Resto He­roes

As we went to press, we re­ceived the sad news that An­drew Small had passed away. This in­spir­ing story of his E-type project is our trib­ute to him

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS NIGEL BOOTH­MAN PHO­TOS JONATHAN JA­COB

An­drew Small’s epic E-type project came to fruition just in time thanks to a lit­tle help from his friends.

IIt’s hard to ac­cept that An­drew isn’t around any more. He was so full of en­thu­si­asm and en­ergy when we met ear­lier this year that surely the best way to hear this story is in his own words. So here’s the tale of a re­mark­able team ef­fort, as told by those in­volved.

‘I was di­ag­nosed with myeloma at the end of Fe­bru­ary 2014, and I soon had to leave my job at the Nis­san plant in Sun­der­land,’ says Andy. ‘I started chemo­ther­apy and it just about lays you flat.’

Andy was well used to the ca­ma­raderie of the large en­gi­neer­ing of­fice at Nis­san, but he had no idea it would ex­tend be­yond his forced de­par­ture. Then one day in May 2014, the door­bell rang.

‘It was a pal of mine from the of­fice, Steve Clare. He said “We’ve had a chat at work and we’d like to help with the E-type.” It was quite a sur­prise – I was choked up.’

Back to the be­gin­ning

Andy bought his 1964 E-type road­ster in 1994, as a restora­tion project. He paid ‘the price of a Fi­esta’, as he puts it, but even that might have been a bit high for what turned out to be a bas­ket case. The car was an Amer­i­can im­port but this hadn’t saved it from rot. ‘I gave it to Ea­gle Rac­ing to do the ma­jor­ity of the me­tal­work, in­clud­ing a new bon­net. I wasn’t happy with the state of the space­frame so that was re­placed, too. Then life started get­ting in the way.’ Andy got mar­ried, had chil­dren and worked for Nis­san in var­i­ous roles, in­clud­ing long stints in Ja­pan that halted any E-type progress. Spo­radic steps for­ward were made when­ever time and money al­lowed, so by the time Andy fell ill, he had a car that was at least half­way there… or so it ap­peared. ‘The body­work was com­pleted but not painted, the in­te­rior was bare and while the re­built en­gine was in place, it had never run,’ says Andy.

But who bet­ter to help you build a car than a bunch of au­to­mo­tive engi­neers? Steve Clare’s ex­per­tise is to­wards the elec­tri­cal side, while Si­mon Lunn started off work­ing with plas­tics be­fore mov­ing to trim and assem­bly. Peter Dive is a spe­cial­ist with front-end fit. They’ve all known each other for ages, but could they adapt to work­ing on a 50 year-old Bri­tish sports car? ‘It did need a dif­fer­ent mind­set,’ says Peter. ‘We knew it wasn’t go­ing to fit to­gether like a mod­ern Nis­san.’

The gang started reg­u­lar shifts on Fri­days. ‘We’d do 3pm to 7pm, some­times a bit longer,’ says Si­mon Lunn. ‘We soon found out some­thing about E-types – if you buy orig­i­nal or spe­cial­ist parts, they fit. If you buy cheaper remanufactured ones, they don’t.’

The first mile­stone would be a morale-boost­ing start-up for the straight-six en­gine. Andy had it built by a spe­cial­ist, VSE, in Wales but that was in 2009. Since com­ing back, it had rested en­tirely static for five years. Now, only a few weeks into the work, the gang knew they had a cou­ple of good rea­sons to make it go. First was the car’s 50th birth­day party, some­thing Andy was plan­ning for Novem­ber of that

year. Steve ex­plains the sec­ond, much more im­por­tant rea­son.

‘We re­ally wanted to get it run­ning so Andy could see it and hear it go, in case his treat­ment didn’t work.’ Through these first months, Andy was in poor shape, as he ad­mits – too ill even to lift a span­ner, and project man­ag­ing from the sofa. He did draw up a sched­ule – half a day for this job, half a day for that – but it was wildly op­ti­mistic, as all four con­firm with a smile.

‘There was a lot of time-con­sum­ing wiring to do,’ says Steve. ‘But once we’d got the elec­tronic ig­ni­tion work­ing and the fuel flow­ing, it started up on the third kick.’

Andy had the in­side sur­faces and en­gine bay painted some time be­fore so he could be­gin as­sem­bling the car, but the ex­te­rior wasn’t com­pleted un­til 2015 when the car went to a lo­cal paintshop. By this time, Andy’s chemo had ceased and he was start­ing to feel bet­ter, but the team ef­fort to fin­ish the car was just get­ting started. The scope of what these four new-car engi­neers did to im­prove a Six­ties Jaguar is in­trigu­ing.

There are LED side­lights within the head­lights that run as driv­ing lamps, plus a high-level red brake lamp within a within a wind deflector fit­ted be­hind the seats. The stan­dard brake lamps have Bosch bulbs with nor­mal fil­a­ments, but are fed via a re­lay and 25A cable so more cur­rent reaches the bulb.

‘I fit­ted a bus bar to sup­ply re­lays for the head­lamps, brake lamps and fuel pump,’ says Steve. ‘It was a pain to do but it’s ti­died things up and the high cur­rent is now away from the dash­board – only the larger ig­ni­tion re­lay rests be­hind there.’

It’s all fed by a small, pow­er­ful mod­ern al­ter­na­tor – a Nip­pon Denso, of course. For se­cu­rity, there’s a re­mov­able steer­ing wheel and a tracker. Si­mon and Peter fit­ted larger Fosse­way front brakes and a stain­less ex­haust, then per­suaded the Tremec five-speed gear­box to work with the clutch. A new screen from Pilk­ing­ton Glass was a per­fect fit but a new hood canopy was a dis­grace, with mount­ing holes shrouded. So Andy set about mak­ing one

‘This one old Jaguar now rep­re­sents friend­ships that won’t be for­got­ten’

with Si­mon’s as­sis­tance. The in­te­rior came to­gether with the orig­i­nal seats re­cov­ered by Aldridge Trim­ming but later re­placed by Mazda MX-5 seats re­trimmed by the Fur­ni­ture Clinic, as they slowly got closer to com­ple­tion. De­lays cropped up con­tin­u­ally, such as the strife Si­mon en­dured with the en­gine.

Break­ing the cy­cle

‘The orig­i­nal cylin­der­head turned out to be cracked and leak­ing be­tween a core plug and a spark plug,’ he says. ‘A re­pair didn’t work, so Andy bit the bul­let and sourced a brand-new one, which we then man­aged to dam­age – twice!’ The prob­lem both times was a tick­ing noise, traced to a bent valve. So Si­mon took the head home with him and did ev­ery­thing me­thod­i­cally. ‘I dis­cov­ered that dur­ing assem­bly, a valve un­der com­pres­sion had flicked one camshaft round and put it slightly out of po­si­tion,’ he says. Andy’s de­sire for ev­ery­thing to be right post­poned the MOT un­til Septem­ber 2017, which as Steve says, was quite a mo­ment. ‘There was a lit­tle bit of ap­pre­hen­sion there. We’d done our best and it had to be bul­let­proof.’

It was, of course, and the splen­did sum­mer of 2018 saw Andy en­joy a re­vived car that his pals must have feared would never carry him down the road. At the time of his pass­ing, Andy was plan­ning to join a round-bri­tain drive in the E-type to sup­port an­other can­cer char­ity, Prostate Can­cer UK, but he was obliged to hand the keys to his pal Ian Fer­rier. This one old Jaguar now rep­re­sents friend­ships that will never be for­got­ten. As Si­mon Lunn says, ‘It’s the peo­ple that are the key, not the parts.’

LEFT That prob­lem­atic cylin­der head is per­fect now.

BE­LOW Fast car! It’s hard to keep up.

This rac­ing mod is for se­cu­rity rather than a quick driver change.

ABOVE Back in the Nineties, the first phase of body­work is com­pleted.

What it’s all about – open car, open road.

Our restora­tion band of brothers (L-R): Si­mon Lunn, Steve Clare, Peter Dive and – the owner of the spe­cial E-type in ques­tion – the late and much-missed Andy Small.

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