[pre-xk] *Help with defiling a MKV

Let he who is about to die salute you. I’ve done terrible things to my MK5
and expect to be slaughtered by the purists on the list. Common sense would
suggest that I keep quiet about the travesties but I need some help with
the next batch so I’m throwing myself on the mercy of my fellows, crying
“Mia culpa” and coming clean.

It all started when I bought a MKV drop head at a Sotheby’s auction about
five years ago. The car is a '51 model and seemed in reasonable shape. It
was the property of the owner of a Jaguar spares business and frankly I
expected the work he had done to have been of reasonable quality. When I
finally got around to stripping the car we discovered that the bodywork had
been so badly repaired that we were forced to cut out all the horror and
start again. What had begun as a quick refurbishment became a major
reconstruction. I’ll bet that’s never happened to anybody before.

I really like the MKV. It isn’t huge like its later siblings and its basic
understated elegance is in contrast to the rather heavy-handed chrome
treatment, which adds a pleasing paradox. Beauty is in the eye of the
beholder and to me Sir William’s styling on the theme is more appealing
than Roll’s MKVl or R type Bentleys which are the only other similar
offering I can think of. (Actually now I think about it, Alvis’ TC21 DHC is
also very nice.) I have a young daughter who’s as keen as mustard on the
old cars and the MKV seemed a perfect family classic, with five seats and
generally spacious accommodation. I determined to use it as much as
possible.

I also own a Lagonda LG6 drop head which is one of the most striking big
pre-war British touring cars but practical it isn’t and so I began to
consider how I might “upgrade” the MKV without spoiling it. The aim was to
create a thoroughly usable family car for fun and recreation. As I live
near the M25 (London Orbital) and therefore spend a lot of time on the
nastiest motorway/freeway in the world, I started thinking brakes.
Unfortunately, the upgrade to front discs wasn’t as easy as I hoped; I just
couldn’t get my hands a set of MK9 hubs. I ended up fitting an XK120
upgrade disc brake kit, which necessitated a change to wire wheels. This
finished up with a lot more work then envisaged as the entire rear end
brake assembly (including back plates) had to be changed for a '120 set up
with '150 hubs all round. I ended up cutting the spats (fender skirts) to
clear the spinners. The contours match the wing line and I have wired the
edges to produce a professional finish. I am in the process of having
special 16" wheels made with 6" rims and 72, double laced spokes. They are
a lot stronger than the pre-war and MKlV equivalents. Tyres are a major
concern as I am worried that my first choice, 185 Avon Turbospeed radials,
will look too small in the wheel arches. Any suggestions gratefully
accepted. I have also plumbed in a Lockheed servo unit.

I had a spare Getrag five speed, transmission kit that had originally been
intended for an XK (which incidentally ended up with a Toyota Supra box) so
in order to provide improved motorway cruising in it went. It was a
completely straightforward swap, even the gear lever comes out in the right
place. As a small bonus it also provides a synchro first gear.

So far all relatively straightforward and with credible lip service to
reversibility. The car is almost done but I can’t help feeling that if my
wife is to drive then she’ll want power steering. I have obtained a new
Triumph Stag power rack and preliminary offering-up seems to indicate that
minimal fabrication will be needed. I can use either a MK9 type dynamo with
integral steering pump or change to an alternator with pump drive from any
number of other vehicles and so avoid a two -belt system. Here’s the
problem: I want to use the original column, steering wheel and mannette
control but can’t see how to keep the original horn and trafficator
controls operational as the wires travel through the column and the
steering box. Any ideas would be appreciated.

I’ve found a source of halogen bulbs to fit the proper P770 headlights (do
American MKVs have these?) so original looks with brighter beams. The
original radio has been modified so FM has been substituted for long wave.
(Although, if I go the alternator route I’m not sure it can be made
negative earth.)

I wish I could fend off criticism by claiming that the mods work fine and
look terrific but she’s not yet operational (no wings/fenders) although the
re-trim is complete and the new hood/top is a work of art. It will be at
least six weeks before the old lady hits the road. It’s been an interesting
project and I hope worthwhile. I’ll keep you all posted. I would really
welcome advice on my steering and tyre problems. I’m sorry this is such a
long message but I hope it’s of interest to someone.

Roger Learmonth

(forwarded by admin - bounced due to html encoding)

Roger,
Lose the spats! Why hide the beauty of wire wheels?
Mike

Roger,
The thing that interests me is the conversion to disc
brakes. Cordell Newby mentioned the same conversion
for his Mk V. And now the question.

You mentioned having special wire wheels made
obviously thinking the standard 120 wires are not
suitable. But what about the Dayton wire wheels made
for the 120. They claim to be stronger, and I would
think the bolt on Dayton wires would be even
stronger(though that may eliminate the conversion to
disc brakes). Any comments would be appreciated as I’m
considering going the bolt on route ($1300) and using
modern radials.

Craig

1950 Mk V saloon

Craig wrote:

You mentioned having special wire wheels made obviously thinking the
standard 120 wires are not suitable. But what about the Dayton wire wheels
made for the 120. They claim to be stronger, and I would think the bolt on
Dayton wires would be even stronger(though that may eliminate the
conversion to disc brakes). Any comments would be appreciated as I’m
considering going the bolt on route ($1300) and using modern radials.<

Craig,

I’m sorry I can’t comment on the suitability of Daytona bolt-on wires. If
the do fit they would certainly save a lot of trouble with changing
hardware although as you say you wouldn’t be able to fit discs unless you
found a set of MK9 hubs. (Out of interest one of my technical suppliers has
come up with a relatively easy modification that uses MK2 hubs and front
discs.) Daytona bolt-ons would also most probably obviate the need to cut
the rear fender skirts although this would mean one would see very little
of the rear wires. I have to say that I think the spinners look very good
but I guess that’s a minor point.

Actually, the reason I went to custom-made wheels was less for strength
(although 6" is better than 5�" and 72 spokes are better than 60) and more
to decrease the rear off-set as I thought that the standard wheel looked a
little buried in the rear wheel arch. It’s possible that Daytonas would
look fine.

Tyres seem to be a real problem as the original 670 crossplies are a good
deal more balloon like than 185 radials and fill up the arches as they
should. It may be possible to find a 16" SUV tyre with a suitable rating
that will do the job.

Sorry I can’t be more help with the Daytonas but I guess it will be easy
enough to offer one up and try it.

Roger L

Roger,
The making modifications to a classic car is an emotive issue and most
people with an interest in the subject have a strong view on one or other
side of the argument. My own view is that modifications are perfectly
acceptable if they are in the interests of safety or driveability, and as
long as they don’t seriously impair the original design concept of the
vehicle. People have been modifying their cars since the dawn of motoring,
and I don’t see why it should suddenly become unacceptable just because the
car is old. After all, there will always be people who want to keep their
vehicles absolutely original, so (unless your car is the only one left -
certainly not the case with a Mark 5), there will still be standard examples
left for us to appreciate.
I have taken a similar (though much less extensive) route to Roger with my
3.5 litre SS saloon. I have fitted the TLS brakes, dashboard and heater
from a postwar car, but my biggest change is similar to Rogers. I have
fitted an all-synchro overdrive gearbox from an XJ6, and anticipate that
this will vastly increase the pleasure of driving the car on long, or
motorway journeys.

Denis Foxley