Automatic to 5-Speed Conversion

I have had a query from a reader on the Isle of Man about the conversion of an automatic E Type to a manual 5 speed gear box.

I have spoken with John Burton about the subject, and his immediate response was why not sell it and buy a manual E Type? However, he went on to tell me that there is no difficulty in this conversion and that Jaguars own 5 speed gear box should fit without any modification. John’s approach to this subject is that the cockpit is much smaller in an automatic car, as the covering for the automatic box is considerable.

That said, I understand the desire to convert without the hassle of selling your car to which you may have become very fond. I would appreciate hearing from any of you who have experience of this conversion.

E Type Day 2014

Silverstone Classic 25-27 July 2014

This is a fantastic event where, almost uniquely, you will be able to see the great racing Jaguars from the past being driven in full race conditions on the grand prix circuit. I put it this way as I recently attended the 72nd members meeting at Goodwood. I was thrilled to see the Le Mans V12 Jaguars from the 80’s and 90’s and look forward to hearing them in action. However, I was greatly disappointed when they did finally get onto the track to discover that they were only circulating for half a dozen demonstration laps. A much slower car prevented the V12’s from opening up, and thus we were prevented from hearing that most distinctive musical sound from the Jaguar V12s. That will not be the case at the Silverstone Classic, where the E Type Register will have its new stand in operation when I hope you will come along and say hello. Book your tickets now!

Gaydon Workshop

This year’s Gaydon Workshop was another huge success with nearly 90 attendees able to learn practical yet technical expert knowledge in respect of a wide variety of Jaguar engines. If you own a Jaguar with an XK engine or a V12, whatever car it is fitted into, you cannot afford to miss these incredible workshops now established on an annual basis. John Burton is a natural public speaker with an encyclopaedic knowledge delivered with great charm and a real sense of humour. He kept us riveted between 9.25am and 10.40am and again between 1.30pm and 2.45pm. The latter talk moving from engines to body work. John Watkinson, a regular correspondent in the JDC magazine spoke for an hour on electrics, fuel systems and suspension. He spoke with clarity and great knowledge, wrapped up with the sharpest wit that had us all in hysterics. All those that attended not only know more about their cars, but also more about safe driving. As you read this as someone who has never been to the Gaydon Workshop before, make sure you come next year. You cannot afford to miss it if you are either an enthusiastic driver or mechanic. All the talks were fully illustrated and backed up with the ability to know where to turn for the parts you will need for the various jobs dealt with.

SNG Barratt again sponsored the event providing two senior managers in the form of Peter Stant and Neil Hussey. Their presence at the workshop shows how seriously Barratt’s take this event. Not only did Peter and Neil give a very interesting and illustrated talk on the variety of spares Barratts can provide, they also ran a well stocked spares stall, at which attendees could buy spare parts for futures projects, repairs to be carried out that day (the situation in my case) and also an interesting range of gifts (I was able to purchase three toy E Types for my grandson).

After a decent lunch and John Burton’s second talk we moved to a fascinating talk from Debbie Edwards, a rally driver of considerable success with her series 2 FHC. The afternoon ended with a 45 minute question and answer session. Five E Types were brought into the lecture theatre ranging from the 2013 ‘Wooden Spoon’ winner (the car least like a concourse winner – my car) to Barratt’s fully restored hard top coupé. Debbie’s rally FH was also present along with a fully restored soft top trailered to the circuit in an enclosed trailer. It was lovely to see this car at the event, but I hope it actually gets driven. I for one cannot see the point of concourse. First and foremost I love driving; and driving gets cars dirty! In any event I am slightly OCD anyway, and once I started polishing the spark plugs, my wife and family would probably never see me again! My ’wooden spoon’ winning version endured rain both going and coming from Gaydon, enhancing its reputation as the car least likely to win a concourse competition.

Five Speed Gearboxes

The photographs show the conversion process to a five speed gear box.

I know many of you who adopt a purest approach to the maintenance of your cars especially those involved in concourse will not continence this conversion. However for the rest of us I would strongly recommend this conversion. When the E Type was launched in 1961 there was, I believe only the M1 motorway in existence, which had opened in 1959, and then only over a limited distance. In other words the E Type was not built with motorway driving in mind.

At last year’s E Type workshop I travelled with fellow committee member Lee Ridley in a beautiful fixed head coupé which he had restored including a five speed gear box. The difference in noise levels was enormous. We were able to talk without raising our voices and the use of the radio was perfectly satisfactory. In these economy driven times, perhaps the biggest advantage is in the saving of fuel!

The conversion is not cheap, costing about £4000 for the best of the five speed options. Lee will be able to advise you in respect of this conversion, and can be contacted on 07738 863969 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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