Once the decision was made we then set about the task of trying to find a suitable Jag. The advice we were given here was “buy the best you can”. We ended with a shortlist of two and asked Simon Ayris of Rally Preparation Services to go take a look. A week later we were the proud owners of NBR 34. A 1959 Jaguar Mk2 in midnight blue. All we needed to do now was have it totally rebuilt, from back to front and top to bottom.
Rally Preparation Services (RPS) have had many years of experience building cars for the Peking to Paris Rally and many others. They even built the winning car in the 2013 Peking to Paris. Without their support, advice, dedication and knowledge we probably wouldn’t have made it this far.
On 4th Sept 2014 we received an initial survey report on the car from Simon and all in all it wasn’t too bad. Twelve months later we were starting some road testing.
At the beginning of October 2014 the engine was removed from the car and sent to a specialist to be rebuilt with any worn or suspect parts being replaced. The gear box was also sent away for complete overhaul, the prop shaft was rebuilt with new UJs and the rear axle was completely overhauled with new bearings and a strengthened casing. In November the shell of the car was sent off for a roll cage to be fitted.
The road springs were replaced and uprated shock absorbers fitted. The steering box was rebuilt, track rod ends replaced, and new wheel bearings fitted. All the brakes were renewed and a new servo fitted. All brake and fuel lines have been re-routed through the inside of the car to protect them and an additional fuel tank sourced and fitted in the back of the boot over the rear axle. A new exhaust has been fabricated out of mild steel for ease of maintenance and rebuilding in Mongolia. Twin fuel pumps have been fitted side by side in the boot so we can switch from one to the other if need be. A sump guard has been fitted as well as protection for the fuel tank.
On the inside, sadly – small but elegant polished wood tray tables as there aren’t any back seats anymore. Two new Recaro rally seats in the front with full safety harnesses have replaced the sumptuous leather originals – not so elegant but probably more sensible. The newly created storage space in the back is now partially filled by a complete spare wheel – the second is in the boot.
New windscreen wipers have been fitted, but it’s a 1959 car so they are still completely useless in the rain – obviously the Clarkson approach of ‘just going faster’ will work just as well. Also normally useless in 1959 cars, the heater was rebuilt and so it actually now blows both hot and cold air.
Other things added, but in no particular order are a fire extinguisher, map lights, engine light, boot light, new horn, additional fuel filters, new spark plug leads, two coils, new clutch, new battery, towing points, commercial van tyres, radio removed and more storage created, foot plate and grab handle for the navigator and most importantly a new cigar lighter. An inverter will keep the cameras charged and the Espresso machine working. Oh, and a very cool leather strap for the bonnet – maybe an E Type might have worked with a bigger bonnet strap.
Extensive road testing through Wales, over Dartmoor and stuck in traffic jams in London found a few teething problems. A rather large fuel leak whilst in the outside lane of the M4 was brought to our attention by other motorists giving us a very wide berth and a lot of light flashing. On the return journey one of the rear brake calipers fell off. The result is that the M4 is obviously as tough as the Gobi will be and we now know how to fit a brake caliper.
It’s the beginning of March, three months to the off. Two intensive days coming up, with RPS, to learn how to take the car apart and more importantly put it back together again (apparently a Haynes manual and an RAC card are not sufficient to cover it) and then we pack the car with spares, tools and camping gear and the next time we will see it will be in a bonded warehouse in Peking.
The real fun starts on June 12th.