deep gouges and scratches
Rear left and right door pieces have peeled completely and have water damage.

Under Hood:
Visual appearance is good for year and condition.
Inner fenders, firewall, not rusted out.
All components look original for year. No damage or misuse apparent.
Insulation on underside of hood missing
Hood latch operates but stiff
Air cleaner is standard for model
Carburetors look standard for model
Radiator looks in good shape with no visible leaks . . . antifreeze level?
Oil leaks not excessive for model
Belts and hoses hard . . replace.
Generator is oil soaked may not function.
Cylinder head repainted recently?

Generally body looks straight with no initial indication of major accidents.
Left rear fender was replaced at one time
Both front fenders have body filler in them
both fuel tanks dented indicating body impact at some time or tanks replaced.
Minor rust at bottoms of doors.
L.R. door jamb rusted completely through above rocker, opposite hinge area
Rockers are not rusted through in too many places
Did not inspect floors . . . but due to wet carpets???
LF and RF rear of fenders rusted through at bottom of door post.
RR fender damaged and rusted through underneath bumper
LF fender damage where signal light was hit and broken.
Rust through at rear of LR door near rear windshield
Dented and rust LR fender front of gas filler door.
Front bumper bent L and R.
RHS bumper over-rider bent and scraped
Grill center strut broken and bent.
Doors, hood and trunk fit and operate reasonably well
Insulation under trunk lid missing and damaged,
Front X member under radiator badly rusted

Car generally in unkempt condition. Currently stored outside with no cover
Not operating. No battery
No clutch pedal action???
No brake pedal action????
Gas tanks smell terrible
Paint faded and chalky and not original.
Wheels are rusty and probably will not clean up (replace?)
Knock-off hubs have significant hammer damage (replace?)
Tools and wheel hammer missing??
No driving lights just horn grills
Two Michelin spare tires in trunk in real good shape

I believe that car would rate:
#4 Fair to #5 Poor
#4 "Runs and drives OK but needs work throughout vehicle. Body shows signs of wear or previous restoration work. Any rust should be minimal and not in any structural area. Cosmetics, body and mechanics all need work to some degree."

#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
#4 $3700 US $5450 Can

Average is $3570 Can
Owner was asking $6000 Canadian. . . . Deal Time!

radio installation

Pedals and front carpets

The history of the car as I was told it was interesting.
Initially purchased June 7, 1967 by F. Leonard, Longmont Colorado. Colorado
State senator, I was told.
Sold by Kumpf Motors in Denver for US$4628
Sold March 3 1979 to Bill Fitzgerald, Denver. VP Philips Petroleum
Transferred to nephew J. Pippard on Fitzgerald Estate sale, 22 Sep 1988 and was brought to Canada at this time.
Vehicle put in inside storage November 1989 where it slept z z z z z.

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 December.
The doors were opened and the car unthawed and dried out over the next few weeks.
I then started to figure out what it would take to get it running again.

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.
The list contained items like a folding utility trailer, deep freeze, two lawn mowers, snow blower, spare stove from our old house. Two filing cabinets, three bicycles, boxes of books, motorcycle, outboard motor, toboggan, skis, lumber, ladders and spare bits and pieces for other household projects, at least twenty cans of paint with various amounts of paint inside, an empty crate turned on its side and used for storing firewood, etc, etc. . . . Some of this fine stuff ended up at the second hand store but an amazing quantity of it managed to be dragged through the deepening winter snows, round the back of the house and underneath the deck on the rear of our house. Eventually it was possible for the Jeep to be parked alongside the Jaguar. You had to be careful opening doors, but it could be done. When I worked on the Jaguar, the Jeep was shuttled outside and that allowed some extra space to pull things apart and spread stuff on the floor.

Parts suppliers and pricing:
I had lots of problems here. The Jaguar dealers I contacted were in the most part not really interested in supplying parts for such an old car. What prices they did quote were very high. After market suppliers in Canada and shops advertising themselves as specializing in "sports and Jaguar" cars were also not too helpful. In almost every case, they could maybe supply the parts I was looking for, but it would take some time, or what parts they did supply were incorrect. This was especially true of the brake parts I needed. There were some suppliers in the U.S. that could supply parts. Care was needed here as some after market parts are of poor quality and did not fit well. Pricing was also fairly high. I had the most success obtaining parts from the U.K. The parts I received were either original Jaguar parts or other good quality reproductions. The price was good and the delivery took about the same time as parts from the U.S. I also had some luck in getting parts from Australia. In some cases the price I paid for Jaguar original parts was only one third what I was quoted in Canada and the U.S. for the same part!

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
The pedal box was removed and the partially seized shaft cleaned up. The Clutch pedal return spring was broken. Both master cylinders were in bad shape but managed to respond to a cylinder hone. New seal kits installed.

Brake servo was overhauled. Had to make a wrench to remove the back cover.
Vacuum tanks were cleaned, coated and painted and new valves installed.
Hoses and clamps replaced where required.

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:
The complete assembly was removed and calipers and disks removed. The differential was inspected and checked for backlash. No cuttings in the oil! The splines on the left wheel hub were worn badly so that hub was replaced. Had to order a spacer shim here and once I paid for it and the shipping it worked out to be a $30 spacer. Next time I'll make one at a machine shop! New wheel bearings and seals were installed. Pivot bearings and shaft were OK and cleaned up. Shocks seemed fair so I left them in till next time. The whole unit was painted then the calipers were reinstalled and the assembly reinstalled in the car.

Transmission and driveshaft:
I found that the transmission was not original. The number plate called for a fully synchromesh transmission and the older Moss box with first speed non-synchromesh was what was installed. The rear mount was for the later transmission and the driveshaft was longer than it should have been so I suspect that a previous owner replaced the transmission for some reason. Maybe it was damaged at the same time that the car was run off the road and a Moss box installed. The fibreglass cowl over the transmission was cracked and broken where it looked like the transmission had been pushed upwards. This also supports the crash theory.

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!

Fuel system:
Both fuel tanks had a terrible smell from the old gas which was drained out in short order. The old gas was very dirty and rusty too. The fuel tanks were removed and steamed out then coated with a tank sealer once dry. I had some trouble cleaning out the coating from the breather lines afterwards. I had tried to plug them before coating the tank but the stuff still got inside. Each tank took about a quart of coating material. (I guess that reduces the tank's capacity somewhat?) The filters in the bottom of the tanks were in good shape although very dirty. No holes in the tanks but both of them were quite badly dented, especially the left one where there had been a fender replaced. The tanks were painted and new rubber strapping glued to the tank straps before mounting. One fuel level sending unit was replaced and new seals installed. The sending units were tested before filling the tanks with gas.

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.

The previous owner had stated that the engine had been "overhauled" by the previous owner to him, some 10,000 mile earlier. There was a new looking oil pan on the engine.

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 starter.

Under the hood

Oil in here please!

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.

The complete heater assembly was removed and the core flushed out. Seized flaps were loosened up and lubricated. The fan motor was disassembled, cleaned and lubricated. The Windshield cowl vent was removed and the gasket replaced. The rubber mount between the heater and the body of the car was replaced. The wiring was checked. The cable control was loosened up and repaired. The vacuum heater valve was missing when I got the car so I installed a similar one from GM. All the hoses were replaced. The steel lines were cleaned out and repainted.

I reversed the polarity of the system to Negative ground. To do this I changed the position of the wiring at the ammeter and at the battery of course. The windshield washer pump needed the wires properly connected. The radio is a Blaupunkt radio that has a switch on it that allows a polarity change . . . . Nice! The ignition coil primary wires were changed over so that the Neg terminal was connected to the distributor. The generator is what is called a "B" type generator. An easy way to remember how it works is that the field gets it's power from the "B" - battery. The field winding is then connected to the grounded brush in the generator. An "A" type generator gets it's field power from the "A" - armature terminal of the generator and is consequently grounded at the voltage regulator. Anyhow the generator had to be polarized to the new polarity by flashing the field. This polarizing is done by connecting a jumper wire from the battery positive to the field terminal of the generator before starting the engine, and holding it there for a second or two. What this does is cause the field pole shoes to retain a little residual magnetism of the correct polarity so that when you start the engine and run the generator, the polarity of the generator output is correct. In this case Positive output. The wiring at the regulator does not need to be changed. The fuel pumps were of the type that could be used with either polarity and all the other devices can work either way. I installed an electric antennae which is the reason I was prompted to change the polarity otherwise it would have stayed as original. The electric clock didn't work when I got the car and I could not get it working.

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:
All the gauges were removed and the glass fronts taken off and cleaned. Most were quite dirty and the cleaning really helped even if it was time consuming. The dash switches had contact cleaner sprayed into them and all eventually returned to a working condition. I replaced some switch toggles that were missing.

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:
Big job here. . .for me, that was!



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 almost completely shot with the front seats badly torn and with bits of leather missing. The rear seats were not much better. I opted for a complete re-upholster and checked out the prices of kits to do this. Quite expensive as I found out (my Scottish blood boiling somewhat here!) So I looked for alternatives. I ended up having a local upholstery shop do the work. 

Drivers seat

Rear seat

Passengers seat

Rear seat

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.

Trunk with standard black carpet (original I beleive)

Headliner and Other Trim:
All the other trim in the car was replaced. . . that's right. . . All. The headliner, all the other wool trim on each side of the car next to the headliner, the sun visors were repaired and recovered, the Furflex replaced, the carpets and underlay, the weatherstriping around the doors and the carpet covered parcel shelf in front, and the rear parcel shelf.

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.

Inside, showing headliner installation

I put together a writeup on changing the headliner

Wheels and Hubs:
The car had 5 wire wheels that looked poor. Rusty and broken spokes, bent rims and a ten year old layer of grease and dirt. The Knockoffs were badly beat up and one had a bad wobble. I originally thought that I may be able to salvage some of this and on further inspection found that three of the internal splines in the hubs of the wheels were quite serviceable. I would need spokes and lots of time at the very least. More time than I wished to spend on them, so . . . I ended up purchasing new Dayton stainless wheels and new knock offs. I had to replace the splined hub on the right front of the car and on the left rear. Both splines were badly worn and would have ripped a new wheel to pieces in short order. Both these hubs were replaced with new Jaguar original hubs from the UK for a very reasonable price. New wheel bearings were put in the front. I believe they are the same as GM wheel bearings and were purchased locally from a bearing supply house for about $30.

Dayton 72 spoke 15 x 5 with michelin XVS 185HR15

From the survey I did before I bought the car you can see that the car's body was basically in fair shape with minor non-structural rusting. However I do not own a welder and while I have done some body work before, I am not enamored with it. The professionals can do a good job here for a fair price and can usually do it faster and better than you can too. Also as the body is the biggest visible item of the car I elected to have it done professionally. My only concession was that I took off as much of the chrome and other things such as lights etc. The windshields were taken out too.


rear 3/4

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

I went to a local muffler shop as I hate doing mufflers and pipes myself. The existing exhaust down pipes from the manifolds were in not too bad shape. When squeezed with channel-lock pliers they did not crumble so I figured they would last till the next time. The mufflers were replaced with "will-fit" types that were about the same length as original. I was told that they were replacements for those used on MGB cars. Custom pipes were bent for the tail pipes from 1.75" stock. No rear mufflers were installed. With clamps and some new hangers the job came in under $300. It runs a little too noisy for my liking but still, it's a nice throaty rumble. Later I'm going to put additional mufflers in the tail pipes and stainless exhaust extensions to finish off with.

Windows and chrome strips:
Putting the front and rear windows in was quite easy. I had new rubber seals so everything was nice and supple. The glass was original and had never been changed. The back window was one piece tempered glass and the front was two thicknesses. The plastic in between was a little cloudy in some places near the edge but I'm sure it will be just fine. In a couple of places the rear glass was noticeably scratched from what looked like people wiping the glass clear of condensation with a hand adorned with a diamond ring. Bah Humbug!

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:
There was a somewhat decrepit looking plastic mirror mounted on the drivers door when I got the car. It was removed and resides in mirror heaven. I purchased a set of 4" round mirrors with flat glass rather than the convex ones. My rationale is that I can always stick on a convex mirror over the flat one if I feel I need to. With the aid of a suitable ( and patient) helper we finally agreed that exactly over the centerline of the front wheels was a good position. The final mounting position was about mid way from the opening of the hood and the edge of the fender (bonnet and wing for those of the other persuasion) This almost allows you to walk by the side of the car and not bump the mirrors out of position while still affording a good view down each side.

Road Test!

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.

Dave Symington
Fernie BC Canada
May 27th 2000

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Last Updated 30 May 2000


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