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

Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12

Decisions, Decisions... Published: 1st Jun 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12

What The Experts Say...

As far as dealer Simon Percival is concerned, you can’t really compare the two big cats yet admits that he is a big fan of the V12 models, especially the coupe which he feels looks far less odd thanks to the fatter wheel arches giving the longer 2+2 body more uniformity.

Simon, who owns Percival Motor Co, based in Kent, says the S3 is a far better cruiser and adds the V12 engine is just fantastic. S3 are good value still, but he has just taken delivery of a lovely ‘69 S2 2+2 which he is selling at just under £30,000 – hardly dear considering it has a VSE engine and Webasto roof!

Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12
Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12
Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12
Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12
Jaguar E-Types XK vs. V12
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

There can be no doubting that the E-type was just a D-type for the road although the transformation took a surprising six years. Its legacy has survived more than half a century and there can’t be many of us who wouldn’t want one at some point in our lives. The general view is that the earlier XK-engined models are the best – or is that just bar room talk at its best? It’s time to test the Jaguar E-type for the real world.

Which model to buy?

Sports or GT?

Essentially there’s only one S3 but a handful of XK derivatives. A year after launch, with 6500 sales in the bag, some of the major issues of the original were addressed; deeper footwells and mods behind the seats as well as the fitting of seat belt anchorages. That said, flat floor 3.8s now command huge prices.

Another 8500 sales later, the 4.2 model was launched, mainly to appease American buyers who demanded more torque which was now raised from 260 to 283 lbs/ft. Other worthy improvements included a new ‘Jaguar’ all-synchromesh four speed gearbox to replace the Moss ’box better seats, vinyl covered dash, Lockheed servo and an alternator.

In ‘68, what became known as the Series 1½ surfaced with minor cosmetic changes such as open headlamps, new door mirrors and a revised safetyenhanced interior with safety rockers instead of toggle switches. Again purists detested the changes but they did improve the car, which by now was starting to age.

As a vast majority of E-types went across the Pond, the USA had a major effect on the car’s development and in 1969 US safety laws resulted in the Series 2 with wider air intake, higher bumpers and headlights moved forward two inches. The brakes and cooling were improved and a collapsible steering column fitted.

Now more a GT than the serious sportster by 1971 the E-type was facing much tougher competition and Jaguar felt a major change was needed which produced the S3, clothing the remarkable 5.3-litre, twin-camshaft V12 with two Zenith-Stromberg carburettors per bank. Its power output at 272bhp; just seven horses higher than the six but there was an extra 30lbs of torque. Maximum speed was down on the original at a still respectable 146 mph but acceleration to 60 mph was down to 6.4 with tremendous mid-range grunt. In the USA, the power difference between six and twelve was a whopping 101bhp because the V12 was designed for US legislation and the six had to be de-toxed.

Which is best to drive?

A question of character

Because of the V12’s sheer size, the stretched 2+2 platform had to be used with increased width and track which means if you want a fixedhead you are stuck with the rather bulbous 2+2 shape which, while improving accommodation and particularly luggage space, totally destroys the purity of line of the original. However if you want a drophead, the V12’s width balances the extra length and the increased rear track takes away the rather ‘jacked-up’ rear end of the earlier cars.

The other advantage of the S3 over the earlier versions is that thanks to the extra grunt and wider track, the handling is better with a much more planted feel – numb power steering excepted. That said, the V12 is a much more relaxing and cultured cat on long journeys than the ‘six’ which while certainly feeling more eager in 3.8 guise anyway) is no quicker and dare we say that given the way most of us drive our classics on today‘s congested Gatsogoverned roads, the difference between the two is frankly over exaggerated.

The reason the V12 is more relaxed is due to the amazing flexibility of that engine which could drop down to walking pace in top before powering all the way up to 150mph or so. Effectively a ‘two-gear’ car, no wonder many were autos where it suit’s the car well – unlike the XK alternatives.

Owning and running

Juicy V12 saves you money…

Forty years on and even seasoned mechanics remain frightened of that magnificent V12 and it certainly looks intimidating but if correctly serviced (it’s hardly high tech) it will last a good 200,000 miles before a re-build, even longer than the six.

Fuel consumption at around 14 mpg may be an issue but enthusiasts who can afford any road worthy E-type probably won’t be fazed by an extra tenner or so when they take it out for a spin After all, even a six-cylinder will struggle to break 20 mpg.

The benefit of the earlier cars is parts availability as so many components are shared not only with saloon Jaguars but also other British Leyland marques.

Apart from anything else 57,000 XKEs were made compared with 15,000 V12s which justifies more specialist support for the six. So if you want the easy life a six it will have to be but there again the S3 E-type didn’t break any new ground and that V12 lasted well into the 1990s.

It’s in the screen prices where the V12 scores and can be between a third and half the price of a comparable S1 and you can still pick up a usable V12 (2+2 auto) for £12-15,000 – and we’ve heard of cheaper ones. Currently and possibly still influenced by the 50th anniversary of the car, the earliest flat floor S1s are the most sought after, the Series 1½ 2+2 the least. While the bargain used to be the V12 and in some instances remains so, this is notably changing and as a coupé it is now worth more than the unloved six pot 2+2. One of the 48 Commemorative models still in general circulation is probably worth more than an equivalent Series 1 flat floor, evidenced by a top Roadster sold at Coys July 2011 for £86,920 against an estimate of £48-55,000.

And The Winner Is...

The early six cylinder cars have a ‘vintage’ feel which some people prefer but in objective terms the V12 has better performance, brakes, handling, ride and much lighter (powered) steering. It’s also more relaxing, quieter and has more space and a better boot. Sure it may not have the looks and kudos of an earlier E-type or that more agile feel, but for many just ownership of the keys of an E-type – any E-type is all they wish for.

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%