Tag Archives: jaguar radiator

Upgrading Classic Car Radiators (particulaly Jaguar)

This is based on an article that was published in Jaguar World magazine 6 or 7 years ago, I wrote the article aimed towards Jaguars of the 60’s and 70’s but the information is relevant to all makes of car of that era.

Since the 60’s many models of Jaguar have had problems overheating, specifically certain E and S-types. The main problem was the efficiency of the radiator and fan system, which can usually be remedied by replacing the radiator core with an upgraded one with more tubes and a higher fin pitch (and usually a completely different system of manufacture.)

Aaron Radiator replaced and upgraded the radiators on these models (sometimes when they were still new!) and still offer this upgrade service today with even higher efficiency modern cores than previously available or the ultimate in cooling- complete replacements in Aluminium.

Up until the 70’s most Jaguar radiators used a ‘Cellular Film’ core (Pic A). This has the advantage of being very robust and durable (many cars still have the original film cores, even though they may be 30 years or older!) but it is not a particularly efficient design. This led radiator design to favour ‘Packed Construction’ (Pic B) or ‘Tube & Fin’ (Pic C) cores which were lighter, more efficient and cheaper to make.

Bad design in fans and cowlings (fan shields) meant that many vehicles still overheated. Sportier cars were pushing out higher power than ever before from engines packed into a much smaller space as vehicle aerodynamics came into play and bonnets got lower. Upgraded electric fans can help remedy this by forcing more air through the core and replacing the fixed fans can increase power lost through driving the fan.

A – ‘Cellular Film’ core

B – ‘Packed Construction’ core

C – ‘Tube & Fin’ core

Types of core upgrade available

Two types of upgraded core are available. An ‘X-type Packed Construction’ core (Pic D) has more tubes and a higher fin pitch to increase the surface area the cool air flows over. The X-type is the most efficient core available in copper and brass and is available in many different numbers of row (thickness.) An upgraded ‘Tube & Fin’ (Pic E) is also available which, though not quite as efficient as the X-type, is more durable and resistant to vibration.

If your car is having problems with overheating, the core might be corroded and a build up of deposits inside it can restrict water flow. Older types of anti-freeze were not as good at resisting corrosion and sometimes radiators have had an under spec core fitted in the past. The difference in cost between fitting a replacement core that has the same cooling capacity as the original and upgrading one is not considerable as the only extra cost is the higher price of the core.

A – ‘Cellular Film’ core

B – ‘Packed Construction’ core

C – ‘Tube & Fin’ core