We are frequently asked out advice on how best to deal with the increased amount of ethanol in modern fuels with the recent move from E5 to E10 fuel. Indeed, we seem to spend more and more of our time attending to E10 related upgrades or fuel components which have been damaged. We suspect that the latter is likely as much due to cars having been laid up during the pandemic with old fuel going off as it has to do with the change to E10. Although E10 fuel without a doubt presents challenges and can cause damage to components in classic car fuel systems we have been living with ethanol in fuel for many years now with E5 in the UK and higher percentages abroad. With many of our customers touring internationally we have had to deal with potential issues for many years and now have a range of solutions on offer. Alongside upgrades and improvements, it is worth noting that ethanol fuel only really causes issues when it is left for a period of time. As long as you are using and refilling the fuel in your classic you shouldn’t run into any major issues in the short term.
In this weeks’ update we have a look at a few ethanol fuel related issues and upgrades along with a few non XK classics.
It’s not always exclusively Jaguar that find their way into our workshop. From time-to-time other classic cars grace our ramps for anything from servicing to electrical faults. On this occasion our visitor has come over from Italy in the form of this little Fiat 124 Spider. These cars are known for their fantastic and free revving little twin-cam engine. Unfortunately for this car the engine was not too happy. The car came in with overheating problems and rough running.
After some investigation work it was found that water was mixing with the oil indicating that the head gasket had failed or worse still that there may be a crack in the cylinder head. It seems that these Fiats are known for suffering with cylinder head problems. With the cylinder head removed we were able to make a better assessment of the engines overall condition and sadly found a number of other issues. The engine has now been removed and will be rebuilt to its former glory.
Over the past few weeks, we have followed this XK140 drophead coupe restoration. When last we saw the car, the engine and gearbox had just been fitted and the carburettors, starter motor, alternator and other engine parts were being fitted. Since then, all the wiring has been fitted in along with our custom-made wiring for all the upgrades the customer has requested. These include an electric cooling fan, alternator, electric power steering, upgraded wiper system, electric washers, foot well lights, USB charging points, hazard lights, extra indicators and more.
Pictured here is the fuse board area having just been wired up by our electrician. The original fuse board are wired up as Jaguar originally intended and carry no additional load for the upgrades. Above the fuse boards is the original voltage regulator which is no longer required as the car is being fitted with an alternator. The regulator box has been stripped out and converted to a modern hidden fuse board which all the upgrades are wired up to along with a dedicated feed from the alternator. This ensures that the extra electrics receive an adequate power supply without putting extra stress on the standard wiring.
This Jaguar C-Type replica is one of the first all-aluminium cars built by Jim Marlen of Proteus. It was the original catalogue car used in Proteus’ marketing material. It is a beautifully built machine which is a pleasure to behold and super fun to drive.
Having spent most of the past two years off the road due to the pandemic it has been brought out from our storage facility for a thorough check over and to be recommissioned for the road. One task we have been wanting to do for some years is to fit air filters to the car. It has been converted from its original SU carburettors to triple Weber’s. This is a great upgrade for a performance car such as this but when this was done no air filters were fitted. We have now fitted a top-quality set of K and N air filters which should both improve airflow and protect the engine.
We hope to get out and about in this C-Type over the coming months so look out for some posts of this fabulous car out being enjoyed.
The Jaguar XK150 still had its original fuel tank from the factory fitted. This had become excessively corroded and there was an increasing amount of debris being picked up by the fuel filter coming out of the fuel tank. Although original fuel tanks can be refurbished, given the increased percentage of ethanol in modern fuels and the fact that this is likely to further increase, the owner opted for a new aluminium fuel tank. These fuel tanks are manufactured to fit perfectly in the original space and can even be painted so they look totally original.
Although not completely immune to the effects of ethanol fuels, aluminium is a highly conductive metal and so it creates an oxide layer. This oxide layer provides more than adequate protection from lower levels of ethanol in fuel such as the 10% present in E10 fuel.
If your fuel tank looks like it has seen better days, you are constantly having to clear out your fuel filter or you are having running issues caused by blocked fuel lines please do get in touch.
We collected the Jaguar XK150 fixedhead coupe pictured here in our enclosed trailer as it was a non-runner. By all accounts the car has been off the road for some time and the owner wanted it given a thorough check through before being put back on the road. We have given a car a full inspection and reported our findings to the owner. Having discussed our findings with the owner a plan of work has been agreed and we will set to getting the car back on the road.
XKs are complex cars and in many cases a smart looking car can have any number of mechanical issues hiding under the surface. Conversely, we find that some of the more patinaed and aged looking cars out there have been regularly used and maintained so are in surprisingly excellent condition underneath. As such it is important to have a thorough understanding of the condition and history of an XK when buying it. Most shortcomings can either be rectified or simply lived with when it comes to cosmetic issues but it is worth ensuring that the condition of a car is reflected in the price.
This pair of SU carburettors belong to the red XK140 OTS which we shared a photo of a couple of weeks ago. The car has now been stripped down and is having the paint work attended to. Whilst the body is away, we will make as much progress on other parts of the car. The dashboard, switches and gauges have been checked though, cleaned and repaired as required. The wiring has been prepared and the dashboard has been wired ready for when the car returns.
Here you can see another of the mitigations we are able to put in place to keep XKs running well with ethanol fuels. These SUs are being rebuilt with a full rebuild kit including seals and gaskets suitable for E10 fuel. This will eliminate the risk of old cork gaskets swelling up and causing dangerous leaks.
We see many XKs on the road whose carburettors have not been rebuild for many years. Indeed, there are quite a number out there which would really benefit from a rebuild as the spindles wear over the years and allow air to be sucked in around them. Although you can tune the carburettors around these issues it is far from ideal. In short, it can transform a car to have a fresh carburettor rebuild.
This Gordon-Keeble is an annual visitor to our workshop and has to be one of the rare cars we look after as one of just 100 cars to have been produced. Gordon-Keeble was founded by John Gordon, formerly of Peerless, and Jim Keeble in 1959. The car is based on a square-tube steel spaceframe chassis with independent front suspension, all-round disc brakes and a Chevrolet V8 engine. The prototype body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and built by Bertone in Italy however when the car went into production the body was changed from steel to glass fibre and produced in the UK. Only 100 cars were produced between 1964 and 1967 in which time production was moved from Slough, to Eastleigh and then finally Southampton.
The marque is notable as having a tortoise on its badge. This is reputed to be because during a photo-shoot for the cars a pet tortoise walked into the shot. It was felt that the irony of a slow tortoise made it an appropriate bonnet emblem.
The Jaguar XK150 fixedhead pictured here is the same car as the one which received an aluminium fuel tank in our earlier post. Whilst the car was with us the owner had also requested that we fit our windscreen wiper upgrade. We undertook a full rewire on this car a few years ago and although the wipers worked fine the owner wanted to improve the system over and above the fundamental limitations of the original XK wiper system. This is proving a very popular upgrade this year. Perhaps this is a result of more XKs being used in the UK rather than touring abroad?
The upgrade consists of a new and more powerful motor along with a full new linkage, wheel boxes and wiper arms and blades. It increases the sweep by doing away with the old park mechanism which takes up a significant proportion of the wiper sweep on an original motor. We are able to make our system work with the original switch which we believe is unique to us. This system is only fitted in house by our engineers so please get in touch to book your XK in.