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Q: I have a 1974 XKE V12 Roadster, and I'm trying to get it fully roadworthy again. My mechanic is trying to fix a leak in the freeze plugs, but he has to remove the head gasket and the bolts are frozen. He has been soaking them for almost a YEAR and he says he can't pry it off because he will ruin the heads. Does this sound correct? Should it take a YEAR to get this thing off? Please help with advice or point me in the right direction if you can.

A: Your engine has the distinction of being one of the worst automotive engines ever designed and built, but the head bolts shouldn't take a year to come off. Jaguar had a habit of using nuts on studs that were screwed into the block, extended through the water jacket and then through the head. Removing the nuts didn't release the parts because of corrosion on the bolts. The solution for that was to stuff cotton clothesline rope into the cylinders and then hit the starter. The pistons drove the head up and over the bolts. (Note: it won't hurt the pistons or rods.)

Whatever the reason for the frozen fasteners, they have to come off. Tell your mechanic to get out the impact wrench and start cranking. Some will come off and some won't, but all can be replaced. Your engine probably needs a complete rebuild, about a $5000 operation, and used V12s are available all over. Unless you are in love with the 12 cylinders (anemic though they are in the horsepower category), and 900 lbs. of drivetrain weight, consider a conversion kit to a Chevy small block engine. You won't believe the difference in acceleration and handling. Good luck.


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