New car, new member - a few questions

I am about to pull the trigger on an apparently rust-free 1969 4.2L 4-speed, but have a couple of questions before I do.

First, a word about my mechanical experience level to help people avoid wasting their valuable (and much appreciated) time: I have been turning wrenches since 1974, and have (for instance) restored a 1967 MG Midget (sold recently). I rebuilt the engine myself, after the shop polished the crank and bored the block .020" over, together with virtually every other system.

Here are my pre-purchase questions:

First: I owned (and stupidly sold) a one-owner 1972 XJ6, so have at least a passing familiarity with the 4.2L engine. I found it to be an outstanding engine, which is why I’m considering this car versus a V-12. Does this car have the same engine as in my '72 XJ6?

Second: are there any engine, transmission/clutch, suspension or brake parts that I cannot obtain these days?

Third: what is the best shop manual to buy? I prefer one with things like the proper valve seat angles, etc., as I like to cut my own seats, R&R my own guides, and so forth.

Fourth: in the event they are leaking, is it possible to retrofit a rubber type crank seal @ the front or rear main? Are the ‘rope’ seals I assume it has originally durable, if I were to replace them?

Fifth: how does one properly raise these cars? I have a ‘quick jack’ setup, so wonder if I can make (or buy) jacking point adapters to safely raise the car?

Sixth: I favor the Pertronix ignitions, and see that they have a negative earth version for the 4.2L engine. Is this car negative or positive earth?

Thank you - and should I buy the car, I’ll undoubtedly have more questions.

Hi Joel. If you enjoyed your XJ6 you will definatily enjoy an E Type.

  1. The 69 engine is 95% or more the same engine - mostly it is the ancillaries that are different.

  2. Virtually everything is avaialble for an E Type

  3. Buy a Bently manual. It is a recopy of the factory manual with 4.2l and Ser II supplements in it.

  4. The front seal is a modern seal, the rear rope seal if installed properly, is more or less bullet proof. There are kits available to convert the latter to a modern lip seal that require some maching work to be done to the cranklshaft.

  5. Don’t know what an Easy Jack is so I can’t answer this question.

  6. Your prospective car is negative earth.

You should buy the car!

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I am going to skip to the issue…the 3.54 rear gear ratio…so it will be like your midget, Except, long stroke turning lots of rpm’s at interstate speed…going to get passed…a lot…but you can turn 5k rpm at 80 just need a very good engine and nerves…now your xj6 might have had 3.54 but newer…like 80’s went to 2.88…ideal is 3.07 or 3.23 thing is we can not find them anymore…and a 5 speed will aproach $10k with problems
yes the '72 is the same engine likely with lower compression…same carbs…same performance…the most powerful and strongest is in the 83 and up xj6 thru '87
Shop manual…best is Richards book at some $195…as I am very visual…good manual is Bentley…problem is the series 2 (1969) never had a dedicated workshop or parts manual (Richards book took care off the parts…it is very good)
front seal can be taken care of by the upgraded seal @ Welsh Ent: eac8815A and distance piece c2173 or c40147…just did it straight forward oilpan off and reaction p[late likely off…will need new pan gasket
Rear seal…a can of worms…the rope will leak…the cut in half and super glue…will leak…do not buy an xke if oil leakds bother you…we have NO solution for the rear main
Jeff @ advance see his FAQ states: POINTS ARE BEST…now I am sure someone who has done more distributor work NOT will disagree…just heresay…and they are negative ground…interestingly current flows from negative to positive not positive to negative…so the english had it correct…makes no difference
Should you buy the '69 E…Well I have 5 '69/70 E’s comvertible, coupe and 2+2’s…so i would say yes
Mitch. in Phoenix
If 2+2 automatic will have 3.31 likely
PS…make SURE you thoughly understand before jacking up the car…for the E-types sake

I am totally on board with your choice of Pertronix: despite what others assert, points are not best.

Another thing that you need to do with that car to get it to liven up is to backdate the advanced curve to a pre-Stromberg spec.

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I don’t know of any quick jack adapters for sale. Have a look at any underside photos of any E and you’ll understand the challenges. The drop floors make it difficult to use either the two center body stiffeners or the outer sills for jacking using those devices. It is most likely possible to construct a wood cradle that would use either of these structures whilst leaving free play for the drop floors.

Otherwise the available places are under the front cross frame (picture frame) with a suitable protective spar between jack and frame. Also the sill jacking points which are reinforced, or under the IRS.

Definitely start with either the Bentley or factory shop manual which the Bentley reproduces. I prefer the latter because I can no longer read mouse type. They Haynes is good also and provides some clarifications and alternate methods.

The XK engine evolved over the years. Most people acknowledge that the 3.8 is the most straightforward with the safest bores. The 4.2 shuffled the bores and lengthened the studs through the water jacket making them prone to corrosion and the staggered bores more prone to block cracks. The positive tradeoff is that the 4.2 gives you greater displacement and grunt.

I’ve run with pertronix for 15 years.

There are plenty of parts available, but of course most are aftermarket at this point.

The rope seals are fine for a while but of course starts leaking sooner or later. There’s a reason they developed a reputation for leaks. It wasn’t awarded for no reason. The modern seal does away with that, but it must be installed very carefully, and the crank scroll has to be cut off, so it’s a one way modification.

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Hi Joel and welcome.

Regarding using a Quick Jack. You’ll need to fabricate some kind of blocks to place between the underside of the car and the Quick Jack. You didn’t mention the model of Series II E-type you are considering but be aware the jacking points for the coupe and convertible are different from those on the 2+2 models; so the solutions could be different as well. Regardless, it would be an easy task to fabricate blocks that would allow you to safely use your Quick Jack.

Other questions:

  1. Terry covered it as well as it can be covered.

  2. As has been stated virtually everything is available, but many will be aftermarket parts which may or may not be of the same quality as what Jaguar originally put on the cars. For example, it is often better to reuse or replate chrome trim pieces than to buy reproductions.

  3. The Bentley manual is the best avilable. You’ll also probably want a factory part manual. They pop up from time to time on the Jag-Lovers classified ads. In fact, someone just sold a parts manual this week.

  4. A properly installed rope seal works perfectly fine. Erica explained the pros and cons of non-factory replacements.

  5. (6 in your post) I have a Pertronix distributor on my Series II and am quite happy with it. There are also other options.

That rather depends on what you mean by “cannot obtain”. Though many reproduction parts are available (some of dubious quality), there are also many parts where your only option will be to buy used parts. This is particularly true of the transmission. If you are used to being able to find every part of the car in a catalog, you will be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you are accustomed to having to embark on a worldwide search for every part you need you will be delighted…

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A 3.54 final drive does NOT turn 5000 rpm @80mph. More like 3700. Unless you are on I-5 between Sacramento and L.A. you will not get passed a lot @80mph. A few, but not like you’re driving a VW microbus.

In a FHC this can still be noisy, but in an OTS (especially with the top down) the engine noise really is not noticeable over the wind and road noise. If you wear earplugs (as I do) then not at all. From the engine acceleration and smoothness standpoint, unnoticeable @3700rpm vs. 3100.



Thanks… saved me a LOT of typing.

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Everyone - thank you for these generous entries.

Manual - I had the Bentley manual for the Spridget, and it was my go-to. Should’ve thought of that for this car–but it’s been a while! I’ll check out Richard’s book, too.

Crank seal - ah… another scroll-type rear ‘seal’… okay, well, if the scroll + rope style works reasonably well, I can live with it. It was the front that was leaking badly on my XJ6. I don’t want to machine the crank journal if the engine’s running well as represented, though my neighbor/machinist could certainly do that competently. So, that’d be something to do whenever the engine needed rebuilding. Thanks for the part numbers, Mitch!

Final drive ratio - my '67 Midget had a 4.22:1 differential originally, which I changed to a 3.9:1 plus added a Datsun 5-speed (overdrive). So, 3.54:1 doesn’t seem like 70~75 would be too bad with shim-and-bucket DOHCs. My main interstate route has a parallel 55 mph route if I don’t feel like spinning the engine at 70 and dodging speeding SUVs…

Points vs. Pertronix - this is a ‘you say po-tah-to’ debate to my mind, and I know Jeff’s outfit (thank you for the tip). As this is a negative earth car, I’d almost certainly swap out the points–which would make a shim-and-bucket cam car even more trouble-free–and be able to avoid adapting the tach, radio, etc. I did all of that DIY and it was a hassle with my Spridget…

Paul - How does one obtain the earlier advance curve? Swap out the distributor before installing the Pertronix…? It does have the Stromberg carbs…

Jacking - if I’m understanding correctly, I could simply fabricate adapters to grab the outer sill jacking points. That is how I lifted the Midget, Subaru (both gone now), and numerous other cars.

Sorry, John, it’s a coupe, not convertible. Thanks!

4.2 vs. 3.8L - Erica, is the 4.2 sufficiently weakened that it’s inevitable the blocks crack? I guess a related question is how many re-bores can one do over the years before things get dicey?

Parts availability - sounds like a pretty good aftermarket supplier situation. I’m chiefly concerned with the wearable stuff–though Moss Motors used to sell sheet metal for Spridgets. I should’ve looked re: this car.

Hmmm… well, I just heard from the seller (dealer on consignment, I gather). I’ve asked for the $4,500 servicing done six weeks ago, and for compression readings…

I agree with all the points as covered above, esp. the Bentley E type owner/workshop manual. Also find a E type parts book, as it lists and identifies parts with still used parts numbers.
Moss motors has, besides their online catalog, a print catalog which is great for looking at exploded diagrams. I had a 74 Spitfire, a 74 midget, a 63 MGA, 67 TR4a, 74 tr6 ( all now in others’ hands), but still have my 69 S2, and made use of those paper catalogs, alot.

You can look up SNG Barratt. They bought many of the old toolings, etc. from Jaguar and are committed to reproducing and improving them (via extensive CAD work). They worked with the restoration company that redid 9600HP, one of the Es that went to Parc des Eaux Vives for the presentation of Es to the world in 1961. (I’m not an employee, just a customer.) Every company that sells E parts will occasionally have something that either didn’t work, didn’t fit etc. so you kinda have to get to know each company and what you want to buy from them. I have been pleased with SNGB, and they offer free shipping for orders over $50. My old boy doesn’t need a whole lot that I can put in anymore, so that shipping rate works for me. They have two gentlemen, William and Jeremy who staff the online chat, and are really good about knowing what it is you are looking for. Don’t be put off by the website saying that the part is backordered. All that means (at least it has for me) is that they are waiting for the next big box from England. I often get my parts at the end of the same week I ordered, and maybe the next for ‘backordered’.
If you want to stir up a firestorm (or two) ask the distributor question or what oil is best question.
I resisted for years putting in a Pertronix, and only yielded when my shop convinced me that the old pertronix days were gone, they were reliable, etc. The reason I went to that was because I could not get QUALITY points, rotors, condensers, etc. Of course the Pertronix puked, but it was when I wasn’t far from my house. Only had to wait 3 hours for AAA flatbed. Many on this forum advocate 123 distributors and so I went that route. Didn’t hurt that a friend of mine who races P1800 volvos was pictured on the 123 home page. Good enough for him, good enough for me and in it went. I think there are some Es that just don’t like Pertronix and mine is one of them.
I had the engine and trans rebuilt a few years ago and now run Valvoline VR1 conventional 20w/50 in it. I live in Wisconsin, and don’t usually drive the E in winter weather, so that oil works for the rest of the year.
You may want to know the history of this car, you can send for its Heritage certificate, which gives you some information on how it left the factory (color, interior, where shipped).

There is also
where you can enter the car’s VIN and see if it is registered there and if there are any photos.
If you like YouTube videos there are 3 really great presenters who are also very knowledgeable. Maikel Lemke, Richard Michael Owen and Monocoque Metalworks. There isn’t much about any E that Maikel doesn’t know, and most likely Richard, too. Chuck Hadley at MM started with his first E at 13 and now has a shop that makes all new panels for Es. You just have to go to his MM site to see the scope of his work. He recently got a red 66 e started and running that he has been cleaning up for the last 2 years. It sat for like 30 years (IIRC).
There is a spectacular knowledge base here as well as frequent ‘entertainment’. Welcome and we look forward to seeing photos of your E!



Good, 3,700 rpms sounds more like it: I was a bit confused by the 5,000 rpm estimate.

Honestly, 75 mph is plenty fast for all-day cruising, so I’m guessing 3,500 rpms or slightly less? That should be a non-issue to my mind for a cross-country drive with a DOHC engine and a 5,000 rpm redline, shouldn’t it? Am I missing something?

And, yes, I’d probably drive it home from the east coast to NM. That’s kind of guy I am–danger is my middle name… :cowboy_hat_face: I did that with my '72 XJ6, though the other direction, LA to ABQ, and the trip was a non-event… aside from the battery dying, but that was easily fixed. And I’d bring a multi-meter to check the alternator function or let Autozone do that before departing…

The steering rack bushes were worn on that car, so it required constant attention at the wheel as it liked to wander a bit, but kept me from falling asleep.



Wowsers… thank you. I’ll check out SNG Barrett, for sure.

So, I’m 6’2" and a swimmer and cyclist, so although I could fold myself into the '67 Midget, I think I just… need… more… leg and head room! Speaking of which, any chance I could get my road bike into the hatch back after removing the front wheel? Honestly, that’d pretty much cinch the deal for me…

I’m a retired lawyer, so am through causing controversy… well, last guy I sued was named ‘Elon’ (he settled), but that doesn’t count 'cause he started it… But I digress. IMHO Pertronix sensors are utterly reliable nowadays, and if I were back in WI (was born in Stanley), I’d show you how easy it is to keep an extra in your glovebox and swap it out if need be. You wouldn’t need to wait for AAA, or any special tools. It’s dead simple…

Here in NM, VR1 20W/50 is outstanding oil year round, and what I ran in the (intercooled, supercharged) Spridget. Good stuff, I agree!

Hey, it supposedly has a Heritage certificate with it… I’m glad to hear that’s not a scam. I was wondering about that.

Thanks very much.

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For crying out loud… why didn’t I just attach a link to the car? Here it is.

I’d sure appreciate some feedback on whether these guys are asking too much for this car. I realize some of this is highly subjective, but on the other hand, all of you seem to own E-types and as enthusiasts might be able to give me a sense of whether this is entirely out of line.

Oh… my… goodness… really? This seems harder than I had anticipated.

They can crack just on standard bore. The safest bet is to have the liners pressed out and use what’s called top hat liners. This stitches the block crack together. It’s not a massive job and yields a future proof rebuild.

Yes, but not until a few months into S2 production. All later Series 1, 1.5 and the earliest ‘69 Series 2s had short stud 4.2 litre engines. Kind of academic, though, since the subject E-type will have the long stud engine.

10 years with the Pertronix in my case. I set it once when installed, haven’t touched it since. I definitely do not miss points and condenser.

Get the digital version of the Bentley. Print out the pages you need at the time, get them all messed up with greasy fingerprints, throw them away.

I like the 3.54 diff, myself, though I don’t generally take the car above 70 mph.

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It’s not that bad: it just takes some care and understanding!

There are many different schema for doing this with various kinds of wooden blocks. One thing you must not do: never, as in never jack underneath the radiator support, which is easy to make the mistake between that and the bottom of the picture frame.

Also never as in NOT EVER put a jack on the side frames: you will bend them.

To add to Wiggles and others post, do not leave the IRS unsupported for any length of time.


3500 rpm sounds about right for ~75mph. It’s what I cruise at for long drives on the Interstate.

It is a non-issue, presuming the car is healthy. When new, these cars could run all day long ~4500 rpm as they did in Europe. The caution is of course the cars are 50+ years old now so one can’t be sure that everything is OK until you get some experience with it.

Driving it coast-to-coast would be wonderful, but perhaps risky unless you know the car well. If you can get some sense of the history of the car you’re looking at (was it driven regularly and had decent mileage put on it?) it might help gauge the risk.

But as long as you’re mentally prepared if something goes wrong and won’t get upset if that happens, it could be a great drive.