The proven XK engine powered the bulk of E-type production in two displacements: 3.8 liters (3,781cc, 230.6-cubic inches) and 4.2 liters (4,235cc, 258.43-cubic inches). This iron-block inline-six engine featured seven main bearings, and in its aluminum head, double overhead camshafts. With a 9.0:1 compression ratio and triple 2-inch HD8 SU carburetors, the 3.8-liter engine made 265hp at 5,500 RPM and 260-lbs.ft. of torque at 4,000 RPM, while the 4.2-liter gained a useful 23-lbs.ft. of torque. The 1969 switch to two Zenith-Stromberg carburetors meant a bit less power: 246hp at 5,500 RPM and 263-lbs.ft. of torque at 3,000 RPM. A prestigious new cylinder count marked the Series 3 V-12, which displaced 5,343cc (326 cubic inches). With 9.1 compression, four Zenith-Stromberg 175 CD 2SE carburetors and the Lucas OPUS electronic ignition system, the V-12 made 272hp (DIN) at 5,850 RPM and 304-lbs.ft. of torque at 3,600 RPM in 1971-'72, and due to 7.8 compression in 1973-'74, 244 net-rated hp at 5,250 RPM. A four-speed manual "Moss" gearbox with synchromesh on second through top was the only choice through 1964; this transmission earned a reputation for being slow to shift and noisy, but bulletproof. An improved, fully synchronized four-speed arrived in 1965 and was used through the end of the run. The 2+2 had exclusive rights to the optional three-speed Borg-Warner automatic gearbox until the long-wheelbase Series 3 OTS also got this option. The cars' durable Salisbury hypoid rear end featured a Powr-Lok limited-slip differential, and gearing varied between manual and automatic cars. Both six-cylinder and V-12 engines are notably durable, counteracting the reputation that their sometimes-faulty electrical systems have given them. Keeping the cooling system in top condition is a must for any E-type, and V-12 specialist Stew Jones of Stew Jones Restoration recommends fitting high-efficiency aluminum radiators with upgraded fans and thermostats.
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES
Part of the E-type's advanced nature was its fully independent suspension and racing-derived four-wheel disc brakes, the rears located inboard on either side of the differential to reduce unsprung weight. Steering was by rack and pinion. The front suspension was torsion-bar type with transverse upper and lower wishbones, Girling Monotube shocks and an anti-roll bar. The independent rear suspension used coilover shocks (two per side), lower wishbones and radius arms (and on six-cylinder cars, a rear anti-roll bar). E-type Jaguars are known for their remarkable combination of supple ride and sharp handling. "The inboard rear brakes were always seen as a problem, but they work just fine, and the same with the original ventilated front rotors," Stew said. "The rear suspension cage limits the rotor size you can use, although you can upgrade to ventilated rear discs." The adjustable caster of the 12-cylinder car's front suspension makes it easier to tune than the basically similar six-cylinder version, although that car's loss of a rear anti-roll bar makes it lean toward the luxury side of the ride-handling spectrum.
Open and closed E-types have their own sets of issues, and their complex monocoque bodies make serious rust repair a serious job. Brian Donovan of Donovan Motorcar Service, says, "I tell customers that the condition of the bodywork is the most important factor in finding an E-type. Repair work can make a car look good, but if it's not done properly, you've got a problem, because most body shops don't know the intricacies of these cars." Brian notes that rust in the sills, the sill stiffeners and end plates, and the floor pans causes structural weakness, and that front and rear body alignment must be kept in spec. "The front frame can also rust from the inside, causing the side members to crack," he adds; "Coupes are stronger because their floors and inner sills last longer." Rust doesn't mean an E-type is junkyard fodder, though. "Virtually every panel is available, even a complete new bonnet," Stew says. On V-12 cars, he suggests inspecting the rear wheel wells, which have two rust points: In the front, a wad of cotton stuffed between panels as a sound deadener, holds moisture, and in roadsters, wet floors may rust into the front of the rear wheel arch. Roadsters and 2+2s can both have rusted lower front valances, where water draining from the headlamp scoops can collect. An issue specific to V-12 roadsters is the joint between the B-post and rocker panel, which inevitably cracks. Stew says, "This seam was leaded at the factory, but it often failed, although the failure was only cosmetic. Coupe roofs trussed those cars, so coupes' seams weren't subjected to such force. We rebuild and reinforce the panel to prevent this from occurring."
Like many vintage British sports cars, E-types enjoy good interior parts availability, and their relative simplicity--predating the digital trip computers and power-operated windows and seats that would come in their XJ-S successor--means that they're easy to restore. "The 40-year-old leather seat facings can get stiff, and seams may come apart a bit, but kits are available from a number of vendors," Stew explains. "I like to fit roadsters with a Robbins top featuring a zip-out rear window. This wasn't factory, but it makes for a nicer car. The [optional] factory air conditioning really worked, too--they used a huge Frigidaire compressor, also used in GM cars and trucks, that made a lot of cold air."
WHAT TO PAY 1961-1967 Series 1 OTS/FHC/2+2
Low -- $50,000 / $30,000 / $12,500
Average -- $65,000 / $42,000 / $24,000
High -- $125,000 / $65,000 / $30,000 1968-1970 Series 2 OTS/FHC/2+2
Low -- $40,000 / $23,000 / $19,000
Average -- $50,000 / $39,000 / $25,000
High -- $72,000 / $55,500 / $43,000 1971-1974 Series 3 OTS/2+2
Low -- $36,000 / $21,000
Average -- $45,000 / $28,000
High -- $86,500 / $46,500