All That Glitters Is Not Gold

I have shown a number of pictures of two very different E Types in the same geographical setting, although in slightly different lighting conditions. The V12 fixed head has recently been cleaned, whilst the soft top is dirty and appears somewhat neglected. The V12 has gleaming paint work which would immediately attract the novice buyer. The Series 1 soft top has poor paint with different shades of carmen red on the various panels of the car. A previous owner has attempted to convert the interior from sandy beige to black. The technic used was seat paint!

The obvious result is that the paint is coming off revealing the true colour of the leather. The other act of stupidity in respect of the soft top is the use of underseal on the underside, which the bright spark who applied it thought should also cover part of the sills. This was a common practise in the 60’s and I remember my father’s first new car purchased in 1966 was undersealed in a similar fashion. This was the 6 cylinder 1600 Triumph Vitesse.

Of course cars from that period had rust built in through the stubborn refusal of the British Motor Industry to use zinc coating and the perverse habit of parking new cars in fields prior to sale. Sadly the Triumph Vitesse went the way of all flesh, but the soft top E Type shown in the photographs thankfully spent no time pending its first sale in a field. For those of you who don’t know the problem with underseal, is that it is virtually impossible to get a perfect seal, and even if you do any moisture on the metal is sealed in. Subsequently as the underseal dries out, moisture gets behind the underseal, where in the cosy environment thus created, rust attacks even more vigorously than had undersealed ever been applied. I learned this hard fact of life many years ago, painting the underside of my early minis in old engine oil.


Returning to the two E Types, it will be seen on closer examination of the V12, that despite the gleaming paintwork the driver’s seat is clearly heavily used as a result of the car not being garaged and having dried out through the temperature extremes in that setting. The other tell-tale sign of neglect is the poor quality chromium plaiting which may not be apparent from the photographs. Take it from me that this is the case.

Turning now to the soft top, here the car is all of a piece. It does not pretend, despite its obvious faults, to be anything other than an original Series 1. The car in fact is mine being first registered in March 1963. I can report that although the rust has had its way on the driver’s foot well, because the car has been garaged for most of its life, it is otherwise sound and rust free. It was interesting to see at this year’s E Type work shop at Gaydon, it was not to the gleaming restored models that the crowds paid their first attention, but to the Series 1 soft top. The car is largely original with the exception of horrible oversized radial ply tyres and the fitting of a thermostatically controlled electric fan. These items were fitted in my days of ignorance before I met John Burton.


The V12’s gleaming paintwork hides the fact that the car was originally very rusty, particularly in the driver’s door and the rear off side wing. Beware though the glittering paint work that is out of step with the condition of the chrome and the leather interior. I appreciate soft tops attract higher values than FHC, but I can well understand the inexperienced buyer drawn to the V12 having rejected the better car, namely the Series 1 Coupé.

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