Choosing the right E Type

Jaguar E-Type V12 Roadster v’s V12 Coupe v’s 4.2 Coupe
by Matt Nichols
Comparing three Jaguar E-Types from Great Escape Classic Car Hire is a bit like choosing from the menu at your favourite restaurant. You already know you’re going to have a memorable meal you just have to make your final decision on exactly what it is going to be. In our case a classy white Series 3 V12 roadster, Series 2 Coupe with a 4.2 litre Jaguar straight six engine looking absolutely stunning in red, and the rather menacing dark blue Series 3 Coupe with a later fuel injected XJS V12.
First impressions
Other than all being E-Types, which of course guarantees your full attention from the off, my eye is most drawn to the two coupes with their distinctive roofline and intriguing sideways opening rear hatch. Of the two it’s the red series 2 car that wins, being an absolute stunner in its bright red paint and red leather interior along with distinctive triple wiper blades. The midnight blue car looks far more aggressive, something that only gets confirmed when the engine is started waking everything within a mile radius courtesy of the quad tail pipe exhausts. The roadster is the least dramatic but looks ever so classy in white with its contrasting black leather interior. Get up close and peer inside and you find that all three cars have the same steering wheel, dashboard and related switchgear, not to mention wide sills and narrow door openings in which to squeeze through to get in, despite all three cars being based on the longer 2+2 platform. Early 2 seat cars must be really tricky to get in and out of.
Sat inside
Once installed, and without the engine running, the cars have a very similar ambiance; the Series 2 Coupe being completely enclosed, Series 3 Coupe slightly more open with its Webasto sunroof and Series 3 roadster literally with the sky as the limit. The most comfortable of the three is the Series 2 Coupe following some recent fettling, with all three having the same well placed arms rests on the doors and central consul between the driver and passenger seats. My only gripe is that there is nowhere to park your left leg once clutch duties have been dispensed with. I do however love the large analogue dials that relay messages about on your speed and engine rpm as well as the long line-up of switches in the centre of the car for everything from side lights to map light and washers to wipers. The two main light switches are also separately encased and bang in the middle of the dash with the wiper/washer switches immediately to the right, so that all the primary controls are easy to locate even in the dark, clever stuff.
Engine and exhaust note
Turn the key in the dark blue late series V12 coupe and it sounds as though you are on the start-line at the Goodwood Revival, such is the intensity of noise echoing all around you. The Series 2 Coupe follows this with its own slightly tamer, but still very appealing 6 cylinder growl, whilst the white roadster is as quiet as a mouse by comparison despite also packing a V12. As all three sound so different it would appear that you can ask your E-Type to play any tune you like by picking the appropriate pipes for it to play through, something that is worth keeping in mind.
Out and about
Driving the three cars is where further similarities are confirmed, such as the long narrow bonnet, peachy handling, decent brakes and absence of any body roll. The latter point catches me out every time I take the wheel of one these outstanding British classics. No body roll and yet a cosseting ride that is kind to its occupants over road imperfections, speed bumps and other related disturbances. How did they do that, as it is unbelievably good? The differences that do come into play are all based on your final choice from the menu in that restaurant. Maybe you played it safe with a traditional roast or in this case the roadster which offers a lovely relaxing ride with the wind whistling through your hair as you navigate from place to place at a gentle pace. Or were you tempted instead by a special from the board and pleased to discover that the Series 2 Coupe with its smaller 4.2 litre engine satisfies in equal measure to the V12 roadster bringing with it an increased deftness born out of the lighter lump up front. If not then did the spiced prawns get you drooling, as you donned your race overalls and charged away in the Series 3 Coupe with its more powerful XJS V12 engine and angry cry from the four exhaust pipes that exit the rear of the car? Leaving the other two cars and for that matter pretty much everything else on the road at the same time trembling in your wake whilst struggling to keep within the speed limits
Ownership prospects
Jaguar E-Types have always represented a significant investment of anyone’s time and money, particularly given their quirky construction, and arguably increasingly so these days with advancing years. Cream of the crop are series 1 roadsters commanding the highest values with Series 2 Coupes in 2+2 guise offering the best opportunity for an entry level purchase. In terms of driving experiences I’m yet to have a poor one, so if in you’re in the market I think just get the best car you can for the money so you can spend as much time as possible enjoying it, without getting too hung up on precisely which model it is. After all, they are all priceless gems really and great menu choices.
Offering the ultimate in classic car ownership experience E-Types are instantly recognisable by virtually everyone who sees one. Roadster and coupe configurations mean you can choose what style of car to go for whether, fully open, fully closed or somewhere in between. Early series 1 roadsters are the most valuable, followed by 2 seat V12’s with 2+2’s bringing up the rear. Not that it matters particularly as all E-Types are truly wonderful places to be and in which to enjoy the great outdoors. Now where did I see that advert for a Series 2 Coupe in red with a tuned 4.2 litre engine for £25,000?
The smoothest of the three with excellent road manners and the bonus of open air motoring
Proves you don’t need a V12 delivering a lighter and nimble feel on the road
Later XJS engine and performance exhaust combine to make a thrilling proposition
5.3 litre SOHC V12 with four Zenith-Stromberg carburettors
4.2 litre DOHC Straight 6 with either twin Stromberg (US) or triple SU’s (UK)
5.3 litre SOHC V12 with Lucas fuel injection
Disc brakes front and rear work well
Smooth and refined
Light and nimble
Exhaust noise accentuates its natural race car feel
Series 3 V12 Roadsters are up there and only behind series 1 cars in terms of value
Lowest of all E-Type values in 2+2 form although still appeals
All V12 E-Types are sought after cars although the later engine in this car may divide opinion
All E-Types are universally revered with V12 roadster values holding strong
Great entry into E-Type ownership with the smaller engine giving nothing away to the heavier V12’s
Fairly unique racing E-Type for the road, truly awesome
Buying: Tricky and potentially very costly to maintain Renting: None