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December 28, 2005

The sordid story behind the 65E.

Filed under: Cars,life — chuck goolsbee @ 10:50 pm

I am often asked about the details of how I ended up with my father’s E-type Jaguar. I rarely tell the whole story though.

There are two reasons for that… one is that it makes me very angry to re-tell due to the unscrupulous behavior of one particular person involved, a man by the name of Dan Mooney. The other reason I rarely tell the tale is that in the little online community of E-type enthusiasts I belong to we have a rule that basically says “thou shalt not speak ill of a vendor” and Dan Mooney is the owner of Classic Jaguar (aka “CJ”), a well known vendor to the community. I understand why we have this rule. This is a litigious society and the online community is held together by good will, not money. A lawsuit would put the community at great risk. We all rely on each other far more than we rely on the vendors, so our coherence is placed above all other concerns. I respect that, and adhere to it. So I bite my tongue when the subjects of my car’s history or Classic Jaguar/Dan Mooney come up in the group. I have made a few bone-headed slips (such as a clearly off-list remark that I forgot to change the “To:” header on…) but I do my best to play nice on the E-type mailing list.

Thankfully, no such restrictions exist here, so after months of mulling it over… and getting over the anger… I can finally lay it out here. (I will likely make it a perma-link so that I can just point people at the URL should the question ever come up.) I had to calm down before I wrote it, because every time I tried before the anger became all to obvious in my writing and I eventually started sounding like a raving lunatic. It is now six months after my last unsatisfactory conversation with Mr. Mooney, and all the damage he inflicted on the car through extreme negligence and poor workmanship has been rectified. Time heals all wounds. This one may still be a little tender, but it is no longer bleeding or raw. So I hope I can finally write it in a dispassionate and level-headed tone. My aim is to lay out the facts and sequence of events, and allow the reader to make their own judgement. I really don’t need to disparage Dan Mooney or Classic Jaguar anyway, as their work speaks for itself, as you will see. I can express opinion about people’s behavior, but when it comes to the work itself, the quality (or lack thereof) speaks volumes for me. I’ll try to summarize in the next section, then further down provide all the details and timeline, including text of emails from myself, my father, and Dan Mooney. The next section should cover all the major points, but if you want to know more, read it all.

In a nutshell, Dan & my father were at one time close friends, and my father trusted Dan completely. They built this car and it became a showpiece for CJ’s work. Then a tragedy occurred (the car was in a flood) and Dan misjudged what it would cost to repair, then lied to my father about it to cover up his grave error… unfortunately after it was far too late to change course or select what would have been the better option from the Insurance company. When my father pointed out the obvious lie, Dan exploded in one of his (in)famous outbursts. Communications ceased. After many months, my father resigned himself to paying for the completion of the restoration and called Classic Jaguar to start the work again. Dan Mooney refused to talk to my father, and informed him (through one of his staff) that Classic Jaguar would not finish the work, or ever work on the car again, until my father apologized to Dan.

Mr. Mooney obviously does not understand logic, and certainly in this case put his pride above customer service.

However the even GREATER crime was the utterly incompetent work that had been done to-date by Classic Jaguar, that unfortunately would not be uncovered for almost two years.

My father arranged to have the car picked up from CJ and had the restoration (which at this stage was down to just the car’s interior) completed at a different shop. This is where I became involved, as my father informed me that he was selling the car. He was clearly upset (he never related to me details about his dealings with Dan until very recently) and wanted me to know that the car was “leaving the family.” I volunteered to buy it. We came to an agreement and the car was finished, and I took possession in the summer of 2003. Despite the poor personal treatment, my father still had great faith in the skill of CJ’s mechanical work, and expressed confidence to me that the car was mechanically better than it had ever been. I had no reason to doubt this, and drove the car with confidence.

Then, in the fall of 2004 on the return trip from a vintage car rally, I noted a knock in the engine. The car had around 10,000 miles on it since the mechanical restoration (My dad did a 1000 mile rally as a shake-down cruise, then my roadtrip home, a few local events around Seattle, then this trip to California.) My diagnosis centered on the wrist pin in the #5 cylinder. Improperly installed wrist pins is a not-that-uncommon issue in Jaguar XK engines.

Technically the engine was under warranty for Classic Jaguar, but if you recall they had refused to ever work on the car again, plus they were several thousand miles away. I could do it myself, but I am not fully equipped to do serious engine work, plus I am probably the world’s slowest mechanic (I like to think of car work as analog therapy for my overly digital life) – this job would take me years. My professional life was insanely busy then too as we were in the middle of our facility move.

I found a trusted local mechanic via that wonderful online community and brought it in to him. He fixed the wrist pins (yes, pinS… since ALL of them were installed upside-down) and then discovered a veritable house of horrors elsewhere in the engine, especially the cylinder head. Classic Jaguar had performed a complete botch-job on my engine, and charged my father tens of thousands of dollars to do this shabby job.

$45,000 in fact.

Many people in this tight little Jaguar online community were shocked at the pictures of the engine, since they, like me had no concept of Classic Jaguar doing such obviously horrible work. They privately told me I needed to talk to Dan Mooney. I really didn’t want to for obvious reasons. They pressed me though and I eventually relented… AFTER the car was fixed and almost on the road again.

I specifically avoided any accusations, tried to be as upbeat and positive as possible, and sent Dan a note with the tone of “thought you might want to know…” indicating that he may want to investigate other cars/engines built at the same time in case there was some systemic quality-control issue that required his attention.

He lashed out at me in response, accusing me of disparaging his reputation on the E-type mailing list; and denied any liability/warranty since I was not the original customer, and I had brought it to a different shop for the work. I replied, reminding him that I wasn’t asking for warranty coverage, and that I had not in fact ever mentioned him or CJ on the E-type mailing list.

He apologized for his email, then expressed regret about his dealings with my father, and included this:

I really am sorry that you have had the problems you have with this engine.
If you think there is anything I can help you with in the future, whether it
is related to this engine or not, please let me know.

So I replied, asking “How about paying for all, or some, of my costs of rebuilding it?” He replied with this brief note, doubling back to his earlier stance:

At 8:41 AM -0500 8/9/05, Dan Mooney - Team CJ wrote:
From: "Dan Mooney - Team CJ"
To: "chuck goolsbee"
Subject: Re: Explanation and apology

Hi Chuck:

That is not a realistic option given that I was never given the opportunity
to inspect the engine and put it right.

Dan Mooney - Team CJ

So there it is. Thankfully the car is well sorted and running fine so far… starring in calendars even! I have put 800 miles on it since it was rebuilt. Once Spring returns I’ll start really driving it and enjoying it again. It will always be bittersweet though, because just under the surface there is all that painful memory. Significant amounts of money lost, my father’s money, the insurance company’s money, my money. Dan Mooney took that money, and through his actions later caused me to throw good money after bad. He lied to, and treated my father with shocking disrespect. He allowed an exceedingly low-quality engine leave his shop and then refused to take any responsibility for it.

Now you know the sordid tale. If you want all the specific technical and gory personal details, read on…

Classic Jaguar originally restored the car for my father almost 10 years ago. CJ was a very small shop back then, just getting started. The original job was done well, and as a rolling advertisement, the 65E probably did a lot to help create the reputation of Classic Jaguar as a top-tier restoration facility. My father became good friends with Dan Mooney, investing in Classic Jaguar, and even going so far as loaning Dan some money at some point. I remember that when we were on rallies together my father’s nightly calls were to my mom, and then right after that, Dan, telling him about how we and the car were doing. My dad was willing to test any part or modification that Dan came up with and the car became something of a “test mule” for Classic Jaguar for the development of things such as 5-speed transmissions and lightweight flywheels. We sang the praises of CJ everywhere we went, including on this website in my rally diaries.

In 2001 the car was caught in the catastrophic flood as a result of hurricane Allison in Houston. My father had a $57,000 agreed value policy for the car, and was given an offer by the Insurance company to write off the car for that amount. In my dad’s words: “I give them the car, they give me the money, and I buy another E-type. That money would have bought a great one at that time!”

The other option was to fix the car. He spoke with Dan Mooney, and asked for an estimate to repair the car back to pre-flood condition. That estimate was for a $40,000 number and that included a $5,000 pad for unknowns. Again quoting my father: “The adjuster said we could do it for $35,000 so I called Dan and he said that he was 99% certain that he could do it for $35,000, and I concluded (that is my state of mind was) that if it went over, it would still be close, maybe one or two thousand over.”

The car went to Austin, and work started. Months later my father checked on the progress and the mechanical work was complete, but much work remained to be done, notably the interior. The shocker was that it was $10,000 over-budget, and they had not even started on the interior. $45,000 gone and no end in sight. My father asked Dan for a break in the price of work. Dan refused, and told my father that that he had always known that Dan had a high estimate of near $60,000 for the restoration.

In my father’s own words: “That lie is so obvious that anyone who understands logic and applies it to the facts must conclude it is a malicious lie. Can you imagine me taking $35,000 for a rebuild that could take $20 some thousand more, when I could get $57,000, just for the asking.”

Indeed, it would have been illogical for him to risk MORE money on the flood-damaged Jag than what he could have had from an insurance check. My father is a very logical and frugal man. He would not let any emotional ties to this car cloud a financial decision. At the time he had other, (untouched/undamaged by the flood) cars, such as a ’54 XK 120, and a ’57 300sl, so it wasn’t like he NEEDED the E-type. Knowing him, if the 65E was a total loss, he’d have taken the money and bought another E-type, maybe Alfa-Romeo, or something else interesting.

My father knew that Dan had lied, because at any number over $40k, my father would have never considered anything other than taking the insurance money and putting it into another car. My Dad is a (retired) attorney, and worked in the insurance business for many years. He would have NEVER agreed to leave the car at CJ if there was any risk of the cost exceeding the insurance figure.

At this point work ceased, and there was a ‘cooling off period’ of several months. The whole issue put a significant strain on my parent’s marriage. My mother was very upset… angry at my dad, and especially angry at Dan Mooney.

Some months later my father resigned himself to just getting it over with and called CJ to get the job finished. This is where Dan made mistake #2, and what can only be described as ‘Customer Service Suicide.’ Dan refused to talk to my father, even on the telephone, and Andy McCreadie, CJ Operations Manager was dispatched by Dan to tell my father that Dan said CJ would not work on the car unless my father apologized to Dan!

In the service industry you must always be mindful of which direction the money flows, or eventually you will be OUT of the service industry. ‘The customer is always right.’ If you put your ego ahead of the needs of a customer… a good customer who has poured a significant amount of money and good will into your business, in the form of work, product, loans, investment, and latitude with regards to projects you are a fool. I can confirm that Dan did all that, and is a fool.

My father hung up the phone and made arrangements to pull the car and have it completed at another shop.

This is where I became involved. He called me to tell me that he was selling the car, and I made an offer to buy it. My goal was to ‘keep it in the family’ and provide my father with a handy marriage pressure relief valve. He and I had so many adventures in the Jag, it seemed a travesty to let it go at this point.

We paid the other shop to finish the interior, and had the car on the road again in early 2003. My father drove it in the Copperstate 1000 rally as a ‘shakedown cruise’ that spring. I recall him calling me from a hotel and telling me how well the car was running, then suggesting “what you say to some sort of split ownership…” and overhearing my mother in the background saying “Don’t you DARE!” The car’s magic was working on him, but not her. She wanted to be rid of the reminder of Dan Mooney. A few minor issues remained to be fixed with the car, and these were performed by the guy who looks after the 300sl for my father. Ominously one of those items was U-joints, which were the ones on the car from before the flood.

I took possesion of the car that July, and even then my father despite his frustrations with Dan’s behavior, still had faith in his shop’s quality. He told me as I prepared to drive it away “It should be mechanically sound, since Dan does good work.”

About 10,000 miles into the car’s rebuild however I developed this knock. I had ZERO reason to send the car back to CJ. Distance was of course an issue, but since my father had never apologized, Dan had stated that he would refuse to work on the car. In effect I was in a classic ‘Catch-22’.

I brought the car to a local, trusted mechanic, and this is when the horrific bodge that CJ created was uncovered. My mechanic, who has been working on XK engines longer than I’ve been alive, called it the “worst rebuild of an XK engine I’ve ever seen.”

My mechanic also pointed out, and corrected many outright errors, blunders, and botches in the car’s restoration, such as:
* Removing a ballasted ignition. (The coil even said, in classic English phrasing ‘Not to be used with a ballast resistor.’)
* Installing a missing clutch release return spring.
* Installing missing bonnet latch receiver brackets. (the paint was damaged as a result of them being missing.)
* Install missing rubber caps on brake and clutch fluid reservoirs
* Install missing undershields behind splash shields.
* Install a complete battery tray, hold up/down kit. (there is a crack in the body now due to this CJ oversight)

Another CJ customer told me about head problems after he had installed a CJ braided oil feed pipe, so as a precaution I had that removed and replaced with a stock Jaguar one.

Additionally, the engine’s water passages were very grotty and clogged with scale. It was not new deposits either. It was obvious that when the engine was ‘rebuilt’ by Classic Jaguar they did not even bother to dip it in a hot tank – an basic step in any ‘complete’ engine rebuild. About the only thing OK about the engine were the pistons and timing chains, which showed zero wear.

Here is a photo of the water jacket:

Wouldn’t you be a bit shocked to find this, 10k miles after a VERY expensive “complete rebuild”??

The real disaster though was the cylinder head. It was under-spec virtually everywhere. The valve seats were sunken, and even worse, the tappets and valves were ground, cut, and shimmed beyond Jaguar’s specifications. The camshafts had damage on their lobe tips… it looked like they had been chewed on! It was impossible to put this head back on the car without completely rebuilding it – something that was supposedly done two years before at great expense. Here is my mechanic’s report with the gruesome numbers:

“The existing tappets have at some time been regound and are now 0.175 in. thick between the cam surface and the shim platform [ standard ones are 0.223 ] this in itself is not harmful but shows a lot of valve wear has been taken up. Likewise the shims in the exhaust side are 0.078, 0.090,0.079,0.089,0.078,0.078 whereas the standard minimum thickness is 0.085 showing a lot of valveseat wear has been taken up. There also looks as if there  might have been some metal taken off the ends of the valve stems also to take up wear in the valve seat. The valve seats have in all probability been recut several times to get to this.”

Here are some photos taken as the engine was disassembled:

Above: “Oh my aching head!”… The cylinder head after removal from the engine block. Note the deeply recessed valves.

Above: one of the camshafts. Note the damage to the lobe tip.

Above: A badly worn cam follower, in situ.

Above: An example of a cut valve stem.

There were also a few minor issues with engine assembly that were corrected while it was out of the car:
* The bottom end and timing cover water pump had been assembled using silicone rather than gaskets.
* There was no oil slinger behind the timing cover.
* There was no filter in the oil gallery behind the timing chain tensioner.
* Several freeze plugs were undersized and jammed in with J-B Weld.
* The camshafts were missing their brass end plugs, which were instead filled with J-B Weld.

I posted updates to the J-L forum/E-type mailing list, but respecting their rules, I never ‘named names’ … a lot of people already knew that it was CJ that built my car. My car was after all, part of the foundation of CJ’s reputation.

I was contacted by several CJ customers, past and present, to either share similar stories, or encourage me to contact Dan to have the issues addressed. One, whose engine WAS built at the same time as mine had similar problems with the tappets and camshafts, and after a huge fight with Dan, had his rebuilt by CJ. He lives in Austin though, which made it easier than my situation. Another customer, this one in California felt strongly that Dan would “take care of me” if I asked nicely. He was adamant that I contact CJ. I did not tell him the full story above, but hinted at it, and said that I didn’t think it would work. He pressed me very hard, and after the engine was done, I did send Dan a note saying basically “I thought you should know…” though made no attempt to ask for any money. I did my best to present the issue in an non-accusatory manner, and be as upbeat and positive as possible.

Here is that letter (Note: I was replying to an email he sent me years earlier):
Hello Dan,
I realize this is answering an email from 1999, but I thought that starting this note from a "high-point" in the past would allow for a constructive conversation. I don't know what happened between you and my Dad... he didn't share any details with me, and in a way I'm OK with that. I have always been a "let bygones be" sort of guy.
I offered to buy the 65E from my Dad 2+ years ago, with the hope of keeping it "in the family" and preserving this fine machine. On your website you state that:
"In the unlikely event that you have a problem with your CJ rebuilt engine even after the warranty term has expired, we want to hear from you."
So I figured it would be best to honor that request let you know what has transpired. When my Dad handed over the keys and title two summers ago, he said "It should be mechanically reliable because Dan built the engine." So whatever issues you two had, he still has a lot of faith in your shop & product. I put just under 10,000 miles on the car since then. Last fall on the return trip from a Rally my Dad and I ran, it started knocking. It slowly became quite a loud knock. I did what troubleshooting I could and figured it was in the block, not the head. I assumed it was a wrist pin issue. I wanted to confirm that diagnosis and sought a local expert.
It did turn out to be wrist pins (sometimes, as you probably know, it is painful to be correct!) It seems the bushes were installed upside-down, so that the bushing oiling hole was not aligned with the oiling hole in the rod. All six bushings were installed this way. #5's was the worst off, and it was the one making most of the noise. They were all belled out by 0.007" minimum.
If that was the only issue, I would not be so bad. The cylinder head revealed itself as a veritable house of horrors. The first thing we noticed were the camshaft lobes were "crazed"... with the metal being pitted and "wrinkled" in appearance. 7 out of 12 cam lobes showed this problem. Upon closer inspection the cam followers were also scored and pitted.
At first we thought that replacing these parts would be enough, but upon closer inspection we found that the tappets had been reground to 0.175" thick between the cam surface and the shim platform. This isn't so bad, but when we found that the majority of the shims were also under spec. Most were at 0.078", and only two of the twelve were thicker than the standard minimum of 0.085". The final nail in this head's coffin was the discovery of several ground-off valve stem tops. I had no choice but to completely rebuild the head.
It wasn't over though, as once at the machine shop it was noted that there was a 0.002" longitudinal concave trough down the length of the head's bottom.
I don't know what the terms of your warranty are, but I would expect that you would insist upon doing the work at CJ in order to honor it -which is completely understandable. That said, I had no expectation whatsover that this is what would be found inside the engine. CJ has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and it would never have occurred to me expect what I found. As layers were peeled back so to speak, it just got uglier and uglier. Had I known beforehand, you would have been the first to know - as such it was a complete surprise.
The head is rebuilt, back onto the engine, and the car should be back on the road any day now. I can't "un-ring that bell" but I figured it would be constructive to make you aware of what was found. Beyond the engine there were several other minor issues to address (missing parts mostly)- I don't know if there were subcontractors, or labor issues regarding the time frame that my Dad's car was at your shop. If so you should be made aware (if you aren't already) and perhaps take what steps you can to address them (if you haven't already.) If there are other customers out on the road with similar issues it would be very bad for CJ if they were discovered "accidentally" as mine were. If you want a full report and photographs of what was found, let me know. I'll be happy to provide as much detail as you require.
Other than this problem, the car is wonderful, and is a treasured part of the Goolsbee family. My two sons are "car guys" in-training. Christopher (15) has proven to be an ace rally navigator, and has done several short club rallies, never once making an error in navigation (can't say the same about the driver though!) Nicholas (11) is a lousy navigator, but is keen on all things mechanical and is an excellent travelling companion: (my favorite "rally diary" to date... when Nick & I drove the Jaguar to its new home.)
My little hometown here in rural NW Washington puts on a big car show every summer, with hundreds of machines, from pre-WW1 trucks to present day machines. Being small-town America the big focus is on 50's/60's/rods/muscle cars... but believe it or not, last year the 65E was voted "Best of Show" by participants and spectators! I thought you would be proud to hear that. I can't wait to get the car back and defend the title.

Best Regards,
--chuck goolsbee
arlington, wa
P.S.: Did you ever sell any of those posters?

Dan’s reply was interesting. He accused me of disparaging him and CJ on the Jag-Lovers mailing list/forum, and used weasel-words to distance himself from blame or responsibility.

Here is that reply from Dan:

From: "Dan Mooney - Team CJ"
To: cg
Subject: Engine problems

Dear Chuck:
I am sorry to hear that you have apparently had issues with the engine in
your E Type Jaguar. Setting aside the fact that warranties are not typically
transferable to subsequent owners, and that with a 2001 build date any
pre-existing warranty had obviously expired anyway, I would nevertheless
have appreciated an opportunity to inspect the problems and would almost
certainly have put everything right on my own dime, had I been given the
opportunity to do so. As it is, the first I heard about any problems was
from people bringing my attention to your various postings on Jag-Lovers in
which you made a number of unflattering remarks about a certain "world
famous E Type shop in Texas".
In any event, this particular engine was not actually rebuilt at CJ. At that
time, we were outsourcing some of our engine rebuilds to a well known and
highly reputable Jaguar engine builder out of state. Since that time, as you
will no doubt be aware from our webpage, we now do all the engine work in
house. Furthermore, we also now replace as a matter of course a great many
more components than we used to, or than any other Jaguar engine builder in
the industry does, including the company that rebuilt the engine in your
car. For example, we now replace all valve seats, guides, sleeves, tappets,
studs, shims, etc as a matter of course. We also set the heads up with shims
well within the available factory shims, and we never top valve stems. I
realise that none of these advancements in our engine rebuilding program
help you, but at least it shows that we have continued to address our
products and services and that we are committed to a program of constant
improvement. As it stands today, I would pit our CJ engine program against
anyone in the industry.
As I mentioned earlier, had I been given the opportunity to inspect your
engine when it developed problems, I would have been inclined to completely
rebuild it for you at my expense. This is not an empty statement, as the
following information will show. I have only ever had one other 'warranty'
claim out of the hundreds of engines and cylinder heads that have passed
through my hands. Coincidentally, that involved a cylinder head which had
also been built by the same outside contractor that built your engine. The
head had not actually failed, although my customer was concerned that
undersized shims had been used during the rebuild, which was something he
discovered when adjusting his valve clearances. Despite the fact that he was
well out of warranty, he brought his concerns to my attention and I
completely rebuilt his cylinder head using all new seats, valves, guides,
tappets, shims, etc, etc all at absolutely zero cost to him. I put the spec
for his cylinder head on the CJ webpage at and restarted the clock in respect of
his warranty. I did all of this because I was give the opportunity to
address my customer's concerns.
I am genuinely pleased that you are enjoying the car so much and that it is
still winning shows 8 years after we first restored it or your father.

Dan Mooney - Team CJ

The word “apparently” in the first sentence was just plain insulting.

This is the first I’d heard about the engine being built by a sub-contractor. Nonetheless, a primary is responsible for a sub-contractor’s work. But you will note I wasn’t asking him to accept that responsibility anyway… just be aware that there was a problem.

I replied, and pointed out that I had made NO mention of him, or CJ, nor any inference close to that on Jag-Lovers… which is true. I quoted back to him what I wrote which only said “the engine was built by a shop whose reputation for quality is well known” … that is far from disparaging, and it is true. I also reminded Dan that I had not asked him to do any work, or honor his warranty.

Here is that letter from me:

To: "Dan Mooney - Team CJ"
From: chuck goolsbee
Subject: Re: Engine problems

>I am sorry to hear that you have apparently had issues with the engine in
>your E Type Jaguar.

There is no "apparently" here, just all "actually."

>Setting aside the fact that warranties are not typically
>transferable to subsequent owners, and that with a 2001 build date any
>... the problems and would almost
>certainly have put everything right on my own dime, had I been given the
>opportunity to do so.

Agreed. I went into the engine expecting to address a single issue, and ended up uncovering a rather large number of issues. It is like I went in to get a tooth pulled and found a brain tumor. Had I known that going in, you would have had a stab at it.

>As it is, the first I heard about any problems was
>from people bringing my attention to your various postings on Jag-Lovers in
>which you made a number of unflattering remarks about a certain "world
>famous E Type shop in Texas".

If you check, I never said *any* such thing. In fact the ONLY mention I made on Jag-Lovers about the origin of the work was this:
At 2:57 PM -0700 5/31/05, chuck goolsbee wrote:
>This engine is basically "brand new", having been rebuilt less than 10,000 miles ago, by a vendor frequently referred to as one of the "best" on this forum.

That is far from unflattering.
And far from specific.

>In any event, this particular engine was not actually rebuilt at CJ. At that
>time, we were outsourcing some of our engine rebuilds to a well known and
>highly reputable Jaguar engine builder out of state.

Understood. You may want to revisit other jobs done during this time frame by that outsourced partner, if the state of my head is any indication, their work is genuinely suspect. At least during that 2001/2002 time frame.

>As I mentioned earlier, had I been given the opportunity to inspect your
>engine when it developed problems, I would have been inclined to completely
>rebuild it for you at my expense. This is not an empty statement,

I don't doubt that.
The fact is, this is a small community. I look at the folks on Jag-Lovers as my emotional (and sometimes mechanical) support group. I shared with them the state of my engine and several of them connected the dots between my engine and your shop. When the layers were peeled back and the frankly shoddy work was uncovered, my initial reaction was shock. I think that reaction was shared by the whole community. This is not what we expect to find in an engine from Classic Jaguar.

>I am genuinely pleased that you are enjoying the car so much

Glad to hear that.

>and that it is
>still winning shows 8 years after we first restored it or your father.

Well, you have to admit, throwing an E-type into a competition with generic American iron isn't really a fair fight now is it? =)


He replied apologetically, expressing regret for the whole situation with my father.

Here is his reply:

From: "Dan Mooney - Team CJ"
Subject: Explanation and apology

Hi again, Chuck:

I just wanted to explain that I did not read your postings on the E Type
List, nor did I read your webpage account. The reason I thought that you had
referred to a certain "world famous Jaguar shop in Texas" was because one of
the emails I received bringing my attention to your engine problems was
entitled "Is CJ the world famous Jaguar shop in Texas?"
My apologies. I now understand not only from you but also a number of other
E Type Listers that you were clearly misquoted and that you said nothing of
the sort.

I really am sorry that you have had the problems you have with this engine.
If you think there is anything I can help you with in the future, whether it
is related to this engine or not, please let me know.

On an unrelated issue...
Your father is a good man. He was good to me when I needed his help way back
when my business was in its infancy and he trusted me sufficiently to buy
shares in my company and even to finance a car to me (remember his 911
Carrera). I am sorry that he and I fell out, although unfortunately it was
just a case of two equally stubborn old bastards refusing to budge on a
silly financial issue.

Ironically, it was the cost of the engine rebuild which had not previously
been thought would be necessary, which put the repairs over your dad's
budget and led to us having our disagreement. Anyway, for my part, I regret
that I allowed a stupid argument over a few thousand dollars to end a good
friendship. The irony is that it would appear that neither he nor I received
value for the money we spent on the engine rebuild....

Best Regards,

Dan Mooney - Team CJ

I responded to the issue of regret, saying that he should not apologize to me, but instead contact my father to do so.

Here is that reply from me:

To: "Dan Mooney - Team CJ"
From: chuck goolsbee
Subject: Re: Explanation and apology

>Hi again, Chuck:
>I just wanted to explain that I did not read your postings on the E Type
>List, nor did I read your webpage account. The reason I thought that you had
>referred to a certain "world famous Jaguar shop in Texas" was because one of
>the emails I received bringing my attention to your engine problems was
>entitled "Is CJ the world famous Jaguar shop in Texas?"
>My apologies. I now understand not only from you but also a number of other
>E Type Listers that you were clearly misquoted and that you said nothing of
>the sort.

I know the e-type list has very strict rules regarding the mentioning of vendors. As such I went to lengths to be very vague about the "whos" & "wheres"... I don't want to get George, Tony, etc in any sort of trouble. I understand there was some lawsuit at some point in the past which shut down the list. It is far too valuable a resource to let that sort of thing happen again.

I think the reality is that everyone already knows the CJ built this car. This community is too small. Nothing I can do to prevent others from connecting dots.

What I haven't done is gloss over anything with regards to the condition of the car. The man who just rebuilt it, who has been working on Jaguars since before I was born, described the head as "The worst I have EVER seen."

>I really am sorry that you have had the problems you have with this engine.
>If you think there is anything I can help you with in the future, whether it
>is related to this engine or not, please let me know.

At the moment it is 100 miles into the break-in period. The car is smoother and quieter than it has ever been. I just need to drive it more (weather permitting... our summer has yet to fully arrive.)

I'm trying to be philosophical about this... a little knock turned into a big knock, and in the process of fixing that I was given the chance to put many things right that would have - certainly - seriously damaged the car if I had driven it much longer (especially the way it gets driven!) Along the way I was assisted by some wonderful people, such as Greg Bilyeu, Geoff Pickard, Bob Rankin, and most of all Bruce MacCormack (a truly wonderful man.)

I am several thousand dollars poorer, but in terms of experience and friendship I am better off now than I was two months ago.

>On an unrelated issue...

By the very *definition* of "related" it is NOT unrelated.

>Your father is a good man. He was good to me when I needed his help way back
>when my business was in its infancy and he trusted me sufficiently to buy
>shares in my company and even to finance a car to me (remember his 911
>Carrera). I am sorry that he and I fell out, although unfortunately it was
>just a case of two equally stubborn old bastards refusing to budge on a
>silly financial issue.
>Ironically, it was the cost of the engine rebuild which had not previously
>been thought would be necessary, which put the repairs over your dad's
>budget and led to us having our disagreement. Anyway, for my part, I regret
>that I allowed a stupid argument over a few thousand dollars to end a good

Well Dan, you should say all that to my Dad, not me.

He's overseas, doing some travelling with my Mom, but should be back in a few weeks. Probably around the time you return from your vacation.

>The irony is that it would appear that neither he nor I received
>value for the money we spent on the engine rebuild....

It would seem not. Oh well.
Thanks for the note, and enjoy your vacation.
It looks like the clouds are parting... I have to go put some miles on the 65E.

--chuck goolsbee
arlington, wa

I let the CJ customer in California know about these emails and I guess he was disappointed. I think he somehow thought or expected Dan to offer to rebuild my engine (though it was already finished) or pay for it. He suggested I ask. He also expressed some anger to me and hinted that he would speak to Dan.

A week or two later I re-read the last email from Dan, and replied to this part:

At 9:04 AM -0500 7/1/05, Dan Mooney - Team CJ wrote:
> >I really am sorry that you have had the problems you have with this engine.
> >If you think there is anything I can help you with in the future, whether it
> >is related to this engine or not, please let me know.

So I replied: "How about paying for all, or some, of my costs of rebuilding it?"

He was off on vacation though, and I didn't hear back for a month, when I did I was finally brushed off:

At 8:41 AM -0500 8/9/05, Dan Mooney - Team CJ wrote:
From: "Dan Mooney - Team CJ"
To: "chuck goolsbee"
Subject: Re: Explanation and apology

Hi Chuck:

That is not a realistic option given that I was never given the opportunity
to inspect the engine and put it right.

Dan Mooney - Team CJ

That is where we are today. Thankfully I don’t invest emotions, at least not negative ones into physical objects. I am not reminded of the whole experience by looking at, or driving the 65E. Instead I see it as a reminder of an incredible collection of artists and engineers that gathered in Coventry, and under the direction of one man, Sir William Lyons, created a string of awesome machines. Including this one.

The XK engine, the iconic XK series of sports cars, the elegant C-type, the pugancious world-beating D-type, and the culmination of the series, the E-type. This is truly an amazing machine. Beautiful, elegant, fast, well-handling… it has it all.

My father and I had some amazing adventures in this car, and those I will never forget. I hope to do the same with my sons.

I choose to lay this issue to rest here and now. Life is too short to deal focus on tragedy or dealings with difficult people. I have no further reasons or motivation to speak to Mr. Mooney. I did what I set out to do, which is make him aware of what a shoddy job he let out of his shop. A few months after that while he was visiting in September, I finally sat down in my kitchen with my father and pulled the whole story of what happened between him & Dan out of him over an agonizing hour or so. Once I had the whole story, it made sense now why my mother was so angry, and why my father refused to talk about it for so long. I wish I had known all the details prior to contacting Dan in July. I perhaps would have approached it differently, or waited much longer to do so… maybe I wouldn’t have even tried. In hindsight I think now it was futile.

I don’t/won’t speak ill of CJ on the E-type mailing list, but I have provided people there who have asked me about it with the general story off-list. Now that I have commited it all to bits and electrons, I can just leave it here and point people to it via a link. It has been theraputic to write it.

So I’ll continue to bite my tongue when people speak of CJ or Dan on-list, satisfied that if people really do their due-diligence (Google is your friend… Google sees all… including this) about Classic Jaguar, they’ll find this story and either stay away, or be prepared with fore-knowledge that Dan can be volatile; can lie to you; and is capable of both shoddy work, and treating customers, friends, and investors poorly. When confronted with the above, he will NOT stand by his word, or his shop’s work.

UPDATE: I wrote all the above in December 2005. At that point I felt it was all over, and life would go on. Unfortunately it was not to be the case.

2006 would prove to be a year where Classic Jaguar’s work would come back to haunt me in a big way. I ended up rebuilding many suspension subsystems at each corner of the car. Every time we opened up a hub or ball joint some remnant of that flood came… flooding back. The best example of this was a set of “TeamCJ Brass Bushings” that appeared to have been lubricated with a fine paste of bayou silt and muddy water. If you can handle graphic photographs of gore, click here. Eventually we rebuilt some portion of every corner of the suspension.

Later I had one of their “Guaranteed for Life” braided brake lines fail on me. Nothing to do with the flood of course, but still their website claims:

Team CJ components are the highest quality, most thoroughly engineered performance upgrades available for your Jaguar. We have invested thousands of hours of research and real world testing to ensure that our components are safe, practical, durable and easy to install. Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. Such is the confidence that we have in our products, many Team CJ components are guaranteed for life!

After pondering that for several months, I sent in the worn bushings and failed brake line for a refund.

I’ve never heard back from them.

Based on my experience, I don’t know why anyone would do business with Classic Jaguar.


  1. Well said, Chuck! I understand FULLY your conclusions and although you may think it was futile, in the world of karma, you are one up on Dan. And when karma works, it’s a biyatch…
    Can’t wait till yer in Colorado-land soon and we can finally meet!

    Comment by vrooomie — January 13, 2006 @ 9:26 am

  2. I had nothing as horrific happen to me, but I helped Dan out with some web work, and he offered to sell me an interior kit at his cost as payment–it was a generous offer, as I had simply added his logo to some previous work I had done and let him have it for his site, and didn’t ask for anything in exchange. But, hey, who am I to stare a gift horse in the mouth?

    When I was ready to buy my kit and reminded him of his offer (having kept his email with the promise in it) I got the most incredible harangue back, literally insulting. I was so angry by my treatment I sold the few “Team CJ” parts I had stashed for my car at a loss to whoever wanted them, as the thought of them being in my car made me even angrier. Funny thing is, I had spent a decent sum there in the past and was all set to spend a decent amount there in the future…and it’s not like I was asking for it for free, it would have simply been at his cost.

    The community we both belong to had a huge flare-up a few years ago between Dan and a rather blunt-spoken Jaguar pro named Terry Handley, which got Terry banned, I believe. Terry spoke too bluntly for his own good and was quickly turned on by the Classic faithful, but he has a very interesting story to tell…I always liked him and exchanged a few emails with him off-list.

    Anyway, I’m glad your car is finally getting close to being sorted out!

    Comment by Roger — January 19, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

  3. Just in case anyone is wondering, the “out of state engine rebuilder” was NOT Bill Terry.

    Comment by cg — January 28, 2006 @ 11:56 pm

  4. Hi Chuck,

    I fell upon the story about the 65E, a sad story but completely understandable in view of my personal experiences & observations whilst working in Austin Texas,rather then being again! BLUNT I have chosen not to comment any further but to say I told you Guys as it was.
    Terry Handley

    Comment by Terry Handley — May 11, 2006 @ 7:27 am

  5. Hello Terry,

    We’ve never met/spoken, so I’ve never heard “your side” of this story. Roger’s mention of you above is the first I heard of you.

    I appreciate your input… so go right ahead and be BLUNT. I can take it.


    Comment by cg — May 11, 2006 @ 9:03 am

  6. Very interesting commentary & pretty surprising. I have been a big fan of Dan Mooney since more or less 2000 & have purchased a fair quantity of products from him. These include a CJ 5 Speed box, a new interior, alloy flywheel etc. In all cases Dan (as I would expect as a customer) has behaved in an exemplary fashion. Moreover since I live in Germany but the work on my “E” is carried out in the UK I would guess I am not an average or particularly easy customer. Nevertheless your comments were very thought provoking.

    Comment by Myobb — September 3, 2006 @ 10:44 am

  7. Well Myobb, my father was also a happy CJ customer for many, many years.

    The original restoration was done to a pretty high standard. The paint for example was very well done… 10 years later it still looks great (though the nose and boot lid are bubbling.) Unfortunately the post-flood restoration was a complete botch-job. To this day I am still having to go over the car and RE-FIX every major subsystem of the car. The engine is only the most obvious. The rear suspension is a less obvious example. It is clear that Classic Jaguar neglected to disassemble and re-lubricate the bushings. Tens of thousands of dollars was paid to Classic Jaguar for a substandard restoration, and sloppy workmanship, which insult followed on the injury.

    My opinion is that Dan is a salesman, period. He is not an engineer, nor is he a mechanic. The quality of his work is directly proportional to the skill of whatever staff he has at the moment. It is obvious that the staff at CJ at the time my car was there were little more than the proverbial trained apes.

    The CJ parts business is different obviously from the resto shop, so your experiences should be different.


    Comment by cg — September 3, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  8. what a sad situation. As a two Jaguar owner, I can relate, and I am sure that Chuck and his father are not lying about it. However, Dan Mooney may be correct in that he was not given the first shot at the damaged engine, so how could he ascertain that the bodging was caused by their out-of-state sub-contractor? Difficult situation for both parties involved. I don’t want to be judgemental towards Dan or Chuck’s father, but Dan’s refusal to talk to Chuck’s father until he got an apology was childish and shows an inmature, unprofessional handling of business matters. Unfortunately for Dan, I am now skeptical of the work at CJ’s, so I am discarding any idea of getting my car’s systems rebuilt there in the future. I suppose that this is a victory for Chuck and his father. So be it. Besides, $65 thousand US Dollars to correct the damages done by water, that was total, absolute highway robbery in my opinion. Estimating repairs sight-unseen is a bad business practice at the very least. I refurbish Jaguar myself and it simply does not cost that much to do a complete car, that is, unless you are pocketing a hefty bonus just because you’re the CEO of the company! But hey, let’s face it, CJ is VERY expensive, if not THE MOST expensive Jaguar outfit in the USA. Trouble is, when you pair that with an owner who has a short fuse, who screams at his customers and then REFUSES to talk to them, then you’d best stay away from such a company, PERIOD.

    Chuck, I am glad that in this site we can say it like it is, without the stupid “rules” of those conceited sites like Jag Lovers, protecting unscrupulous Vendors because they advertise in their sites! Jag lovers and All Others can K.M.A., and their so-called “moderators” can too. Fact is: It would be great to have a website where Jaguar Owners can express their GOOD and BAD experiences with Jaguar Parts and Service vendors. And by the way, next time, hire a lawyer.

    Comment by 2-Jags-4-1 — September 9, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

  9. Hello “2-Jags-4-1”

    Thanks for your comments.
    As for Jag-Lovers, I actually have a lot of respect for their “speak no ill of vendors” rule. It keeps the discussions from getting too inflamed, and if you are subtle all the bad guys are revealed anyway, so no worries as far as I’m concerned. Additionally I’m willing to admit that there are some people who have gotten and will get fine and excellent service from Classic Jaguar. In our case, we did NOT. If they provided everyone with bad service, they’d be out of business. My father’s mistake in dealing with Dan was to trust Dan implicitly. A vendor is a vendor and customers should NEVER put themselves in a position where they transfer the power in the relationship opposite to the money flow.

    Comment by cg — September 9, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

  10. I have been looking forward to starting a long postponed rebuild on my 67 roadster. I am disappointed to have to remove from my list what on the surface appeared to be a good resource. I’m greatfull for the information, I prefer not to deal with this type of personality. As someone in the service industry, I recognize it well. Thankyou Chuck, happy motoring.

    Comment by gordon — December 30, 2007 @ 10:07 pm

  11. Chuck, thanks for doing this and thank you for respecting the J-L rules. As you so clearly stated, we are a small volunteer organization supported by donations from our members and rather meager sales of regalia in the cafepress shop. One libel or slander lawsuit could mean that we would be history and the great J-L community could be gone forever.

    I must take absolute umbrage at the comment by the poster above and I quote:

    “Chuck, I am glad that in this site we can say it like it is, without the stupid “rules” of those conceited sites like Jag Lovers, protecting unscrupulous Vendors because they advertise in their sites! Jag lovers and All Others can K.M.A., and their so-called “moderators” can too.”

    As you know, I am the only “moderator” for e-type and we don’t even moderate the lists. The messages go out live as posted. I just try to keep folks out of trouble after the fact.

    I’ve had this non-paid position since November 1996 when J-L changed to their current multi-list format from a “one-size-fits-all” mailing list. The servers are in Norway and J-L is maintained throughout the world by volunteers from many countries.

    I’m not sure where all of these paid advertisements are and who is getting paid but the principles of the organization would not have to “beg for dollars” if we were in the pockets of some faceless, nameless advertisers. 😉

    There are good vendors and bad vendors and many in between. I have personally seen good shops go bad when their principle founder “made it” and decided to turn the day to day operations over to other managers. I have seen nearly bankrupt shops rescued and rebuild their reputations.

    That said, I have had dealings with CJ as well as XKU, SNG, Terry’s, and a host of other Jag parts vendors.

    Some I’ve had problems with in regard to shoddy reproductions. One of the lines I’ve heard most often is, “You are the first customer to tell us that XXX doesn’t fit/work/fell apart out of the box.” Right.

    I wish it were a perfect world and we could say publicly, don’t buy from WXYZ because their merchandise is crap and their service is worse, but unfortunately in this litigious society, anyone and everyone is fair game for a lawsuit over the most innocuous and frivolous comment.

    BTW, the blow-up on the list with Terry Handley, Australian racer and mechanic actually happened twice. Early on, Terry joined the list and immediately antagonized everyone by asserting that only professional mechanics should work on our cars and it was dangerous for a bunch of amateurs to do such work. This created such an uproar that I had to ban him.

    Dan Mooney then called me and begged me to reinstate him as he was going to bring him to Texas and hire him based on his reputation. I relented and did so.

    Apparently two weeks into his employment at CJ, he was so abrasive in person that he was driving paying customers away so Dan told me he sacked him and sent him packing.

    He went back to Australia and created the biggest flame war on e-type all directed at Dan Mooney and Americans in general. This got him permanently banned the second time.

    George Cohn
    ’70 OTS

    Comment by gwcohn — January 12, 2008 @ 10:54 am

  12. Thanks George… of course while you were writing this I fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: CHECK YOUR DAMN HEADERS BEFORE YOU HIT “SEND”! Yep, I posted a private reply to the LIST. On this very subject… D’oh!

    I am SUCH an idiot.

    Oh well. Sorry George.

    Comment by chuck goolsbee — January 12, 2008 @ 11:38 am

  13. Gooday George Cohn & Chuck,

    Let me put the record straight re: Classic Jaguar and Terry Handley,

    quote from George

    Your right about this George/

    My work for Dan Mooney @ Classic Jaguar was terminated when Dan Mooney The President of Classic Jaguar who is a very good sales person but not a Mechanic did not honour his contract, when I was not willing to have my contract altered there was no choice but for Dan to pay me out, I accepted the way out, I was paid for most of my services, I was disappointed to say the least at what I was to observe, experience at Classic Jaguar, in short very short and with out any intent to as has been suggested I have done “flame” anybody, I think Chucks documented experiences with Dan Mooney and Classic Jaguar tell a story and are an indication of certain traits issues that Dan was once having.

    I have been to Austin 3 x times since I last saw Dan, I often drove past Classic Jaguar, in fact the bloke is still ok in my books just I believe highly enthusiastic/ passionate maybe at times a frustrated perfectionist who can’t or at least could not handle a wrench like a pro mechanic 8 years up the track he now most likely would be more experienced.

    As for George and what he may have been advised by Dan in respect of my employment and the duration of that employment at Classic Jaguar/ it’s wobbly and does not accord to the facts, I was not sacked Dan could not would not honor his commitment to me, hindsight can tell most folk some things could have been done differently.

    I tried to help Dan, when I arrived at the Classic Jaguar workshop I was shocked disappointed at the lack of workshop equipment the un qualified Mechanics the in general lack of expertise but enthused I was with some of the employees keenness to learn, there was a pile of work jobs that had become stagnant because Dan had lost too many employees over a short time, my first 7 days was spent mostly sorting through stuff ups, I was hired contracted to do a job and I did my job, the first week I worked approximately 74 hours some of those hours Dan and I spent working through the night, 2nd week 54 hours, I did this after traveling flying from OZ and had one day to get over my traveling, an awesome trip from Bathurst Australia to Austin Texas.

    Unfortunately for Dan many of the jobs done for him by previous employees I found to be of poor quality, this was shown to Dan and another bloke a Pom who had come from CA from another Jag shop to work for Dan, there was a problem from the Pom who was all the time I was there trying to disrupt my job by working on Dan so as to make things different to what Dan had brought me from OZ to do, covering his Pom Butt and desperately I thought to not be overshadowed by myself, pity as the Pom was capable in many auspices of mechanical work . Dan was convinced by the Pom that Dan only needed him and that to do as Dan had agreed to move me from OZ to Austin which needed the services of an attorney was too expensive, I could write a book about the whole scenario but it’s not needed nor would it be appreciated Again! I was not sacked by Dan Mooney,Icould not work under the then conditions and proposed alteration to the contract.

    I was fortunate to meet other folk who made that stay in Texas worthwhile.

    As for the Forums and being kicked off yes that’s true the reasons are well known but just to enlighten some folk as to the crux of the alleged so called flaming, I offered good sound advice for free to the E Forum and others this often was advice contrary to some Vendors and Repair Shops, cheaper and often more effective then that advised by Vendors and Repair/ Resto Shops, they did not like it and often the folk who read the Forums would question their Repair shop etc, Blunt? Maybe but hey! why BS about things I was there to help folk and I could not be bribed by gifts etc to shutup.

    Further: for the record I was the person responsible for Classic Jaguar getting back on track in that the place was a bit of a mess, machining had been for a long time sublet to various TX shops and unfortunately for Dan is was not done to a high standard ,incomes Bill Terry and others, it was best I advised Dan to shorten the job load by doing what could be easily done in house the rest sublet it to the best, Bill Terry at that time was I believed the best. I’m of the opinion that from sometime ago Dan and Classic Jaguar have move ahead in leaps and bounds that today which is nearly to the day 8 years ago that I was conversing with Dan making arrangements and showing the contract to my Attorney.

    I finish with this, I met I’m almost certain Chucks Mum and Dad, I worked on their brown coloured XK120 which had just come back from the paint shop the lights were not working and I had to advise on the system for the blinkers etc, I did some other work on that XK and I made a list of things that should have been done prior to it leaving, they were not all done and the XK left from memory to soon after be driven on a bitumen rally.

    I believe there was some stories put about by Dan’s supporters to why and how I left Classic Jaguar and realy I did not care about them but reading Georges account opened the way for I believe putting the record straight.

    Kind Regards
    Terry Handley

    Comment by Aussie — December 22, 2008 @ 8:14 am

  14. I just happened by and noticed the post by Terry Handley.

    While Terry takes credit for “Getting CJ back on track,” I have no knowledge nor do I care one way or the other.
    I am only going by what DM told me in a brief phone call after Terry left and can’t judge one way or the other.

    Terry was booted from J-L because he chose to flame a vendor in public in violation of published rules. He even had his wife and son subscribe to try to carry on the tirade. He had a number of followers and seemed knowledgeable and I might have let him stay but he chose to ignore the same rules that everyone must follow. Without order there is chaos and anarchy. Fortunately in 13 years I have only had to ask four people to leave because they felt that the rules did not apply to them.

    I stopped having any dealings with “Team CJ” years ago after one distasteful episode where I called asking about the availability of some used parts and was told that they would be posted on eBay and I would have to bid for them. Up until that time I had always paid retail for anything I bought from CJ, either new or used, with the exception of a used starter which DM had sent to me as a birthday present.

    I have not spoken to the man in years nor do I have a need too. As far as I’m concerned, there are many well known restoration shops with established reputations that have been mentioned positively many times. I have long since sold any “Team CJ” parts that I might have bought and went with original Jaguar designed parts.

    Life’s too short to have to deal with volatile people.

    George Cohn
    ’70 OTS

    Comment by gwcohn — April 5, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  15. “Life is too short to have to deal with volatile people.”

    Well said.

    Comment by chuck goolsbee — April 5, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

  16. Update May 17th, 2014… The “TeamCJ” aluminum radiator has given up the ghost.

    Comment by chuck goolsbee — May 17, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

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