Last post on Apr 18, 2002 at 7:57 PM
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Jaguar, Coupe, Convertible
#1 of 34 Greetings
Feb 19, 2002 (7:53 pm)
Does anyone have any tales to tell, past or present, about the E-Type 'Jag'.
My recollections range from 1961 (as a schoolboy) when it first appeared, to the present day. It was a head turner then, and appears to be just as much of one now.
Here's a few that spring readily to mind.
Gazing in awe at the two brand new S1 Coupes given by the local butcher to his sons. One red, the other yellow, I used to walk past them every day on the way to school. One can be very focused at that age, and I think I could have described the cars in better detail at the time than their owners ever could!
Wandering into a repair garage and seeing a 'mechanic' chopping open the transmission tunnel with a hammer and chisel. This was in order to be able to change the clutch more easily!
Sitting in traffic and watching everything shimmer in the distortion of the heat haze rising from the louvres in the hood.
Seeing the notorious Fiona Richmond (older British readers will understand) getting into her E-Type outside 'Raymond's Revue Bar' in Soho, London. Paul Raymond had given her a personal registration for it as a birthday present; it read 'FU 2'.
I'm probably unusual in preferring the SIII V12 Coupe, and I'm at the point of wondering whether to take the plunge and hunt for one in good condition. However, I'd like to have some input on the practicalities of owning such a vehicle today. I suppose that the availability of spare parts is the most pressing concern. On the other hand, would the dream be more satisfying than the reality?
Mr Shiftright......... anyone?
Feb 19, 2002 (8:05 pm)
I really like these beautiful machines as well. My guess is that the best E-Types were probably the last ones, the '74 SIII.
#3 of 34 Well somebody's got to start...
Feb 19, 2002 (8:14 pm)
I was lucky enough to become acquainted with two of these beauties and they were kind of the yin-yang of E-types. A woman I knew had a Dark blue '62 or '63 roadster with the the crash box. At the same time a guy I knew had a light metallic blue '67 coupe that was retro fitted with a/c. I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to drive both. Oddly I don't remember either drive very well. Hers was tatty and lumpy, reflecting her relative lack of knowledge and ability to take care of it(She inherited it!) It was a real treat to drive on a nice summer day.
He maintained his constantly and was capable of doing anything except rebuilding the engine. It was about the nicest car I've ever driven but it was claustrophobic compared to modern cars. You could see little out the back and your front view was restricted by that looong hood.
I rember it as being at once a lot better-riding than my TR-4A(live axle) and yet it had outstanding handling, steering and brakes.
I didn't work the motor much, honestly I was afraid I'd get into trouble with all the power on tap.
Feb 19, 2002 (8:34 pm)
Read Peter Egan's column in the latest Road & Track.
Feb 20, 2002 (3:13 pm)
Only once every 10-20 years does a car have the impact that the original E-type did on the general public.
Yes, it's true that we who are car nuts will get excited over new models today, but it's pretty rare for people who generally could care less about cars to flip over an automobile. Maybe the last car to do that in modern times was the Audi TT. But even that "buzz" was nothing in comparison to the E.
Not only was it radically beautifully to just about everyone, but it was a bargain for the price. Maybe not quite as fast as a Corvette 0-60, but once you let it out over 100 it had much better handling and brakes than a 'Vette.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York immediately put one on display and it may still be there for all I know.
My favorite is the early 4.2. The early coupe is okay but I personally think the 2+2 coupe is not an attractive car. Most buyers agree with me and these cars often go begging at low prices. Couple a 2+2 with an automatic transmission (why would anyone do that ?) and the car is practically sale proof over $8,000.
The V12s are nice but no longer sportscars. They are heavier, not as attractive (due to US bumper regulations) and pretty difficult to throw around gracefully. So the last E-Type were more GT cars than sports cars (as Jaguars are today GT cars).
I've had 120s, 140s and a 150 but never quite made it to an E-Type. Now with the base price for a decent one starting at $20,000 and the nice ones going at $35K and up, it looks like it may be out of reach for me as a hobby car.
And believe me, it's not a car you want to buy rough and "fix up" as you go! They are difficult restorations, especially the body work.
#6 of 34 The Museum of Modern Art and the Jaguar XKE
Feb 20, 2002 (4:52 pm)
It's still there, and it's still the most beautiful design in the museum. I saw it during my visit there a few months ago. Every piece on the Jag from the door handles to the exhaust tips is both functional and beautiful.
Still, I couldn't resist. I stooped down a little and looked under the car. There was a stain on the floor from leaked engine oil.
#7 of 34 Oil leaks are designed into the car....
Feb 20, 2002 (5:31 pm)
E-Types were notorious for rust, so the engineers designed the rear main seal on the engine to coat the suspension with oil, thus preventing rust (at least on that part of the car).
#8 of 34 Mr Shiftright
Feb 20, 2002 (6:17 pm)
I agree, that tempting though it might seem, restoring a rough example would not be the way to go.
I know that the earlier convertible models are considered more desirable, but it's just a quirk in my nature that I find myself drawn to the last of the V12 coupes. I've always thought of them as a long legged, long distance tourer, and with that mindset I could even be comfortable with the autobox. From what you say, that should work to my advantage in terms of pricing at least.
Do you, or anyone else, have any information on the availability of spares and general maintainance parts? I know that virtually everything is available for the MGB, for instance, but I rather doubt that things are the same for the E-Type.
Feb 20, 2002 (6:18 pm)
Italians did that for years. They would mix ordinary road dirt with oil and paint it on the chassis. Worked pretty good for them during the "hard" years, the 50s and early 60s.
The E-Type is, of course, a monocoque, so any rust in a structural area is deadly. Also, fitting that huge bonnet after a collision is really hell. Easy way to spot an E that's been "kissed". A clutch job requires the engine AND trans to be pulled (groan!) and to replace the rear brake rotors you need to drop the entire rear axle assembly I believe (it's been a while).
Some folks forget how great the Jag 6 engine really is. It was in production longer than just about any engine I can think of...lemme see...well over 40 years, which beats the Chevy "stovebolt" 6 and the other contender, the Alfa dohc, which I think stops at around 39 years, maybe 40.
Feb 20, 2002 (6:42 pm)
I was, of course, joking about using motor oil from the engine as rust prevention. Still, Coventry did little in the way of rust prevention when they painted the cars, and they are notorious for oil leaks, so....
There's unconfirmed rumors about the later Jag XK engines having bad machining on the main bearings from the factory, because the guy who made them for 40 years retired, and his replacement didn't have the experience on Jag's old, worn machine tools to make the engines right. I kinda doubt that, though, because only one guy making all those engines for 40 years straight seems a little unlikely to me.