Ever since I was a child, I have been enamored by the E-Type Jaguar. For me, it started with the dashboard speedometer; the E-Type went 160 MPH, while all the other cars "only" went 120 MPH. Although, knowing what I know now, the thought of 160 MPH in an E-Type would scare me to no end. The classic sleek lines, wooden steering, wire wheels, leather interior, and purr of the engine… now that was a true sports car.
Then one day in 1974, my father was visiting a wrecking yard near the Coronado Bay bridge, and someone towed in a 1964 E-Type roadster. My dad asked the owner, who we called "Junkyard Jim", what was the story with the Jag? He said it had a blown engine and he would sell it for parts. My dad said, "Don't do that, I'll take it off your hands. What are you asking for it"? Junkyard Jim said $500 and it's yours. Unfortunately, dad didn't have $500, so he paid Jim in installments. The following week, that Jag was towed to our house.
And so began the long, slow, task of restoration, which has taken many forms, twists, and turns over the years. We started by removing and dismantling the engine, which sure enough, had a blown piston, connecting rod, noticeable dent in the block, and a bent crankshaft. We never repaired that original engine, so the factory chassis and engine numbers do not match. We spent many weekends at British wrecking yards, car shows and swap meets, collecting spare engines and parts for the car. With all the spares, at one point, we probably had close to one and a half cars. And it was fun. One we were working on her in the front yard, with the parking brake set (but not in gear) and she began rolling toward a 150 foot cliff. Out of the corner of our eyes we saw her start to roll, and ran as fast as we could alongside, grinding first gear before hitting a bush and, by shear luck, stopping at the precipice (phewww that was close!). We fixed the Jag, got her running and put on many miles in the 1980s. In the early 1990s she went in for a paint job and long block replacement--completed in early 2000. Even after all the work, she's more a driver than a show car.
For me the danger is not in taking the car apart, but in putting her back together again. Today, she's sitting quietly in the garage, having not run for 3 or 4 years and in need of some renewed interest and TLC from my son and I. Next time, the possum who decided to take up residence...