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Editorial - JAGUAR WORLD MONTYLY - FEBRUARY 2009Paul Chipp-Smith has always liked Jaguars and today runs a company specialising in these and similar cars. His passion started when he put his first tentative step on the automotive career ladder, valeting cars. The company sold very young Jaguars and Paul's job was to strip out the seats for a valet more thorough than any. The results are cars so good they looked new. At the age of 21,
Paul went self-employed buying the part-exchanges. This soon evolved into restoration where he provided a service at customer's homes. His first venture into car restoration was at the age of just 17 when he bought a Triumph TR7. He actually made a good job of it, sufficiently so to give him confidence for the future. Jaguars soon entered his life with an XJ-S followed by an XJ40, sold onto a friend of Camilla Parker Bowles. Then through his contacts he found that a car collection had been bought by Evans Autos in 2006 from the estate of the deceased owner. The company was more interested in the low-mileage Rolls-Royce, but Paul liked the look of a short-wheelbase S2 XJ6 in Daimler guise. He thought it was early and he was right; it was registered in September 1973. After a deal was concluded, Paul could look at just what he had. There were three registered owners: the first a company, the second the deceased owner and third his son. Between them they had covered just 43,000 miles. The car looked sound enough, but it had been left out for some time and the paint was lifting. Of course there was some oxidising but it appeared perfect underneath. By now Paul was running JAGtechnic which is more involved in modern Jaguars, but as older cars are also still catered for he started the restoration, beginning with a full strip down.
Work in progress
Paul went about his rebuild systematically. As parts were removed they were assessed for condition with a view to replacement or upgrade. It just happened that the company had acquired a 4.2 Series 3 XJ "“ an MoT failure through rust but with similar mileage to the Series 2, it was perfect mechanically. It was then that Paul decided he would utilise some of the components as part of a gentle upgrade programme. although the front wings could have been repaired, Paul thought he would try to find replacements. Through the Jaguar Classic Parts scheme, a Europe-wide search was undertaken and wings were produced; one from Germany the other from Belgium. The valance joining the front wings at the bottom also needed work, but as the one from the Series 3 was perfect, it was adapted where necessary to suit. The rest of the body would be stripped, repaired where needed, and prepared for paint.
Meanwhile the mechanical side was looked at. After a strip down, the engine was found to be in good fettle "“ apart from the cylinder head that is. There was a crack but there was just a chance that the "˜head on the Series 3 was OK. Paul was in luck as the head was not only perfect it had, of course, the bigger inlet valve set up. A neat touch was to remove the black crackle finish from the cam covers, polishing the aluminium instead. He resisted the urge to transfer the entire fuel injection system over, but he did like the sound of the 1,2,3 distributor marketed through SC Parts and Rob Beere, and so added that to his upgrades. Suspicious of the AED starting device, Paul decided to fit a manual choke in its place Other parts that found their way into the Series 2 were the Series 3 oil cooler and brakes. The brake pedal box is a direct fit, while the discs and calipers came over with their hub uprights "“ fully rebuilt of course. As a bonus there was a set of almost new Monroe dampers that also found a new home. Staying with the original appearance though, the pressed steel chrome wheels were refurbished at great cost to be fitted with new Pirelli P4000 tyres. The front beam was blasted and painted with the suspension going together with the obligatory new perishable parts like bushes and balljoints.
Deciding to fit the more powerful H4 headlights, Paul felt that the Series 3 alternator would assist in boosting the power to cope. As for the shiny bits, everything was rechromed "“ except the door handles, which were apparently perfect. Fortunately new badges are still available through Jaguar Classic Parts and these now adorn the car. New stock door rubbers were sourced to keep the car as quiet as when new. Inside, virtually everything was in good shape. There was a small tear in the driver's seat squab, so Paul had that alone retrimmed. Then, using his experience gained when a youth, he pulled out every trick in the book to get things perfect.
The carpets were fine, just needing a thorough clean. But the headlining in typical XJ fashion was hanging limp and so had to be replaced, something Paul did without having to remove the screens. Virtually no damp had got to the interior, which saved so much. To keep it so, new vapour panels were fitted behind the door casings. If Paul has a criticism it is over the door pockets. They are ever so slightly out of shape, something that Paul hopes to remedy in the future.
Paul is absolutely thrilled with the finished car. One of its first jobs was to be a wedding car for a friend before going on to the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club's XK60 meeting at Cowdray Park where it picked up best in class. He thought he should attend his local JEC meeting too and at his first visit he not only won the raffle, but he won the "˜bonnets up' competition too, against stiff E-type and Mk 2 opposition. He liked the guys there and has now become more involved with the area, being recently voted on to the committee. Not bad for their youngest member.
It was a cold but bright day when I visited Paul's Eastbourne home. Out of season, the area has that rare mix of good roads devoid of visitors. That didn't make it any easier trying to find a location for the photo shoot, though! But then we thought of Beachy Head, finding it pleasingly quiet for our purposes. The wind howled and the cold was biting, but the view over the town and the bay was sensational. Paul directed me through a serious of different roads, some twisting while others allowed the XJ to stretch its legs. The XJ took it all in its stride. I didn't expect too much as this car is set up fairly standard but it actually handled extremely well. Perhaps the Pirellis helped there. At no time did I find it ponderous on the standard Monroe dampers. The brakes were absolutely superb easily hauling the car's bulk down to a standstill. Starting the XJ on the manual choke was a breeze, the engine settling down to a very smooth tickover. Pull away remained smooth with gear changes slick without any jolting. I quizzed Paul about possibly fitting a modern four-speed "˜box from the XJ40/X300 but it wasn't something he'd ever considered, preferring instead to maintain the feel of the Series 2.
Pulling up at Paul's home I decided that I liked his car. The upgrades have my seal of approval being Jaguar based in the main; they are simply later versions of the parts originally fitted, effectively the final element in a series of model on model development. Like it or not, there is always the thorny subject of cost. XK and E-type owners have it easy as the cars are inevitably worth more when finished. But luckily we are not all mercenary at heart. If pushed Paul will admit to spending some £18,000 "“ and that does not include any of his labour. But that is to ignore his passion. Paul is a businessman, but he clearly did not undertake this project for financial gain. It does highlight his capabilities but then most of his business is about modern Jaguars. I think we can assume that if a customer were interested then he would undertake a similar project. It wouldn't be cheap, but it would be correct.