“There are some people no doubt who feel that sports cars should have a bone hard ride, glorious exhaust note and a draughty hood. To them the V12 Roadster would be a terrible disappointment for in all these departments the car is highly refined, and in no way can using the car be considered an adventure in the traditional sports car idiom.” Autocar, 1971
What the good folks at Autocar had identified when the Series 3 was launched was that as the years passed, the E-Type had frankly grown up a bit. Don’t get us wrong, we love a the ‘petulant youth’ 3.8 as much as the next guy or gal but the rip-sorting “150” MPH sportster that didn’t go as well as claimed and stopped even less competently while not looking after its occupants comfort particularly well can ultimately become a little wearing. As the E evolved from 3.8 to 4.2, Series’ 1, 1.5 and 2, it become a better resolved machine though by the end of the Swinging 60s, it had put on a small amount of weight - it happens to the best of us. However, Jaguar took positive action to address this and the general public’s evolving, more discerning tastes by introducing the turbine smooth 5.3 litre V12 engine, developed from that fitted to the stillborn XJ13 racer, for the Series 3. This doubling of the cylinder count resulted in an increase in both power and particularly torque, though by swapping iron for aluminium, the engine’s weight increase was limited to a mere 83 lb and the cars external dimensions grew by but a few inches. The 272 brake horse power and 304lb ft of torque produced resulted in a 0 to 60 time of 6.4 seconds, making the Series 3 the fastest accelerating E-Type ever, while somewhat surprisingly adding only very marginally to the fuel consumption of the outgoing 4.2 (one fewer mile being covered for each gallon consumed to be exact). Ventilated brakes and uprated anti-dive suspension reigned in the extra performance while power assisted steering made the car far more usable, especially as tyre width increased.
This Series 3 E-Type left the Browns Lane factory as a right hand drive open top sports fitted with a manual gearbox as confirmed by the chassis number; with less than 1,900 open cars produced with the steering on the right side against well over 6,000 lefties and the majority fitted with automatic gearboxes, this is indeed a rare beast. The green log book on file shows it was registered to ‘Gratex Textiles Ltd.’ of Bradford on 1st August 1973 as NWR 790M and was finished in that most 1970s of E-Type colours, Heather (purple to you and me). Gratex continued to proverbially put two fingers up to the Tax Man until July 1977 when the Jaguar was acquired by its first private owner, a Mr Burton of Sutton on Trent and an MOT certificate on file shows it had covered some 37,000 miles by 1979 before it changed hands again in September 1981, moving to Northampton. Some fifteen further MOT records with the car document a steady increase in mileage to date, a couple of personalised number plates (14 DRY and NWP 388 if anyone recognises them) and colour changes to white and finally the current Jaguar Gunmetal Grey.
Bills on file indicate some remedial work to the body and paint was required in 1987 (the then owner was a certain Mr Rust!) and it seems likely that the change in colour to white occurred at this time.
By 1991 the E was residing in Coventry and renowned specialists XK Engineering took it under their wing, selling it to its current owner in April 1993. By then time had taken its toll and XK Engineering were retained to conduct a two year restoration detailed in bills totalling over £17,500, the E-Type emerging in 1995 resplendent in its current E-Type ‘Gunmetal Grey’ livery. With the Jaguar’s owner splitting his time between the UK and Italy, it was used regularly in both countries with occasional skiing trips into Switzerland also being undertaken. Since the early 2000s it has enjoyed a more extended stay in Italy though remaining UK registered. During this time abroad the E-Type was rigorously maintained; the engine was rebuilt in 2009 (less than 2,000 miles ago – photos on file) and in 2014 the suspension was rebuilt with Koni Classic shock absorbers along with new wheels courtesy of MWS, tyres, brake discs and callipers at a cost of over 8,500 euros. In 2017 the car was MOT tested while back in the UK and slight corrosion was noted as an ‘advisory’. Upon its return to Italy, the appropriate remedial work was undertaken along with a full repaint and again, a photographic record of this work is available. At the same time the Jaguar was re-trimmed in gorgeous, correctly patterned mid-blue leather with subtly darker blue piping, matching carpeting and mohair hood. The engine was also treated to a full service including new spark plugs, with the work being completed in September of last year.
Due to a change in the owner’s personal circumstances, the E-Type has recently returned to the UK to be sold via Berlinetta. As can be seen in the photo gallery, it looks to be in beautiful condition but it is fair to say there are a few areas where some final finishing would put a proverbial cherry on top of an already rare and desirable cake; rest assured, the owner is very well aware of this and we have reserved the car accordingly with ‘plenty of meat left on the bone’ as they say.
First port of call, for us at least, would be attention to the fit of some of the closing panels. While the boot lid is pretty good especially considering its recently fitted new seal, both doors could do with a little fine tuning; the passenger’s would benefit from being bought forward slightly as it is a little tight on its trailing edge and the driver’s appears to have a little play in its hinges allowing it to drop slightly relative to the ‘B’ post. A small amount of remedial paintwork will be required to both ‘B’ posts where the doors have unfortunately marked them. Fitting an E-Type bonnet is a time consuming process and it would appear that a bit more needs to be spent on this example with it being quite tight against the scuttle on one side while the off side wing sits slightly proud of the sill and base of the ‘A’ post. While on the subject of fit, that of the hood could do with a little finessing to remove the last few wrinkles and allow the retaining poppers to engage (one of which is missing). As there is a small gap between the top of the driver’s door glass and the hood seal, the frame itself may need dropping down slightly on that side.
Aside from this, the bodywork is for the most part in good shape with, as one would expect, no obvious corrosion issues and the pre-paint preparation looks to have been carried out to an acceptable if not concours standard. The paint has been applied well with a very good depth and shine to it and the general appearance of the car is very attractive.
The interior of the E-Type is very smart indeed with not only new leather door and seat trim but we suspect from a simple ‘sit on them’ test, new seat foam as well; they are certainly supremely comfortable and supportive. The new carpeting is of course in perfect condition with generous sound deadening underlay beneath. A lovely brand new Moto-Lita wood rim steering wheel is fitted and the well-appointed dash is in good condition throughout with just a little light corrosion apparent on one or two instrument bezels. We did note that the driver’s side window winder has a slight tendency to jump a cog now and again though the window can still be fully raised and lowered.
The underside of the E-Type is in very nice order as one would expect given the work carried out to the suspension and body in the last few hundred miles with new, freshly painted and refinished components abounding. Much the same can be said of the engine bay though we did note that the heater is currently not plumbed in – it is clearly not something that is required in the balmy climes of southern Europe.
The chrome shines well with minimal pitting (mostly to the passenger door handle – please see the photo gallery) but the underlying metalwork is a little uneven in places such as the delicate surround to the radiator air intake. There are also a few bright-work trim pieces missing including the lower door panel trims and hood finisher while the aerial has been replaced with a simple grommet (though why you would want a radio installed when that V12 plays such great tunes is beyond us).
On the subject of odds and ends to finish the car, it could be worth acquiring a set of bumper to body rubber trims and a pair of sun visors and their outer hinges. Furthermore the owner has decided not to fit seat belts to the E-Type; with these being to a degree a matter of personal taste (webbing colour, static or inertia etc.) he felt it better to leave that choice to the new custodian.
A little smaller than the original, the steering wheel makes ingress to that lovely cockpit that bit easier for the driver and with only a slight knee bend one tends to slide across onto the seat rather than drop down into it, while the E-Type’s long doors make swinging legs into the foot-well less tricky than in many other two seater sports cars. Click the positive stop choke on, give the ignition key a twist and the V12 fires, settling into a smooth as silk idle though the tachometer needs a gentle tap to encourage it into life. It is worth noting that the oil pressure warning light extinguishes correctly but the gauge doesn’t give a reading. A quick test of said gauge would indicate that the problem lies with the sender and the engine itself sounds very sweet. On the move that smaller steering wheel actually feels very well suited to the weight of the power assistance and along with the seating position, it makes the E-Type surprisingly easy to manoeuvre, particularly given the generous length of its bonnet. For us, the front suspension looks to be set a little low and on an admittedly pretty dire, heavily crowned country lane, there was a tendency for the car to bottom out while the front bump stops seemed to be bought into action more than one might expect resulting in a somewhat bouncy ride. Later E-Types such as this example do have a ride height adjuster built into the suspension or one could reset the torsion bars by a few splines and this is something we would certainly recommend looking into. The steering has a good amount of ‘feel’ on the move and the brakes pull the Jaguar up confidently. Having been run on full choke rather too much recently, the V12 was struggling slightly to clear its throat under load at about 2,500/3,000 RPM and a good blast on the open road to clear its pipes might well be in order.
The E-Type’s generous history file contains a raft of bills covering the last thirty-five plus years of the cars life and two restorations. There is also a collection of old Tax Discs and the aforementioned MOT certificates.
As stated earlier, we believe this UK, right hand drive, manual gearbox, E-Type is reserved at a level that leaves a generous fund for further improvement and final finishing.