Incy-wincy Spiyda

When scowering ebay for new clocks to replace my miss matched items I came across a set from a MK10 which looked in decent condition, pending a repaint of the bezel. My knowedge was lacking somewhat and I assumed the tacho would be a standard type that counted the pulses from the coil.

Oh, but that would be way too easy. Instead Jaguar decided to fit a generator to one of the camshafts and use the tacho as kind of a volt meter, the faster the engine ran, the greater the output from the generator and the higher the tacho read. Later the R&D department would decide that a gearbox driven speedo was way to simple and propose a new device which unravelled a piece of knotted string with a lead weight on the end, coupled with a sundial and an abacus….


The speedo and revcounter…

So did I have to junk the new and much prettier revcounter? No, thanks to Spiyda electronics


They have developed a clever solution to convert the tacho to read coil pulses. There are two basic types, one that goes inside the tacho and one thats remote in its own plastic housing. I went for the remote system and followed the single page instruction…

Firstly srip the Tacho and identify the control circuit board. junk it

spiyda board 3

This leaves just the two wires going to the tacho movement

e type tacho

I just twisted link wires to the Tacho and the Spiyda module


and connected it back to the module as instructed.

spiyda module

add a positive and ground the attach the supplied signal cable to the computer headphones socket, one wire to ground one to the module signal feed.

This last bit is used for calibration and uses an audio file at a given frequency to set the tacho needle via a small screw that can be seen top right of the module.

I elected the 100Hz file which needed balancing to 2000 RPM on the tacho (this from a table of frequencies vs RPM depending on number of cylinders)

This dry run was to prove everything worked. next step is to properly wire and solder the leads.

Spiyda Jaguar

I soldered new leads directly onto the Tacho coil. Note – there are no other wires now, just the new leads straight to the tacho drive. I put a blob of silicone on the dial to hold the wires away from the movement and left it to set overnight.

I’d made a school boy error and snipped the old electronics from the board. The board is used to mount the drive at the rear via 2 screws and the bit i’d snipped off filled the hole where the old terminals were.

I used some duct tape (on both sides) to seal the hole and made a small hole for the leads such that they were tight to pull through.


next to calibrate the unit with the help of Spiyda’s downloadable sound file.

Then put it all back together again and put the unit back in the dash.

This conversion really is ridiculously easy, the instructions are as clear as day and theres some help videos on YouTube too.

Once re-installed it works like a dream.


Spiyda will do all this for you for a very reasonable £95, but its an easy DIY job.

Right, whats next?







All was looking good. Jerry Peston-Ladd was happy everything was as it should be and a brief road test indicated all was well.

So, the moment of truth. The greatest automotive story ever told (possibly) was coming to an end. Only one thing to do, load up and head south…

South Bound and Down

Armed with the trusty, and very heavy, transporter I headed sarf of the river, Indian country I’m told…

The sight that greeted me brought a tear to my eye. Lady Marilyn, and one of her sisters, were waiting for me to arrive.

two E-Types

No sooner had I extracted myself from the van after a 270 mile non-stop run than my lady came out of her resting place…

People who’ve built, or restored, a car will appreciate how much of a genuinely special moment this is. She’s far from finished, but she’s mechanically done.

Jerry explained the details of his work and some of the special features installed along the way.

Next we paid a visit to Jerry’s other project, the restoration of a 1917 steam locomotive no. 4253. This is another nut and bolt rebuild, but on a huge scale. Its all done by volunteers and, end-to-end, its likely to be a 10 year project.

The website is here 4253 and if its your thing, or even if it isn’t, why now drop them a few quid? There are a number of goodies in the sales and promotions section.


Back to base and time to load Lady Marilyn…

E type trailer

To be fair, this isn’t the perfect trailer for the job, so we had to adapt. The triple carb configuration requires the engine to sit a little lower and this means the sump would catch first followed by the exhaust and chassis. We unhitched the trailer used the rear stabilising legs and jacked it up with the nose wheel to get a good angle. Even then a couple of blocks of wood were required to get an extra couple of inches…

With patience and care we got there…

e type transport

Nearly time to say good bye, for now, to Jerry Preston-Ladd, without who’s help I’d still be months and months away from finishing. Jerry’s technical ability is astonishing and he knowledge of Challenger E Types unparalleled. He’s become a good friend over the past 5 months too.

Jerry Preston-Ladd

Here’s the old boy with his trademark grin 🙂

I managed to dodge the monsoons that typified this years Easter break and later that very evening she was back home tucked away in the snug (as in 2 inches clearance) garage in Yorkshire.

E-Type home

We had noticed one of the headlights had rotated in its pod. Not something we’d had off as the wiring terminated outside the pod. As the next job was an MOT it needed fettling so off came the headlight cover for a look-see.

E Type head Lamp

Here’s the final legacy of the previous owners work. The only bit of original wiring left and the final bodge. Easy enough to replace and that was done. the headlamp was secured and everything bolted back up again.

The next day was MOT day, I set off in between showers for my local testing station where she was driven onto the ramp in nervous anticipation.

E type MOT

Whilst on the ramp it was a good change to take some underside pictures.


and the front suspension

Some time later the good news came along with a pass certificate.

So she’s on the road!

I still have the roof to sort out and the internal trim to improve, but she’s now a rolling restoration.

Next bits on the list

Make the door card fit properly – currently catching on the cill

Repair the roof – its about an inch short at the rear

Interior trim panels – tidy up for now – replace at a later date

new wheels – the 185’s are period, but I prefer the 205 option tyre

Bonnet pushers – make a pair of new ones.

but mostly….

Drive the bloody backside off the car and smile like the village idiot.


Lets Recap….

As the rebuild nears the finishing post, well as much as they ever do, here’s a very, very abridged version of the story so far.

Lady Marilyn was my 50 Car, the successor to the Ferrari 328 which was my 40 car…


I’d considered a few different cars for the 50 car, it have to be something special, something that would make my pulse quicken every time I opened the garage door. The decision, in the end, was an easy one in many ways, something iconic, timeless, a true classic and achingly beautiful. There are few that fit the bill and I settled quickly on a Challenger E type.

They were few and far between, a waiting list existed for the Owners Club  “for sale” section. I managed to track one down early on, from Car and Classics website


It was a nice enough car, the chap selling it was the original builder, but there were two principle issues, firstly it was an auto and I wanted a manual, secondly and more importantly, I didn’t fall in love when I saw her.

In many ways I should have bought her, she was cheap and a go-er, but we wouldn’t chose a girlfriend that way, I’ve done that in the past and it never ends well, so why adopt that approach with a significant vehicle.

I heard of another example, a good one – or so I was told – and off to see her I went. I’d seen photos and had already done the falling in love thing before I set off.

Here are the photo’s….


well you just would, wouldn’t you? I know I would, and I did….

Now, for anyone who’s tried online dating, this experience was much the same. Photos from an earlier age, lots of activities in my wish list (like driving, braking and steering) and very much available.

Internet dating is mostly where (according to, ahem, a friend) you turn up and what looks like the mother of the girl in the photos is waiting, then you have to think of an excuse to spend the shortest amount of time possible before running for the hills. This is what I should have done… Sadly I took my rose tinted spectacles with me and even more sadly a significant wedge of cash.

A little time later we were winging our way back to Gods county with a Challenger on the back of our transporter.


The problems first started when I first started, or tried to, the engine on our return. Nothing, nada, nyet, zip, sod all happened. When we finally managed to get her into the drive we came face to face with problem number two… No brakes. It turns out you can polish a turd after all.

First things first, lets get her started. This lead to an investigation….


which led to the rebuild of the carbs.


Now she started. Time to see if I could make her stop. The brakes wouldn’t bleed but whilst trying I realised how shitty the suspension all was. So off with the front…


Replace everything that can be replaced, powder coat the rest…


Then to the IRS, out it came…


Full rebuild, new everything….


Now she could stand on her fully refurbished suspension.

Next job the engine, out with the lump…


Full strip and rebuild with all new parts, including head studs, pistons, bearings and shells, clutch, flywheel skim. The lot…








Next, with new wheel brakes all round, rip out that nasty master cylinder…


and replace it with a new pedal box…


Then it was off to Uncle Jerry’s for a full rewire and final finish.

First some custom parts, radiator, jockey wheel, bulk head panels, engine mountings…


and the masterpiece throttle linkage….



Then a dash rebuild with new parts…


Before a full re-wire


Then get everything back together….


get the old girl running….

Before bolting the new shiny bits on…


The next phase is the MOT test to get some miles under her belt, whilst I save up for an interior retrim…

I know there are lots of people who read this, they’re all three years older than when I started. I thank you for your patience and leave you with this thought….

All good things to those who wait,,,,,,,




The Engine build has been covered in many blog entries. The build wasn’t straight forward, which was in keeping with all things related to Lady Marilyn, and in order to ensure everything was tip-top it was slow going.

Drakes Engineering in Bradford did a stellar job of the machining work, thy also rebuilt the head for me. The pistons and all the bearings were all new, as were the cam chains, tensioners, guides and seals. Electronic Ignition, courtesy of Powerspark, had been added too.

That’s a whole lot of newness in one package and its always a worrying time when you come to start the engine for the first time.

There had been some considerable space between building the lump and first start, the wiring had been done, all the braking system replaced and many of the ancillaries had been on and off during trial fitting.

However, the time had come. All the bits were on the car, in the right place and ready to rock and roll.

Challenger build

The assembled engine sporting the customer designed Radiator and twin thermostatically controlled fans was in place to deal with the substantial heat output of the engine.

E Type Radiator

Belts were tensioned and ready to go

E type fan belt

and we had a fully wired in Dash to do the job properly.


The inner panels need replacing and they were just loosely placed for the trial start.

One of the issues with Electronic Ignition is that its impossibly to statically time the engine. So the process for best guess location for the distributor had been to correctly set the old points distributor and statically time that. Take a good look at the distributor orientation and replace it with the electronic distributor to approximately the same location.

This was all done and we prepared to launch the start procedure.

I should point out at this stage that the engine had already been turned over with no plugs in place to ensure we had oil pressure before starting.

So, with one pair of hands on the distributer and a nervous finger on the starter button and me hovering with the video, we were ready to go.

Here’s the result.


Then we checked the timing and did an initial carb balance to get a sweet tickover.

Much relief, the engine runs like a song. We’re on the home straight now!

Carb filters were then fitted, the coolant topped up with OAT antifreeze and attention turned elsewhere….




Weakest Link

One of the issues we spotted when trying to rebuild the engine was the carburettor linkage. The need for a solution to the original system was discussed in “suckers” posted earlier in the blog.

It was a tricky problem and one that needed a clever solution. The original installation had connected to the spindle of the carburettor nearest the bulkhead. The other side of this spindle had been used to drive the shaft under the manifold which operated the remaining two carbs.


If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the linkage to the first carb

There were two principle problems with this system.

  1. The first carb spindle carried the stresses of operating all three carbs. This had caused the spindle bush to wear.
  2. Due to the inevitable slack in the linkage the other two carbs would operate after the first, making balancing the carbs virtually impossible.

In essence we needed to find a way to use the under-manifold linkage to drive all three carbs. the solution was to engineer a new linkage to join the throttle movement to the existing linkage.

The bits of linkage were collected and some thinking followed…

Challenger throttle linkage

Jerry’s solution was as follows:-

Challenger carb linkage

This seemed just the job and so it was this design that went into production.

challenger linkage

Once installed on the engine it worked a treat.


Of course the real test would be how it worked when the engine was running. How the modulation transferred to pedal travel, for that only time would tell.

Here’s a final shot of the installed linkage from the underside on the engine once installed.

E type linkage

In this shot you can also see the installed individual carburettor return springs. These were mentioned in an earlier blog, but not shown on the car.

another job jobbed…..



Not many people realise that Joseph Lucas developed the first anti theft device, a 50:50 chance that the car would start…

Being the proud owner of a car so equipped I could marvel at the intermittent wiper and the world famous panel light modes, dim, flicker and off.  Lets not forget the self dimming headlight too.

The rebuild of lady Marilyn is, in the truest sense of the word, a nut and bolt rebuild. I do not believe that there’s a single bolt that hasn’t been out over the last three and a half years. The exception to this was the harness. The mighty electrical system and its two, yes two, fuses had served the car well. It must have done as it hadn’t burned to a crisp when I made the mistake of using the window washers with the headlights on. In fact, the harness had stopped smoking at all, which meant either topping up the harness smoke reservoir, or changing it completely.

Harness smoking

Jerry Preston-Ladd has developed a new harness for the Challenger E, this is the reason it originally went to him. This update is the story of that harness.

The old harness was stripped out of the car and any usable parts retained (such as the headlight relay) the rest of the junk was consigned to the bin.

There were some oddities with the wiring which I can’t blame on Lucas. The headlights for instance, these were “joined to” (read twisted around) the indicators. The front side lights were attached to nothing at all. The total rewire was a mandatory feature of the rebuild.

NS light wiring

What was going though their mind? I know Lady Marilyn was used as a publicity car for a time and maybe this was a desired feature, but the execution was truly pants…

The biggest concentration of harness activity happens around the centre dash. This is where the gauges and switches are afterall and this is also where the fuse blocks were located. The brown power leads went in first. The dash is wired through an ammeter so everything goes through that first before shooting off to its various locations.

E type dash wiring 1

In this picture the finished heater controls can be seen. another lovely job and the proper look for the car. As a new heater had been fitted the levers now drive a microswitch which operates an electric water valve. A neater solution than the cable operated alternative.


The signal wires went next as most of the functions are relay operated to cut down on the switched load.

E type dash connections

Connector blocks were added for the engine and gearbox (makes removal a doddle) and also for the bonnet – which needs to come off if you’re doing anything much more that peering under it.


Jerry also added a some antitheft devices to the harness. I’m not quite daft enough to detail them, but there are clever and add a degree of protection against Mr Scumbag Car-thief.

Once the wiring was in place, it could be extensively tested before being taped up for good.

There was one particularly joyous moment when Jerrry sent me a phote of the front lights. They were:-

  1. On
  2. With sidelights
  3. Controlled by a switch
  4. Not on fire.

I may have shed a tear at that point.

P1050076a (2)

So, the wiring was complete, better than the original, fully fuse protected and installed with a quality that old Joseph could only dream of. Job done, happy days.


Dashing onward…..

All the components for the dash rebuild are gathered together the original dash plate, which has the hinge mechanism, the dot peened stainless cover plate, the refurbished gauges, new legend plate, chrome trim plate, ignition switch, escutcheon and light switch and a selection of toggle switches.

E-type dash rebuild

All these parts came together to make this little piece of loveliness, I mean just look at it,

Etype centre dash

This is just perfect and is going to make the car look a million dollars.

Meanwhile, in the land of heater controls it has been decided that we’ll use a solenoid water control valve for the heater. The logic here is you either want heat or your dont. Like most people if I have a slider I go full hot or full cold and regulate the temperature with the fan.

The E-type can be described as leaky at best, from a wind point of view, and the simplicity of the solenoid system seems the best solution. This needs to be controlled by a micro switch on the dashboard lever..

e typ heater control

The parts made. marked and drilled, and then assembled

e type heater lever

this is a spot on solution thats going to work really well.

Thats about it for the dashboard now and here it is, laid out on the bench and to all intents and purposes completely new.

E type dash assembly

E type haguar dashboard

This is a genuine wow moment, every time I slide behind the wheel this is the view that will greet me, boy oh boy I cant wait….





Happy New year!

As this blog is now in its third year I want to take a moment to wish all the readers a happy new year.



The Blog is now read in 46 countries, which is an amazing result for a partly techy partly (attempted) humor blog covering my slide into bankruptcy in an effort to return A Challenger E-Type to better than its former glory.

This is the year she’ll return to the road, we’re on the home straight now my friend and technical mentor Jerry Preston-Ladd is on the case. To those who read regularly, many thanks and I hope its all worth the effort – much the same as the car really….

Happy new year!



A Dash of Style….

We’re at the stage where things are starting to go together again… Starting with the centre dash. The refurbed gauges have been fitted to the new stainless steel dot peened finish plate. The original was aluminium but this marks too easily hence the move to stainless, a far more durable solution.

The face plate of the oil pressure gauge has move a little, probably when the new bezel was fitted, so this will need aligning again. They are so fiddly to get right…

e type centre dash

what a think of beauty, especially when compared to what came off….


Theres a new legend plate to finish the job off.

The drivers dash is a brand new original part and the newly converted glove box was also re-trimmed in new leather cloth to give the whole dash the new look treatment.

E type glove box

The heater control levers seem to be an NLA item and have been on back order for a while. Jerry cured this by making a pair of levers to fit the bracket. We’ll be using one of them to control a solenoid water valve so needs to operate a microswitch. The other is just for show.

E Type heater lever

and with the lever ends in place

E type heater escucheon


The chassis was given a rub down and a new coat of paint. The paint colour was “scanned” and formulated by computer. Its not an exact match, but as its under bonnet I’m not overly concerned. Its netter to have a uniform colour than the blotchy mess that the car came with.

Challenger e type chassis

Elsewhere the upper column UJ finally turned up and was fitted to the freshly painted lower column.

Challenger E type chassis paint

The reservoirs and btacket have now been fitted tot he newly made bulkhead panel and its starting to look more complete.

challenger bulkhead trim

bulkhead challenger

The steering rack was also treated to a coat of paint. This is another part is isn’t seen, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected. I’ll know its been painted and, in many ways, thats the reason. The car has been in rebuild phase for 3 years now, its good to make sure everything is just so.

challenger steering rack

Its all coming together nicely!









Jockying for position & Gauging success.

When The engine came out for its rebuild I noticed a peculiar problem with the fan belt. It couldn’t come off. Well it could if I cut it, but then a new one wouldn’t go on, perhaps an even bigger problem.


On reflection the only way to change the fan belt was to take the water pump off. What must go on in the mind of a man who thinks that is a good idea? A solution was needed.

It turns out a bespoke solution was needed as the Alternator mounting was also non-standard and an integrated solution would be required.

Jerry located a jockey wheel and went about designing a system by which both the alternator belt and the fan belt could be adjusted within the small amount of space that existed.

What he came up with is a work of art, feast your eyes on this ladies and gentlemen….

The Jockey wheel was stripped down and the shaft cut


The jockey wheel shaft was drilled out to accept a bolt (to one of the water pump mounting points). A new slotted bracket was manufactured that would anchor on the alternator mounting bracket. A couple of spacers where also turned to get everything in the right position.


I trial fit to get the spacing right… This picture also shows the newly re-studed exhaust manifolds complete with new brass nuts. There is something about a set of brass nuts, they just look so right…

Challenger E type engine s1

Then, in a magical form of wizardry, all the parts came together to do this…


More of the pictures….



I find this deeply impressive…. Its also such a shame that once installed this will be almost invisible. However, if you are ever fortunate enough to be run over by Lady Marilyn, please take a good look as it passes over you.

Around the same time work was ongoing to turn the series 2 glove box into a series one item. I don’t know why a series two part came to be on the car, but it did and it wasn’t right. The S1 heater controls are just lovely pieces of kit, that have a real period feel and lots of chrome. I’d already fitted the S1 choke control to the dashboard, Jerry set about modifying the glove box to suit.

Off came the leather cloth to reveal the metalwork…


The S2 switch gear is recessed (its like a pull out lever afair, so this was cut out.


A replacement panel was cut and the lever slots milled into it.


This was tacked into place and a skim of filler applied to true the new surface



All ready to receive the newly acquired brightwork.

e type s1 heater controls

The glove box will now be trimmed in new leather cloth to match the Dashboard.

That onlt leaves the centre panel. This had been butchered to fit a modern day hazard switch. Once the panel was stripped down, the result want pretty.


Note the butchered hole on the far left. This could have been repaired but as the panel needed work and I particularly like the early E center panel, like this one…


Jerry knew someone with the right material and a waterjet company that could cut the part. No brainer, lets get on and do it.

Ah, but if I’m going for a new panel then really I should do something about the gauges…

So I got a set of refurb kits and set about reconditioning a full set of the correct gauges…


The oil pressure face has deteriorated, so I have a new one and will post pictures of the refurbed gauges when installed into the new panel.

The progress continues at a great rate of knots….