To the purists, the subject of “remods” or “resto-mods” (taking an old car and improving — or sometimes “improving” it) generally causes pearl-clutching and mutters of “chucking away the heritage” or “losing all its value” or “can’t show it anymore” and “turned it into a bastard”.

As a rule, as all my Readers are aware, I am generally against fiddling with the past.  But not in this case.  Not with cars.

Because, as any fule kno, some old cars look fantastic, e.g. the 1964 Austin Healy 3000:

…or the 1970 Alfa Romeo Spider 1750:

…but are total shit to own because of their propensity to rust, overall mechanical unreliability, and our old friends

and its Euro-cousin .

So when Evil Reader Ken S. sent me this link about fixing up a Series I E-type Jag, I wasn’t mortally offended — especially when I consider some of the reservations about the E-type expressed in Comments to an earlier post.  And the resto-mod is pretty damn impressive, I admit… although I must say that replacing the Jag’s wonderful 3-liter powerhouse with a Ford V6 did cause a momentary catch in my throat.

Still, when I saw Jay Leno’s take on Ken Lee’s resto-mod of his Dino, I agreed with Jay completely:

This is the car that Ferrari should have made.”

…and even though Lee had dropped a more powerful engine into his Dino, at least it was a Ferrari F40 and not a Chrysler hemi.

And all that said, I have no problem with pairing reliable and cheap-to-fix American engines with (say) Italian styling, like Monteverdi, Iso Rivolta and Bizzarrini did, back in the 1960s.  Here’s the last-named’s P538 model:

The same can’t be said for the Jensen Interceptor, which paired the excellent Chrysler V6 with… British Leyland-style assembly.

If you wanted to do a resto-mod on this one, you’d probably have to ditch everything except the engine, and have a coachbuilder make you a replica body.  And keep Lucas Electrical away at gunpoint.

My secret hankering, by the way, is to get some smart coachbuilder to drop a Dino body onto a Porsche Cayman chassis and make all the stuff work.  The dimensions are almost perfect.

Yes, in Ferrari Yellow.  If you’re going to fuck up, fuck up at the top of your voice.


  1. If this old man’s memory serves him correctly, I believe that there was a company back in the 80s that rebuilt Jags with Chevy 350 engines and Delco electronics. I think that the rusty bodies and leaky rag tops were included at no additional cost.

    The E Type in the article is a work of art. The engine is a small block Ford V-8 and is probably the second most popular American engine (behind the Chevy 350 series) for such things. As I’ve shared here I owned a Maxwell Smart Sunbeam Tiger back when I was young and very foolish. 260 V-8 with a hybrid of American and British electrics. The only car I’ve ever owned in 50 years of driving that ever caught fire on me. Still it’s one of the few cars that I ever regretted selling.

    The Jensens used big heavy Mopar V-8 engines – 383 and 440 cubic inches. The 440 in particular had a decent reputation as a strong and powerfu engine. Many old time law enforcement officers still consider the full size Mopars of that vintage with the big 440 as the best pursuit vehicle ever built. Not much off the line because of the weight of the car, but they would run in excess of 100 mph – fast for those days – as long as the gas held out.

  2. Love the cars. Sadly, none seem to consider the 300+ pound retired executive with money to burn, looking to revive his second childhood.

  3. I had a 1969 Triumph Spitfire with very good electrics.

    Of course, the only original pieces in the electrical system were the starter motor and the ignition switch.

    I replaced every other electrical piece with American hardware.

    …then the differential went bad.

    1. Forty years ago, I worked with a fellow who once mentioned that he owned an old MG and the turn signal or something went bad. Parts were not available, so he changed the switch from the original which was the size of a D cell battery with a micro switch that was about the size of five sticks of chewing gum. He said he didn’t know why the other was so large, or what it all did, but his replacement worked perfectly all the years he owned the car after that.

  4. I distinctly remember running an autocross at the Burlington mass Campus of Northeastern in 1969 when a guy showed up with a ford 289 stuffed in an E-type. Complete with Webber Carbs poking through a hood cut out.

    I’m always interested to see what people with the desire to see money efficiently turned into tire smoke can come up with. There is no end to the stories who have spend $100K on a car that will never be worth more than $ 30,000. I’m glad that they can do it just out of love for a particular car.

  5. I’m not surprised that Monteverde, Iso Rivolta and Bizzarrini used American parts.
    I believe they are all Swiss manufacturers, and what Swiss banker or watchmaker would stand for such temperamental and unreliable machinery as are most Italian automobiles.

    1. Carlo Bizzarinni was an Italian engineer who was famously fired by Enzo Ferrari – Developed 3 cars for Iso Rivolta before stating his own Italian car company. Monteverdi was Swiss

  6. “as any fule kno”, the Series-1 E-Type had a 3.8-litre inline DOHC six; and there is another fabled maker who mated Euro styling to American muscle: Facel Vega, and quite successfully if I might add.
    Speaking of American Iron in a Jag: Was at a swap-meet somewhere in time, and a Mk-II pulled up, and when the bonnet was popped, there was a very clean installation of a GM 4.3-litre V-6, A/C and all. Owner said the biggest hassle was having new springs for the front suspension made to get the ride-height down with a suitable spring-rate.

  7. ltdavel , you recall correctly there was a firm who did the Jag conversions called John’s Cars and they advertised under the term “Jaguars that run” .

    Yes the Jensens had the big Chrysler V8s in them as did a number of European cars of the sixties on up. I am of two minds of the E-type with the Ford V-8, maybe a lot of the overheating problems were addressed in the conversion, and maybe someone just liked the idea. It is their car after all, do what you will with it.

    There are a lot of cars on that “Bring a Trailer” site, it is amazing to me that people have the discretionary money to indulge in any of them.

  8. E type had e 3.8 litre straight six, then the famed 4.2 litre straight six then 5.3 litre v12

  9. I had an MG. The body wasn’t in terrible shape, but the wiring was a disaster. Fortunately, Uncle Sam had sent me to about 18 months of Navy electrical and electronic schools. I put those skills to work. Bought some spools of appropriately sized wire and some switches and relays. I wish I had a picture of the finished work. It looked pretty good and all the important functions, like lights, turn signals, horn, start, etc., operated off of toggle switches I mounted across the bottom of the dash.

  10. There are very few old cars that wouldn’t benefit aesthetically from bigger, more modern wheels, that E-Type included. A nice set of rims that fill the arches and impart a more muscular look (preferably with a subtle lowering) together with some nice chromed exhaust tips is the best and easiest way to transform the look of any vehicle.

Comments are closed.