Buying a Jaguar E Type

If you want an E Type then, frankly, no other car will quite do. Plenty of car firms tried to make clones of the E Type's basic shape and concept - the Datsun 240Z is the closest copy - but none have the essential ETypeness that defines the E Type experience.
If you're in the market for an E Type then chances are you also know which one you want as preferences tend to be sharply defined between the different Series. But maybe, just maybe, we can help change your mind.

This Buying Guide is intended as a general introduction to the car rather than a detailed assessment.  It's based on our experience maintaining and restoring these cars at www.wefixclassiccars.co.uk.

Background

Jaguar unveiled the E Type in 1961 to a shell-shocked world.  The car was - and remains - achingly beautiful, with the added advantage that it wasn't particularly expensive. This was a slice of exotic that people could aspire to. The car was designed to be very aerodynamic, taking styling cues from the XKSS and D-Type, and at first Jaguar did not expect to sell many - after all, it was a replacement for the XK sports car, which was never a huge seller. The E Type was available as a coupe or convertible.

The first E Types (dubbed Series 1) had 3.8 litre XK engines - producing 265 bhp - and the Moss box, plus various features that were later altered, including the 'flat floor' design. These cars are considered the 'purest' and are the most sought after. The Series 1 adopted the 4.2 litre XK engine and synchromesh gearbox in late 1964.

In 1966 Jaguar addressed criticism of the car's lack of space by launching the 2+2 on a chassis lengthened by 9 inches and with token rear seats. This model was clearly aimed at the USA and the growing European 'GT' market and was available with an optional automatic transmission.
Most E Types were sold to the USA so when America tightened up its safety legislation Jaguar was forced to make cosmetic changes to the car, the first of many alterations that purists consider 'ruin' the car's original lines.  So in late 1967 Jaguar announced the Series 1.5, which was essentially a Series 1 with raised front headlights, in the process losing the aerodynamic cowls.


The Series 1 was replaced a year later by the Series 2, which gained new, larger rear lights, some front end changes and a more luxurious interior but lost the iconic push starter. The 2+2 received a new windscreen design.

This new version didn't last long either, being replaced in in March 1971 by the Series 3. Available as a coupe and a convertible, the Series 3 was built on the extended 2+2 chassis and, for the purists, represented a capitulation to the USA and GT markets. Much more luxurious and softer than the earlier cars, the Series 3 gained chrome, flared wheel arches, power steering and, perhaps less controversially, Jaguar's superlative new V12 5.3 litre engine with three twin choke carburettors. It produced a quoted 285 bhp. The last E Types were made in 1975 and sold alongside the new XJS.

Why Buy One?

The E Type is as good to own and live with as can be imagined: its looks don't fade with familiarity and driving one is always an occasion.  Few cars are as instantly recognisable by so many people - and as loved.
All E Types are quite easy to drive and feel reasonably modern by classic car standards. They are fairly practical - once you get used to the narrow doors on the short wheelbase cars - although even the 2+2s are strictly 2 seaters.

Which is Best?



The different E Type models used to sharply polarise opinion, with the consensus being that the later the car, the less desirable.  That has changed significantly in the last 10 years, with many buyers appreciating the luxury, build quality and practicality of the later V12 cars.  Values for all cars have skyrocketed and the divide between older and newer models is less sharp.

If you're not already decided on which E Type you prefer then there are some decisions to help guide your choice.  Coupe or convertible will be an obvious choice - personally we prefer the coupes, but the convertible is hard to beat in the summer. Then your decision is really about aesthetics and budget. The very early cars may be the most sought after but their Moss gearboxes are not for everyone. If you're not too picky about aesthetics then the Series 2 cars are a good option if you want a short wheelbase car - they're generally more comfortable and quieter than the earlier cars.  We also like the V12 cars, particularly the coupe - they may not be as achingly beautiful as the early cars but they're still good looking and the V12 engine is an absolute gem. Auto cars and 2+2s are the cheapest, for good reason - but if your budget is tight and you must have an E Type, then they're worth considering.


There are plenty of E Types about but good ones are genuinely rare. If your budget is finite we recommend adjusting your requirements to include less desirable specification cars rather than buy an average or poor car that is closer to what you want.  The restoration costs will quickly exceed any saving you make.



On The Road

The E Type may have been sold as a sports car but really it is more of a junior GT. The ride and handling are more smooth and comfortable rather than sharp and full of feedback - this can be a bit of a surprise to anyone new to the car. But get an E Type on a fast, flowing road and none of that really matters - the experience is about the long bonnet, the engine noise and the pointing fingers and smiles from passers by.
The steering on Series 1 and 2 cars is heavy without assistance, on later assisted cars, too light for most tastes (in the Jaguar style of the period). You sit very low and this is key to the E Type experience. The long bonnet, questionable brakes and spongy handling mean considerable care is required when driving an E Type.

Living with an E Type



The E Type is the archetypal weekend car. The car's Achilles Heel is its complicated and rust-prone bodywork, but mechanically it is relatively simple and therefore generally quite reliable.  Even the V12 cars, which have a reputation for being money pits, are perfectly easy on the pocket if well maintained. Rear axles tend to need regular work and maintenance, not helped by the inboard brake system - this is not a cheap job. Replacing a clutch, as with the Mk2, is an engine-out job and therefore expensive.

What to Watch Out For


 Any E Type should be bought on its bodywork first and foremost.  These are genuinely complex cars whose structure can hide a multitude of problems.  They haven't always been worth much either, so many cars still conceal evidence of poor previous repairs and in particular filler - a small repair job can easily mushroom into something much more significant.







There really isn't any part of an E Type that escapes the curse of the rot monster - cills, rear quarters, front and rear floors, A posts, doors and bonnet (particularly along the chrome seam) are all common problem areas. Rectification is really the work of an experienced bodyshop - there is a huge amount of work required to match up new panels and secure a good quality job. It isn't worth cutting corners on restoration due to the high cost of buying one.






The huge rise in E Type values has also affected parts costs - most parts are available but are often batch-made or made to order, so expect high prices as well as delays. Doors and bonnets are particularly pricey - a new bonnet will set you back over £6,000 and require 40 hrs to fit. Even replacement seats are expensive - expect to pay £1,500 for a pair.

Mechanically the E Type is robust.  Both the XK and V12 engines need regular oil and coolant changes - the V12 particularly. Poor coolant mix will kill the later engine quickly. Clutches can wear quickly - drivers often ride the clutch due to the narrow pedal box - and are expensive to replace. The rear axle is also prone to problems, particularly due to the inboard brakes.
The usual checks apply when buying an E Type - check the history thoroughly, check the chassis and engine numbers (it is easy to replace the original E Type engine with later XJ6 motors) and the mileage. Check for accident damage - these are fast cars with questionable brakes and handling and accidents are common. Well used or regularly used cars are a much better bet than a barely used example - use will shake out problems, lack of use creates them.

Buying and owning an E Type is an experience many strive for and few attain.  It is a privilege to savour, but one that she be approached objectively and pragmatically.

At www.wefixclassiccars.co.uk we have restored several E Types from Series 1 through to Series 3. We're happy to help with advice and recommendations - call 01527 893733 or email graham@greatescapecars.co.uk.

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Great Escape Workshop
www.wefixclassiccars.co.uk
01527 893733



















Buying a Jaguar Mk2

Whether you grew up in the 60s or more recently whiled away sunny autumn afternoons watching Mk2s being driven on their doorhandles around Goodwood, the chances are at some point you've pondered the idea of owning one.
The Jaguar Mk2's popularity with classic car enthusiasts doesn't need much explaining - it's an achingly beautiful design (possibly the most 'Jaguar' Jaguar of all time) and in 3.4 or 3.8 trim was the Subaru Impreza of its day. Jaguar claimed 220bhp and sub 10 seconds to 60, which were supercars figures in the car's heyday. All this in a practical, comfortable four seat design that is relatively easy to drive.  Plentiful numbers and good spares back up make buying a Jaguar Mk2 a logical and almost practical proposition. But before you start exploring the classified, here's some advice and tips on owning a Jaguar Mk2.

Background

The Mk2, as the name implies, was not the first car to wear this bodyshell. The car was launched in 1959 to replace the 'Mk1' which had smaller windows, a narrower rear track and more dated interior. these minor changes arguably transformed a fairly staid, dated car into a timeless classic. It was available with 2.4, 3.4 and 3.8 versions of the venerable Jaguar XK straight six engine, a motor that dated back to the 1940s and remained in production into the 1980s.
Jaguar progressively improved the Mk2, introducing a fully synchromesh gearbox in 1965 - to replace the original 'Moss' box - and in 1967 replaced it with the largely identical 240 and 340 models. These cars have slimmer bumpers and lower trim levels than the Mk2. At the same time as these models were introduced Jaguar began a slightly demented product launch programme, creating various models based on the central architecture of the Mk2. The best known is the S-Type, which is essentially a Mk2 with a different front and rear end design and independent rear suspension.
The Mk2 did not escape the British car industry's 60s obsession with badge engineer.  A Daimler version of the car, called the 250 V8, was offered alongside the Jaguar model, combining a Daimler grille with higher specification, automatic transmission and the superlative Daimler Turner V8 engine.

Why Buy One?

The Mk2, perhaps uniquely, combines family-friendly practicality with sports car attributes and the perma-chromed loveliness that many expect from their classic cars. This really is a classic car that you can enjoy with your friends and family.  It's also modern-world compliant - fairly simple and reliable and with plenty of power. If an E Type feels too flash, get its sober-suited but equally rewarding big brother.

Which is best?

If you want a Jaguar Mk2 then it has to be a 2.4, 3.4 or 3.8.  Although the Daimler V8 and the later s-Type are arguably much better cars in various respects, they aren't Mk2s and consequently are generally much cheaper to buy.
The 2.4 has a loyal following and is the best value, but if you plan to use your Mk2 (and we recommend you do) then most owners bemoan the lack of power.  With just 120 bhp it is under powered in this heavy car.
Conventional wisdom and most investment money goes into the 3.8 'MOD' (Manual Overdrive) with synchromesh gearbox and, ideally, power steering.  Expect to pay £10,000 for a roadworthy car needing some work and £20,000 for the best.
Afficionados go for the 3.4, which coincidentally is the car most villains opted for when these cars were new. The smaller engine is sweeter and more free-revving than the 3.8 and nearly as quick in real-world driving. It's generally 10-20% cheaper than the 3.8 and can also be specified with the 'MOD' and power steering.  We run both of these cars on the Great Escape Cars classic hire fleet and would concur with the afficionados - the 3.4 is a better car.
We would probably opt for the synchromesh box over the earlier Moss box - the latter is stronger but the shifts take more practice and are more ponderous. Power steering is also a useful addition, although later modifications tend to rob the car of steering feel.

On The Road

Any 3.4 or 3.8 Mk2 will easily keep up with modern traffic and cruise comfortably and quietly at 70 on motorways - quite an achievement for a car approaching 60 years old. The driving position is quite upright, with limited movement options but will accommodate most drivers. The steering and controls are precise and fall easily to hand and the push starter is a period joy.  Perhaps the only downside is a heavy clutch, typical of cars of this era. On the move the Mk2 is very 'Jaguar' - a remarkable mix of smooth, well damped ride with precise handling and excellent driver engagement. It really does feel like a four door sports car, albeit one thankfully lacking the high energy nervousness of an actual sports car. Only the narrow rear track and simple rear suspension detract, preventing modern drivers exploiting the car's power for fear of diving into the nearest hedge backwards. Thankfully Mk2s were fitted with disc brakes all round, as the little warning badge on the rear bumper warns following motorists.

Living With The Mk2

It's no surprise that the Mk2 was a sales success.  The interior is possibly one of the greatest produced by a British car maker ever, combining thick, comfy leather seats with acres of walnut - this is a gentleman's club on wheels. Space is good and there is also a decent boot. The 3.4 and 3.8 will easily achieve 25mpg around town and touch 30mpg on a steady run.
But there is a downside.  Jaguar built the Mk2 down to a price, and this does show in the durability of the interior - window catches, door handles, wooden trim and switches are all fragile. Fortunately they're also easily to replace - albeit at a price.
The straight six XK engine is extremely robust, but requires regular oil and coolant changes. Similarly, the Moss box is very durable but the later synchromesh box is much less strong, being prone to wearing synchromesh and damaging the selector forks. The heavy clutch can also be prone to wear as it's easy to inadvertently ride it - replacement is an engine out job. 
The electrics are fairly simple, although old, brittle wiring is typical and should be tested on any car you're buying. Some Mk2s run on 'positive earth.' 
The biggest bugbear with the Mk2 is rot - this is a complex car that was never built to last. Wing tops, cills and doors all rot out and repair or restoration is a complex job because these cars were built with a lot of hand finishing.  Which means replacement panels do not immediately line up or fit. Car that are visibly solid may be invisibly otherwise. 

What to Watch Out For
  • A good Mk2 should feel solid and planted on the road. Any car that feels like a jelly on wheels will need significant work
  • On the test drive check the clutch and, if fitted with the later gearbox, test the synchromesh. 
  • Check that the car runs at an even temperature when idling and under load
  • Check that the brakes bring the car up straight and true without judder 
  • Check that the overdrive works - correcting it may mean removing then gearbox. Overdrive significantly improves the long-legged appeal of the car
  • Check the bottoms of the B post where the bodywork can split 
  • Check the cills and floorpan
  • Check the wing tops and behind the front and rear bumpers
  • Check the base of the front wings and bottom of the A-post - get under the car
  • Check the inner rear wings
  • Check the door bottoms - inside and out.  Blocked drainage holes cause rot
  • Avoid 'modified' cars - often these alterations disguise fundamental problems
  • Look over the interior carefully - replacing the wood veneer can be hugely expensive, likewise re-trimming
  • Paintwork should be at least good - a respray may not be economical unless the price reflects it
  • Check the history - a thick, continuous history file will add value to your car
Here's one we made earlier

The Great Escape Cars workshop www.wefixclassiccars.co.uk has restored several Jaguar Mk2s. This film shows progress on a 3.4, which suffered from most of the problems typical of a solid, roadworthy car in need of some TLC. 



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To find out more about the Great Escape Workshop call 01527 893733 or visit www.wefixclassiccars.co.uk










For the lovers

No sooner has Santa popped off with Rudolph and Co. than Cupid's rosening up his bow. And so we find outselves mere days away from Valentine's Day.
Despite carrying the blood of q country where men can and frankly always will dress in skirts, I'll admit to only a passing acquaintance to my feminine side. I tend to equate emotion with soppiness, which hardly makes me well placed to discuss the calendars annual display of romance and lurve. But I do love cars (and my wife), so I'll give it a go.
Our cars are regularly used as vehicles for proposals, engagements, anniversaries and weddings. They may be used for other love-related purposes but I can't and hope I never can prove that. So here are our top 5 most popular love machines: turn your romantic break into a real escape from £95.

Mini


It's a fact based on sound research, and also of course a gross generalisation, that ladies love Minis. Hire our Cooper replica from £125 and share your sensitive side: show her that there's more to you than Lambos and Ferraris. 







E Type 


If you have even a passing interest in cars then by law you have to like the E Type. If she doesn't, it ain't going to work. Put your relationship to the ultimate, crucial test with a trip in one of our four E Types. It's sort of a win win: if she hates it, uou'll Know. If she loves it you'll look cool and romantic. Even if it was really all about you. Hire an E Type from £249. 




Alfa Spider


Italy. Open top cars. Romance. That's all there is to know about the Alfa Spider. No car, as in absolutely no car, is more love-orientated than the super sweet Alfa. Hire it from £150.









Morris Minor


Express your vulnerable side with the retro, vintage, quirky Minor, car that puts the slow in, well, slow. It's about as far from a machi man's car as you can get and few cars will get you, her and the rest of the world smiling quite like a Moggy. From £125.







Austin Allegro


Now, lets be clear: it takes a particularly strong backbone to drive an Allegro in daytime. But the man who can risk universal ridicule and still perseveres is a truly unique character. Bring out your purposeful, devil-may-care side with a trip in an Allegro. If she can also shake off the world's opprobrium then a life match surely beckons. Sadly I'm not that man so the Allegro I used to hire out has gone to pastures new.  So you'll have to buy one, which at least shows real commitment. 

You can hire any of these cars for Valentine's Day or buy a Valentine's Day Gift voucher valid for 12 months. To find out more call 01527 893733 or visit www.greatescapecars.co.uk.

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Graham Eason