E-type OTS body in the paint shop at Browns Lane

Hi all,

And this was first going to be in the Series 3 originality question thread, but as this is a Series 1 car (or you can see two cars) in the paint shop at the Browns Lane plant in June 1966 (almost certainly the same photo shoot as the assembly line pic taken on June 22nd 1966, this one: XKE Data - 1E50188 - Jaguar E-Type (XKE) information, articles, photos and register) there are a few questions and observations that would be good to discuss, IMHO.

  1. The car closer to the camera is an OTS, parts of the body seem to be dark and parts of it are of a light tone and some areas covered by some protection, paper?

  2. Further down the line looks like there are some hoses and what appears to be a booth for spraying paint.

So some of the questions that pop up in my head are:

What’s happening here? (What is that guy closest to the camera supposed to do? Paint pre-prep? Or post-paint protection for the final assembly?)

Why is the rear of the car body dark, but the scuttle, the area behind the dash that always on finished cars appears to have been sprayed with body colour, is light? Is it because that dark tone is just primer and this car has not yet been painted?

What is the thing on top of that dark surface? Paper?

And no questions, just a few observations many of us have done while restoring or going through unrestored cars.

a) The very early E-types had the body number stamped on the support brackets in the rear part of the bonnet. A common procedure for many car makers of the era. But Jaguar stopped doing that and instead of it, the panels that were taken off the car, after it had been painted at the paint shop (doors, lids, bonnet, etc.) would have some worker mark them with crayon on the inside with the body number. Also many interior panels etc would get similar markings. This was also an old habbit, even my MKV DHC from 1950 has the body number (1356) written with a crayon on the backside of the instrument panel)

b) When a car body entered the paint shop, it had been decided which colour it was going to receive. Also the body had been given a number and a number plate on both the front (scuttle) of the body and another one in the rear (the rear reg.plate panel) of the body, so it could be identified also after painting.

c) It (the car body) also had a paint name tag hanging on in somewhere (I have no idea where, I have never seen a photo with one, nor have I seen any evidence of where it might have been hanging) and these plates have been seen (and for sale) at the Stoneleigh Spares day. I would have bought some if I only would have been able to find “my” colours, the “Opalescent Dark Green” of my ex. #1E76372BW or the “Cream” or “Old English White” of my current #1S20183, but no such luck, yet! I think those metal plates were then removed after the paint had cured and the body went to the assembly line to meet it’s powertrain. (In that 1966 colour photo you can see far in the background the painted bodies coming to the assembly line from a higher level, very much like it still was for the X308 and X350 assembly line when I visited the place in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.)

And in case ANYONE has more shots of cars (preferably E-types, I have later photos of XJ’s) being painted at Browns Lane, please post them here if you can I am sure we can all find interesting things about the process. (And the process was very different at the earlier Foleshill (Swallow Road) plant, I have some pics from there but they belong to the Pre-XK and XK forums. Some great ones in the Barry Price “Rise of Jaguar” book.)


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Here’s my take: it looks like whatever is covering the fender/doors is also covering the scuttle (and a bit of the rear deck as well). Bonnet does not look painted, maybe it’s primered in a different color ?

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I reckon that’s primer on the body/doors and body colour on the rear/sills.

Work in progress.


A few ideas that might help explain what’s going on. Or not. :smiley:

Weren’t the car bodies transported from one building to another for painting? Is the paper there to protect the bodies during that transit? Or maybe it’s applied to protect the exterior from overspray when the interior is sprayed.

Many have reported a brownish paint on the underside of the body. Perhaps the paper covered and protected the the rest of the body from overspray while that was applied.

Didn’t Abbey Panels build up the bonnet in their facility and ship them to Brown’s lane for mating with the rest of the body shell? That might explain the difference in primer color. Or could we be looking at a bonnet that just has a protective coat of primer applied by A.P. that will be covered in Jaguar’s primer.

Did Jaguar apply a guide coat to facilitate the prepping the bodies for the paint shop. Might the dark paint we see on the closest car be a guide coat?

Perhaps some clues in this production description from Jaguar:


Yes I think so, that might explain the dark surfaces.

Also I agree with other posters and my own observations that the car body (OTS) in the picture has not yet received any of the final body colour, it is heading towards the actual paint booth.

But yes, keep it all coming.

And thank you @Jcrosby Jeffrey, that dark surface is then either the “phosphating” or the primer or the “sealer coat”, but who would know which?

But anyways, I’m pretty sure sure now that photo was taken before the “two coats of synthetic enamel”. :slight_smile:


PS. Do you know from which year / date that description is from? Not that I think they much changed the paint process between 1961 and 1974.

The black stuff was applied in the mentioned dipping process and it sure looks and feels like some kind of paint. I think the photo was made just as the bodies were prepared for the red primer. The XJ used to be primed the same way so I know (where a piece of tape was put on the stamped body number before red primer, so it is black, but there is red primer under the hinge bolts).
The body was completely phosphated but only the underside got dipped (quite literally). So the bodies in the photo are naked but for the black primer.

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I’m in the habit of photodocumenting my work as I go along and have noticed that a panel I have just phosphated, while appearing a light, dull silver-grey to my eyes, appears to be a very dark grey in the photograph. It is how the phosphated surface reflects light and how the camera picks it up.

This is a repair I did in December, before phosphating

and after masking and phosphating

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One clue may be the car in front on the E-Type OTS on the line. From what I can see, it appears to be a saloon - note the rear windshield, and the curve profile of the edge of the open boot lid. If this is the case, it suggests that this is not part of the general E-Type production line, where I assume that you would expect to see all the same model going through. This suggests that this is a special line. Perhaps it could be for damaged body shells requiring rework and, as suggested earlier, the dark paint is a guide coat to aid in the rework?

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You may find this video from Chuck interesting…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enBdb1vsrpQ

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As well as the factory video…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei7AWRhetnc

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Hi David,

AFAIK the Browns Lane plant only had one paint line. The E-type was the first car to have it’s own assembly line at Jaguar in 1961 and as we have seen from photos, in 1966 there were TWO E-type assembly lines, one for all SWB cars and one for all LWB cars.

I think that’s a standard paint line, and from 1968 onwards also XJ bodies went through it.


Good eye to pick up on the saloon.

Maybe they sorted and painted the cars by color batch.



That would make a lot of sense.
And the paint tags I was talking about earlier, so that would have enabled someone to mark before hand which bodies were going to be painted which colour and then they could be arranged in batches per colour for the paint line.


It’s probably around 1961 or so. The extract posted above by Jeffrey is actually something I had taken out of this early Jaguar publication which contains some very interesting E-Type production information, drawings and photos:-

Here is the page describing the production process:-

Regarding the black colouring on the E–Type shown above, that’s not from phosphate which is more likely to be a dull grey colour. Besides, the phosphate process would occur right after the degreasing and cleaning process and before any paint was applied at all.

My '62 had three different primer coats, white, red and a black coat underneath which could have been from the “underbody dip” described in the extract due to the shape of the deposit as if the body was partially dipped from a conveyor into and out of a tank.

On this photo where I was stripping the paint to bare metal, the line from the black dip can be seen underneath the other two coats of primer.


Clive, I think your photo may hold the key here. As you point out, there is a clear diagonal line showing the dark coating which is likely from the underbody dip. This matches up almost exactly with the same pattern in the production photo.

I haven’t seen a Jaguar-specific video, but I have seen other car production videos that showed a body going into dip processes, and what happened in those seems similar to what is seen in these pictures. The body is held on an overhead conveyor and moves into the dip tank, first dropping in with the nose, then moving level, and then the nose tilts up a lot as the body comes out of the tank. That pattern makes sense, as if you just dipped it vertically in and out then the liquid wouldn’t spread as well. The angular drops in and out of the tank would help get rid of any air bubbles and get the dip fluid to flow through the channels and nooks and crannies.

The overhead bar shown in the Jaguar production photo would be consistent with this process. It looks like the longitudinal truss is held with two uprights that have pivot points, plus pivot points on where the cross bars (which hold the chains on each side of the body) attach to the truss. These would allow the articulation of the body in and out of the dip tank.

It’s interesting to note that the longitudinal truss also has several other holding points for the cross braces. Presumably these are for different models, as each different model would have different balance points and wheelbase.

From these pictures, I would hypothesize that we’re seeing the body that has been phosphated and now dipped, and it is being prepped for the first primer coats. In the production photo, it looks like the next room is a paint room, as one can see several air hoses, so that is likely a spray booth room. Again, I assume that’s for primer, and color coats are then applied elsewhere. It would make sense for them to color coat batches of cars in the same color to minimize switchover time. That could explain why the body numbers don’t come out of the factory sequentially by date.


This matches up with the 1961 Factory video where, as pointed out by Chuck in his video, at 17mins the front of a Mk II is being given red primer and the black dip line is visible again, this time high at the front as would confirm it went down into the dip front first, and presumably has a similar dip line to the E-Type at the rear. Thank you Pekka for starting this thread - it’s very interesting to learn more how things were done.

Then obviously a step or two before painting since the body was mounted on a tip trolley for that stage of the work.

Yes, and the line also appears to follow the typical 30 degree incline of an industrial dip/spray pretreatment system. (I designed quite a few of those systems for automotive products when I was working.)

Like this maybe:-

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