Are you starting?

Actually, she wasn’t. The euphoria of success that washed over me post propshaft replacement was short lived. I’d taken Lady Marilyn for a drive which approximated to turning petrol to smiles in large quantities (of each). Incidentally, I’ve heard that I’m getting my own pump at the local Petrol Station as a mark of respect to my constant patronage. If i use any more petrol I’ll have to join Opec.

I digress… Post fill up Lady Marilyn had a bit of a cough and then nothing. The starter button yielded a click, a “rerrrrr” and then nothing. Eventially I got enough of a turn to fire her up and back to the garage she went.

If I’m being honest, she’d been a lazy starter for a while but as she’s always quick to fire up, that hadn’t been an issue. Now, however, it was.

There are lots of alternative starter motors out there. Powerlite, Wosp, various rebuilds of the Lucas 3M100. So how to decide? Mark McKinlay has posted on the club website that he’d bought a Wosp unit and was very happy with it. I checked the Wosp web page and was happy to note David Manners, my favourite parts supplier, was an agent. Decision made, one phone call later my new starter was on its way to me on a next day delivery.

Right, back to the job, I put the car on ramps this time as theres not enough room to move in the starter area when on stands. Slid under the front and started to remove the old starter. I found it easiest to take the top bolt out first from under the bonnet and then undo the lower bolt from underneath. Its a twat of a job given the accessibility issues and I ended up with a 3/8th drive ratchet and every extension piece I had to get the handle to a place I could turn it…. Still it came out easily enough, though its bloody heavy. If anyone has a boat missing an anchor, let me know I think I can help..

Once out I put the old Lucas unit on the bench, next to the shiny new Wosp unit.

E type starter motor

Jaguar Wosp starter

The Wosp unit is a little smaller, but only a fraction of the weight of the Lucas unit, I mean really only a fraction. I couldn’t believe how lightweight the unit was in comparison.

Fitting the Wosp starter is a doddle given it smaller and much lighter (have I made the point that its, like, really light??). I measured the studs that are fitted to the Wosp vrs the length of the bolts from the Lucas unit and it was clear that I wasn’t going to get the full nyloc engaged on the studs if I fitted the mounting plate. The fitting instructions didn’t mention the mounting plate, seen below, item 3

XJ6 Starter motor parts list

Back under the car to check the mounting and its evident that I need the plate after all.

Jaguar flywheel

The two locating dowls sit within the mounting plate and without the plate the motor wouldn’t mount properly.

I confirmed this by measuring the throw of the stater gear on the old and new motors and they measured the same, from the edge closest to the windings. So the motor and plate were fitted and the wiring reconnected.

Wosp starter

The cable tie is there because there isn’t a lock on the standard solenoid wire. These was a new flying lead with the motor that did had a positive lock, but I didn’t want another joint in the wire, so the cable tie just stops the solenoid wire falling off. Obviously I trimmed the cable tie and greased the terminal after taking the shot 🙂

To demonstrate the finished installation, he’s a YouTube with the Fuel pump and ignition isolated.

Another little job crossed off and another improvement to the car, makes life so much easier knowing she’ll start on the button every time.



Norfolk or bust….

Enough of the fixing stuff, time to hit the road.

It was time for the Challenger E type AGM. I’d been a member for 4 years and during that time I’d never made an AGM – mostly on the basis that I wanted to drive my car to one and it was never in a roadworthy state.

This year it was different, this year I was going, Norfolk or bust… Norfolk and bust as it turned out, 18 MPG? Ouch!

I’d done around 1000 miles since she joined the “on the road Club” and she’d not broken down as yet, what could possibly go wrong?

I packed some tools, then some more tools and then, after a quick review of the tool bag, some tools. I was only some yellow paint short of an AA van, but you cant be too careful. The one thing I was in real need of was some new wheels. Not and alternatoive car you understand, just a new set of wheels and tyres.

Lady Marilyn had come with a set of 185 wheels and indeterminate tyres. I’m guessing they came from the former owners budget shite collection and given this was a 400 mile round trip, I wanted rubber I could rely on.

The wheel of choice is the MWS XW474C I rang MVS and they had them in stock at £297+VAT each. However, my favourite parts company David Manners would do the same wheels for £245+VAT. So, Manners could buy the wheels from MWS, add a markup and shipping (from MVS to manners) and still save me over £200 on the set of 4.

So that was the wheels sorted, now for the tyres… The 205/70/15 period tyres (like the XWX Michelin’s) were north of £300 each.

Now tyre technology has come a long way on the last few decades, was I to have my trousers pulled down for the purposes of a “period Look”? Bollocks to that… I found a Toyo Proxy tyre in the correct size and rating using modern manufacturing techniques and a proper compound for £55 each, fitted. Job done.

They done look half bad either….


The new wheels and tyre combo arrived the day before the trip (I do like to run things close) and were fitted that eve.

Given this was pre-new fuel sender, I packed some spare petrol too as I really had no idea what MPG I’d get and, well, its betrer to be safe than sorry…

The next morning it was time for the off, and off I went.

E type ready

The early morning sunshine changed to moody clouds before I managed to get the key in, so up went the hood in anticipation of the downpour that quickly followed.

Lady Marilyn is not a fan of water and as the stream came in from the passenger side door acompanied my gentle drips from along the roof line I made a mental note to address the sealing at a later date. A mildy moist period later I was the first to arrive at The Hare Arms in Stow Bardolph.

E type exhaustThe rest of the crew turned up shortly after and a rather agreeable lunch was had by all.

The next leg was Jerry Preston-Ladd’s dash across the fens to Tichwell, where the hotel for the weekend was located. The sun returned and stayed in residence for the whole weekend, except at nigh of course, when it took its mandatory rest period.

E type parked

Early the next morning it was off for a run out…

E type convoy

First port of call was Holkem Hall Where we parked in front on the majestic building, quite a sight…

Holkham (LR)

Holkham 2 (LR)

Next it was off to a gem of a place, Royal Station at Sandringham. This is a must see place if you are in the area, its a private house that the owner has restored to a period feel of the station used by generations of the royal family. The owner lets you wander round and, if asked, will give you the history of the place. Its just magnificent.

wolferton 4

wolferton 3

Of course it looks even better with a convoy of E-Types in the drive…

The AGM itself followed lubricated by plenty of drinks and all too soon Sunday morning dawned and it was time to head home.

The old girl drove home without issue and was soon tucked up in her nest…

E type garage




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,,,,,,,



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.


Heading for Victory

XJ6 cam chain

Whats missing from this picture? well,  the rest of the engine, obviously, but specifically I should have added the cam speckets at this point, more of this later… The other thing I didnt do is check that the upper chain tensioner moved smoothly. I didnt and, once assembled, it didn’t.

So back off it came and sure enough the bugger wouldn’t budge.

e type cam chain tensioner

Time for some light persuasion… With the aid of a deep socket I tapped the tensioner free

xk cam chain

It didn’t take much and there wasn’t any real pick up, it was just held in with crud

XJ6 cam chain tensioner

Once cleaned up it was all re-assembled and then it was time to add the timing cover, which was easy enough. I borrowed Jerry’s technique of seating the crank oil seal in the timing cover and sliding it along the crank. Worked well and didn’t damage the seal.

The sump came next and, again, all very straight forward.

Now to add the new head bolts. I unpacked the parts sent by David Manners many moons ago. I’d gone for the 4 long studs pack as I like the look of the lifting lugs. I would use them to actually lift the lump, but they look nice….

Here’s the set unpacked…

XK xj6 head studs

I have three long studs to match the 4 mounting holes. Something has gone awry…

So, armed with my best argumentative voice I called David Manners to tell them the parts they supplied… cough… two years ago were, in fact, wrong.

Called the help line, gave them my postcode, waited…

Sorry sir cant find the order, oh, it wasn’t 2015 was it?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact it was. Can’t rush an engine build….

No problem, what do you need?

Well, just another long stud…

No problem, I’ll get it in the post tonight.

Next day it turned up, express courier, FOC. Now thats what I cann customer service, if you need parts for your Jag, go there first. Top company….

david manners

So, equipped with the new studs, re-assembly can continue….

Oh, there’s a new water pump in there too, that came to DMG as well, as did the new core plugs.

Now time to drop the head on. Freshly painted in the correct Harvest Gold, specially mixed by HMG paints, and add the new head nuts and lifting lugs.

E type engine

This picture shows the cam sprockets fitted. This wasn’t actually as easy as you might think. Early on in this post I advised that I’d forgotten to fit these before the head. I found out to my cost that there’s no way they’ll fit with the cams in place, to time to pull them out again. Its not actually the worst idea, the head was built up over a year ago, so pulling the cams allowed me add new oil to the bearings and fill the camshaft oilway at the same time. Once the cams are out the sprockets need to be pulled apart. Remove the circlip and pull the inner sprocket from the splined on outer (should have photographed this as its a work of art) slide the inner home and then – like a Chinese puzzle, feel the sprocket outer into the chain.

Re-installing the cams needs a little jig to hold the cam in the right position whilst the journal caps are torqued down. Without it there is no way to hold the cam as it pushed just one valve almost fully down and therefore, the force of the spring spins the crank.

With the cams torqued back down align the sprocket mounting holes, noting that they are off set on purpose, and then re-engage the splines before replacing the circlip and tightening the bolts… It can be done – but I wouldn’t call it easy…

Once that’s done, there’s just a few bits and bobs to add, such as the flywheel, beforerI can call the block built.

It is a work of art though. Modern engines could never look as pretty…

built 2


I think I’m just one blog post from closing the Engine chapter, happy days!