AC, SS and XK. Just simple pairs of letters but to us petrol heads they stir up warm feelings towards some of the finest cars ever built on this fair isle. Warm feelings have definitely been needed here this week with the cold weather setting in. The space heater has barely been able to take the edge off of the cold, so many layers and huddling around the warmth of a running XK engine or a burbling V8 have been the order of the day. We also find that tea and biscuits make a huge difference at this time of years so if you’re coming to visit the workshop, please don’t forget the jammy dodgers!
As we head on into the winter the workshop remains as busy as ever. Despite this it does become easier to plan work flow at this time of year. We are hoping to catch up on some restoration as we see fewer ‘emergency’ jobs with people using their cars less at this time of year.
We have quite the eclectic bunch of fine British cars in the workshop at the moment. In this weeks’ update we look at an SS1, an AC 428 Frua and of course some Jaguar XKs and E-Types.
I have to admit I don’t believe I have ever seen an AC 428 Frua before. That’s probably because only 81 were built. This particular car is one of the 29 convertibles manufactured between 1965 and 1973 so it really is a jolly rare car!
The AC 428 Frua was built using an extended AC Cobra chassis giving the car has true sporting credentials underneath. The chassis were shipped from England to Italy for Frua to fit the bodies before being returned to AC for the power train and trim to be fitted. This clearly inefficient method of car production resulted in the 428 being extremely expensive and AC were sadly never able to scale production. To put the prices into context the ACs retail price was £5,573 as compared to £2,225 for a 4.2 E-Type OTS. It’s hard to compete with that!
All that being said the AC is a very impressive car. With Cobra underpinnings and a “big block” Ford FE V8 engine this is a true performance car. Muscling in at over 7 litres and a recorded 345 bhp this is a real beast.
This particular AC is with us to be prepared for Bonhams Bond Street Sale on the 4th of December. If you wish to own an impressively rare, striking and powerful classic car this is your chance!
We have been quietly beavering away in the background with this Series 1.5 E-Type restoration. For those who missed previous instalments of this restoration here’s a quick recap. The owner brough this E-Type some years ago as a running and driving car but with rather tired paintwork. He took it another garage to have it resprayed and at this time the car was stripped to a bare shell. The shell was repainted and then work came to a halt for several years. The owner then brought the car to us to be finished off. The original intention was never to carry out a ‘full restoration’ however as the car had been stripped back to a shell it seemed futile to refit parts covered in decades of rust and dirt in poor condition. Having had time to inspect the car and parts we discussed the best way forward with the owner and agreed to refurbish parts as necessary to keep the budget as low as possible without compromising the finished car. In essence the car is having a partial restoration or a major 60-year service.
We have just fitted the engine and gearbox. This feels like a huge leap forward in any restoration as you have refitted the heart of the car. The front end of an E-Type with the engine fitted is a real work of art. Major progress has been made with the trim and much of the original trim had been saved, refurbished and refitted. Next the wiring will be finished off before we can get the car running and ready for testing.
The bodyshell of this Jaguar XK150 DHC has just come back from being painted in stunning Indigo Blue. In some ways we are still feeling the knock-on effects of the pandemic and the lockdowns. This bodyshell is a prime example of this having been majorly held up and thus holding the whole restoration of the car back. Fortunately, it is now back and on the fast track to being completed. It looks absolutely stunning and, as they say, good things come to those who wait.
The chassis has been fully built up with the engine and gearbox in place for quite some time now so is now ready for the body to be fitted. Whilst we wait for a space on one of the ramps to allow us to fit the body our electrical will start running the wiring in so that no time is wasted. All the parts, from window frames to light fittings, were trial fitted before the car was painted. This means that we shouldn’t have to go cutting and drilling holes in lovely fresh paint. At worst a little fettling will be required where the primer and several coats of paint have made the holes a little too small. Watch this space for more updates on this restoration. If all goes to plan things should move quite swiftly from here onwards.
This lovely SS1 Tourer has been off the road for some years. It is now with us to be recommissioned for the road ahead of being sold. In two tone silver it is absolutely stunning and is in exquisite condition throughout. We are quite honoured to be entrusted with such a special car to care for and it is a delight to delve further back into Jaguar’s history.
SS Cars Ltd was founded by William Walmsley and William Lyons in the 1930s. It had evolved from the Swallow Sidecar Company which was founded in 1922. Walmsley sold his shares in SS Cars Ltd in 1935 and in 1945 Sir William Lyons changed the name of the company to Jaguar Cars Ltd (for what one imagines are fairly obvious reasons after WW2).
The SS1 featured a coach-built body on a Standard chassis and mechanicals. It was noted for its styling and value for money rather than its performance. That being said the SS1 and SS2 certainly paved the way for the SS100 which was William Lyons first real sports car. The rest is history.
With the 100th anniversary of Swallow/SS/Jaguar just around the corner in 2022 we are delighted to announce we will be sponsoring the Jaguar Drivers’ Club event at Brooklands Museum on the 15th of May 2022. We will share more details on this over the coming months.
We are seeing more and more of these wonderful saloons in the workshop. From MK1s through to Sovereigns and 420s there seems to be increased appreciation for these great sporting saloons. Along with this appreciation seems to come a deeper understanding of the exquisite engineering which went into making these cars such a joy to drive. This is particularly apparent in these later saloons with their independent rear suspension setup similar to that of the E-Type.
Such cleverly engineered suspension does come with a downside though. Namely that they do need regular maintenance, particularly on the multitude of rubber bushes and mounts that keep everything in place. As these rubbers begin to degrade and break up the handling of the car gradually becomes sloppier and the ride bouncier and harsher.
A repeated theme we are seeing is that this basic maintenance has been ignored year after year. As long as the car runs nicely and will pass an MOT that’s been good enough. Whether this is because the work is difficult to carry out, due to lack of knowledge or due to cost we do not know. What is for certain is that allowing these jobs to build up creates a single larger bill when all the work has to be done at once.
We have the knowhow, enthusiasm and skills to make your classic saloon drive as intended and with modern polyurethane bushes we can make them even better than when they came out of the factory.
We are always happy to help enthusiasts along with their own restorations. We will often have XKs come in to us to undertake just part of the restoration. This work varies depending on the skill set of the individual restoring the car. Some people bring their cars in for the wiring and electrical systems to be fitted as that’s not their cup of tea. Others will want the bodywork and paint taken care of. Some will want the engine rebuilt. There are some jobs we are asked to do more than others and one of those is fitting windscreens.
Fitting the windscreens to an XK is a very tricky process and but with many years of experience on XKs we are pretty well practiced at getting them in. In the case of this fabulous XK120 the customer supplied the rubber and glass. When we trial fitted these, we found the rubber to be of poor quality (too thick and stiff) and the glass was slightly too large. It is worth noting that being hand built cars, especially after a restoration, no two XKs are quite the same so you cannot guarantee that a ‘standard’ glass will fit. With one of our more supple rubbers and some custom cut glass to fit we were able to get the windscreen in with few issues. Now that the screen is fitting properly it has been sealed and the chromes have been carefully fitted. Next this XK120 is heading onto one of our ramps to be prepared for the road.