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E Type Engine Refurbishment by Ray Straughan


I bought my 1966 4.2 2+2 E Type in August 2008. It had an engine and body restoration in 1983 but the engine has never been 100%. In 2011 I took the car to George Webb at Shiney Row. He informed me that one of the cylinders was down on compression as well as the distributor’s advance and retard was not working. Also one of the carburettors was not able to be tuned at all.

At the end of 2011 I was told that I was going to be made redundant. So after working for the same company for 38 years I took the offer, paid off the mortgage and decided to get the “old girl” an engine rebuild. Bob Exelby told me that he was happy with VSE in Wales rebuild on his XK140 engine. So I went with Bob’s recommendations and in September 2011 took the car off the road.

I got out my Haynes manual and copied out longhand a tick list of “Removing the engine” (easy to tick off as you go and easy to reverse the list when putting the engine back). After many nights and weekends removing loads and loads of parts it was ready for the engine to come out. With the help of my mate Dave we took out the engine. By the way, Dave was my apprentice in 1969 when I was a motor mechanic, we are still friends to this day. If I hadn’t had those 4 years as a mechanic, there would be no way I would tackle any jobs on the E Type never mind even buying one. The next few pictures show the day of removal in November 2011.




On the 5 November 2011 I took the engine to the VSE workshops in Wales. Not the most professional looking buildings but at the end of the day they know what they are doing. I was told that it would be ready by the end of February. In fact I collected the engine on 18 May 2012. The reason given for the delay was that the owner’s wife was ill and all jobs had been put back. The next pictures are of their workshops.



Next job was to clean up the engine bay. The original colour of the car was Opalescent Maroon and some of the colour was still to be seen on the chassis. So a coat of Black Smooth Hammerite did the trick. Most of the caked oil was removed too, as you can see from the next pictures. The picture with the Jack shows what I thought was the worst job of all, removing the Reaction plate and the 4 nuts and bolts. Those 4 bolts were a real “pig” of a job. Mike Cassidy kindly loaned me a hydraulic ram to take the pressure off the plate holding the bolts, created by the tension of the suspension torsion bar, still with the suspension dropped it was a job and a half. In fact the last person to do this job back in the 80’s must have got fed up of trying to get the bolts in without stripping them. One of the bolts I took out was ground down to a point so it could be hammered in. As you can imagine, it did not have a nut on it to make it tight. As you can see in the following pictures Julie doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is fixing on new engine mountings. Oil under the finger nails? that’s ok, broken finger nails, she’s not very happy. I also undercoated the bonnet while it was off the car. The following pictures are around March 2012.




On May 18 2012 I collected the engine form VSE. On the following day the engine went back in with the help of Dave and neighbour Richard. Richard is currently restoring a 70’s Mini. Isn’t it good to have ex “old style” mechanics available. 



A long day getting the big “Lump” back in but we got there in the end. Then the task of going through my “tick list” backwards. Starting from the May 19 Richard and I put it all back together again, not forgetting a really bad day with those 4 Reaction plate bolts. Eventually I drove the Jag out of the garage on June 2, after 15 days of graft.




After 2 engine oil and filter changes and the engine run in I took up Geoff’s invitation to Crofts Track day. Well, it was like driving a different car altogether. So smooth and fast with it. There was no way I would have done that track day on the old engine.

Well that’s it, job done. At the minute I have the rear suspension out of the car.

Approximate costs of this engine rebuild is as follows. 

STANDARD ENGINE REBUILD                          £3,150

CLUTCH COVER, PLATE & THRUST                   £195

DISTRIBUTOR OVERHAUL                                     £85

3 CARBS OVERHAUL                                             £575 

PLUS GASKETS PARTS ETC                                 £249

TOTAL                                                                   £4,254

VAT                                                                           £850

GRAND TOTAL                                                     £5,104