Paso Robles – British Invasion at Vino Robles

In August a few members of the Valley British Auto Club headed to the coast. We were invited to the British Invasion at the Vina Robles Winery in Paso Robles. They were celebrating the 60’s with a live band, wine and fish and chips, with a display of British cars. Hey, whats not to like; entertainment, wine, cars, wine, and food and more wine. We drove over that morning checked in and rested before the event at 4 ish. They had us park our cars up and down the driveways. A TR3 and 2 MGB’s represented our club. There were about 40 cars in all.

British cars in Paso Robles

British cars in Paso Robles

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Nigel Cools The Cat

Living in California’s Great Central Valley (so hot and dry the jack rabbits carry imported bottled water); air conditioning the old E-Type has been on my mind for some time. Jaguar started offering a dealer installed a/c on Series II E-Types. Those of us with Series I cars have been left to our own devices.

For the past fifteen years I have, off and on, gotten excited by the prospect of cool air in the E-Type cabin. Along with the excitement usually came intimidation and the usual questions: 1. Modifications must be made to get all of the bits and pieces under the bonnet. The car is a driver but how much do you want to modify it? 2. What kind of evaporator is available for the cabin? 3. Do I use R-12 or R-134? 4. Can a semi-skilled mechanic with the basic tools do this job? There were a hundred other considerations but the sixty four dollar question was: What if I do all this work and it doesn’t function properly?

Dan's Jaguar

Dan Dunham's Jaguar

It finally came down to: OK,  either do it or don’t. I flipped a mental coin and it came up “do”. Over the next couple of years, various parts were purchased; a compressor here, a dryer there, I finally found an evaporator, etc, etc. (This is a great way to keep the missus in the dark as to the total cost of the project.) Finally, in November, the bonnet came off and work started in earnest. This is a brief dissertation on the steps required to get the job done. Would I do it again? Probably; but I’m a slow learner. One goal was to make the installation as close to that of a Series II E-Type as possible.

The first consideration comes with the placement of the a/c compressor and the alternator. The header tank on a Series I occupies the central area behind the radiator. This is where the alternator goes on a Series II car. The only alternative is to move the header tank. I fabricated a new tank and mounted it offset to the right of where the original resides. This makes room for the alternator. Read the rest of this entry