1968 Jaguar XKE Restoration

Article by Mark Trotta

Aside from the engine and transmission, the Jaguar XKE was a completely new car, and as beautiful today as when they were introduced in 1961.

1968 Jaguar XKE restoration

During 1967/68, the transitional Series 1-1/2 cars were brought about to comply with U.S. safety regulations. The biggest exterior change was the loss of the original glass-covered head lamps, to a more upright and exposed style.



Under the hood, dual electric fans were added to help cooling. The original smooth polished dual cam covers were now ribbed and painted.

Jaguar XKE engine repair

The Purchase

From the single picture posted on the internet ad, this Jag looked clean - a blue-on-blue roadster with original factory air-conditioning and wire wheels. It was being sold in non-running condition.

When we called the seller, he said he'd already received dozens of calls, mostly from out-of-state, but since we were closest in distance it was offered to us first.

Jaguar XKE restoration

With directions in hand, I hopped into my truck and arrived at the address several hours later. I was immediately impressed with the Jag's condition; the body was straight and rust-free, and still had the original paint. No rust, no dents, a few minor scratches, and perfect blue-leather seats.

1968 Jaguar XKE Roadster interior

Everything looked intact, but the car hadn't run in 13 years. My gut feeling was it just needed some TLC.


Although I had no previous experience with British cars, I decided to take a chance and by this non-running Jag. Several factors contributed to my decision - First, the car had been stored in a clean, organized garage in a beautifully-kept house. Second, the seller was not only friendly and informative, he was genuinely concerned about the car. I had no guarantee that the engine would run, but I had a good feeling about the car. The Jag was purchased and trailered home.



Jaguar XKE bodies are partially unitized, and each panel functions both for appearance and support. Although this particular car was rust-free, places to check are under the rear fenders, along the sills, under the spare tire, and under the carpets.

1968 Jaguar XKE Roadster

All XKE's have 4-wheel discs, and the rear ones are inboard. This means any serious work on the rear brakes requires lowering the rear axle.

Jaguar XKE Engine Repair


Working On British Cars

This was the first British car that I owned and worked on. Before I started working on it, I read every book I could get my hands on about Jaguars and XKE models.

There's always been myths and superstitions about old British sports cars. Turns out it was easier to work on than what I've read and heard. Another old myth busted.

Whitworth Tools

Vintage British vehicles were assembled from the factory with Whitworth-sized nuts and bolts. These are often confused for, and not the same as, fractional or metric sizes. This is why you see many old British cars with rounded-off nuts and bolts.

Whitworth wrenches for classic British cars

Shop: British Whitworth Tools

British vehicles continued using Whitworth sizing into the late sixties, and to make things more confusing, some seventies models had a combination of sizings.


Carb Rebuild

Because the car had sat in storage for many years, the gasoline in the carbs turned to varnish. I began the XKE project by disassembling, cleaning, and rebuilding the Zenith-Stromberg carburetors.

rebuild Zenith Stromberg carburetor

It's nice to have a second carburetor to use as a reference as you're disassembling the other.

Read: Zenith-Stromberg Carb Rebuild


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