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    Time for laser precision

    Car #1962-Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-type / #Jaguar / #1966

    Owned by Phil Bell (phil.bell@drive-my.com)

    Time owned 9 years
    Miles this month 135
    Costs this month £0

    Previously Had the rusty heater box blasted and recoated, fitting it just in time for a run to Bicester sunday super scramble

    Last year I refitted my steering rack with polyurethane mounts in place of standard rubber parts that were allowing an alarming amount of movement, and while I was at it I added a pair of new track rod ends. Despite greasing the old ones at the factory mileage intervals the excess egress from the dust seals was starting to look rusty brown and the joints no longer felt smooth. I’d taken a great deal of care measuring the length of exposed track rod thread so that I’d end up with close to the same toe-in, but without being certain that it was spot-on I feared premature wear to my Dunlops, and they’re not cheap. To do the job properly you need alignment equipment. Normally I relish an excuse to buy more tools, unless they’re expensive and unlikely to see much action.

    Handily, #E-Type specialist E-conic, better known as Moss Jaguar, had recently relocated to nearby Letchworth and I was looking for an excuse to have a nose around. While Angus Moss showed me the charming Victorian building with its sawtooth roof and a dozen or so E-types in for work, technician Murray Simpson wheeled out a rack of modern laser alignment kit to check out my car.

    As well as the toe-in, he would give a verdict on all of the adjustable front and rear alignment parameters that can effect handling and tyre wear. Resetting everything is a fiddly process where adjustment in one dimension upsets another, so I awaited the results with some trepidation. As it turns out, only the easiest needed changing. The front track should toe in by between 1.6 and 3.2mm and mine was 3.8, so Murray wound the track rods out slightly to give a mid-range 2.5mm. My earlier DIY attempt had been a near miss. The front castor and camber were both within tolerances, as was the rear camber, which I’d had to reset with shims after the last differential rebuild and wheelbearing replacement. A normal person would be pleased that there was so little wrong, but I was disappointed.

    I’d hoped that everything would have been way out, and the healing hands of the doctor would transform my E-type into a Lotus Elise-like tool of precision. Or at least a bit less grand tourer on turn in and a bit more sports car.
    A step change in feel would require stiffer torsion bars, coil springs and anti-roll bars, but I’m not convinced that I want to go that far. Perhaps it’s better to enjoy the E-type for what it is and borrow my wife’s Boxster whenever I feel the need for something sharper.

    Would Murray’s professional kit betray Phil’s DIY tracking efforts? Laser tool allows four-wheel alignment. Rear scale checks steering is centred.
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    Phil Bell
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    Best buys 2019 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /

    Thoroughly enjoyed Mr Quentin Willson’s recent piece on Smart Buys, all lovely cars and sage words indeed. Many years ago, I decided to hunt down a nice BMW-E30 when they were plentiful and relatively cheap – a £1000 or so would get you on the ladder and £3-4k would buy a really nice one. After looking at several saloons that didn’t quite tick the box I chanced upon a nice manual #BMW-325i-Touring-E30 in Malachite Green and snapped it up. I still have it today and although I bought the E30 so I could enjoy driving it and without consideration to future values, it’s reassuring to know it has earned its keep over the years.
    • Smart BMW, smarter Alfa? I can’t help sharing Quentin Willson’s advice (Smart Buys) on the E30 Touring – stylish, relatively practical and just magi Smart BMW, smarter Alfa?

      I can’t help sharing Quentin Willson’s advice (Smart Buys) on the E30 Touring – stylish, relatively practical and just magical with that straight-six. I had been considering buying one but a Dutch ad for a 72,000km, one-family-owned Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon 2.5 V6 24v in light metallic green with natural leather made me change my mind – even though I had sworn I wouldn’t buy another Italian car after selling my beloved but troublesome Lancia HP Executive.

      They are not as in-demand as the E30 Touring, but in my opinion just as stylish and enjoyable. Moreover, they are much cheaper – at least to buy – if you can find one of course. The only fault identified so far is that they turn like trucks, and I am of course (mentally and financially) preparing for the €2000+ timing belt and water pump replacement. With that, a full service, tyres and compete detailing, the Alfa will cost me €10,000 – about half the price of a 325i in the same condition! That’s just unbeatable as far as I’m concerned.
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    Phil Bell
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    Phil Bell
    Phil Bell joined the group BMW E30 Club
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    Phil Bell
    Phil Bell joined the group Ford Capri
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    Phil Bell
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    Phil’s expensive hosiery 1962 Jaguar E-type FHC

    CAR: #1962-Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #1962 / #Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-Type / #Jaguar /

    Owned by Phil Bell, editor, (phil bell)
    Time owned 8 years
    Miles this month 250
    Costs this month £164
    Previously Finally cured jumpy speedometer with a new-old-stock cable

    A cross-country run to Nottinghamshire banished Phil’s garage blues. Coolant hoses looked scary. Cloth-wrapped silicone hose joy.

    The E-type is up and running after a litany of minor problems saw it beached in my garage for rather too much of the summer. Time to, er, take some more bits off it then. Yes, I know, but the increasingly alarming cracks developing in the car’s many coolant hoses were blighting every journey with the spectre of sudden and catastrophic failure. Better to deal with them in the comfort of my garage than face replacement at an inevitably dark and wet roadside. At a busy junction. At rush hour. Well, probably.

    I’m glad I did, because there are eleven of them, including all of the minor ones for the heater, and some of those are expletive-awkward to get at. The old ones have served for eight years and none had cracked all of the way through, but despite being labelled as Kevlar Reinforced, they hadn’t survived well. I liked the idea of more durable silicone hoses but not their shiny appearance. The answer came while browsing the SNG Barratt website – a kit of cloth-wrapped silicone hoses. Modern performance; period looks. Perfect.

    Emptying the system was far less messy than any other car I’ve worked on thanks to the tap on the cylinder block and drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. It was due its biennial coolant change to keep the corrosion inhibitors fresh anyway.

    Apart from the worrying moment of discovering a spare hose at the end of the job – perhaps an alternative top hose to fit later E-types – it was a satisfying job with just a few of the hoses needing to be shortened.

    So a spin up to Nottinghamshire for Sunday lunch with my folks became its longest run since Le Mans. Powering along sweeping A-roads to the blat and drone of the XK motor helped me forget about the lost summer but, inevitably, it had me drawing up a job list for winter. I still need to fit the new rev counter generator, rewire the ignition barrel, fit the solid steering rack mounts that have clogged up the bottom drawer of my tool chest for too long…
    But for now there’s lost time to be made up and I just want to drive the thing.
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