Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Survivor Customs E30Type

Back in 2012 a customer approached me to ask whether I'd be interested in taking on the task of bringing a knackered E-Type Jag back to life. Well what was left of it; all he had was an outer body shell with the sills, the top and bottom half held together by the window pillars, and barely any bottom half or chassis to speak of...

If I wasn't interested in the job, he told me, the E-Type shell was destined either for the scrapyard or to become a very unusual garden ornament. I knew there was potential to do something amazing and totally different to anything I've done before, so I went and picked up the shell to start work on what was soon to become the E30Type. 

It was obvious that building a full chassis for the car from scratch was way out of the budget. A mate of mine had an E30 BMW for sale at the time; I took some measurements on the E-Type shell and realised that the dimensions of both cars were the same, give or take a few inches, so decided that the E30 would be the ideal donor car for the E-Type chassis. The E30 also happened to be a cabriolet which had the additional advantage of an extra strong chassis. 

Every panel was removed from the E30 to allow the shell to be dropped over.

Here's a close-up of the E-Type body shell, after I'd given it a bit of a clean up with a wire wheel a little later in the build process. This is the result of years of different layers of paint and patinated steel, I had no intention of ever removing this or repainting the car and it's one of the reasons why I knew this car would end up looking awesome. 

When building properly got underway, what was left of the old rotten floorpan and chassis needed to be removed with a bit of help from my plasma cutter and grinder!

As the body shell came without a front end I had to source one on eBay. To fit onto the E30 chassis I had to shorten the front end by three inches, in addition to making the centre section of the bonnet taller, removing all the body filler and old paint, and general structural repair work to make sure it was solid.

The inside of the car required a full custom dash and centre console, handmade from aluminium. The same went for the back of the car. This was extensive fabrication work that took months to complete...


To mate the E-Type shell and the E30 chassis together required the mammoth task of creating fully custom inner and outer sills.

There was also a lot of general structural repair work that I carried out at this time to make the car solid and most importantly, safe to drive. This ranged from minute patches of welding to entire custom panels.

As I'd added so much new steel to the body shell of the car I treated it with an ageing formula (a.k.a. wheel acid) which would blacken and dull the metal after it was removed. 

One of the more controversial aspects of the car was its Frankenstein-style stitch welds which I think were true to its age and character. The E-Type shell was so knackered that it was beyond any form of comprehensive restoration, and I really felt that I was 'bringing it back to life'...

The surrounds for the headlights were made from a copper brake pipe, split and riveted to the body shell. 

Under the bonnet of the E-Type: a custom built bulkhead to fit around the M50 E36 motor. The old one needed to be replaced as it was too weak and also too big to fit under the low-slung E-Type bonnet.  

The E30Type almost complete! All that needed to be added after these pictures were taken was a front windscreen and indicators. You can also see there's a roll cage in there that I fabricated and installed. 

The whole car was also given a coat of yacht varnish to protect it from the elements. Once dried it was 'flattened' off with a Scotch pad to give it the desired matte finish. 

Once the E30Type had its windscreen the owner, Richard, came to collect it. Before the car was completed I'd been contacted by a guy at Practical Performance Car magazine who were interested in featuring it in a future issue. I put him in touch with Richard, who had added a couple of his own touches to the E30Type (including personalised registration plates) and a photoshoot was arranged with Sunderland photographer Tom Harrison. Here are a couple of the awesome shots:

The E30Type ended up being the cover car for the September issue of PPC, stoked!

When I built the E30Type I knew that it would get a strong reaction from people, whether positive or negative. Either of these reactions are good to me because the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same thing, and most importantly both the owner of the car and I are really pleased with the outcome. But it's still had some interesting feedback:

This was a reader's letter sent to PPC magazine after the E30Type was on the cover, brilliant!

Richard is a really proud owner of the car and takes it to loads of shows, sometimes even with an Airstream caravan in tow behind it. If you do spot the car please do go over and say hi to Richard, he's a really nice guy and I'm incredibly grateful that he gave me the creative freedom to do whatever I wanted with this car. 

Obviously this blog post is just a brief overview of what was an almost two-year-long project. If you're interested in seeing more detailed progress photos of the E30Type build you can find them on my Facebook page, or feel free to leave me a comment below.




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  2. Top motor,top engineering & build,RatRod Etype.....marvellous.love it