The Adventures of my E-Type

Today we are used to E-Types being coveted sports cars which are treated with care by their owners.   Few of them ever even see a drop of rain on their paintwork.   However, for many years they were just old sportscars that were not treated with the same reverence.   This is the story of my E-Type before it settled into its post-restoration life.


I had never really thought of owning an E-Type until I lived in the USA for four years.   Certainly, I had seen them at car shows and always admired the model.   However, in Australia they felt out of reach.   In the USA on the other hand, they are far more plentiful.    Over 80% of E-Types were left hand drive and the vast majority of those cars ended up in the United States.  In addition, very nice driver quality cars are much cheaper in the USA.

In the first couple of years of living over there, I owned a couple of Mercedes-Benz models that I had always wanted to own and were laughably cheap over there.   In 2010, after classic car prices took a bit of a dip due to the global financial crisis, I realized that now was the time to buy something much nicer that I would eventually bring back to Australia after I finished over there.     I researched a few different cars but ended up with a Series 1 E-Type as my target.

It took me about six months to find the right car.   I looked at some absolutely shocking examples.   The worst being a car that I drove four and a half hours to Buffalo NY to inspect.   It was advertised as being in good condition and the owner agreed to a test drive.  He neglected to inform me that it hadn’t been on the road since 1994, was full of rust and was only being held on the driveway by the handbrake.   I think he was a little offended when after his inquiry about if price was the reason why I was no longer interested I told him I wouldn’t have been interested at any price.

In the end I found a car that met my requirements in Portland OR.   It was a Series 1 4.2 OTS – an older restoration that was still in nice condition.   I had an inspection done on the car that looked really promising, so I flew out to see it.     The garage doing the inspection was a little reluctant.   They were worried I would sue them if there was something wrong with the car.   I agreed not to and to take the report verbally, so they relented.

I agreed a price and the car arrived in my driveway a month later.   I had briefly thought about driving it back, but decided that was probably too much of a risk on a car like this I didn’t know.   A few months earlier I had bought a Mercedes 560SEC on eBay sight unseen and driven it back to Michigan over a weekend.    At least with the much cheaper Mercedes, had something gone wrong I could have just parked it somewhere and retrieved it later.


My first drive of my new E-Type wasn’t much of a success.  I found the brakes sticking on after even moderate use.   I managed to make it almost home until they stuck on hard and I was sitting by the side of the road for 30 minutes for the car to cool off.   This problem would come and go for the whole two years I lived in the USA, despite various repairs and would only get resolved after I arrived back here.

During this time, I started to trace the history of the car.   The history file came with the details of where the previous owner had purchased it, and I had the names of two early owners written in the owner’s manual.

My first step was to order a heritage certificate which confirmed the car was build 17/9/65 and left the factory 5/10/65.   It was sold to a Spencer Augustus Folsom Jr, of Fayetteville, North Carolina.   That corresponded to the first name in the owner’s manual listed with Abv 1965.   It was also able to confirm that the engine, gearbox, colour scheme etc was the same as it left the factory.     The other name listed is Muriel Folsom and a date of July 19, 1967.

I did much better tracking back to the prior owner.   The gentleman in Portland who sold me the car had purchased it from a broker, but the broker remembered the car and soon put me in contact with the original seller, Dick.   Dick had sold off his car collection and retired to Costa Rica, but had been the owner from 1988 to 2004.    It was Dick who had done the restoration of the car, and he had actually purchased it off a good friend of his, Warren who had purchased the car in late 1967 or early 1968.  As well as the E-Type, Dick’s car collection included a 1954 XK120 DHC, a 1969 Porsche 911 Targa and a 1937 Cord Phaeton.

Warren purchased the car just after he graduated Law School as a present to himself.   The car was about 18 months old and had already been resprayed to Indigo blue.   The original colour was Opalescent Silver-Blue.    Warren had been driving a Mercedes 190SL at the time.   While the 190SL is worth big money now, it was just a cheap sportscar back in 1967 and Warren found it extremely disappointing.   Unlike its more storied 300SL brother, the 190SL is more of a sheep in wolfs clothing.

He seemed to recall purchasing the car from the original owner.   He couldn’t remember much about him, other than he seemed to be some kind of sales person and was selling the car to buy a Porsche 911S.   At the time, Warren was living in Washington DC.   Warren stayed in Washington DC for another six weeks before he relocated to San Francisco where the car would remain until Dick purchased it in 1988.

On the drive from Washington DC, Warren was able to explore some of the E-Type’s performance, especially as compared with the 190SL.  Apparently, he was able to peg the speedometer driving through Utah.   It was a spring morning in the desert, and while the road was dry, there was still snow on the ground.   There may be a bit of poetic licence here, as 160mph seems a bit far fetched for a bone stock 4.2 E-Type.    Or perhaps it was the Smiths speedometer!


From then until the mid-80s, the E-Type was Warren’s daily driver, and it often parked on the street in San Francisco.   He used to have it maintained by a small father/son shop who loved the XK engine so much they had one in their GMC pickup truck.

When he first got to San Francisco, he didn’t have anywhere to live, so he was temporarily staying with a college friend in the Low Hollow section of San Francisco.   One day he got back home late at night and the car was gone.   A couple of weeks later he was driving a rental car, and he sees his own car, being driven by some guy, still in San Francisco.   It even still had his plates on it.   He attempted to give chase, but the E-Type was no match for an entry level econobox and so it got away.   After that, he had resigned himself to never seeing the car again.

He went to a bar to drown his sorrows, and when he came out, the rental had been towed or stolen.  When he got back to the apartment, his roommate had left a note saying his car had been located.   Assuming this was the rental, car, he went to bed.

The next morning, he found out it was the E-Type.  His roommate had been driving through the Mission district and was telling one of her girlfriends about how Warren’s Jaguar had been stolen and that he didn’t think he would ever get it back.   Her friend wasn’t familiar with the model so his roommate pointed one out parked on the street.    She quickly did a double take as it was Warren’s car, parked on Dolores St.

They found a Policeman who needed a lot of convincing to have it towed to the Police lockup, but eventually relented as he was going off duty.

Warren went down to the lockup and found that his car was mostly ok.   Not only that, but it was full of the thief’s property including his shoes and underwear.     He couldn’t think of anything creative to do with them, so he tossed them away.

Soon after, when using his address book, he noticed that the world’s stupidest thief had started using Warren’s address book as his own.  The thief had written his own name in the address book, and his mother’s name and address.   Warren took this information to a detective, who wasn’t all that interested as the car was back and it was outside San Francisco.

Warren decided that since the Police were not interested, he would find the thief himself.   The address was in Pacifica, which is just south of San Francisco.   He wasn’t able to find the address, so he consulted with a local Cop.  The Cop immediately wanted to know why he was interested in that name and address.   The name was well known to Pacifica police.  They thought the thief was still in Prison for car theft!   Turns out he had been released two days before he stole Warren’s car.   He never was prosecuted for the theft.   Warren was pretty happy to get the car back though, as he was pretty certain he would never see it again.

After the theft, Warren had the father and son team who maintained the car to fit an unobtrusive fuel pump cut off switch.   The car would never been stolen again by a third party, although Warren would have to ‘steal’ it himself.

Warren had been in Chicago for business and the car was parked at the airport.   When he returned, he realized that he had left the keys in Chicago.   He managed to scrounge up some wire, unscrewed the dash panel and used the wire to jump the ignition switch and started the car right up.   The parking lot attendant saw him driving out with the panel down and exposed wires, but just took the $20 fee and waved him through.


Later in the 70s, Warren was living on the Oakland side of the bay, and was visiting a coworker who lived in Danville.   That area was not nearly as built up as it is today.     One evening, Warren had a bit to much to drink at a dinner, so took the back road home (Crow Canyon Road).   It was a full moon, the top was down, and as he rounds a corner, he sees a horse moving around by the side of the road.  As he goes to pass the horse, it panics and bolts onto the road.

Warren tries to take evasive action, but at the last minute the horse goes the other way.  As a result, he slams into the horse with the right-hand side of the car, which was quite badly damaged.   The horses head came through the windscreen, severing an artery as the glass shatters.   Unfortunately, the horse bled out all over the car, inside and out.   Warren is able to extract the car from the now dead horse and get it home.

The next morning at the office, the coworker was at the office telling everyone how he had seen this dead horse on the way to the office and was saying based on the state of the horse he wished he could see the state of the car!   As it happened this was a wish Warren could grant.

Given the condition of his car, Warren started the process of filing his insurance claim.    The insurance agent wanted to know what type of animal Warren had struck.  Luckily before answering, Warren enquired why this mattered.   The agent helpfully told him that his policy covered wild animals, such as deer.  It did not cover domestic animals such as dogs and horses.

Later Warren’s coworkers would present him with a painting of him as the 19th century hunter, replete in a safari jacket, pith helmet and holding a glass of champagne in front of a fireplace.   Mounted above the fireplace is a stuffed animal head.   It’s a horse with antlers.

Obviously, in the mid-70s a well-used Jaguar E-Type is not worth a great deal.   Warren starts calling around trying to find a used bonnet.   He finds a shady sort of guy who can provide one for $500 cash.   The guy arrives with the bonnet on the back of his pickup truck.   He picks up the bonnet on his own and dumps it in front of Warren and demands his $500.   Later Warren would read in the paper that this guy was gunned down in a drug deal.   After that he always wondered if he had a ‘hot’ bonnet.

Later, during my ownership the car was at Tony Pallas’ workshop having some electrical work done.  Tony indicated that I had a 3.8 bonnet which fits into Warren’s story.

At the time of the horse incident, Warren had the colour of the car changed to Maroon.   By the mid-80s, Warren would purchase an XJ6 and the E-Type would get less and less use until it was languishing in the back of a warehouse, gathering dust.   By that time, it needed everything.

Dick had been friends with Warren for many years and had wanted an E-Type since the 4.2 model came out.   Dick lived in Reno, Nevada and that is where the E-Type would be restored.    He paid $15,000 for the car.

Dick also sent the car to Carson City for some mechanical work.  In particular, the engine was re-done including replacing the cracked liner in #5, hardened valve seats in the head, changing the rear end ratio to either 3.31 or 3.07 (from 3.54) and installing XJ6 rear brakes.

The goal of Dick’s restoration was to mostly be stock, but with a few specific changes.   Firstly, he wanted to go back to the original Opalescent Silver-Blue, but he didn’t particularly like the shade.   He did however see a similar Porsche colour from the 80s with a bit more of a vibrant blue.    You can really tell the difference when the parked next to the factory colour.

In addition, Dick was no fan of some of the interior materials used by Jaguar.   The car has blue leather instead of any of the other materials such as hadura, moquette or vinyl.   Even the accelerator pedal is covered with leather.   The interior was done by another friend of Dick’s who took all those requests into account.   Dick also installed a luggage rack on the boot for touring, plus new Dayton 6” wire wheels.

The restoration was done by 1995 and Dick and his wife scored well in some early concours events while the restoration was still fresh.    It won it’s class in the 2001 and 2003 Reno Concours events.   Dick would put about 8,000 miles on the E-Type after the restoration.

In 2004, the car would go to Rick in Portland.   Rick drove it back from Reno, but it didn’t get a whole lot of use in Rick’s ownership (around 2,000 miles).    Rick also had a Lotus track car, so he had the car fitted with adjustable shocks, changed the diff back to 3.54, fitted a 14” steering wheel – an exact replica of the original and removed the luggage rack and amco bars.

I bought the car from Rick and for the first 18 months I owned it, it was based in Royal Oak Michigan.   I probably put as much mileage on the car in that 18 months as it had in the six years prior.    The main issues I had with the car were lack of use.   It would take me 2-3 years to sort out the brake problems with the car.

In the 11 years I have owned the car, I’ve covered 11,000km in it.   With a young family, I am not able to make all that many club events, but the logbook system means I can still use the car, often late at night.   The car was seen at the 60th anniversary event in Bathurst and has been on display at the all-British day a few times.


I’ve not really changed much on the E-Type.   I fitted a Coolcat fan to cope with Sydney traffic, replaced the 80s cassette deck with a Retrosound unit that looks similar to the original radios in USA cars, and had the diff ratio changed (again) to 3.07.   I’m really happy with that modification as it really makes 3rd gear come alive.   For example, on long twisty roads like Goulburn to Oberon, 3rd gear becomes a great passing gear and a good ratio for slower sections.   I also really like the 14” steering wheel, as at 194cm, I don’t easily fit without it.

When I purchased the car, I assumed I would have it converted to right hand drive here in Australia.   However, I have not really been at all bothered with driving a left-hand drive car here.   Its true there have been a couple of times I have reversed into large parking garages to operate the keypad or ticket machine, but that is a small price to pay to drive one of the greatest cars of the 20th century.

This article first appeared in the Jaguar Drivers Club of Australia Magazine, The Australian Jaguar Driver, November 2021 edition.

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