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Jaguar E-Type 2+2

Jaguar E-Type 2+2 Published: 9th Nov 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Stuart recalls the fabulous yet underrated 2+2 E-type and wonders why they aren’t more liked

By good luck and at times a little persuasion I was involved in all the Road Tests of the Jaguar E-type carried out in the 13 years of its production, and one occasion stands out: this was the newly introduced 2+2 version which I tested with the newly appointed technical editor Geoff Howard in April 1966.

We had a fine arrangement with the Air Charter service which was then running long distance flights from Southend with your car on board. A free advertisement in the journal brought a free flight in the Carvair. We went direct from Southend to Geneva and drove south-east to Italy, where we knocked off the high-speed performance figures on autostrada which in those days had no speed restrictions.

SITTING PRETTY

Once the ‘hard’ work of testing was completed we enjoyed some fabulous Alpine motoring, the likes you won’t see today, taking in a number of Alpine passes presenting superb scenery as well as demonstrating the much improved brakes and the Jaguar’s ability to storm up hills in spite of the addition of two cwt due to its extended body. The wheelbase was also stretched by nine inches, and the roof two inches higher. What Geoff and I especially appreciated in mountain motoring was the new raised position of the driving seat to allow space for a rear passenger’s feet to be tucked in underneath. It’s often overlooked when buying an E-type that this arrangement gives the driver a considerably better view on those occasions when the road dips away out of sight and you just have to hope that the tarmac is still where you think it should be.

We tried sitting in the back, and found it not at all uncomfortable especially for one adult who can sit slightly sideways with body behind the passenger and legs across to the right – but I suppose you can’t do this anymore due to seat belt legislation. Children find it a very cosy car in which to tumble into the back however.

NOT SUCH A SCALDED CAT

The top speed was down by 10mph and involved taking the 4.2-litre six-cylinder engine into the red at 5950rpm to achieve a best one-way max of 141mph. Owners were advised by Jaguar not to exceed 5500rpm which limits the top speed to 137mph, due to the added girth and weight plus result of the slightly lower final drive ratio used on the 2+2, giving 24.8mph per 1000 rpm – a fair bit short of the ‘150mph’ that Jaguar headlined the E-type at launch.

Our test car had the standard four-speed manual gearbox and we thought that the slightly lower gearing suited the E-type better for Alpinestyle motoring. At the same time as the 2+2 was introduced, Borg Warner Model 8 automatic transmission became available with a straight-line selector mounted on the transmission tunnel and providing D1 and D2 selections to hold first and second stages of the transmission.

Not quite so happy was the occasion four years later when I went to Coventry with Geoff Howard and photographer Peter Cramer to get early impressions of the E-type with the new V12 engine. Geoff went off alone in one car and Peter and I headed to the Cotswolds to get the colour pictures done. We had a lucky clear straight on A45 inviting a burst of acceleration and I was staggered to glance down at the speedometer and seeing that it was nearly showing 120. We didn’t have the 60mph limit there in those days!

Getting a photographer like Peter to call it a day and say “that’s enough” is never an easy task, and we had been asked to be back for lunch in the boardroom at 1pm. It was ten to one when I finally said “we must go” but we were miles away down at Hidcote Boyce, so tore back as fast as possible, arriving a little breathless at 1.20. Press officer, the late Andrew Whyte met us at the door and asked anxiously: “Is it OK?” I thought he meant had the car come up to expectations, but what he was really asking was whether the car was still in one piece, and he added: “I’d better tell you – Geoff has crashed.” Because we were so late getting back they feared that perhaps we had crashed as well. I am pleased to say that my immediate response was to ask: “Is he OK?” Apparently he had skidded on the Meriden by-pass and hit a car parked on the road while its occupants took a picnic. It could have been worse: he wasn’t hurt and although the police tried to bring a case for driving without due care, he was able to establish that the road surface there was dangerously lacking in friction.

My outstanding memory of that V12, as well as the performance, was the quietness, and I asked Harry Mundy, who had been our technical editor and was now in charge of power units at Jaguar, how this had been achieved. He replied: “Stuart, all noise – even as I speak to you now – is caused by vibration. If you suppress the vibration you kill the noise.” I rather liked 2+2 E-types and suggest you at least try one.



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