Reassembling the XJC

The result of four months of intensive work was a beautifully painted Jaguar Coupe with a dead straight body.  Friends who watched the progress of the project praised the results and remarked on the high quality of the finished product.  When I first started the restoration friends were questioning why I wanted to rebuild the body as it was in such good condition, but once it was finished they could appreciate the attention to detail, the improved fit and finish of the body and the greater overall presentation of the vehicle.
Rust prevention

The Jaguar XJC is well known for its addiction to rust and many a classic Jag has been lost to the wrecking yard for this reason.  So, during the bodywork and repainting process special attention was paid to ensuring that the Coupe would be around for many more decades by preventing body cancer.   Internal surfaces were thoroughly cleaned and prepared and POR15 rust prevention paint was applied to the inside of the floorpans, doors, quarter panels, boot floor, front guards and bonnet etc. Extra care was also taken to apply flexible sealant to vulnerable surfaces to prevent water entry and the formation of mud in inaccessible places.

Before the XJC was put back together a further layer of rust protection was added by spraying liberal quantities of “Fish Oil” inside all panels (including the sills), joins and crevices.  This was a messy process but will help to protect the XJC for many years to come.  It is recommended to repeat the fish oil about every five years to maximise the protection.

During the rebuild new rubbers and seals were fitted throughout and perished or missing grommets replaced to help stop the entry of water.  The Jag is always garaged and my intention was to keep it off the road when it’s raining and when its washed its dried and never put away wet - all this helps keep the cancer away from the body.

Jaguar XJC V12 Coupe
A new hat for the cat
All Jaguar XJC's left the factory with a black vinyl top as standard, however not all restorers like the vinyl top and over the years many have been removed and the roof repainted.

When I first started this restoration I decided to keep the factory fitted black vinyl top as it was original and in good condition.  During the restoration I carefully peeled the edges of the vinyl back where necessary, covered it during the months of repair and masked it off when painting with the intention of retaining it.

However, once the car was painted a closer inspection of the vinyl roof convinced me that to do justice to the beautiful new body and paint work the vinyl top just had to be replaced.  I was told that the original material was no longer available so I located and purchased an English vinyl that was used on Rolls Royces and provided a very similar pattern to the XJC original.

I then found a vinyl top “specialist” installer, it was all he had done for twenty years.  He made up the new top in his workshop, came to my place, removed the old top and fitted the brand new vinyl roof that looks just like it did when the car left the factory. Yes the Jaguar XJC purists will notice the slightly different texture but without a close inspection the experts don’t know any different - and what a great improvement it was.

Reassembling the doors and windows
Very time consuming and often frustrating best describes fitting the new seals and rubbers to the side of the car.  Reassembling all the rather complex door and quarter window hardware and then getting everything to align, close and seal was a real challenge that required a lot of patience.  The time required for each step was measured in days not hours!   I replaced nearly every seal, rubber, gasket and grommet around the doors and windows and as I fitted each one the doors became harder to close.  Over time the new seals settled in and gradually conformed to the shape of the doors and they eventually became easier to close.

The side window mechanisms are a strange piece of engineering but once you take the time to understand how they work they can be fitted and adjusted to operate quite well, provided you clean, repair and lubricate each piece of the puzzle.  There were many small parts that needed replacement and each one had an impact on the end result.  The factory parts catalogue and workshop manual were of great assistance in this complex area.

The window regulators in the doors were worn around the rivets and pivots so I had them rebuilt by a retired engineer who fabricated and installed replacement parts.  The arms themselves were not worn so new pivot points were made and the arms were welded to stop the movement at the riveted joints.  The electric motors were in good condition and just required cleaning and minor refurbishment.

Surprisingly I was able to purchase just about every new seal and rubber for the car with only two small items no longer available (rubbers for the door window chrome support) .  Most were sourced locally through Jaguar specialists but I had to wait for a few specialised parts to be imported from the UK.

Jag XJC Jaguar XJ5.3C

Reassembling the boot area
The entire boot area was bead blasted back to bare-metal, minor rust spots repaired and repainted in two pack to provide an as new area that hardly anyone will see.  To prevent fuel and vapor leaks all rubber fuel lines were replaced as they had hardened due to age.   New side lining boards were made from 3mm MDF and covered in new black cloth material.  The original sound insulation on the boot floor was showing its age so a new “sound sandwich” was made using felt, bitumen sheet and Hardura which was then glued in place.  The vinyl on the metal cover that runs across the boot near the lock was replaced and  the aluminium protector plate near the boot seal was re-polished.  The original black carpeting and floor mat were in very good condition so they were reused.

After gluing, screwing and renewing all the fittings and fixtures I had an as new boot area that made me smile every time I opened it to put the picnic basket in.

New carpet for the interior

The original carpet was showing its age in places and the underlay and sound insulation were discoloured, rotting and falling to bits because of moisture that been absorbed over the years.  I decided to toss the lot out and renew everything.

The first problem encountered was that the original green carpet was no longer available.  After some searching I finally settled on a grey/green wool blend English carpet that was used in Series 3 saloons.  It was thicker than the original Series 2 carpet with a higher pile and a thick underlay already glued to the underside.  The sound insulation and carpet quality was far superior to the original XJC carpet and the colour helped to lighten the Olive leather interior.

The floorpans were repainted with POR 15 rust prevention paint and finished with two pack body colour.  Before re-carpeting, new self-adhesive sound insulating foam strips were inserted into the floor recesses and sheets of felt, bitumen and rubber were glued over the transmission tunnel to provide maximum sound and heat insulation.

A common Jaguar problem is the moisture absorbed into the original chip-foam insulation under the floor mats which rusts the floor over time.  To prevent this happening in the future I applied a generous coat of Xtroll Rust Conquerer over the newly painted floorpans and allowed it to harden. 

When making up the insulation for under the floor carpet I glued together a sandwich of dense “water resistant foam”, felt and rubber.  The foam is in contact with the floor and will not absorb or hold water and will therefore not promote rust like the original factory chip-foam insulation.  The “sound sandwich” also provides superior noise suppression.

The original carpet sections were used as templates to cut and trim an entire new set of carpets from the roll of carpet  that I purchased.  Using contact adhesive I glued the carpet where it was originally glued to the floor, sills and transmission tunnel and retained the new mats using Velcro and plastic clips to hold them in place.

The re-carpeting, including the new insulation was a relatively straight forward job and can be accomplished by any competent handyman. Using basic tools and  taking your time and applying a little common sense, most people could re-carpet their own Jag.  The only external assistance I required from an upholstery shop was to have the protective binding around the edges and new heel mats stitched onto the the floor mats.  As an added touch the new heel mats were customised with the words “JAGUAR XJC V12” embossed into them.

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Rear parcel tray

It was obvious that the rear window had been leaking at some stage and the rear parcel tray trim had absorbed the moisture and distorted over time.  The trim needed replacing and as I had purchased new Pioneer stereo rear speakers this was a good time to make a new trim to accept the speakers. 

Using the old trim as a pattern I cut a new backing board from 3mm MDF, complete with recesses for the speakers.   I then padded it, and the steel fill-in panel, with thin foam and covered them both with black vinyl left over from the vinyl top.

Roof lining - Side rail trim

The roof lining trim that runs down each side of the roof (cantrails), was damaged by the bead blaster when he was removing the paint from the body.  When I inspected the trim sections I also found the backing boards to be broken and distorted due to moisture and age. So I had yet another piece of trim to replace.

Using the originals for patterns I cut two new backing boards from 3mm MDF and then covered them with new roof lining material.  Refitting the trim was rather awkward and required care and patience, especially when matching up the new retaining clips with their respective holes.  The effort was worth while as the new trim finished the roof area off nicely.

Click for page 3 - Finalising the restoration