1. Jaguar E-type A Beauty and a Beast

Jaguar E-type A Beauty and a Beast

16th October 2015

Imagine the scene; the year is 1961 and you're driving down the road on a Morris Oxford, travelling at a meagre 45 km/h. From behind you hear a sound which is unmistakably a V-12 engine. Even before you can turn around to see what's making that sound, a sleek looking car whizzes past you at an unbelievable speed. Now remember that this is 1961, where horse carriages were still amongst the popular mainstream modes of transportation. When the E-type was first introduced with much fanfare, it was poised to blow away people's perception about everything they'd ever comprehended about the limitless possibilities that a car could present. To call the E-type ahead of its time would be a gross understatement; I think the word more apt would be iconic.

Fast-forward half a century, and the E-type still mesmerises enthusiast and caters to an ever growing fan following. With looks, pace, power, engineering and heritage, the Jag offers everything you'd want from a quality sports car, all with the added benefit of being relatively affordable. After all at the time of its launch, the E-type did cost as little as £2,400, which in today's terms would be around £30,000; still very good value for what you are getting. This gave an opportunity to the average middle income Joe driving a Morris Oxford, who now believes that one day he would have the opportunity to proudly drive alongside a Ferrari or Porsche in his red E-type.

Vital Stats:

Engine

3781 cc/6-cyl/DOHC

Power

265bhp@5500rpm

Torque

260lb ft@4000rpm

Top speed

150mph

0-100 km/h

6.9secs

Economy

18mpg

Gearbox

4-speed manual

Buying a Jaguar E-type

The Jaguar E-type is no longer in production, so a used E-type today is what you will have to contend with. During its time there were quite a few E-type's sold, but finding one today maybe a little more difficult. Nevertheless picking the right one could be the difference between making a great investment or buying a money pit. Here are some things that you should be on the look-out before you buy one.

 

  1. Body: It's best to get someone else's restoration project, so don't buy the very first E-Type you find. When buying a car that's been restored, ask if you can find photos of the restoration project and also keep in mind to query about what parts of the car were restored. Stay clear of anything with a new coat of paint unless there is good documentation of proper restoration work associated with it. Bonnets are extremely expensive, so check that enormous panel carefully for any damage. Floors will rot if water ingress has been allowed unchecked, so check carpets for dampness and window seals for signs of ageing. The forward chassis rails are important for strength, so check thoroughly for any rot or accidental damage. The door sills are also an essential part of the structure, especially on open cars. Don't forget to examine the hood; they don't come cheap with a replacements one coming around £250. It is important to keep in mind that a restoration projects may be temptingly cheap, and will definitely raise the value of your car, however expenses can soon escalate out of control.

 

  1. Gearbox & Engine: The E-type's engine might be costly to overhaul - £4000 or maybe more contingent upon what's required – so keep an ear out for any bottom-end knocks. Also ensure that you stay away from a car with excessive blue exhaust smoke, because that could lead to a sizeable investment to fix. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge and keep clear of creamy deposits beneath the oil filler cap, suggesting a leaking head gasket. Timing chains can rattle and are challenging to reset as they choose shims, slightly noisy is best, very quiet suggests they're too tight. Watch out for US imports – due to emission controls standards some had as low as 171 bhp.

The manual gearboxes are fairly robust, but watch for any crunching noises when changing which would suggest a weak synchromesh. Autos (2+2 only) are not the more popular choice but when it comes to reliability, are the better option. Changes on the E-type were never super-smooth, but excessive jolts indicate a worn gearbox.

 

  1. Interiors and Electricals: Don't ignore the expenditure of reviving a tired interior. The full re-trim could easily cost £2000 or more. Mazda MX-5 seats have been noticed in E-Types, but they're certainly not right for the car. Electrics are ok bar the usual dirty connections, but dont hesitate to ask whether a restored car has been rewired – replacing the loom can be a very time and energy consuming process.

It's amazing that the designers at Jaguar came up with such an astoundingly good looking car 50 years ago. Today's cars are designed with state of the art technology and pin-point accurate AutoCAD. Nevertheless compare the E-type with any new car, and the old E-type beats it hands down. Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear calls the E-type "the last great thing made by Britain". And although you may have heard horror stories about the E-type, especially about its tendency to break down when you least expect. The E-type does do one thing just right, it keeps everything simple. Makes you wonder whether the best days of automotive engineering are over, or maybe they just reached their pinnacle 50 years ago.

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