So after months of having the E Type sitting in my garage and not touching it except to inflate the tyres which all seemed to have slow punctures I decided that it would be OK to make a preliminary assessment of the car.
Jeremy had described it as unmolested and it did look quite straight. There didn't seem to be too much rust at rear although further forward it was definitely going to need a right hand front wing and a driver's door skin. Inside the floors were holed in the usual places and although the inner sills were covered in the upholstery material I had my suspicions.
All the exterior chrome work needed re-plating although inside most of looked as though it would polish up.
There were no carpets but the leather had a well used appearance and I thought that they would clean up quite nicely. I still think that I was right about that because at that time they just looked dirty and in need of some hide food but things went wrong here later.
Obviously a new hood would be needed and the material behind the seats was ripped. The dash and instruments had some slight areas of corrosion but nothing that would necessitate replacement.
Under the bonnet things were encouraging. I couldn't see any sign of rust in the frame and there area where the frame bolts to the monocoque was also sound.
There was a big air gap in the exhaust system in that we had a front pipes and tail pipes but nothing joining them together.
Previously I'd removed the plugs and squirted some oil into each cylinder. I put the car into gear and tried to rock it backwards and forwards and was clear that the engine was not seized. In retrospect that could have been a big mistake and even if that wasn't, certainly what we did next was.
What I really wanted to know was whether the engine would run. The car has two electric fans for cooling the radiator and these were disconnected, in fact one was in the boot. The radiator hoses had been undone and this might have been to drain out the coolant when the car was stored or it might have been something to do with why the car was taken off the road.
I surmised that when the car was taken off the road there probably wasn't all that much wrong with it other than the fault that initiated the laying up. Undoubtedly, all the deterioration of the chrome and bodywork has taken place while the car was stored. At the time of storing it, it probably still looked quite smart. And to digress for a moment, it has always struck me as odd that so many quite valuable cars keep turning up in barns. If I had had this E Type in 1979 and something had gone wrong with it (I now know what by the way) I would have repaired it and not just stopped using it. What this must mean is that whoever the owner was at the time could afford to go buy another car and just effectively throw this one away.
Anyway, back to the engine. I needed a big battery so a friend who runs an XJS and therefore has an enormous battery brought it round and we hooked it up. This had to be done with jump leads as the terminals were the wrong way round but once connected we could see what worked and what didn't. Well the lights, indicators and wipers were OK and the washer squirted some water not actually at the screen but no matter. The radio scratched into life and the clock started ticking.
So fired up with enthusiasm I thought that we should see if it would run. Now I hadn't planned this very well because I didn't know if I should be able to here a petrol pump ticking or not (we couldn't hear anything) and anyway I didn't have any fuel to hand so in the end I thought that I would see if it would crank and if doing so would generate any oil pressure.
Well the answer is that it did crank and but I could see no sign of oil pressure. As I now know, the engine would not have run even if I had had fuel because the carburettors were seized and in any case there would not have been enough compression the reason for which will be explained soon.
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Jaguar E Type Restoration