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Jaguar E-Type

Published: 13th Mar 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type

Buyer Beware

* A 4.2 Series 1 open two-seater numbers start: 1E1001 in right hand-drive. While the left hand-drive gains a nought with the series beginning 1E10001. Could that really bother any intelligent adult? Thought not.

* Most E-types have been restored. Rebuild standards vary so find out who did the work and what was done. Also ask for plenty of photographs. Be wary of cars that have had major home restorations, as without the proper jigs the bodyshell may have distorted.

* The biggest rust traps are around the tub, chassis sections and particularly the rear suspension radius arm mounts, located to the back of the floorpan. When corrosion sets in, the entire area can rip-out under fierce acceleration! So take your overalls with you and have a good crawl underneath.

* Other vital yet vulnerable areas include the sills, floorpan, door skins and bulkhead panel. At the rear, the wheel arches (double skinned on Series 3 cars) suffer as do the lower quarters and the boot floor.

* Take all the time in the world when examining the engine frames, particularly for accident damage, stress fractures and rot, especially at the lower suspension mounts. Also look at the panel between the bottom frame/bulkhead mount with an equally critical eye.

* Lift the bonnet and check for bulkhead corrosion, especially around the battery tray. The scuttle sides contain box sections, which rot from the inside out. By the time corrosion is visible outside, the inside is rotten as a pear and proper repairs are very involved thanks to the complex structure.

* The XK engine is quite a simple unit these days and, if looked after, can cover 100,000 miles without too much trouble. Be prepared to write out a cheque for at least £4000 for a decent full-on rebuild though. Anything less is usually a waste of time and money.

* The biggest problems are corroded waterways, subsequent overheating, worn timing chains, silent tappets (this usually means they have closed up in service resulting in a head-off decoke job to re-shim them properly) and oil leaks, especially from that well- known Jaguar weak spot, the rear crankshaft oil seal.

* Oil pressure should be 35-40lb when hot at normal speeds. Listen for rumbling crankshafts and watch for smoking under power,.

* The torsion bar front set-up needs to be checked for wear and correct height (the latter can be adjusted, but it needs to be done by somebody who knows their E-types). Check the universal joints of the steering and the bushes for excessive play.

* It’s not uncommon for the IRS rear suspension to spew oil out and over the inboard rear brakes. Wheel bearings are often wrongly adjusted and set too tight.

* S2s benefited from better brakes, which can be substituted on earlier cars while original servo should be updated at the same time and many are.

* Beware of ex-US V12s changed to right-hand drive as well as those 2+2s converted to roadsters. Most conversions from left to right are fine, but values will be a bit lower. Right-hand drive chassis numbers start IS.10001 (roadster) and IS.50001 (2+2); LHD cars are numbered IS.20001 (roadster) and IS.70001 (2+2).

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Why is the idea of owning a US E-type so foreign to UK buyers, preferring instead a genuine British version when there’s money to be saved and enjoyment to be savoured, asks Jaguar expert Jim Patten

Okay let’s get one thing straight before we go any further. All E-types were made in Brown’s Lane Coventry even though some 95 per cent went to the lucrative US market. Some were assembled as right-hand drive while others for left-hand drive markets. There isn’t some South American principality churning out sub standard cars. So the steel in all of those cars comes from the very same supplier and it matters not a hoot if the Jaguar went to Kathmandu or Luton, they are identical. Okay, a guy on the production line stamped a number on the frame, also recorded in the office that indicates left or right hand drive; open, closed or 2+2. But so what!

Many boast of a ‘genuine UK right- hand drive’, which usually translates to ‘much rust, big repair, original Coventry steel gone.’ Seek a car out from one of the dry states as this writer has done and there comes a bodyshell rust free in the main. There could still be floorpan or damage issues but nothing like the galloping corrosion found on home supplied cars. Well we’ll throw wet state US cars in the mix too as they rust just as fiercely as a Brit. So check out California, Arizona or go further afield to Australia and gain right-hand drive, too.

Very often the cost of purchase and repatriation is less than having a rusted out hulk restored, let alone having anything mechanical done. Okay, there is an importation procedure to go through but it is relatively painless and if you demonstrate historical interest (which all E-types are) then the rate of import duty is a straight five per cent. Try Importation, Kingstown Shipping for advice and help. Tel: 01482 374116


Nothing in the pecking order changes with this classic. Everyone still wants a Series 1 open two-seater with the fixed head hard on its heels. Sadly, the 2+2 still drags its heals way behind, which is a shame as they represent fabulous value and are extremely practical.

Moving on, the Series 2 things get trickier because this is where the differences really lie. California was one of the first places to wake up to the fact that cars are choking us and introduced early emission restrictions, which on later Series 2 was disastrous. In late 1968, those triple 2-inch SU carburettors went in favour of twin Strombergs complete with anti-tox gear and power fell off the cliff as a result, dropping from a quoted 265bhp to 246bhp which is virtually identical to the normal 4.2-litre engine fitted to the XJ6 although a more realistic modern calculation is around 175bhp. As a result, Series 2s has nothing like the demand of the Series 1 and so-called Federation Spec cars do not help their cause. But once again they represent amazing value for money with the prices way lower than even covers the additional cost of a set of new carburettors from SU at £3142.80 (inc VAT). Note that MkX/420G carburettors will not fit so don’t even think about trying. Everything is wrong from the inlet manifold to the choke (electric on the MkX).

Our American friends are as keen as us so a top Series 1 will command big bucks. Just like here the price drops off according to the model with a Series 2 2+2 automatic with power steering and air-conditioning bargain basement. Don’t discount it as budget buyers can use the tried and tested Toyota Supra five-speed gearbox conversion from Realm. I’ve been fortunate enough to drive many Californian cars on their home turf and an open 3.8 around the Nappa Valley is a true delight. The car will drive just as well in the UK, only the sun and vineyards will be missing. Perhaps the down side is the positioning of the accelerator pedal. Close to the transmission tunnel it is very awkward indeed but if converting to right hand drive than this is inconsequential.

Incidentally, the S3 V12 suffered little from US changes as emission-friendly Strombergs were already fitted by the factory. The differences are mostly cosmetic to the bumper overriders and so you can buy one and use it to the full.

Prices? A choice example of how stupid the market views these cars is a Series 2 fixedhead, converted to right hand drive but still on twin Strombergs. Rust free and on the road it is offered at £30,000. Add another £10K for a similar but restored right hand drive car on triple SUs. LHD 2+2 autos can still be had for around half this. Typically, a US car can be half-to-two-thirds the price of a regular model.


Have you driven or been driven in an E-type? That’s the first question because if the answer is no on both counts then where it originated from may not bother you. And if you have experience of this classic cat then you still may be in for a surprise because despite what you’ve heard or read, an American E-type isn’t bad at all.

The first obvious thing about driving an imported E-type, apart from the position of the steering wheel on the ‘wrong side’, is the awkward accelerator pedal. Close to the transmission tunnel it does make for awkward operation and something that Jaguar never remedied. Slide behind the wheel from the left hand side and all is a mirror of our usual familiarity. The right leg sits high trying to find the ideal comfort zone on the gas pedal. Moving off in normal conditions, driving around town there is no discernible difference whatsoever.

Chassis-wise, across the ranges, everything throughout the E-type range is standard, so your imported E-type will handle every bit as good as a home supplied version – unless somebody has fitted obscure parts.

Okay, so what about the lack of performance from the detuned engine? Until the Series 2, all exported E-types were standard. But some US states adopted stringent emission standards that would strangle the power of an E-type. If performance isn’t your thing then you will not be too bothered about the lack of that other carb and only 175bhp to play with.

However, most folks buy an E-type for its go or some level of pace, and in all honesty, a decent MGB or TR would give a Federal Spec E-type a run for its money. But there again we’ve driven regular E-types that are so far off-tune with their worn out triple SUs that they are no better!

Due to the draconian US speed limits there was little point in supplying a car with a near on 150mph max (although few E-types ever reached this headline speed) and so acceleration was of prime importance. Equipped with a lowly 3.54:1 final drive ratio, getting off the line was very quick indeed in a US spec car. However, the price to pay is a gearing of 21.4mph as opposed to 24.7mph and a screaming engine on those high speed long distances where it is most un-Jaguar like. The answer is to swap to a 3.07:1 ratio or fit a five- speed gearbox which may be best of all.

In general, real world driving acceleration is reasonable enough with 177bhp but there just isn’t the punch normally associated with an E-type and as speed increases so the revs rise. It’s busy and even at 80mph there is this need for another invisible ratio. Push it through the lanes though and it is pure E-type, no differences at all – except for accelerating hard out of bends at least.

Overall then driving an imported E-type is just like driving any other E-type with a couple of exceptions. Some may enjoy the sporty diff ratio, always assuming no long distances are planned.

Others may be content with the decline in acceleration with the Stromberg carburettors. However, we suspect the vast majority of owners would be anxious to return their cars to UK specification, although the out and out acceleration of the retaining the 3.54 diff will be tempting on our speed restricted roads.


Many, like this writer are intent in modifying anyway. Obviously converting to right hand drive is costly but not as bad as might be thought. The hydraulic master cylinders simply lift from the left hand hole and transpose to the right. A steering column housing is needed (about £75) while a reproduction steering rack from SNG Barratt is around £350. Most specialists market the left and right hand side of the dash, which should be around £2-300. The centre dash section could be left alone, although to be correct some switches should be moved around and a different legend strip used. It is just possible to haul the wiring from left to right, although given that it might be brittle anyway, we would suggest a new harness from a specialist like Autosparks. Expect to pay around £630 at current prices. The wiper motor too should be reconfigured to park correctly.

Most US exported E-types ran with a different final drive ratio to UK cars, 3.54:1 as opposed to 3.07:1 or 3.31:1 depending upon model. A solution can be sought from specialist AJS Engineering. Don’t buy into the myth that an American rebuild is not as good as one in the UK. It is all down to the specialist with some of the world’s best across the Atlantic.

We reckon that with sensible mods, such as a quality electronic ignition or a ‘123 distributor’ set up, improved brakes and a robust cooling system any E-type is better pressed into regular service than being left idle and sulking in the garage. It is a thoroughbred straining at the leash, raring to go. Lock it up and it will brood, throwing a tantrum on the rare occasions it is put into sporadic use. I know, I’ve been there…



Launched with monocoque construction with a novel tubular subframe for the engine and front suspension. E-Type used the XK150’s 3.8-litre engine harnessed by Dunlop disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and independent rear suspension.


4.2 (or Series 1/1/2 as it was also known) addressed some of the problems of the original such as poor seats, inadequate rear brakes and overheating woes. Engine stretched to 4.2-litres and gearbox changed from the Moss to Jag unit.


Stretched 2+2 derivative announced boasting a three-speed automatic option. Series 2 introduced in late ’68. 2+2 more streamlined while interior is revamped. More welcome improvements include better Girling brakes, the best seats yet plus there was the option of effective air conditioning.


S3 introduced with V12 engine. A steering lock was fitted in 1972 and a year later a twin-branch exhaust replaced the four-pipe system. In Dec ’74 the final 50 cars were built, known as Commemorative editions.

We Reckon...

To sum up, there are thousands of pounds to be saved by buying an American E-type. The car will still have its Coventry steel in place, just as it rolled off the Brown’s Lane production line but restoration time will be slashed with no rust to worry about. And while a detuned S2 E-type doesn't possess the sharpest claws it’s still a classic Coventry cat and one that’s going fairly cheap.

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