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Customized Fixtures and Skilled Hands Bring Back a Rusted Jaguar
> E-Type Body Shell Restoration
Some facets of vintage Jaguar restoration are straightforward and can be successfully completed by just about any competent mechanic. Other areas, however, are far more difficult, with dangerous pitfalls awaiting the uninitiated at every turn. At the top of that list would surely be E-Type body shell restoration. Probably only a small handful of shops in the country can legitimately call themselves "experts" in this area. We're not attempting to discredit anyone, but if you're contemplating having such work done, do your homework before entrusting your prized E-Type to a particular shop. Better yet, ship it to XKs Unlimited and know it's in capable and experienced hands.
Like any monocoque structure, from a P-51 Mustang to an Airstream trailer, the E-Type body shell is strong as a complete unit but is weakened considerably when any structural element is removed. Careful support of the shell with a dedicated fixture is required during repair to maintain correct panel alignment. (We once worked on an E-Type roadster that was so badly "folded" in the middle that the doors would not close. No measures had been taken to maintain alignment before the inner and outer sills were removed, so this was one E-Type that had a lot in common with a taco shell.)
So what makes XKs Unlimited your preferred source for E-Type body restoration? With our custom jigs, we can replace only a few panels or build an entirely new body shell using only the original front bulkhead, just like in the UK. What's more, many shops gas weld or braze in new panels. This can compromise the shell's strength and is a dead giveaway that the body has been repaired. We employ only proper spot welding equipment to ensure the repaired shell is as strong as the day it left the factory and that all seams retain the original finish. The bottom line is that our body shop staff knows how to restore an E-Type body shell. We have the proper equipment, the parts supply and, perhaps most importantly, the experience, to do the job correctly. We won't be learning on your car.
As part of the process, we ensure that things like tail lamp housings, bumpers and head lamp finishers will fit properly once the shell is painted. That's the advantage of working with a shop that has worked on hundreds of E-Types and that doesn't just paint them; we know that what's done on day five can impact what's done on day fifty-five.
What's more, with our new body restoration facility, we can return the body shell painted to your specifications and ready for re-assembly. And with our knowledge of E-Types, you can be assured that all the details will be correct, such as the many small areas of visible body color paint that must to finished to the same standard as, say, the bonnet.
As you can see from the accompanying E-Type photos, there was virtually nothing left of the bottom 12 or so inches of sheet metal. The floors, cross member, boot floor, inner and outer sills and associated support panels were all victims of the dreaded tin worm. (You know you're in trouble when you need to clean the shop floor with a square-point shovel - the accumulation of rust flakes after disassembly was that deep.) Fortunately, the body was otherwise straight and unmolested; aside from a few bumps and bruises we didn't have to correct earlier repairs or accident damage.
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> Painting an E-Type the XKs Unlimited Way
As we discussed in our E-Type body shell restoration article, there isn't much on an E-Type that's analogous to a modern car, and paintwork is no exception. The only way to properly paint an E-Type is to completely disassemble the outside of the car - all lights, bumpers, glass, chrome trim and rubber have to come off, along with the top on roadsters. The door panels and sill covers from the interior are also removed. "There's simply no way you can mask all these parts off and do the job right," says Jason Len, XKs Unlimited owner and president.
But that's only a start because the now unadorned body shell must be stripped to bare metal to remove all traces of old paint, primer and body filler. "The days of painting over a good, original paint job were over long ago," says Len. "Short of a car that came out of a time warp, there probably isn't an E-Type around that hasn't had at least some body and paint work. All of that has to be stripped back to bare metal - and sometimes re-repaired correctly - for the type of paint job an E-Type deserves."
Refer back to the body shell restoration article for more information on major repairs, but let's assume your newly stripped E-Type is in need of some new panels. XKs Unlimited has the part supply and experience to do the job correctly. "We don't braze or gas-weld new panels into place," says Len. "Brazing is too weak and gas welding isn't original. We spot weld panels just like the factory did - any other method is either too weak or a dead giveaway that the car has been repaired and repaired incorrectly. Our repair methods ensure the repair is indistinguishable from original and will only enhance the car's value."
Like the aforementioned disassembly and body repair work, all painting is now done in-house by XKs Unlimited at our dedicated body and paint facility. "By not entrusting the actual painting to a subcontractor, we can control all the details, like making sure paint goes in all the little places where body color is visible on the finished car. Nothing against other shops," says Len, "but unless they have as much experience with E-Types as we do, they're bound to get something wrong.
"We also check the fit of various chrome pieces such as bumpers and lamp housings as we go because unless you're careful during the body repair phase, these pieces might not fit when you reassemble the car," cautions Len. "Take an E rear bumper for instance. Moving the front mounting point by an eighth of an inch might translate to an insurmountable gap at the other end. You don't want to discover this after the car has been painted."
Our years of experience are also on your side during the reassembly phase. XKs Unlimited has reassembled more E-Types than we care to count. We know the pitfalls and we know what's required to do the job right.
Painting an E-Type at XKs Unlimited starts at $17,500. This includes complete disassembly, stripping to bare metal, paint, and reassembly with all new body rubber. It does not include painting of the trunk compartment or the engine bay. All body work and rust repair are also extra, which, realistically, can increase the cost substantially. "After all these years, virtually every E-Type will require some extra work," says Len. "Granted, painting an E-Type is not inexpensive, but I can guarantee that with our parts supply, knowledge and experience, having the work done by XKs Unlimited presents an excellent value. What's more, we're totally focused on restorations - we don't take in general collision or insurance work. That means each job is completed in a timely manner by a team dedicated solely to first-class restorations."
Please call our restoration department to discuss your project today.