Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Jaguar E Type S3

Published: 2nd Sep 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar E Type S3
Jaguar E Type S3
Jaguar E Type S3
Jaguar E Type S3

Buyer Beware

Look for poor panel fit, corrosion and kinked chassis tubes from low-speed knocks. Bonnet misalignment occurs through the latter.

Ensure the car hasn’t been jacked up where it shouldn’t have been; the radiator support is sometimes wrecked through this.

Lift the fuel filler fl ap; if it’s immaculate under there, all bodes well as many quick restorations skips this area.

The rear of the monocoque also rots, especially the B-posts and chassis strengthening rails; sills are durable but check for filler. Get underneath and look for corrosion around the rear radius arm and anti-roll bar mountings. Finish by checking the double-skinned rear wings for rust, along with the wheelarch lips.

Beware ex-US cars changed to right-hand drive, and 2+2s converted to roadsters. Most are fine, but values are lower; RHD chassis numbers start IS.10001 (roadster) and IS.50001 (2+2); LHD cars are numbered IS.20001 (roadster), IS.70001 (2+2).

Properly maintained, the V12 will cover 200,000 miles with ease. Because the block and heads are alloy, anti-freeze levels must be maintained. If they’re not, internal corrosion is guaranteed.

The V12 has 20 rubber coolant hoses; check they’re not perished because replacement can be involved. They also need to be to the correct specification; the cooling system runs at 15lb psi (earlier E-Types are just 4lb psi), so the hoses have to be reinforced.

The brakes should feel very strong, but imbalance isn’t unusual – it’s usually caused by oil on the in-board rear discs, leaked from the diff. Fixing this is involved as the diff has to come out. The self-adjusting handbrake mechanism often seizes through lack of greasing.

Steel disc wheels were standard; chromed wires are now usual. Check spokes and splines; they get a hard time because of the V12’s torque.

Unrestored cars suffer from poor earths or brittle wiring, fixed with emery paper or fresh looms. The heater motor suffers from failed circuitry or seizure through lack of use, but access is easy as it’s next to the battery under the bonnet.

Check the radiator’s thermostatic cooling fan cuts in; it’s usually reliable but not always, and failure can lead to major bills.

Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith


Most folks regard the S3 V12 as a fat cat rather than the svelte earlier felines… but Richard Dredge argues it’s the better car and significantly cheaper to buy as well

Ever since the Jaguar E-type was unveiled in 1961, car enthusiasts have been desperate to buy one of the most sensuously designed machines ever created. But invariably they’ve coveted the earliest and most purely designed edition; the Series 1, with its faired-in headlights. The Series 2 has come a close second, but for an array of reasons the final iteration, the V12-engined S3, has always been the black sheep of the family.

The chances of the S3 ever becoming as popular as its forebears are slim, but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing, because its relative lack of popularity means this final E-type variant will always be the most affordable of the breed. But that term ‘affordable’ is a relative one, as all E-types are increasing in value year upon year.

Already the V12 is starting to get pricey, but if you’ve always lusted after an E-type and still don’t own one, this is the cheapest way of getting into one. But there are many reasons for buying a V12 over one of its predecessors – not just the price.


The Series 3 E-type came in two flavours: Roadster or Coupé. Your budget may well dictate which one you end up buying as the closed car is more affordable than its open-topped sibling. Whereas the XK E-types came in three forms; Roadster, Coupé or 2+2, Jaguar used the latter bodystyle for the V12 Coupé. There are many who see it as ungainly; while the earlier Coupés featured a significantly lower roofline, the 2+2 models featured a raised roofline and longer wheelbase that altered the car’s lines noticeably – and not for the better.

While an open S3 is worth a lot more than its closed counterpart, restoration costs for the latter are no lower. As a result, it’s easier to find a superb example of the Roadster than the Coupé, but there are lots of cherished and well restored examples of both about – it’s just that the survival rate for the open cars is better, and more were made in the first place.

If you want to buy a project you can still pick one up for £10,000, but it’ll be a Coupé for that money and it’ll need a lot of work. To get something roadworthy you’ll need closer to £18,000, while something tidy is priced from £25,000. The best Series 3 Coupés will fetch around £45,000 – or more if really it is special.

Compare these prices for the Roadster and you’ll see just how affordable the closed car is. Even a project Roadster will set you back the thick end of £15,000 while a good car is going to cost at least £25,000. If you want something really good though, which needs nothing, you’ll need to find £40,000 – concours cars are fetching up to £70,000. Some dealers are asking over £100,000 for some open V12s; such cars don’t sell very quickly, but the indications are that the six-figure E-type S3 is now with us. One other thing worth bearing in mind is that they came with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. While the gearbox fitted doesn’t generally affect values, buyers of fixedheads don’t mind an auto, but it’s the stick shift that Roadster buyers usually want.


This is the key area in which the V12 differs from its six-cylinder forebears, in that while the earlier cars are sports cars – supercars even, the Series 3 is very much a grand tourer. Significantly bigger, heavier and with a lazier 5.3-litre engine, the Series 3 is undeniably fast, but the extra weight blunts the driving experience. That’s why this has long been the forgotten E-type; neither the design nor the handling are as pure as with the XK-powered models.

What many owners find most appealing about the V12 is its cabin, which is far more spacious than what came before. They all use the long-wheelbase platform of the 2+2, which means there’s an extra nine inches between the axles. That makes a big difference to how much space is available for the driver and passenger in the Roadster, which didn’t get any token rear seats – instead just a luggage platform.

As far as the driving experience is concerned, John Bolster summed it up for Autosport: “The Jaguar V12, though it has made its first appearance in a sporting type of car, is far from being a sports engine. It makes the E-type accelerate faster than it has ever done before and it would increase its maximum speed to well over 150mph if the frontal area and the drag factor had not been made greater. The point is, however, that the V12 is much less highly tuned than the old twin-cam six, largely in the interest of American pollution requirements. It gives a standard of silence, smoothness and flexibility which is literally without equal.

“The sheer ease of running is uncanny, and the car will pick up rapidly from 10mph in top gear. The smoothness of the V12 is in a different world from that of even a really good V8 and the exhaust is inaudible inside the car.” Bolster also praised the brakes and the ride which he reckoned only succumbed to a little bump thump at very low speeds. The big tyres and revised suspension settings enabled the V12 to out-corner previous E-types, but with little help from the now very over-light steering. Set up with the American market in mind, it could have offered more feel.

Bolster drove only a manual E-type S3, so he couldn’t make any comparisons with an equivalent auto. The latter is a tad slower because it has just three ratios to play with rather than the manual car’s four; the latter also has higher gearing but the gearshift is rather sluggish compared with a modern ‘box. That’s why enthusiast drivers tend to opt for a manual, while those just wanting to cruise will happily settle for an auto S3.


In terms of usability, you could live with an E-type V12 on an everyday basis, but you’d need very deep pockets to do so. With a typical fuel consumption of anywhere between 12 and 15mpg – or even less with lots of high-speed or urban driving, it’s this fuel cost that’s likely to be the limiting factor to how much you use your E-type V12.

To make sure the range wasn’t restricted too much, Jaguar fitted an 18-gallon tank to the Series 3 E-types; as a result you can theoretically drive for 250 miles or so between fill-ups, although if you drive hard that’ll be cut by a third – or more.

The driving position, while old fashioned, offers plenty of adjustment, with the 2+2’s rear seats fine for medium-sized children, large dogs, or adults over relatively short distances - but the lack of decent ventilation is an annoying design fault. Also, the luggage space could be more generous; with the 2+2, the side-hinged rear door swings open to reveal enough room for just one big suitcase. Roadster passengers are even worse off as the petrol tank, spare wheel and tool kit took up an inordinate amount of room in the boot.


The E-type S3 is relatively simple in its construction, and as a result DIY maintenance is generally straightforward. Throw in a raft of specialists nationwide who can maintain these cars, or provide bits for them, and it’s clear that this is an easy car to own. However, if you’re keen to undertake anything other than routine maintenance, things aren’t necessarily so straightforward. It’s possible to undertake a DIY rebuild of the V12, but it’s a complex unit and not something you’d try to overhaul on a whim. Also, even some routine maintenance is time-consuming; there are a dozen spark plugs for example. Also, access for some components isn’t especially straightforward.

The same goes for body restoration; it’s easy to fit new panels and find nothing lines up – especially that huge bonnet. So while parts availability is excellent, when it comes to fitting everything, things can soon get costly but you’re likely to see good returns.

We Reckon...

These later cars may not be as beautiful as the S1, but if you’ve hankered after an E and you’re on a budget, the V12 is the car to go for. With great specialist and club support, the V12 makes huge sense on many levels; values are going up, and the cars are better engineered than the early cars.

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%