1962 Jaguar E Type Coupe

This is where I document the appearance of a 1962 Jaguar E Type Coupe (Series 1) into my life. This car was once the prize possession of my uncle, an actor in LA. My dad stored the car in Las Vegas, but had not kept it running.  I first encountered the Jag with four flat tires two years ago in my Mom's garage. I was smitten. There was just something about the car, the curvacious shape, the quaint toggle switches, and eccentricity of the whole car. I mean the hood (the bonnet) opens the wrong way, as does the door to the "trunk." And of course, the notoriety of being described as "the most beautiful car ever made" by Enzo Ferrari.

About a year later, I made an attempt to to trailer the car home to Oregon. I was a disappointed. Looking more carefully under the body, there really was no solid frame or tow anchor to winch the car onto a trailer. So rather than risk injuring the car, I went home empty handed.

Getting the Car Running

So I brokered a deal with Mom. "Get the car running," I said, "and I will tow it home. So the restoration began at:

German Motors
3379 Industrial Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109

The folks at German Motors drained and refilled the fuel tank, installed a new fuel pump, new tires, new battery, new oil, new ball joints, new engine mounts, new fan belts, manufactured battery hold down, changed the brake fluid, control arm bushings, and repaired the electric fan. The car now ran, occasionally with a wide open stuck throttle. I should have been warned right there. There were warnings, such as the stack of auto repair manuals and parts catalogs. This was a temperamental lady and clearly this was going to be "high maintenance" car. But I was still in denial. It was all going to work out, I thought, to myself.

Safety and Reliability Issues

I then towed the car back on a trailer to Oregon. The track length of the car is so small that the car barely fit onto the rails of a U Haul auto trailer. As I trailer-ed the car, a youth walking home from school came over and ogled her. Yes, I asked, isn't she beautiful? But I was too worried about dropping the car off the rails as I drove it up the trailer. Once home in Oregon, I backed the car off the trailer. "You just barely made it off," my friend tells me. So this car is beautiful AND dangerous I am thinking. It was drivable, although the gear shift knob kept falling off and the hydraulic clutch was failing, resulting in "an early clutch release" while "stopped" at a red light. Really Lady, I was not mad at you.

So I took the car to:

Henry's Foreign Auto Service
4586 S. Pacific Hwy
Phoenix, OR 97535

Slavek at Henry's installed seat belts. Other repairs included a new master clutch cylinder, a new electronic distributor, and a new "generator" (actually an alternator disguised as a generator). Apparently Slavek is not a fan of Lucas electronics.

Synchronizing Triple SU Carburetors

The carburetors needed to be rebuilt. They were sent out to Walt at:

Vintage Jag Works
1390 W. Highway 26
Blackfoot, ID 83221

We sent Walt all three carbs still mounted on the intake manifold! Walt rebuilt the carbs and polished them and sent them back to Henry's in Oregon. Here is a pic of the installed carburetors. Really nice craftsmanship Walt!

I ended up synchronizing the carbs myself using a Uni-Syn gauge pictured below. Heck, you might as well learn to do this yourself since as it is crucial to getting this car to run well. The youngsters at the auto parts store had no idea what a Uni-Syn gauge was. They tried to sell me a vacuum gauge.

How I ended up synching the triple SUs:

You place the opening of the Uni-Syn gauge over the carburetor entry stack and note the position of the ball. You can then adjust the slow idle screw until the flow through each carburetor is the same as evidenced by the same ball position. So basically you first loosen/disconnect the throttle linkage from the carburetors by loosening the three friction bolts. Then set the choke to run. Now the carbs should not be affected by the throttle or the choke. You take off the air intake. To balance the carbs you then:

  1. Turn the slow idle screws full down (no air flow, engine slows) and back up two full turns (720 degrees). Back out the mixture screws so that they are just touching the stop (no fuel flow, engine slowed) and then turn the mixture screws back in 2 1/2 turns (return of fuel and engine running). If you do this with the engine running, then you should only do one carburetor at a time. This sets the carbs at baseline.
  2. Cover each carb intake stack in turn with the Uni-Syn and adjust the inside dial on the Uni-Syn to position the ball in the useful range. You can now use the slow idle screws to adjust the air flow to each carb such that the ball is in the same position at every carb intake. Important: Do this until the engine idles initially as close to 500 rpm as you can get. This means that each carb is now getting the same air flow.
  3. Doing one carb at at time, screw out the mixture screw until the car slows (lean) and then back in until you get the highest engine rpm.
  4. With the air intake back on, lift the piston lift pin on the bottom right side of each carb slowly until you hear a change in engine speed. Do this for each carb. The first part of the lift only takes up the spring loaded slack. One you can judge when the lift pin becomes effective, just barely lift the pin at this point for the lift mixture test. If the mixture is correct, the engine should briefly speed up and then return to baseline speed. If the mixture is too lean, the engine will bog down or slow. If the mixture is too rich, the engine will speed up and stay up. Do this several times. When you are convinced of the result, either turn the mixture screw in say 1/6 turn (more gas) or out say 1/6 turn (less gas). Then repeat the lift test until the engine just speeds up and returns to baseline. When you have done this for all three carbs, then each carb is getting the same proper mixture.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 4 as long as necessary as the engine rpms may increase after adjusting the mixture. At this point all three carbs are getting the proper amount of air and gas.
  6. You can set the fast idle screw by placing the choke lever at run and adjusting the fast idle screws until there is .002 inches free.
  7. Tighten the throttle nuts and check to see that all three carbs open at the exact same time as you lever the throttle.

At idle the pairs of cylinders share carburetors so that you can have one lean carb and one rich carb and the car will idle. At speed, each pair of cylinders is basically fed only by one carburetor, so poorly synched carbs will cause a severe loss of performance at speed.

It is also possible to put a gas analyzer on the exhaust. Looking from the rear, the right exhaust is from the rear carb and the middle carb, the left exhaust is from the forward carb and the middle carb.

Don't forget to top off the carb pistons with 20 weight oil or ATF. When I finally got around to checking my carbs there was NO damping oil in the carbs!

Stuck Needles

Well no sooner had I had the car running well when I fell victim to a stuck carburetor needle. Imagine my surprise to see gas streaming out of the center carb float chamber from the "overflow" valve on the top of the float chamber. I was beginning to get a bit depressed. Apparently this can happen when a bit of grit from the fuel system gets into the needle seat. I am obviously talking about the fuel leak, not my depression.

Walt at Vintage Jag instructed me to inspect the float chamber. He instructed me to first disconnect the float chamber from the fuel line, saving the bolt, gaskets and inner spring/screen. He then told me to loosen the bolt on top of the float chamber and look at the float. He told me all this thinking I knew something about 50 year old British cars. Hey, I once rebuilt a 4 barrel Carter carburetor and only had a few extra parts left over. I could do this. At this point though, I was not even sure what the float chamber looked liked. It WAS a funny looking British carburetor. And there were three of them.

Armed with a shop manual, I loosened the gas line bolt, loosened the bolt holding the float top and lifted off the top, revealing a float, which was in good shape and floating appropriately. The needle and seat remained in the top and I simply blew some air and verified that the needle was moving up and down in the seat before reassembling the float chamber. This stopped the overflow leak, but I now have a minor leak from the float cover and from the fuel line going into the float chamber :(.

(I did this work under a parking awning while it was snowing. That is because there is no room in my two car garage for a car. No, I am not going to explain.)

The next time this happened to a different carburetor, I simply tapped the float chamber when the engine off and this freed the needle. 

Walt sent me some new gaskets for where the fuel line bolts to the float chamber. Thanks Walt! These were fiber washers, but they were a bit too large in diameter (and I believe a bit too thin). I was able to take one to a grinder and shape it to fit inside the fuel line bolt receiver. I ordered two sets of SU HD8 carburetor washers from SNG Barratt. Using a combination of new washers I was able to stop the leak from the fuel line going to the float chamber.

Needs a New Water Pump and Brake Caliper

At this point I have a safe, running car with a bit of water leaking here, a bit of brake fluid leaking there, and a bit of fuel leaking from the carb cover. You get the picture. Ah, I was warned about this car. A bit temperamental, but a stunner. If you see me drive by, wave. I need the encouragement.

Water Pump Installed, New Fuel Sender Installed, Brake Fluid Leak Repaired, Persistent Clutch Problems

Update. Well I had Walt at Vintage Jag Works send me a new water pump and had Slavek replaced the leaking water pump with the new water pump from Walt. Slavek then installed a new fuel tank sender. The working fuel gauge is much more convenient than sending a stick down the fuel tank every so often! The brake fluid leak appeared to be from an open bleed valve. I still needed to pump the clutch, so Slavek replaced the slave cylinder. Now I don't need to exercise my leg just to get the clutch to work.

Transmission Troubles

I have been driving the Jag "daily" now that the weather has turned so nice. Unfortunately, suddenly the shifter will not go left into first, second or reverse. Bummer. I removed the leather shift boot cover and was able to lever the transmission into action again with a slight click using a very large screw driver! No problem since. Anyway, that explains why there is a very large screw driver in the glove box of the car at all times.

Radiator Overflow

Driving the car daily, I was plagued by coolant overflow when I parked the car. I was able to modify an aftermarket large coolant reservoir to sit next to the radiator coolant tank. Others reportedly have converted the washer fluid reservoir into an overflow tank. There is very little clearance between the hood and the new overflow reservoir, but it works!

Front License Plate

Although some models may have a "pivoting" front license plate holder, the 1962 E had no provision for mounting a front license plate. I tired of carrying the front plate on the dash of the car so I used two "1 inch" bicycle mounting clamps to mount my plate onto the lower front bumper guard rail. This looked great and did not block air flow through the radiator, but limited the amount of hood rotation. So I just angled the plate back a bit. Now the hood opens and the front end looks a bit more aerodynamic.

Bad Starter Connection

Just when I had the carbs running perfectly, the car would not start. Luckily my local towing Maynard Hadley company had a dolly lift truck. Thanks to Daniel and Randy for getting me out of a jam. Turns out it was "just" a broken connector to the starter relay. I eventually had Henry's update the starter with a high speed gear reduction unit. I heartily recommend doing this as the car starts much easier with this upgrade.

Ready for a Trip Down the Coast

Well I am beginning to feel confident enough about this car to contemplate a drive down the coast. We will see :) Just waiting on a new spare tire.

Parts Vendors

Rebuilt Parts Vintage Jag Works
Replacement Parts SNG Barratt
Live Parts View XKs Unlimited


The Jag Lovers forum is a very active and helpful forum.


Battery, Fuel Pump, Tires, Engine Mounts, Transmission Mounts, Electric Fan, Ball Joints     Aug. 2011
Rebuild and Install Carbs                                                                                                            Dec. 2011
Clutch Master and Slave, Seat Belts, Electronic Distributor, Coil, Ignition Wires                      Dec. 2011
Alternator Update                                                                                                                        March 2012
Water Pump, Fuel Sender                                                                                                          March 2012
High Speed Gear Reduction Starter                                                                                           June 2012
Brake Master and Slave                                                                                                             2013
New Oil Pressure Sensor, New Stainless Steel Exhaust and Manifold                                     Jan. 2014
New Wiring Harness, Horn Relay, Ammeter                                                                              April 2014