Jaguar Mark VII M

This car is consolidating its position at the vanguard of the fleet. My admiration, nay deepening love, for these fabulous big Jaguars remains undiminished. Mechanically the car is now fully sorted and the o/d unit was the final challenge. We have spent countless hours playing with switches, relays and solenoids – all with only partial success. Here was a bullet waiting to be bitten- the o/d unit would have to come out. Now to do this it is recommended that the engine is taken out first, followed by the gearbox. Fortunately, due to a chassis ‘modification’ made prior to my ownership (see photo!), with much care and patience the unit can be eased out from underneath without removing the engine and gearbox – actually I’m not entirely sure ‘eased’ is the right word here.

As the Laycock manufactured parts of Captain Edgar de Normanville’s magnificent invention (Edgar was British by the way – don’t be fooled by the ‘de’ and the ‘ville’ bits)  were laid out on the bench – we decided that inspection and reassembly should be carried out by a specialist who works with these units every day. Our biggest challenge turned out to be refitting it to the car with everything else in situ. So, while taking the not inconsiderable weight of the unit, we needed to ensure that the splines in the unidirectional clutch and planet carrier were in alignment and in a position to receive the mainshaft. We then had to keep the clutch springs (all 12 of them) over their respective bosses and start tightening the first two nuts, drawing the o/d casing towards the gearbox rear extension.

With ¾” to go we had to enter two long bladed screwdrivers, one to compress the oil pump plunger and the second to lever the cam into alignment with the plunger roller while steadily tightening the nuts. Simple really. After our second attempt we experienced that sense of disbelief which comes from achieving something that could well have frustrated us to the edge of sanity. It would soon be road test time.

Overdrive transforms the MKVII and on the way up to the NEC in April, the eurohatches and their occupants seemed rather shocked by the sight of a ton and three quarter of sixty year old Glory storming past them, utterly relaxed at 70 plus cruising speeds. As I’ve said before, these are wonderful cars….

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