Spanner Works: Michael van Graan

A regular feature, outlining the activities of FMM’s workshop personnel who are responsible for repairing, renovating, refurbishing and restoring the museum’s large and varied collection of vehicles. This month, technician JP du Plessis reports on a Michael van Graan’s cosmetic surgery on a large cat…


One of the British beauties in the FMM collection is a 1968 Jaguar E-Type fixed-head coupe. This particular car has never been restored and, unsurprisingly, has seen some wear and tear on certain parts and panels.  At some point in its life, the lengthy bonnet of the car seemed to have been closed incorrectly. This left a crack in the paint, which needed a proper fix, and the driver-side door also needed attention, so Michael van Graan was tasked with tidying up the cosmetics.

As many of you will know, the forward-hinged bonnet of the E-Type makes up a lot of the car’s bodywork, and is arguably the prettiest feature of the car. So it was imperative that it gets the love it deserves. Michael began with removing the front bumper and taping-up the minor trim items and headlights for protection. After much sanding down and surface preparation, the primer layers were sprayed on while the top coat British Racing Green paint was being mixed according to the fuel flap colour sample.

The heater box was removed and refurbished and, along with the chassis members in the engine bay, given a fresh coat of black paint. Then Michael tackled the tailgate alignment, fiddling with the catch mechanism and hinges until the fit was just right and the panel closed smoothly and properly.

After the top coat arrived, Michael only had to pick a day that the weather would play along to apply the colour coats to the now primer-coated bonnet and door. Once the colour coats had been sprayed on and thoroughly dried, it was time for polishing. Needless to say, the resultant glossy fresh paint certainly made a big difference.

With Elton’s help, Michael fitted new rubbers to the cowl to ensure a proper seal when closing the bonnet. Michael then also corrected the fitment of the wiper blades, which had been incorrectly aligned on the wiper motor shafts. The car was then sent off to the trimmers, where it was treated to new carpets and leather upholstery on the seats.

Michael can be proud of the Jaguar’s cosmetic surgery, which can be seen in Hall C where the E-Type is currently on display.