C a r S p o t # 8
Probably the world's most coveted classic car. Jaguar's 60's icon the E-type or XKS for the US Market, looks stunning from every possible angle. Like all engineering marvels of yesterday the E-type has an interesting history where changes from it's original design were made to meet the demands of different markets. As a consequence there are three definitive versions of the E-type, all with significant changes that alter the car's desirability, value, appearance & performance. Getting to know each iteration is simple enough & haphazardly caters for a range of tastes. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this awesome Series 3, The most powerful version, & the 2nd option i'd go for if I had my pick of the three. Why 2nd? read on & you soon find out. Of course beyond the three Series there are more variables to consider. The Roadster (convertible), the four seater family coupe & the bachelor or bachelorette two seater coupe. Again, all totally desirable, appreciating in value by the second, & historically considered must-owns for serious collectors with means. The E-Type isn't just a pretty car, it's design and performance are steeped heavily in scientific wizardry & represent the pinnacle of automotive performance of it's day. Most auto enthusiasts at the time revered the E-Type as the fasted road car for getting from A to B. Famously decreed by legend Enzo Ferrari as the most beautiful car he'd ever seen. Imagine the Countach of it's day or the Veyron of the 60s. Establishing class benchmarks in 0-60, quarter mile sprint & top speed rankings.
These achievements can be attributed (in-part) to designer Malcom Sayer, a celebrated British aircraft engineer & automotive aerodynamist. Mr Sayer's approach to design was heavily seated in mathematical calculation to determine body curvatures that could maximise a vehicle's aerodynamic potential. Implementation of this approach contributed the Jaguar C-Type winning two Le Mans titles in 1951 & 1953. Although the mechanics of the vehicle were beyond Malcom's purview, it's well known that Motorsport performances are heavily impacted by aerodynamic utilisation as a means of achieving greater down-force to increase stability, handling & the best possible drag coefficient.
Although its been established all versions of the E-Type are marvelous in their own right, The differences are quite easy to spot & highly relevant for those getting to know the E-type.
Series One E-types feature a small frontal opening or nose if you prefer. You'll also notice the indicators (or repeaters) are above the polished bumper, have clear glass, are elegantly rounded & neatly tuck in between the headlamp & bumper presenting a natural/organic coherency across the front fascia. The Headlamps are also completely glass-covered. Inside the cockpit the dash is laden with aviation style switches and metal trim. It looks clean, sophisticated & longing to be touched. In terms of performance the Series one comes with a 3.8L or 4.2L XK6 engine. The same engine found in a purpose built Le Mans D-Type racer.
The Series Two saw cosmetic changes required for the US market. Gone were the aerodynamic and sultry glass covered headlamps. These were replaced by the scooped out headlamps that sat vertically in their housing. The curved indicators that sat just above the bumper were moved below & given a larger rectangular makeover with orange tint. Also, the understated opening at the nose was made wider, a change some prefer as it made the front end a little more aggressive. The rear saw a larger wrap-around bumper and the engine bay lost it's gorgeous polished cam covers in favor of a dull & industrial looking ribbed finish. For those most interested in the detailing and styling of cockpits (like me) the worst changes were made. Those flick-me aviation-style toggle switches from steampunk wonderland were replaced with drab black lifeless rocker switches not fit for a wall let alone the dash of the world's most beautiful automobile.
However the Series 2 did see some pragmatic improvements more appealing to level-headed motorists. The seats were changed to include head-supports, The engine bay was kept frosty with the introduction of two inter-coolers plus air-conditioning as an optional upgrade. The engine was also de-tuned to give you 9 less BHP & 20 less Nm(s) of torque. Altogether a less powerful & therefore safer daily drive. Had you been a family man/woman back in the 60s you'd probably want to ferry your legacy to prep school in a Series 2 four-seater coupe. You'd cause less damage among the scrum of impatient fenders during school car park warfare via your enlarged wrap around bumpers. You'd suffer less torque induced whip-lash from your attempts to beat the lights on your way into work late following said drop-off. Also you're new enlarged indicators are far more likely to warn pedestrians of your presence. Far more than downshifting a 4.2L XK6 Race car engine?! Apologies for my sarcasm! I just feel when put into context, these changes, although understandable where just a tad nick-picky and I dare say pointless. Considering the nature of the vehicle. We simply wouldn't expect these kinds of changes from today's Lamborghinis & Bugattis as they're built for elegance and speed not practicality.
The Series 3 saw a few more changes & the emergence of the most powerful E-type available. A V12 5.3L beast equipped with four Zenith carburetors generating 203 kW delivering 273 BHP and a 0-60 time of 7 secs! An outstanding achievement at the time. Other performance updates included up-rated brakes, standard power steering as well as automatic transmission & again, optional air-conditioning. In terms of looks, the Series 3 had the most brutish front end of the lot with a full-on grille. The same indicators & headlamps as the series 2 but with a large V12 marker on the rear bonnet to proclaim it's status as the daddy across all three platforms in terms of pulling power. Sadly the cockpit suffered the same affront as Series 2. Uncouth black buttons all-over. On a happier note, due to the success of the E-type you can still purchase various models for under 100k. Of course a Series One in good condition can claim astronomical asking prices, & rightly so. They're genuine automotive works of art to be cared for & showcased whenever & wherever feasible. If there comes a point in time you're able to afford one, carpe diem & pay the money!
Production - 1961 - 1975
Manufactured - Coventry England
Designed by - Malcom Sayer
0-60 - 7 Seconds
Top Speed - 150mph