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Jaguar XKE E-type Restoration: Starting the Car and a First Drive!

After the brakes were all bled, the fuel sump filter and seal replaced, the new exhaust in place…  the moment of truth was drawing closer. I would soon be seeing if the car would start and drive properly. After the Jag was down on all four wheels I made sure that all of the suspension linkages were nice and tight and went over everything to make sure fuel, water, vacuum and brake lines were all secure. I checked to make sure there were no loose nuts or screws rattling around etc.

We pushed the car out of the garage – just in case there was any fire issue I wanted it outside… We added 2 gallons of super to the tank.  I hooked up the battery and turned the key.  I had earlier replaced the fuel filter in the engine compartment and it took a few clicks of the fuel pump to get the gas up to the filter, through the glass bowl and up to the Stromberg carbs. So far so good – no sprays of fuel from some unfastened line.  The oil and filter had been replaced earlier, and all the radiator coolant changed out as well. So, all the fluids were fresh. As the car had not been started for a while, but only hand cranked now and then, I decided to give it a spray of Thrust in each carb to try and get the engine to catch quickly. I had left the air cleaner off the car so the carb inlets were visible.

With my son and his girl friend looking on – and filming – I pulled out the choke and turned the key.  The new starter whirled around  fast and then presto – 6 cylinders and 4.2 litres of double overhead cam Jaguar XK engine roared into life! I let the car idle and pushed in the choke bit by bit until it was idling even and strong at the correct relatively  low rpm (automatic tranny jags idle a little slower than manuals).  While it was warming up we tested all the lights – particularly the brake lights and turn signals. Everything worked.  The oil pressure, amps, water temp all looked excellent.

Ok time to go. I put it into N, released the parking brake  and let it coast backward while testing the brakes. They felt good. I put it into R and backed down the drive. No noises and the tranny felt fine.  The steering seemed ok  – although a little light due to the old-style power steering used in these cars. I backed it out and turned to face the road.  Cautiously I placed it into D1 and moved forward testing the brakes and steering.  Everything felt good, no noises or smoke.  So – I hit the gas and off I flew into the sun!

First run of the Jaguar after three years of work on the mechanicals from radiator to tail pipes - exhale!


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