The bonnet of an E-Type doesn’t do anything to hold the car together structurally, but it is THE key focal point of the car. Plus, it also accounts for nearly half of the external bodywork! It needs to be restored properly – and present itself as well from the underside as the outer surface, and Monocoque Metalworks can help get YOUR E-Type’s bonnet back into that condition!
Unfortunately, an E-Type’s bonnet is also extremely exposed, and vulnerable to crash damage from overly excited pilots, AND other drivers who don’t see the low frontal area in parking lots, etc. It’s VERY RARE for us to see a completely undamaged bonnet come in – they have almost all been at least “tapped” at some point in their past. We see everything from the typical nose dings and creases from the front bumpers getting tapped, all the way up to major wrecks that have been poorly hammered out in the past and filled with up to ¾” of plastic filler! Rust can also take a heavy toll on the bonnet, and we can erase that damage as well.
In addition, there is a current worldwide shortage of bonnets – they are not currently being produced by the “usual supplier”. A new supplier has arrived on the scene, and while I know very little about these panels, the stories I have heard are all the same – poorly fitting panels that scream reproduction… Read on to learn how we can restore your original bonnet perfectly, or replace it with another expertly restored original.
Expert Reshaping of Crash Damage – Whatever condition your bonnet is in, we can make it NEW again! We use a combination of hand hammering and machines specifically tooled for E-Types to perfectly reshape your panels to the factory specs – ensuring that the all important air intake, or “mouth” is the correct shape – something that in itself will make or break an E-Type restoration… The bonnets that leave our shop in primer look like they have already been filled at first glance, yet there’s nothing there except properly shaped steel and etch primer.
Rust Damage in the Center-to-Wing Flanges – E-Type bonnets were assembled at the factory in a light coating of primer (if that), and then sprayed once assembled. In addition, the center-to-wing flanges are bolted together with a thick spacer washer to allow clearance for the brass, chrome molding clips to fit down through. These two facts resulted in an almost bare metal seam, 1-inch deep and 1/8” wide that is directly above the front wheels, trapping road grime, salt, and moisture. It ALWAYS rusts, the question is how far has it gotten… It can be a light surface coating if you are lucky that we clean back down to white metal, but it can also be rotted out in this flange, and in the worst case, can work its way up over the fold and start rotting holes into the other skin. We currently are the only source – worldwide – for new center-to-wing flanges, and we can TIG-weld these in to save your center section and wings, replacing larger sections of the curved outer skin as well if necessary…
Rotted or Twisted Bonded Flanges – Most of the outer skin of an E-Type’s bonnet is bonded (or glued) to metal flanges that are bolted to the inner bonnet panels. These flanges were also poorly primed and painted, and they rust badly where they meet the inner bonnet panels, quickly ruining the flange. While these are simple pieces overall, their curves must be exact for proper bonding. These pieces have been unavailable new for the E-Type’s entire life – until we started reproducing them in our fabrication shop last year, that is! We can now ensure that every single flange on the bonnet is rock-solid and properly shaped.
Fabrication and Replacement of the Main Support Member – We call this piece “ground zero for all bonnet alignment” – it contains the mounting points for the bonnet hinges and support springs, and supports the entire bonnet. It MUST be rock-solid and straight, but unfortunately, is it rarely either… Previously, the only solution here was to purchase a new lower valance at a cost of $1400 or more, and as a reproduction, it rarely fits the center section and wings without considerable adjustment. We now manufacture this support piece, and seamlessly attach it to your existing lower valance’s outer skin.
Other Cancerous Rust Areas – The other areas that commonly rust on an E-Type’s bonnet include the outer skin above the bonded flanges, the rear support member (from the inside, out…), and the spot-welded seams that attach the air duct to the mail wall of the inner valances. These are all areas we have experience with repairing – don’t let any of this damage convince you that your bonnet is “unrestorable” until you talk to us!
Extreme Care in the Stripping Phase – Sandblasting, Media Blasting, Soda Blasting, Chemicals, Dipping, Heat Guns, Sanding, Razor Blades – over the past 25 years, I’ve explored every possible method that can be used to strip panels, and have learned what does and does not work. Most importantly, we know what can damage a panel, and we know which methods to employ to strip your panels correctly. We have seen bonnets severely gouged by DA sanders with coarse grit discs, and severely warped by powerful sandblasters more appropriate for stripping locomotives… DO NOT entrust your center section to anyone who does not share our fear of damage to the panels in the stripping process! Saving a few dollars in this phase can damage your bonnet beyond repair – nothing is worse than the damage caused by overly-aggressive stripping! We will strip your panels bare without damage – and almost always use multiple methods to get the job done right.
Precision Assembly – Re-assembling an E-Type bonnet can be a real test of patience for the professional, and can quickly reduce an amateur to tears – I’ll admit it – I’ve been that guy… What usually happens is that the assembler eventually gives up on getting it right, and just settles for getting it together any way they can. That doesn’t happen here – we know how to do it correctly and we’ve done it many times. We know what to check, what to look out for, and have our own little tricks to do it right. When panels are being replaced, they can be adjusted – correctly – in our fabrication shop. In the end, this saves you money, because we’ll spend half the time doing it right that another shop will spend doing it wrong!
Early Bonnets a Specialty! – the first car I restored professionally was an early ’61 Roadster, which still had its complete original bonnet. While most restorers realize that early cars should have spot-welded louvers, they are unfamiliar with the MANY other nuances of an early E-Type’s bonnet. The flanges are also spot-welded to the outer skin, much wider, and shaped somewhat differently. When we restore an early bonnet, we reproduce all of these details EXACTLY, using two local cars (the same ’61 roadster and another coupe), both with their original bonnets – as our guide.
BONNET EXCHANGE! – All bonnets in our shop are rebuilt to the same exacting standards, and when available, we restore original panels we have on the shelf and combine them with new inner panels and flanges to produce beautifully restored, original bonnets. These bonnets are carefully assembled with restored original hardware, and all flanges are bonded with the correct adhesive. We use the machinery in our fabrication shop to match the flanges to the outer skin perfectly, resulting in a very even bonded seam on every flange. These bonnets are supplied completely etch-primed, inside and out, making sure that every inner flange surface and areas that can’t be painted once assembled have at least two coats of a high-quality, professional etch primer. These complete bonnets are sold on an exchange basis, pricing based on the condition of the bonnet you can supply as a core.
NEW LIGHTWEIGHT BONNET OPTIONS! – as a result of years spent supporting an E-Type vintage race team in my youth, the continuous search for lightweight components has gotten into my blood – if you’ve also been bitten by this, you’ll know just what I’m talking about, and be eager to read on to learn what we can do to shave weight from your E-Type!
Aluminum – we can reproduce the entire inner structure of the E-Type’s bonnet in aluminum, versus the original steel components. This includes the right and left inner valances, or “air ducts”, headlight diaphragms, “sugar scoops”, mudshields, and flanges – even the main support member including the caged hinge mounts. We can also modify these components – removing the factory air ducts and re-routing them as brake cooling scoops, for example. We are not yet able to supply the outer skin itself in aluminum, but we are working on it!
Fiberglass – we have recently acquired a set of epoxy molds taken from a show-winning, perfect, original Series 1 covered-headlight bonnet. I have seen components cast from these molds and they are excellent. We will soon be offering fiberglass wings, lower valances, and center sections from these molds, and…
Carbon Fiber – yes, the molds are capable of producing carbon-fiber panels as well! I’ve seen those too, but more importantly, HELD them – the wings produced from these molds in carbon-fiber are very sturdy, yet weigh only 3.5 pounds – they are feather light! Soon, we hope to have our prototype lightweight bonnet completed, with a carbon-fiber outer shell, and a complete inner structure formed of .050 polished 3003 aluminum!
The panels below are currently in stock and available to be purchased – call us if you see something you need – or even something you need but DON’T see!
These perfectly restored original panels fit MUCH BETTER than the “new” panels – IF you can find them in stock somewhere. These have two coats of high-quality, DuPont self-etching primer over scuffed bare steel – they are all READY TO GO – and COST LESS that the poorly fitting “new” reproductions! If you need it – get it before someone else does!
Let me re-iterate – in these photos, you are looking at BARE STEEL and self-etching primer – no surprises and NO FILLER – just perfect, original panels properly restored!
The following bonnets are currently under construction at our shop and will be available soon – for exchange or to be purchased outright. If one of these sounds like the perfect answer for YOUR E-Type, give us a ring today to stake your claim on it!
Series 3 V-12 – later style: Fits 1973 and 1974 cars with the larger black rubber bumpers that house shock absorbers that reach back into the bonnet. This bonnet is EXCELLENT! It is an all-original bonnet still in its original factory paint – complete with the factory emission stickers and all. There is virtually no rust anywhere. This bonnet was replaced by an insurance company after a minor accident, and put into dry storage about 30 years ago… It was hit in the forward area of the LH wing and the LH sugar scoop. Those are the only two damaged panels, and they will be reshaped perfectly or replaced. The entire bonnet will be disassembled, carefully stripped, primed inside and out with self-etching primer, and properly re-assembled with the original restored hardware. When completed, this will be the most perfect, most original example of this style bonnet on the planet.
Series 2: This bonnet was a trade-in on a bonnet we rebuilt last year. It has several dents that were simply filled with bondo rather than being removed. The wings and center section are rust-free, and will make an excellent finished bonnet after our restoration. The lower valance is straight with some rust – we will repair that and replace the vertical support member with one of our new pieces. We have straight and solid inner valances for this bonnet, and the bonnet can be built with either an AC or non-AC RH inner valance – your choice. Each piece will be carefully stripped, rebuilt, all dents erased, and coated in self-etching primer – then bonded and re-assembled with all new hardware.
Series 1.5: SOLD!!! We have a matching center section and wings for a Series 1.5 that were recently discovered in the attic of an E-Type owner’s garage. They are virgin pieces that have never been hit, the rear edges have never been trimmed, and all are still in their original paint. There are some minor rust issues in the side flanges which we will repair seamlessly as part of the restoration. A pair of solid original inner valances will be restored, as will a lower valance. We also have excellent Series 1.5 headlamp diaphragms and sugar scoops to go with these pieces. When completed – the nose of this bonnet will be virgin and flawless, and so will the rest of it.
Early Series 1 “welded louver”: Building an early 3.8 bonnet with welded louvers and flanges is no small undertaking. Many other shops will offer to cut out your louvers and weld in new louver panels from one of the big suppliers – not even realizing that these panels are incorrect. The louver panels available are simple copies of the louvers in a pressed louver bonnet, while the louvers in a welded-louver bonnet are a completely different profile that is definitely noticeable… Next, they’ll peel off your bonded flanges and weld those to the skin – also incorrect. We have the proper louver panels – and we have complete patterns for the wider flanges and can spot weld all of these pieces into your panels without warping them. If you are considering building a correct welded-louver bonnet for your early E-Type, we are simply the only shop to consider. For proof, see our blog entries on this topic.
Other Series: There is so much Series 1 stuff around here that of course we can build an excellent original Series 1 bonnet to your specs. In addition, we do have excellent Series 3 wings with virgin, undamaged wheel flares that can be used to build the earlier style V-12 bonnets as well. Give us a ring and let’s discuss building a new bonnet for your E-Type today!