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.
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.
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.
Why Buy One?
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.
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 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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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