They come apart fast, and afterward the E-Type is an ultimate automotive jigsaw puzzle to put back together.
Hopefully this step-by-step guide will help help you (and us) with future builds.
The main side-member assemblies are made from bronze-welded Reynolds 531 tubes and suffer from internal cracks and corrosion. Thorough inspection and subsequent cavity protection spray should be administered before assembly.
If you have some exceptionally good frames, or new ones, they will still need to be wrestled into place. Large circular punches will aid in locating the bolt holes.
Almost the entire front end uses 5/16BNF threads with silver cad-plated 5/16 nyloc nuts and blackened 5/16 internal tooth crush washers. Prepare with about 50 of each.
The picture frame uses a wide variety 2-4 inch bolts and if your missing a complete original set, the large suppliers make a kit for this purpose.
Almost all the hardware on early cars is silver cad-plate, also known as zinc plating. Most original cars only have this original finish on protected areas of the parts under washers and inside threads. As production passed on Jaguar increasingly used gold cadmium plating.
Furthermore the first 13 steps will be all mounted with loose bolts, until the entire subframe assembly is built and then tightened as a complete unit.
STEP 1 – The first step is to reattach the serial number plate to the firewall with 4 1/8-inch aluminum rivets. This car is an early European-spec otherwise we would attach the Made In England tag below it.
STEP2- Locate the 5/16×1 GKN subframe bolts, 24 in all. These bolts were installed by Jaguar without washers or lockwashers, but are specific to this job as they have a raised edge that does not scratch the paint when tightened. Some people locktite the original units while others replace with grade 5 bolts with typical washers and lock washers. Later S2 cars FCF 5/16×1 bolts in gold cadmium plate.
As a note later Series II cars used FCF bolts of the same size but with gold cad otherwise known as Olive Drab. Next to these is an original nyloc nut as used on the picture frames.
STEP 3 – Next we will consider loosely attaching the main engine subframes just finger tight with the provided 5/16×1 bolts, but not until checking the notes below regarding the brake line loops and fuel filter bracket location. If the threads are painted on the firewall a 5/16-24 tap or thread cleaner would be necessary.
STEP3 NOTE – The loop clamps for the brake line should be in the following spots and the brake line L-braket will also need to be fitted. This 1965 model had gold-CAD loops. All bolts are just sitting there with the nylocs nuts barely on.
STEP 4 : The lower 3/8×2¼ bolt should be loosely installed through the floor channel, but the larger ½x3½ bolt will go on with the reaction plate.
The LH engine subframe also mounts the engine ground strap. Here is an original unit fitted in place.
STEP 5 – Install the E-Type front cross member aka the ‘Picture Frame’ with the lower 4 5/16×2¼bolts. These sheet metal spacers sit between the picture frame and engine subframes. If your car is a 4.2 the horn brackets will also go through these four bolts.
STEP 5 NOTE – The horns on a 4.2 liter car are located on the Picture frame as well as the horn ground wires which can benefit from bare-metal contact between the surfaces. Earlier cars had the larger horns built into the hood.
Series II cars locate the brake distribution block on the LH horn bracket.
STEP 6 – The upper control arm fulcrum block can be loosely installed. Leave the middle hole for the steering rack mount and the bottom hole on both sides will later have a loop clamp for the wiring harness. 5/16×2 just barely clear modern 5/16 lock washers.
STEP 7 – Loosely attach the two 5/16×2½ bolts through the three subframes on the passenger side.
Step 7.5 – Install the same two inner bolts on the driver’s side which also incorporates the 3-way hydraulic union .
Series II cars run small L-brackets on the top of the picture frame for the radiator supports.
STEP 8 – Assemble the lower control arms with new bushings in the fulcrum blocks and pre-load them just finger tight with a socket to get the right spacing to attach to the fulcrum blocks to the sub-frames. The lock nuts will be fully tightened later on after the engine is in the car. I have seen later cars which have “L” Left and “R” Right stampings for these pieces. On a 100% original car the fulcrum blocks are positioned with the part number towards the front of the car. Also these bushings only use outter washers that are thicker than normal. Also note there is no washer between the control arm and large fulcrum block.
Install the lower control arms with the torsion bars in the correct factory fit. We slid the torsion bar receiving bracket into the middle of the bar, then pushed the torsion bar into the lower control arm and finally pushed the bracket into place.
STEP 8 NOTE – We marked the factory original position. You can also make a tool from the service manual that will place the torsion bar correctly. They are stamped LH (Left Hand) and RH (Right Hand) on the front of the bar with an X on the rear (not sure what the numbers represent, anyone?). Once the bar is in the exact position the lock bolt can be slid through the control arm.
If you didn’t mark the torsion bar location, a simple measurement from the picture frame to the lower control arm should be 20.5 inches when at rest.
We used 2 5/16×2 bolts for the rear lower control arm fulcrum blocks.
STEP 10 – All of these sway bar pieces will be needed. The 5/16×4 bolts are specific to this job.
Series II cars also have this bracket in the subframe mount to support the brake lines.
STEP 12 – Loosely attach the sway bar. Only two bolts hold on the sway bar but they pass through more layers than anything else on the car. Usually a second person is helpful here not to scratch the paint and keep all the pieces intact before the long bolts can be threaded through. Also use silicon rubber grease, but never use the silicon spray as it causes paint fisheyes with anything in the shop.
STEP 13 – Adjust the sway bar bushing to be equal on both sides then tighten the two bolts.
Step 14 – Now we can finally tighten all the bolts. We started with the firewall and worked forward. Our machinists guide recommended 20 ft lbs for new Grade 5 5/16 bolts. We used less on the original 1960s hardware. Don’t forget both the front and rear lower control arm fulcrum blocks.
STEP 15 – Next prepare the upper control arms. Also use silicon rubber grease, but never use the silicon spray as it causes paint fisheyes with anything in the shop The 13/16 lock nuts will need to be slightly preloaded to fit in the frame. Also the .029 inch spacers are pictured which were used by the factory to align the top control arm. One of the four bushing retainers on our car had no spacers. We also ground down some 1½ grade 8 bolts to get the correct flat in the bushing retainer.
STEP 16 – Loosely install the control arm with only the top nuts and slide in the shims. The bolts for this are 5/16×1¼ with a small flat section.
STEP 17 – Prepare the front spindle by attaching the lower ball joint. Ours has an XJ40 unit which is sealed and need smaller bolts 5/16-3/4 bolts. We still used the paired tab washers.
STEP 18 – The next couple steps show linking up the rest of the suspension with the jack pre-loading the torsion bars. Typically I would recommend installing the engine at this point to fit the torsion bar and reaction plate in one fell swoop. Sometimes customers and production require a rolling car however so this will show how to fit without the engine in place. Loosely attach the stub axle carriers with the provided (hopefully) nyloc nut to the lower control arm. With a jack and the car's weight you can mate up the top control arm.
STEP 19 – Mount both dampers with the jack still in place. You might be able to seat the ball joints now without them spinning, if not do the lower one once the jack is lowered and the top once the engine weight provides more friction. With the jack removed, the damper limits downward movement.
STEP 20 – Install the steering rack bushing to the picture frame using the sole 5/16 nylock nut. If the upper steering column assembly is installed, then the steering column must be in place before the next step.
STEP 21 – On the driver’s side install the rack to the rubber bushings, tighten all three bolts between the rack and bushing. Next install the two limiting bolts and washers with spacers that act as a loose safety for the rack and limit the mounting plate movement.
STEP 22 – The passenger side is somewhat different to mount and uses two nuts instead of a spacer on the limiting bolts. This unusual 5/16 upper limiting bolt contains no flat.
Here is the hardware for the RH steering rack mount. The fully threaded bolt is 5/16×3 while the distance spacers are 3/4
STEP 23 – Attach the rack to the rubber bushing then install the double-nut limiting bolts that will limit the rack movement.
STEP 19.5 – With the jack again preloading the torsion bar, screw on the tie rod ends to the steering rack and then seat them into the stub axle carrier. TOP TIP: remove the grease nipple and attach it after lowering the suspension to rest position. If they bottom out then some material will have to be taken off the threads. Some tierod ends have been known to pop apart on jacking.
STEP WHATEVER – Mount up the sway bar with the links that extend down to the lower control arm.
STEP 25 – Install the Front hub and rotor to the axle stub with the oil seal, inner bearing packed with grease, outter bearing packed with grease, D-Washer and slotted nut. The correct tension is listed in the service manual.
STEP 27 – Install the caliper assembly with the shield assembly.
Here’s a somewhat more careful application of the factory lockwire only possible with good twist pliers.