Wednesday, May 20, 2015

1961-1974 Jaguar E-Type

The earliest Jaguar E-types, built in 1961, celebrated a milestone anniversary last year. Not surprisingly, this car that set the automotive world on its collective ear 50 years ago was thrown some big parties around the world, from the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England to the Pebble Beach events in Monterey, California. Why does Jaguar's most beloved sports car continue to thrill us, 38 years after the last V-12 example was built? It's the combination of head-turning looks, neck-straining performance, and considering these attributes, wallet-friendly pricing--after all, we can't overstate the impact the E-type had in the early 1960s, when it made 150 MPH accessible to the middle class, in a practical package designed to a reasonable bottom line.
Jaguar had built its sporting reputation with the racing "C" and "D" types and road-going XK 120-150. Those sports cars established a legend that inspired the automaker's U.S. importer, Jaguar Cars North America, to advertise the new car here as the "XK-E." No matter it's name, the E-type was built in three distinct series, using three engines and in three body styles: Open Two Seater (OTS, aka roadster),
Fixed-Head Coupe (FHC, two-seat coupe) and 2+2 (long-wheelbase coupe). The first series of E-types were built between 1961 and 1967, with OTS and FHC models available from introduction, and the practical 2+2--featuring a 9-inch-longer floor pan, 2-inch-taller roof, steeper windshield and child-friendly folding rear seat--added in 1966. They shared the classic aerodynamic glass-covered headlamps and slender front marker lamps and taillamps mounted above delicate, low-set bumpers, as well as standard 15-inch wire wheels. Interiors were leather-trimmed, with a cadre of legible Smiths gauges providing full instrumentation behind wood-rimmed, alloy-spoke steering wheels. The earliest models had flat floor pans and barrel-back bucket seats, but these components would be modified in following years to provide greater comfort and legroom, and genuine aluminum dash trim was used until 1964. The beloved headlamp covers disappeared in late 1967, a victim of U.S. regulations, creating a visual difference that gave late 1967 and 1968 model year E's the unofficial nickname "Series 1½." Series 2 cars of 1969-1970
were distinguished by larger front marker lamps and taillamps below raised bumpers, forward-set exposed headlamps and a larger air inlet. Safety considerations also meant that, following 1968's rocker switches replacing the toggles on the center dash, the steering column was now collapsible and headrests were added. Under the bonnet, two emissions-friendly Zenith-Stromberg carburetors were fitted. The purist sports car morphed into a luxurious, powerful GT with the V-12-powered 1971-1974 Series 3s. The Fixed-Head Coupe didn't return in this generation, and the Open Two Seater was now based on the longer 2+2 wheelbase, which allowed for power steering and its first optional automatic gearbox. Distinguishing features of the final series were the E-type's first engine intake grille, fender flares over 15-inch chromed steel or wire wheels, ventilation grilles in the 2+2's hatch and in the roadster's optional fiberglass hardtop and four (later two) exhaust tips. The continuing popularity of the E-type was evident in the 72,507 examples built between 1961 and 1974. Sports car enthusiasts tend to be divided on which E-types they prefer, but most agree that the Series 1 cars are the sportiest and purest in design. Although some gravitate towards the early "flat-floor" 1961s, "The most popular E-types are the (4.2-liter) 1965-1967s," says Jason Len, owner of XKs Unlimited. "But the things that make them better--the transmission, cooling system and brakes--can all be upgraded on the 3.8 too." Series IIIs have traditionally lagged behind the early 3.8 and 4.2-liter cars in desirability and value, and while this is still the case, you'll find that V-12 E-types are no longer inexpensive--although, as always, they still represent a screaming bargain compared to other 12-cylinder sports and GT cars. For all of its exclusivity, the Jaguar marque's support network of clubs, parts suppliers and enthusiast internet resources makes the cars surprisingly approachable, and despite their inherent complexity, E-types are mechanically straightforward to work on with proper tools and manuals. Experienced Jaguar specialist restorers and parts recyclers abound; a glance through the Jaguar Parts section of Hemmings will turn up hundreds of listings.
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.
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