Custom Roadster: 1969 Jaguar XKE

For a Jaguar XKE, condition and originality are key to the car commanding some of the stratospheric prices that we see in today’s marketplace. This particular car is an unfinished project, and it is far from being original. The owner is searching for someone who is willing to complete the project, which is located in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The XKE has been listed for sale here on eBay. where bidding has now reached $8,300. At that price, the reserve hasn’t been met.

For those of you who are looking at this XKE Roadster and wondering why the proportions look slightly out, there is a good reason. You see, this isn’t a Roadster. The Jag started its life as a 2+2 Coupe, but at some point in the 1990s, someone decided that it would be a good idea to cut its roof off and create a 2+2 Roadster. Obviously, this is something that has the potential to negatively impact the car’s ultimate value, and I don’t think that it is a course that I would have chosen to follow if it were my XKE. The real question will revolve around whether any additional bracing was installed during the process, because things like scuttle shake and body flexing could be real issues. The headlights have also been converted to 1966 items, which gives them back the classy glass covers. Otherwise, the car has been hit with a coat of primer to protect the steel beneath. If this is untouched since the 1990s, then it would appear that there are no nasty rust issues just waiting to raise their ugly heads. One interesting little task that the next owner will face will be devising a new soft-top for the car. Given the extra length of the passenger compartment, a standard Roadster frame and top aren’t going to fit, so someone is going to need to be a bit inventive.

Under that enormous hood lies a 4,235cc DOHC 6-cylinder engine, producing 245hp. This is hooked to the optional 3-speed automatic transmission, although a 4-speed manual, bellhousing, and pedal box are included in the sale for those individuals who would like the performance to be a bit more lively. The engine presents quite nicely, and it doesn’t just look good. The engine has been treated to a nice reliable electronic ignition system, and it is said to run really well. It isn’t clear whether the XKE is roadworthy, so there is the possibility that it might need some work before it is ready to hit the road again. There are no clear photos of the car’s interior, but what we can see indicates that there will be some work required to return it to its best. The top of the dash looks like it has deteriorated badly, while the original rocker switches look like they have been replaced with aftermarket toggle switches. The quality of this conversion doesn’t appear to be terribly good, so a replacement switch panel and switches might need to be sourced. The wheel wears a wrap, so the condition of the rim is unknown. We can also see just enough of the interior to confirm that it will require a complete interior trim kit. These are quite easy to source, and complete kits that include leather covers for the seats can be found for around the $7,000 mark.

Jaguar purists are potentially going to decry the custom work that has been performed on this XKE, arguing that it has destroyed a classic car. I have to say that it isn’t a conversion that thrills me, but it is a case of “to each their own.” If the remaining work on the car is completed to a high standard, then it could be a distinctive car. However, I suspect that it will not be worth the same sort of money as it would have been if it had been left original and unmolested.


  1. Gaspumpchas

    You need to know what you are getting yourself into here. Not for the faint of heart. Primer covers a multitude of sins. These thing are a monster to work on.
    Good luck to the new owner. caveat Emptor.

    Like 5
  2. Classic Steel

    Its possible to get replacement/ reproduction parts made to mimic the original reinforced sections for the convertible.
    If not a good machine shop can assist for high dollars.
    A quick google found “
    Monocoque Metalworks is ‘THE SOURCE’ for E-Type Body Shell and Bonnet Panels!

    All Monocoque Metalworks panels are patterned, fabricated, AND installed right here in our dedicated E-Type monocoque restoration facility!” To explore…

    Most convertibles have a center ballast to support and weight car for balance and reinforcement within rocker

    The real trick is windshields frame for convertible latches and reproduction of top area in rear.

    I say the damage is done so have fun but don’t expect your money back and if done right keep your mouth shut and Have fun. 😜

    Fyi on record..I in no way endorse destruction of a fine jaguar 😉👀

    Like 5
  3. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    IMHO the 2+2 while functional was disproportionate and made a beautifully sculpted machine into a, well, almost fugly car. Given the opportunity I’d finish this with the 4spd in it and just enjoy it for what it is; it’s sad (or suspicious) that the owner isn’t going to complete the mission..
    And with the top off it is such a sweet auditory experience at speed.

    Like 5
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    For my opinion, this one is not for the faint of heart. To cut the top off a sedan is something most people (including myself) are not set up to finish correctly. To brace and finish a car like this is not something most people are equipped to do IMO. Too bad they didn’t leave the body alone and enjoy it as it was. None of this even considers any of the potential issues possible due to normal exposure, like rust.
    If someone wants a car like this and has the talent and funds to do it, more power to them. I’m not one of those people.

    Like 1
  5. whmracer99

    Currently at $10k+ —- I’d have to wonder at that price if this ends up being a parts donor for someone’s restoration.

    Like 1
  6. bobhess bobhess Member

    From my experience, reinforcing the chassis for the open car isn’t the hard part. Having built a couple of custom top frames I will tell you it’s time consuming. The hard part is finding someone to make the fabric. If you do they have to be pure artists with experience that won’t charge you more than the car is worth. As mentioned, I wonder how many roadster windshield frames are out there now? Still an interesting project and probably worth taking on.

    Like 1
  7. Doug M. Member

    I say, considering that the “damage” is already done: forget adapting a soft top. Simply have a good tonneau cover made, and also find/alter/fabricate or adapt a fiberglass hard top. One would hate to go to all the trouble to do a soft top only to find that the extra length looks really odd… IMHO.

    Like 3
  8. Paul

    The wheelbase is the same as the V12 Series 3 convertible, so the soft top and windscreen from one of those could be adapted

    Like 3
  9. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I hate to say it, but this is a parts car given the ruinous changes made. If you have the money, send the tub to Monoque Metalworks in Maryland and let him return it to 2+2 status. It’ll take 3 years or so since he’s a single person, but his stuff is great.

  10. John A Corey Member

    When I look closely, I don’t see the proportions of the 2+2! The longer door is absent, the slightly longer space between door and rear wheel arch is absent. The brightwork at the beltline is for a 2-seater, not a 2+2. I think this may be a 2-seater FHC converted to a DHC, not a 2+2 at all.

  11. Martin

    The 2plus2 used the same shell as the convertible and the roadster was different so the changes once the ugly hardtop is removed are minimal. This is actually a not uncommon way to get yourself a cheaper roadster back in the 80’s and 90’s when the 2plus2’s went for pocket change but the roadsters were really starting to climb.
    Anyway, who needs a top for a car like this? When did you last see a convertible jag with the top up?

    Like 2
  12. Skippy

    In spite of what the author says, looking at this car, the lines look perfect for a standard ’69 coupe or convertible. If it started life as a 2+2, then it has already been shortened because the doors on 2+2 cars are longer than they are on this car. I think this car probably started out as a regular coupe. If so, the drophead sheetmetal fitted to the car and the top/top frame, which appears to already be in the car, will probably fit. Hard to believe anyone would spend the money to convert this car without making sure the converted dimensions were correct. Unlike a lot of current classics, these have never been cheap. I can’t recall exactly what year, but I believe that all of the series III cars ended up on the 2+2 platform to save costs, even the convertibles, which explains why S3 dropheads look longer. So even if this were a 2+2, which it isn’t, top parts from an S3 might have fit. All that said, taking on even a stock jag restoration is a huge, huge project…and a modified mid-project car is probably a nightmare waiting to happen. My brother also restores cars and he has done two of these S2 droptops, both at far greater expense than he expected. In the right hands, though, this could be an awesome driver.

    Like 3
    • Jaker76

      Series III all used longer wheelbase of the 2+2. Proportions look off to me to, but 2+2 had the automatic transmissions option.

  13. Robert Fram

    As Skippy correctly noted, this started life as a short wheelbase coupe not a long wheelbase 2+2.
    The coupe and convertible shared the same body structure including windshield posts and doors, with the exception of the upper rear body and roof. Replace the upper body with the (easily available) parts for the convertible and you’ve got a convertible. So long as thats been done correctly then this isn’t a horrible long shot.

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