From SS to Jaguar – Workshop update

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 but this promises to be an unrivalled celebration of 100 years of these fantastic cars. A highlight of the show will be a timeline of all Swallow, SS and Jaguar vehicles built. The JDC are actively looking for owners of suitable cars, particularly pre-war cars, to take part so please do get in touch if you would like to get involved. We will be bringing some rather special cars to display including a fabulous XK120 which we restored a few years ago.
It has been a couple of weeks since our last update and a lot has happened since then. Indeed, there is much more we would like to share than we can possibly fit into these posts but here are some highlights for you to enjoy. In this weeks’ update we have a look at an XK120 and an XK140 restoration, talk SS head gaskets and get into the finer points of grommets.


SS and Jaguar

Jaguar XK140 DHC body and chassis

We are charging forward with the restoration of this XK140 DHC. The chassis was prepared some time ago and had been built up with suspension, fuel and brake lines and fuel tank etc. We would like to have the engine fitted by this point of a restoration but for various reasons including pandemic related delays this has not been possible. No matter though, we are well practiced at very carefully fitting engines into XKs. 
Whilst the chassis was built up the body shell was repaired and prepped. All parts including the hood frame and windows were trial fitted to ensure they fit properly and to avoid and unnecessary alterations after paint. That just left the question of what colour scheme the customer wanted. A tricky question indeed when you have to opportunity to paint a car almost any colour you wish.
In this case the decision was perhaps made easier by this being an original right-hand drive car and the original colour scheme being the much sought-after maroon with biscuit interior.
Next stop for this XK140 is one of our ramps where the body will be fitted onto the chassis. We will be sharing a video of this later in the week so keep your eyes peeled.


Jaguar XK140 restoration

Octane Magazine XK140

This month’s Octane Magazine has a wonderful feature by our long-time friend Robert Coucher on his Jaguar XK140 fixedhead. Robert is the international editor of Octane Magazine, was the founding editor of Octane and is a lifelong classic car enthusiast. He uses his Jaguar XK140 as his regular transport in London; so, having a properly sorted and reliable car is essential. We have carried out a lot of upgrades to his XK over the years including fitting an alternator, cooling fan, 123 electronic ignition and much more.
On his most recent trip to us we fitted a full new set of shock absorbers to all four corners of the car. A big shout out to Jonny and Martin in the workshop who got this job done in record time whist Robert waited. To find out why Robert wanted new shocks and how he is getting on with the new ones do go out and pick up a copy of this wonderful magazine.

Octane magazine XK140

Jaguar E-Type partial restoration

There has been much interest in how we have been getting on with the partial restoration of this Series 1.5 E-Type. For those not in the know it arrived with us a bare tub which had been resprayed and a pile of rusty, oily and generally mixed-up parts. The owner had never intended a restoration but after several years of little progress, he had brough it to us to get his car back on the road. The brief here has been to build a smart and reliable car without doing any more than was essential. Of course, we are not willing to compromise the quality of our work so where we have felt further work was required, we have discussed this with the owner.
We are really rather proud of how this car has come together on a budget. It really is greater than the sum of its parts and although not perfect will be a very usable and smart classic. Pictured here it is being loaded onto our covered trailer to be taken for the hood to be trimmed. We will share more from this car as we progress further.


Jaguar E-Type covered transport

A very muddy side light

Sometimes our electrician Harry comes in for a bit light hearted ribbing for his borderline obsession with grommets. It is common for electrical check sheet to make mention of poorly routed wiring or missing grommets. How much can these little bits of rubber matter in the grand scheme of things I hear you ask? Well, quite a lot as it turns out.
Pictured here is the front side light pulled out of an XK. It was rather dim and the glass looked almost black. One would usually ascribe a dim side light to a bad earth but in this case, it turned out simply to be caked in road dirt. This was because no grommet had been fitted where the wiring entered the side light pod. This had allowed dirt and water in causing the side light to be obscured but also to sit in the sidelight which over time will cause rust and paint damage to the body.
Grommets are an important part of a car build. They stop wiring rubbing on sharp edges where they pass through bulkheads etc. They stop water getting into bodywork and causing rust or allowing the interior to get wet. They keep fumes from the engine bay from getting into the cabin. So yes, these tiny bits of rubber can make a huge difference to a classic car!


Jaguar XK150 side light

Jaguar XK150 OTS refresh

This lovely XK150 OTS has been in the possession of its current family for many years. It has been used and enjoyed as cars should be but as a result was looking a little tired and was nursing a number of mechanical faults which had accumulated over the course of the years. All this added together to make the car less usable, reliable and enjoyable.
The owner brought it to us for a freshen up. Bodily the car has had a few minor bits of paint work done and then the whole car was mopped and polished to bring back its former sheen. Red paint seems particularly prone to becoming dull but once polished up this XK150 looks fantastic again. The hood was in a rather sorry state so this was retrimmed.
Our technicians check though every mechanical and electrical system before reporting our findings to the customer. We then agreed on a course of work, reflecting his priorities, to bring the car back to being a usable, reliable and enjoyable classic. We love seeing cars like this which are built to be used.


Jaguar XK150 OTS

Jaguar XK120 OTS restoration

Our first new restoration of 2022 has arrived. This is a left-hand drive XK120 OTS (roadster) which has come over from continental Europe. The owner had begun the restoration himself with the help of various specialist but has now entrusted the project to us to complete. We have become very well practiced at creating beautiful cars from unfinished projects but it does always offer an extra challenge over and above being able to strip down a car ourselves. One of the major issues is cataloguing, sorting and stripping cars as they come off the car. We are able to get well ahead on a restoration project by planning the journey of each part of the car at an early stage. For example, we can get the suspension sorted, repaired and powder coated as soon as it comes off the car so that it is then ready to go back on the chassis once that has been painted. This allows us to keep the process moving forward as quickly as possible.
Pictured here is the original front end of this XK120 sat on top of its chassis along with a new rear end and wings the customer had had made. Just out of shot are many boxes of parts which we will start to sort through in the near future.


Jaguar XK120 OTS restoration project

SS1 head gasket

Although we specialise is XKs and E-Types you can usually find something a bit different somewhere in the workshop. Be it a little Fiat, an MGB or a Jaguar saloon we are always happy to get to grips with other classic cars. Pictured here is a rather charming SS1 Tourer dating back to the 1930’s. 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 from SS to Jaguar Cars (for what one imagines are fairly obvious reasons after WW2).
This SS1 has been suffering with an external coolant leak from the head gasket. Fortunately, external leaks of this nature do not cause damage to the engine internals as long as you don’t let the car run out of water so it is a simple case of changing the head gasket…. If you can get the parts!
At the time SS did not produce their own engines and chassis so the underpinnings of this car were built by Standard. Specifically in this case the car has a rather rare Standard straight six side valve engine. Unfortunately, the head gaskets are not available off the shelf any more so we are having a new head gasket made specifically for the car.


SS1 head gasket