To the cas­tle...

Classic Cars (UK) - - Our Cars -

When I booked my E-type into the Royal Wind­sor Jaguar Fes­ti­val, it seemed com­fort­ably far off in the dis­tance. There would be more than enough time to fin­ish off the win­ter job list, ad­mit­tedly one that had man­aged to spill over into spring. Then sud­denly the event was only a week away. Cue a marathon of late garage nights.

There was no sin­gle ma­jor job to deal with, but a frus­trat­ingly long list of mi­nor ones that seemed re­luc­tant to be well and truly crossed off. Like re­fit­ting the dash­top panel that I’d had re­cov­ered by ace trim­mer Tom Hamp­ton (07703 176934). Years ago he told me that the art of be­ing a good trim­mer is know­ing the right glue to use. Which is where the pre­vi­ous re­storer had, er, come un­stuck be­cause mine has spent the last seven years unglue­ing it­self, and de­vel­oped a cou­ple of mi­nor splits.

By the time the Fes­ti­val came around I’d re­fit­ted the dash­top and reglued var­i­ous other bits of mi­nor trim, in­clud­ing the driver’s side A-pil­lar, re­placed the in­cor­rect brake and clutch low-pres­sure hoses that had been sweat­ing hy­draulic fluid with the cor­rect EPDM ma­te­rial, fit­ted the re­con­di­tioned speedome­ter, en­cour­aged the lethar­gic screen washer into more con­vinc­ing per­for­mance and changed the car’s flu­ids.

As I joined some 900 other Jaguars crawl­ing along the tree-lined Long Walk lead­ing up to the dis­tant van­ish­ing point of Wind­sor Cas­tle, my at­ten­tion flicked be­tween the spec­ta­cle ad­vanc­ing slowly through the wind­screen and the scene in­side the car. Af­ter years of be­ing ir­ri­tated by the peel­ing trim and a speedo nee­dle jump­ing around like a VU me­ter in a record­ing stu­dio, my eyes re­turned time and again to the snug dash­top and guess­free speed read­ings.

I tried not to share my per­sonal vic­to­ries with ev­ery­one I met at the event, where there were some rather more in­ter­est­ing things to see, from a cute Swal­low sa­loon­bod­ied Austin Seven to a cou­ple of XJ220S. There was fa­mil­iar Jaguar roy­alty scat­tered on the grass – the ex-dun­can Hamil­ton C-type MDU 214, and D-types 774 RW and pro­to­type OKV 1.

My high­light was ECD 400, the E-type that Gra­ham Hill drove to vic­tory at Oul­ton Park in April 1961, scor­ing the model’s maiden win. In an age where such pre­cious cars are in­creas­ingly hid­den away, it was great to see a few stone chips on the nose and wear to the driver’s footwell car­pet since restora­tion. Owner Sir Paul Vestey re­mains a driver – and seems to know the right glue to use, judg­ing by the sag-and­peel-free trim in­side.

On the run home I no­ticed that my tachome­ter nee­dle and in­te­rior lights had given up. Nei­ther would com­pro­mise the fol­low­ing week’s MOT test, but they’re on the same cir­cuit as the head­lamp flash, and that will. More garage time ahead then.

Wind­sor Cas­tle has im­pres­sive off-road park­ing Phil was lov­ing his E-type in­te­rior, then the tacho failed

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