May 082014

The breakdown of the re-chroming quote received from ACF Howell simply had ‘RIP’ written in place of a cost for the rear light clusters …. and I had thought they looked in better shape than the front lights, which they were able to re-chrome! I was therefore slightly weary of picking up some second hand ones at the Stoneleigh spares day, just in case they too were later found to be beyond help.

The general view is that the aesthetics of the S2 suffered with the tightening of US health and safety regulations, by the introduction of the rear wrap-around bumper and rather slab rear-end look. They have a lot to answer for!!

Peter Crespin, an author on Jaguars, had ‘tidied’ up the rear of an S2 based around using the rear light clusters from a Lotus Elan 2+2. These have a reverse light incorporated into the unit thus removing the need for the separate reverse lights either side of the square number plate.

Rear of Standard S2 Rear using Elan rear lights
Images courtesy of E-Type forum

The number plate mount and aluminium number plate finisher are also dropped enabling the more traditional oblong number plate to be attached directly to the body. This in turn enables straight exhaust resonators to be used rather than the splayed ones introduced with the S2.

While I much prefer this uncluttered look, I still wanted to be able to revert to standard relatively easily/cheaply. The main expense is the rear light clusters so the decision was whether to buy the correct ones or the Elan 2+2 units. The problem would be that having separate reverse lights might obscure the ends of the number plate.

A quick call to Framptons confirmed that they would be able to produce an oblong number plate which would fit inside the original reverse lights (just!), because my registration number only had two digits and one of these was a ‘1’.

Decision made. I would stick with the correct light units and the reverse lights but would swap to an oblong number plate and straight exhaust resonators.

One of the rear housings for the light units had been pushed in and badly twisted. Presumably when it sustained the rear bumper damage. Fortunately I managed to find a pair of second hand ones although their hand-painted finish looked as though the previous owner had had a fight with the paint brush …. and lost!! Nothing some shot blasting couldn’t cure.

The replacement housings may well have been from another Jaguar model because they didn’t have the retaining nut on the rear face and new ones had to be welded in place. The paint had been masking some quite bad pitting, so the housings were left to soak in phosphoric acid for a while to convert any remaining traces of rust before being filled and painted with Epoxy Mastic 121, along with the final few unpainted parts.

I also decided to give the inside of the housings and the back of the light clusters a number of coats of Dinitrol hard wax in an attempt to delay the onset of the same corrosion problems in future. Several thick coats of Dinitrol were applied – initially it looks a mess but dries overnight to a thinner, more uniform finish.

The parts diagram indicates that there should also be a foam gasket (item 5) sealing the aperture where the lamp cables exit the rear housing. Despite numerous searches, I couldn’t find anyone who supplied them so I knocked up some gaskets using some Dynaliner. The foam is closed cell so shouldn’t absorb water which would making things worse rather than better.

First the light housing must be attached to the body. The inboard side with two 3/16″ setscrews, one securing the light’s earth connection, and the outboard side with two 3/16″ self tappers into a square nylon span-in nuts.

However I found that once the housings had been fitted, it wasn’t possible to fit the bolts securing the rear bumpers. Therefore these bolts need to be screwed in place beforehand.

The bumper brackets slide onto these bolt so it’s not necessary to fit the rear bumper first. Although access to the bolts starts to become limits once the light units have been mounted to the housings.

I’ve found Bresco very useful for supplying many of the odd trim fittings and they supply a pack of the Nylon snap-in nut for 17/64″ square hole (code 80200P), which is sufficient for the rear lights, the reverse lights, the padded door brackets and the brackets for the internal door lever operating the door locks.

Oddly the inner two bolt holes of the reproduction light clusters were tapped. This didn’t make sense to me as it would stop the bolts providing a clamping force on the clusters against the housing. Once the screw had engaged with the thread in both the light cluster and housing, they would move in unison along the screw thread and would not be drawn together.

In the end I gave up and drilled the bolt holes to remove the screw thread to obtain a good seal on the rubber gasket between the two.

Finally the reverse lights and number plate light were screwed in place to complete the rear lighting.

  4 Responses to “Completing the rear lights”

  1. Chris, very interesting section on the rear end/rear light treatment, thanks. Inspired me to go for an even cleaner rear end look than Peter Crespin. I plan to use the Elan reversing lights, leaving out the centre bumper section altogether. It will mean deseaming the newly exposed part of the body joint, but my 69 S2 is a bare metal shell right now anyway.
    PS How much did rechroming the front lights cost? I am hoping to hang on to as much of the original metal as possible, even if it costs a bit more than new parts (about £600 for all 4 lights from Barratts though as I am sure you know full well!).
    PPS I expect that your sheared bolt thread was 4BA.

    • Steve,

      The rear is the one area of the S2 that I think lets it down. The only issue I could see with dropping the middle section would be how the rear overriders would attach, as their cut-outs push against the centre and outer bumper. Without the centre section the overrider would tend to be pulled slightly skewed. Also the overrider cut-out for the centre section might need looking at – add metal to remove it?

      Obviously it’s well would be worth trial fitting everything before the shell hits the paint shop

      It was a very close call on whether I went for the Elan lights. If my registration number had been any longer I would have done so. Elan 2+2 lights appear from time to time on eBay or new ones are available from Mick Miller. Although probably at a similar eye watering price to Barratts!

      ACF Howell charged £50 (ex VAT) to do both the fronts, back at the end of 2012. To e-chrome them, they ha to remove the main bulb holder to release the thin oblong reflection. They don’t take too kindly to being removed so I had to get two new bulb holders. Although not expensive (<£10 for two), they are tricky to fit. You need to press the bulb holder into the light housing front the rear (to stop the brass earth ring rattling/rotating once fitted) at the same time as holding the reflector in place and peening over the tabs. A couple of pairs of hands would help!

      Good luck with your restoration,

      • Chris your comments on the modified overrider problems were very prescient. I crudely welded an internal steel tube, close fitting to the bolt shank, within each overrider to prevent sideways skewing. I had the superfluous inner vee cutouts on the overriders welded up. Then I made new cut outs in the overriders to accept the S1 number plate lights.

        It’s still something of a work in progress, and it’s all easily reversible – if you ignore the hidden de-seaming.

        I am also considering having those nasty curved chrome finishers stripped and painted body colour too.


  2. For anybody who does get their mazak sidelights rechromed, like Chris and I did, you can get replacement 1 and 2 pin lampholders at, and Chris says, not that easy to find.

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