Perhaps a good time to reflect back 50 years ago to early 1965 when Bob Blake had already made a start on the original’s monocoque.
At the time, it was believed that it was still possible to have the car up and running in time for Le Mans – time was very, very tight but the skilled team working behind closed doors were used to working to such tight deadlines.
As an example, back in 1960, Briggs Cunningham had persuaded the company to allow him to compete at Le Mans with the second E-Type Prototype – E2A. Work on building this car had only started on 1st January and the car needed to be ready for testing at Le Mans only three months later. Thanks to the sterling efforts of those at the company, the car was up and running by the end of February. The company was optimistic that the Le Mans contender could also be readied in time for the 1965 Le Mans. As an aside, and with the benefit of hindsight, the car could have acquitted itself very well if it had lined up on the grid in 1965. For one thing, the GT40s had yet to get in their stride and they failed to complete the distance.
Ferrari took five of the top seven places in 1965 with the 3.3-litre 250 LMs finishing first and second. Would a team of cars have given the Ferraris a run for their money? With continuing development would the cars have kept pace with the GT40s in 1966 and beyond?
We will never know but, on paper at least, the cars could have been at the sharp end of the grid from the mid-60s onwards and history could have been re-written. Sadly, the kind of commitment thrown at E2A by senior Jaguar management was not invested.
From the perspective of the Competition Department Engineers, as described by Peter Wilson in his definitive book on the car (“®XJ13 – The definitive story of the Jaguar Le Mans car and the V12 engine that powered it” – available from the publisher Paul Skilleter and the JCNA website )
… “That the Competition Department had the capability to build the car to a similar schedule was in no doubt, especially as by 1965 there were three more people working in the department. One thing was missing, however – the final directive, which could only come from the top. To build E2A had required the entire CompetitionDepartment workforce, working seven days a week, together with similar levels of effort from the Experimental Engine Department to build and develop the 3.0 litre all aluminium racing engine. This total commitment from top management in respect of the car was not forthcoming probably due to other top level priorities which we couldn’t have been aware of …
… But it was becoming obvious that there was no way the car would be ready for Le Mans in 1965.”
The Competition in 1965
In January of 1965 the annual Racing Car Show was held at Olympia in London where the latest designs were being showcased by designers such as Lotus, McLaren, Lola & Brabham. Derrick White (Jaguar’s pre-eminent chassis designer) and Malcolm Sayerattended the show. They produced a report on their return in which Derrick made the following significant points:
- None of the racing cars at the show adopted the practice of using the rear driveshaft to locate the rear wheels. Those of you familiar with ®Jaguar will know this had become standard practice at Jaguar. Companies such as Lotus and Lola had tried solid driveshafts as upper locating links but had quickly moved to upper/lower links and plunging driveshafts. This fell on deaf ears as far as the company’s William Heynes was concerned and he insisted the car should retain the company’s “production” setup. Their bad experiences with the De Dion independent systems tried on the D-Types in the 1950s may have also influenced his decision. This difference of opinion festered between White and Heynes over the next two years eventually culminating in White leaving the company and pursuing a very successful career designing race-winning chassis for Cooper and the Honda/Lola/Surtees consortium. There is no doubt the car would have ended up an even more competent car had Derrick been allowed to apply his solutions.
- Derrick also made a request for more design resource – needed to keep pace with the competition. This request was refused by William Heynes who insisted a pair of hands should be recruited from within the company’s existing complement.
Fast-forward to 2015
Fast-forward 50 years and to my efforts to reproduce the car’s rear suspension geometry.
I was already in possession of all critical suspension points in 3D space as used by the company in 1965. I had already sourced an original ZF 5DS 25-1 transaxle as used in the car – complete with identical ratios. As predicted by Derrick White, the company did initially have problems with their use of the driveshaft as upper link and the transaxle output shafts had to be modified very early in development. I made the same modifications to the transaxle output shafts to cope with the lateral stresses applied by the use of the solid drive shafts.
Essentially, this consisted of replacing the ZF driveshaft circlips with nuts. The drive shafts were threaded and were held in place by nuts.
Driving the Rear Wheels
Incidentally, I have acquired a pair of drive shafts which had been originally installed in the car. Indeed, it is possible they were in place during Test & Development driver David Hobbs’ record-breaking run – more than 161 mph on the closed track at MIRA in 1967 – a record which was to stand for 32 years and only beaten in 1992 by the McLaren F1 road car. This record did show the potential of the car “straight out of the box” and before serious race-development.
These output shafts are used to connect the cast rear hub-carriers to the transaxle via a pair of “solid” drive shafts. Again, those of you familiar with your own cars will recognise the basic architecture of this setup. The following picture shows the arrangement in the original car:
I recreated the original setup – even going to the extent of recreating custom rear hub carriers, vented discs and custom Dunlop calipers. Although the company later adopted Girling brakes, the car started its life with Dunlop brakes. A handbrake caliper was added but never used.
Sitting on all four feet
The following pictures show steps in recreating these custom items:
CAD drawing of rear hub carrier. The company used a similar process in 1965 but substituted pen & paper for the design and a wooden pattern for the 3D-Printed items! I chose to design his hub carrier so that larger bearings could be used. I also designed it such that wider wheels could be installed without the necessity to add rear wheel-arch flares. A hidden “drum-type” handbrake is incorporated into the design.
Batch of machined front hub carriers (left). These are cast using modern materials/treatment giving a strength approaching that of forgings. They take their inspiration from of Lightweight E-Type items albeit modified to accept later sealed-for-life bottom bearings.
Front hub assembly (right). Lightweight E-Type hubs and custom vented disc.
With the rear hubs installed in the car, the front suspension could be completed.
My car can now sit on all four feet. Dunlop racing tyres were fitted as original and attention could turn to final details as the recreated car was made ready for the paintshop. One of these details was the addition of a dry-sump oil tank as original. Wheras practically all modern tanks use round tanks where the oil is returned tangentially to remove entrapped air, the company chose a different solution where returned oil passed over a series of baffle-plates in a rectangular tank. The following picture shows the original car’s dry-sump tank:
Photo of the original dry-sump oil tank. Oil is returned to the top of the tank and passes through a number of perforated baffles for de-aeration before being stored in a lower rubber bag-tank in the sill.
The following pictures show my own tank. My tank does differ slightly from the original in that the de-aerated oil is stored within the sill in a solid aluminium tank rather than a rubber bag-tank. Much head-scratching was called for during the car’s build for a suitable rubber capable of withstanding hot oil at up to 150 C. I decided to take a more secure option! The tank is capable of holding more than 6 gallons of oil.
My own dry-sump oil tank. This picture shows the tank location on the rear left-hand sill. The tank base extends into the sill where de-aerated oil is stored.
This shot shows one of the sill stiffeners inside the sill. This helps give the structure immense strength as evidenced by Norman Dewis’ unintentional “crash-test” in 1971. The car’s underlying structure survived almost intact.
Beginning assembly of my oil tank components. The original tank was fabricated by Bob Blake himself. Whilst beautifully-executed, he did seem to favour the use of 3/16” screws which were used extensively.
This shot shows the first of the internal downward-sloping baffles being installed.
Lots of 3/16” screws!
Just in case Malcolm is looking …
I have previously extolled the virtues of the English craftsmen working at my chosen bodyshop. One more detail added a few days ago exemplifies the skill of these artisans. I reckon the company’s Bob Blake would have approved had he still been around today.
I needed to install the front indicators. Knowing how particular Malcom Sayer was about any detail disrupting his airflow, it was very important to ensure these items fitted particularly well and recessed into the aluminium body. Peter Wilson talks of an occasion in 1965 when Bob Blake took it upon himself to install a cast emblem on the nose of the car. He carefully traced around it and hammered out a recess so the badge would sit flush. When Malcolm saw what he had done he immediately insisted the badge was removed, the recess removed and the nose hammered flat once more. Bob Blake reluctantly did so.
Wheras the original rebuilt car has rows of raised rivets across its nose, the 1966 original made use of flat countersunk rivets in this area to maintain a smooth profile. I am sure the late Malcolm Sayer would not have been amused had he seen what was done to “his” car during its post-crash rebuild. The following pictures show the sequence followed by the chaps at North Devon Metalcraft to properly install the side indicators. I never tire of watching these skilled metalworkers at work:
First job was to fabricate a steel tool which could be mounted in a vice and used to form the recessed aluminium panel.
The panel was then held in position using a couple of self-tappers so that a line could be scribed around its perimeter.
A hole was cut by hand so the new panel sat absolutely flush with the surrounding metal. I had to look away while John of ND Metalcraft snipped the shape out of my pristine front wing by hand.
The confidence, speed and accuracy of the hand cut was quite remarkable.
The next step was to attach the panel using a series of tacks applied using TIG.
Panel tacked in position.
The next step was gas welding. The process of obtaining a continuous weld on such thin-gauge aluminium represents the height of the body-makers art. It has been described as “being constantly a split-second away from disaster”!
The finished weld. Now to make it disappear …
John begins his painstaking work to disguise the weld. He made it look easy which is the sign of a true craftsman.
The weld begins to disappear …
The finished item. No filler used and almost impossible to see or feel any kind of join. The final result is a recessed indicator which should have satisfied Malcolm Sayer himself.
CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THIS WAS FOR?
The bonnet of the car has a NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) duct. It is placed on the driver’s side and close to the leading edge of the bonnet.
NACA duct positioned on bonnet.
If you look underneath the bonnet you will see the following:
Recreated bonnet with duct as on original.
Can any of you guess what this was meant for?
Here’s a few clues … The duct points straight down. It points towards the steering rack and is in the vicinity of the brake and clutch reservoirs. It is positioned on the driver’s side rather than centrally on the car. Answer will be given in my next blog.
My car is now in the paintshop. The plan is to reunite it with its engine when it returns then give it a first shakedown run.
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