By on May 21, 2009

The sun breaks through trees and plays off the long bonnet. As I loaf along the arrow-straight road, I absorb the soundtrack: the baritone exhaust note of the big-bore, long-stroke, inline-six. Ahead, I spot that sign that makes every true driver shut down the internal dialog in their brain and focus on the here and now: Winding Road. Amazing what a sign can do to lift one’s spirit. In a Jaguar E-Type, elevation quickly becomes ecstasy.

The road dives down and to the left, as I blip the throttle and snap the solid shifter down from fourth into third. As the revs rise and fall the big pipe organ that droned a single note is joined by a mechanical symphony. There’s a distinctive whine from the intake, produced by three trumpeted two-inch Skinner’s Union HD8 carburetors. The entire cylinder head adds a delicious rustle: chain-driven dual overhead cams spinning furiously at the insistence of my right foot. Underlying it all: the booming low notes of the exhaust, throbbing as if The Ox himself was laying down the bass track.

The car handles corners with aplomb; I could take each one at twice the speed without so much as a squeak of complaint from the tires. But the realization that I’m driving a forty-four year old car holds me back. This car was built in a time when going fast and looking good were the priorities, not saving the planet or protecting the occupant. The E-Type’s seat rises as high as my shoulder blades. In a bad shunt, the seat belts would only serve to secure my body while the windscreen decapitated me, in the blink of an eye. No air bags or handling nanny here; the only safety systems on board are my grey matter and the skill of my hands and feet. Stirling Moss will have to wait. Fortunately, even at velocities well within the posted limits, the E-Type provides endless satisfaction. The driving experience is worth risks Ralph Nader could never even imagine.

The E-type Jaguar arrived on the automotive scene in 1961, like a cruise missile vectoring into a stone-age village. It brought with it technologies extracted from the rarified world of endurance racing, bringing world-beating performance to the street for a shockingly reasonable price.

The E-Type outperformed the contemporary Ferrari 410 SuperAmerica ($16,800) or a 250 GT Berlinetta SWB ($11,800), for less than half the price. When new, the Jaguar sold for $5,595. Il Commendatore himself labelled the E-type “The most beautiful car ever made” . . . while swiftly copying it in the form of the 250 GTO, and again with the 275&365 GTB/4s. The E-Type also prompted redesigns of other sports cars, notably here in America, Chevrolet’s Corvette; look at the radical difference between the C1 & C2.

The E-type is a race car adapted for the street, not a purpose-built race car like it’s predecessors, the C-/D-type Jaguars. The E-type appeared in a few races, with two of the first stock units topping the podium in their initial outing at Oulton Park (in their native England). But, in the end, E-Types were not that successful at the big races of the era: Le Mans, Sebring, the Nürburgring. The E-Type always finished near but never at the top of the podium.

Still, the E-Type offered truly innovative-for-the-day technology, some of which has become standard equipment across the automotive spectrum: power-assisted disc brakes, fully-independent rear suspension, unibody construction, rack and pinion steering. In the early ’60s, the E-Type was leading-edge exotica, delivered in the form of reasonably-priced automotive erotica.

Despite its long, low look, the E-Type is deceptively small, especially compared to most other cars on the road. It handles very smoothly thanks to even weight distribution fore and aft; the engine and gearbox sit back well behind the front axle so that weight, with a driver and fuel, is split 50/50. Steering is precise. Oversteer is delivered so smoothly and predictably that in a tight autocross course some steering load can be handled by the loud pedal. Diesel-like torque is available at any RPM, making 50-70+ acceleration and passing on two-lane roads something to seek out and savor.

My E-Type’s original owner purchased the car in Albuquerque, NM. About 15 years ago, my father restored it as his “retirement project” and I bought it from him in 2003 to save his marriage. (True story.) After investing countless hours behind the wheel (and under the bonnet), I can report that the Jaguar E-Type’s not the fastest classic car money can buy. Nor is it the best around a skidpad. But none of that really matters with an E-type Jaguar. The car provides masses of dynamic feedback and makes great noises. Phallic issues aside, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. When you’re heading down a twisting two lane road, when there’s nothing but zen ahead, what else do you need?

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53 Comments on “Review: 1965 Jaguar E-Type...”


  • avatar

    Enjoyable reading!

    I am going to own an E-Type in my time. A 1972 is what I have my eye on. It’s the only car I can’t honestly decide on the coupe or convertible, and I’ve owned 5 convertibles so far.

  • avatar
    PaulieWalnut

    Great review Chuck! My Jaguar lust rises!

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Chuck,

    That is a beautiful car.

    -ted

  • avatar

    Great piece, and even better photos. I suddenly find myself seriously lusting after one of these.

    Does your marriage happen to need saving?

  • avatar
    Vega

    Gorgeous car!

    However the modern steering wheel sticks out like a sore thumb…

    I understand some people have problems with the huge size of the original one, however there are so many smaller, inexpensive and period looking moto-litas out there…

  • avatar
    AKM

    Chuck,

    Great read, full of automotive and personal history!

    But where are the 0-60 times, the skidpads and hp numbers? After all, they’re the only reason why we own cars. The numbers, I mean.
    (read the previous statement as a joke!)

  • avatar

    Nicely writen, Chuck. I’ve been expecting this since I saw your initial version on your blog.

    Nicely captures the feeling of the car without getting bogged down in tech trivia.

  • avatar

    It was the early summer of 1967, I had just finished my junior year, and my roomate and I had snagged an XKE car transfer from NYC to St.Louis.
    Beautiful weather, the car was pristine and fire engine red, we would take the back roads, no stinkin’ turnpikes and interstates.
    Well…the trip went well enough, but:
    = The voltage regulator (all bow before the altar of Lucas, the Prince of Darkness) locked onto full charge and each cell of the battery had its own 2″ plume of steam. Just like a steam locomotive, we had to stop every 25 miles to take on water…for the battery
    = And wouldn’t you know the cops were onto to us (Fire Engine Red! Young Guys! A REAL Jaguar Rocket Sled!), tailing us just about every mile along the way and passing us off (LeRoy, we got a hot one for you, ticket for sure!), county by county, to the next sheriff. One must always oblige the local strength and allow them their fun…..
    The only time we got play was on winding uphill roads, hillclimbs…

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Sigh……… Please start strapping video cameras to the passenger seat headrests of these cars you drive so we can live vicariously.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Nice piece, Chuck. My dad had a ’68, then a ’70. Both were coupe’s. I used to “steal” the ’70 and drive it around after school.

    What a proper sports car it was. Handled well, great tactile feedback from the steering and shifter, looked stunning – smelled of cosmolene, wool carpets, leather and, faintly, the smouldering of electrics somewhere under the bonnet.

    But the sound!

    Man, does your article make me miss that sound.

    You used to turn the key, wait for the ‘click,’ ‘click,’ ‘click’ of the fuel pump as it brought the system up to pressure. Open the choke a wee bit and fire her up. What a sound. God! It was a great car.

    Thanks for the memories.

  • avatar

    Better to ditch the wife and keep the car.

    Women are much easier to find than good E-Types.

  • avatar
    h82w8

    Absolutely stunning car. Stunning setting, too.
    That your E-type is a family heirloom is all the sweeter. You’re a very lucky man.

    Can’t quite tell…is the paint color silver or ice blue metallic? Good friend of mine here has an ice blue ’67 E-type coupe (not 2+2), dark blue interior, similarly gorgeous and perfect, bought from the orig owner.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    One of the Top Two most beautiful cars ever, and the other one is the coupe version, which I prefer by a small margin. Thanks for the article.
    P.S.- willman: if you have the car, you will get the women, I’m thinking. ;-)

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Chuck,

    Excellent piece and photos.

    I agree with Vega about the steering wheel, though. One of the nicest parts of an E. Ouch. I imagine you had your reasons for ditching it.

  • avatar
    Monty

    I bought a 68 ‘vert (chocolate brown with the tan coloured top and interior) when I was a teenager. I seriously believed that with a little cash and a lot of hard work that I could get it running at it’s performance best. (Also, being y’know, 18 years old, I also thought it would be a chick magnet, hahahahahaha).

    Not enough cash, as spare parts from the local Leyland/Jag/Rover dealer were worth their weight in gold. Not nearly enough girls becuase I hardly ever got to drive it (my g/f of the time finally broke up with me because all I did was spend time and money with the car, not her), and nowhere near enough hard work, because it was a POS of epic proportions.

    I did get to drive it for about 20 days, in total, during the late fall/early winter. I am a hardcore convertible driver though, so the (leaky) top was almost always down. Sigh…

  • avatar
    LDMAN1

    http://videos.streetfire.net/video/079-Top-Gear-Jaguar-EType_184129.htm

  • avatar

    Nice write-up. Although consider the counterpoint: The Cruelest Car in the World.

  • avatar
    Schm

    Been waiting for this. Great read.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    Normally I’m the guy who DOES put modern steering wheels on classic cars, I hate old, thin-rimmed stuff… But somehow it just isn’t right on this car.

    Still, one of the most beautiful cars ever made. And, in my opinion, one of only a handful that look better as a convertible than a hardtop.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    My school mate had 2, one drop head another fixed head.
    He left the Fixed head with me for a few mths, I drove her a few times, except was Auto.
    None the less is a very nice car.
    To maintain one of these is another story, u dont need to be as rich as Sultan of Brunei.
    The hand brake is quite something, ordinary car can be looked at in minutes. But these inboard rear disc brakes.
    And everything has his own little way of doing things.
    I just stay with the Panzer wagens.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    argentla and Chuck, too.

    I had almost forgotten. I did get to go for ride in a coupe, year unknown, quite a few years ago. I have always loved these cars from afar (still) and was quite thrilled. True story, it was at night and about half way to our destination, she died – went totally black – no motor, no lights, no accessories (whatever there were). My driver/owner and I had to hitchhike back. It was also my introduction the the phrase: Lucas, Prince of Darkness.

  • avatar
    redseca2

    In 1974 a found a clean 1963 Series I for only $1800 in Northern California. A forced sale by the parents of a very sullen teen who gave me the hard stare throughout the transaction. A perfect car except for a broken steering wheel, which perhaps was part of the lead up to the forced sale.

    I returned to college in Oregon with the (to me) most beautiful wheels on campus. I still remember barreling down Oregon 2-lane highways, windshield wipers trying to keep up, with one eye watching the speedometer needle bounce off the limiter peg at 160 MPH to a secret Jaguar rhythm. I have no doubt that indicated 160 was at best 120, but I was in heaven and with the various body panels starting to move independently of one another like tectonic plates, fast enough.

    Sold a few years later for a little over $3K (those were the last years of cheap cars like this), I still tell people it was the most reliable car I ever owned.

    It had to be of course, because a college student could never afford to have it professionally repaired. Just staring at that line of carbs told me I was not worthy. But true also. I once left it in the lot at the Portland airport for a month. When I returned, it was totally buried in snow. After an hour of digging, I inserted the key; tickled the gas; worked the choke lever back and forth a few times before leaving it at 3/4 forth; and pushed the little button; Vroooom!

  • avatar
    redseca2

    Oh, and the photo “winding road next 77 miles” is highway 12, the Lolo Pass highway, in Idaho. I think this is a photo of the sign on the western Kooskia end.

    Nice in a Jag, but heaven for my BMW R1150GS.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    I had the incredible good fortune to have my boss at the time lend me his ’70 E-type Coupe to escort my date to the Jr./Sr. Prom at the Balboa Pavilion in Newport Beach.
    What a hoot that was! Many borrowed their parents Fords or Chevys some banded together to hire a limo but no other vehicle had the impact on the crowd at the valet arriving or leaving the event than that Ascot Fawn (not my date’s name) beauty. It was a pure joy to drive along PCH, taking the scenic route at every turn. I will also remember helping my exquisitely gowned and coiffed date negotiate the super wide lower door sills and minimal roof line. Good fun.

  • avatar

    Thanks guys.

    Apologies for coming in late, I have a “day job” that keeps me busy. I’ll try to answer some points raised:

    Vega :
    The modern steering wheel sticks out like a sore thumb.

    I agree. As I understand it, when my dad found the car it had been sitting out in the New Mexico sun for 15 or so years. The original steering wheel was a goner. He wanted to build a “driver” for vintage rallying and chose this Nardi wheel. It does look out of place, but it feels so much better than the (admittedly flimsy original.) I do semi-seriously auto-cross the Jaguar in JCNA slalom (yes, that’s my son in the car with me) where I happily place in the top 5 in my class just about every year (but have yet to win it outright.) That wheel REALLY feels good and solid when you drive the car aggressively like that. One of these days I’ll find a deal on a reproduction (smaller than original) wood/aluminum steering wheel and put it in the car. I’m in no rush, and will wait for the right wheel at the right price.

    Stewart Dean (and others with Tales of Lucas):
    but: The voltage regulator…

    I do take this car on long, multi-thousand mile trips every year, either with my father, friends, or my sons. As such, I’ve performed something of an exorcism of the Prince of Darkness. The car has a Mallory electronic distributor. The Alternator is a Hitachi from a Nissan pickup truck. The Lucas Voltage Regulator has been bypassed as the Hitachi is internally regulated. The Fuel pump is a Facet, which is so small that I carry another one in my toolbox. The only Lucas bits remaining are the Ammeter gauge on the dash, and the Coil. I carry a spare of the latter as well.

    The aim is to have parts that are equivalent in performance, but can be found at any small-town NAPA store. So far it has worked for me pretty well.

    I actually consider roadside repairs part of the adventure and charm of travel in an old car and come prepared.

    dgduris :
    But the sound!

    Indeed. My car has no radio (note the hole in the console in the interior shot) because as far as I’m concerned I am happy listening to Sir William’s Sixth Symphony all day long. My dad & I did a vintage car rally together in Montana a few years back and two guys in a Triumph always waved us by as soon as we’d appear on their tail… even when we really didn’t want to pass them. Later they told us the reason: they loved hearing us pass them!

    educatordan :
    Sigh……… Please start strapping video cameras to the passenger seat headrests of these cars you drive so we can live vicariously.

    Your wish is my command!

    h82w8:
    Can’t quite tell…is the paint color silver or ice blue metallic?

    The official Jaguar name for this color is ‘Opalescent Silver Blue’. Seems to have been very popular among the early “saloons” such as the Mk2. But only in the middle of the pack in popularity with the E-type. I love the color because it changes based on surroundings. In overcast it is very silver, and under a blue sky it is very blue.

    Monty :
    Not enough cash, as spare parts from the local Leyland/Jag/Rover dealer were worth their weight in gold.

    Ironically that is no longer the case. Sure, a few parts are made of unobtanium, but thanks to TCP/IP and the overnight shipping economy, most are pretty easy to find online at a pretty fair price. Jaguar built these from the same parts bins as a lot of other cars, especially XJ6s, of which hundreds of thousands were made. The engines are somewhat bulletproof, and once you have the electrics sorted, sailing is pretty smooth. Even frames and body panels are available as a firm bought the tools and dies from Jaguar when production stopped and still make them today.

    Most importantly though, there is a thriving community of Jag-Lovers online, without whose wisdom and friendly support I’d have gone insane. The depth of knowledge available freely from these guys is astounding and incredibly helpful.

    argentla :
    Although consider the counterpoint: The Cruelest Car in the World.

    That is just somebody rehashing legend. If it were that bad (but, do see above) how could I possibly consider driving this car up and down the west coast over two weeks this summer? Or how could I have completed an equivalent trip every summer I’ve owned the car? I’ve driven this car all through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana Alberta, British Columbia, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and California. Has it broken? Occasionally. Hey, it is 44 years old! Was I able to fix it? Yep. Will I do it again? Certainly! Was it worth the minor hassle? You bet.

    redseca2 :
    Oh, and the photo “winding road next 77 miles” is highway 12, the Lolo Pass highway, in Idaho. I think this is a photo of the sign on the western Kooskia end.

    Indeed it is. I’ve driven that road, in this car, at least once each summer for the past three years. Truly one of the most heavenly, not to mention remote, drives on the planet. Worth the 500 mile jaunt from my house!

    blowfish :
    My school mate had 2, one drop head another fixed head.
    He left the Fixed head with me for a few mths, I drove her a few times, except was Auto.

    If it had an automatic transmission then it was a 2+2, not a coupe. The coupe & early convertibles were too small to fit an automatic transmission. The 2+2 was nine inches longer and could accommodate one. ALL the Series 3 (V-12, ’71-’74) E-types were long wheelbase models, based on the 2+2 chassis.

    Michael Karesh :
    Does your marriage happen to need saving?

    At the moment, no (sorry) and believe it or not it was my wife’s idea to buy it from my dad. A momentary lapse of reason on her part! The whole miserable-to-live-through, but worked-out-in-the-end tale is here. I’ll warn you: It involves love, lust, cross-country adventure, disaster, Force Majeure, heartbreak, and an unscrupulous restorer. Grown men cried.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    is it a 3.8 or 4.2? I had an isea they switched in 1964 but wasn’t sure if that was for the UK and the US.

  • avatar
    jconli1

    Great stuff as always, Chuck. Never clicked through to your blog before – I’ve been missing out.

    I’m 2 years into life in western WA, and am convinced its the best place in the world for car/bike photography. I guess the driving/riding isn’t so bad either…

    Thanks-

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Sigh.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Note to RF:

    THIS – r-t-f here – is why TTAC is great: Amongst all the brew-ha-ha about the unions, the Commie-in-Chief and the current state of the automotive world…

    …up pops a review of a car.

    Not just any car.

    The car I taught myself to drive in.

    The car that Henry N. Manney III called the “ultimate crumpet collector” (he was right)

    The car that Peter Egan has kept me entertained on for many of the past – when did you get that E-Type, Peter – years.

    And that’s what it is really about. Cars that ignite passion and the passion about ALL of the business of cars.

    Thanks Chuck- for the memories!
    Thanks Dad – for THAT car!

    Thanks RF, for your great labour of love.

    Rock on!

    RD

  • avatar

    HEATHROI:
    is it a 3.8 or 4.2? I had an isea they switched in 1964 but wasn’t sure if that was for the UK and the US.

    It is a 4.2. The change was universal and came in late 1964. My car is the 715th 4.2 LHD roadster built

    jconli1 :
    I’m 2 years into life in western WA, and am convinced its the best place in the world for car/bike photography. I guess the driving/riding isn’t so bad either…

    sssshhhh, don’t tell anyone! ;)

    I live in north Snohomish county, and the ‘snow” pics were shot about 12 miles from my house on a Super Bowl Sunday a few years back. There are some amazing roads around here, which are often empty. Too twisty and tree-lined to drive like Jack Baruth, but still very entertaining on a Sunday afternoon. Let me know if you want to go for a drive sometime.

    dgduris :

    You’re welcome.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the series 1

    the original and IMO probably the only true E-type

    after that came the open lights, the bigger scoop and a general dilution of what the original design intended ending with the abomination that is the V12 with the 3 spd automatic

    pretty much the crowning achievement of the british car industry

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    what a wonderful review.

    Thanks!

  • avatar
    Rspaight

    My dad had a green E-type coupe that I only dimly remember (though I’ve seen pictures and home movies). The clearest memory I have of it is the outrageously beautiful wire wheels. My father is not a patient man and the typical Jaguar antics quickly drove him to ditch it straight-up for a new Firebird.

    May well be the best-looking car of all time, though. Thanks for sharing.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Goolsbee, you bastard, I covet your car! How can you live with yourself? You drive that thing around, and leave a wake of sin!

    Nice read, and wonderful car. I am glad it’s regularly on the road, and I am sure once we are over the guilt, all us kids raised with guilt appreciate you showing her off.

  • avatar

    Thanks Landcrusher.

    I like to think of myself as a caretaker, rather than an owner. It is a point of view I learned from my father.

    This is a special kind of car, and you don’t so much “show it off” as you share it. I have a sign I put in the windscreen of the car whenever I park it that basically says: Go ahead and touch this car. I’m happy to let anyone, kids, old ladies, whomever sit behind the wheel. Provided they meet the unusual requirements of my insurance company, I’m also happy to toss the keys at people I know are serious car buffs while I ride in the passenger seat, because how else will they ever get the chance to drive one? It is not a show car, and I’m not operating a museum. So go ahead and touch it. Go ahead and sit in it. This is a few thousand pounds of steel, aluminum, rubber, and glass… so you can’t hurt it by touching it.

    The VERY best part of driving this car is how it instantly dissolves social barriers. People wave when I drive by. Anywhere I stop, for gas, to eat, wherever, people come up and talk to me. They tell me how their uncle or dad had one, or maybe even they had one. Perhaps they have no idea what it is and want to know. It doesn’t matter why they talk to me, but it is so nice to instantly meet people who are happy and friendly … just because of the car.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Autopassion

    @dgduris
    THIS – r-t-f here – is why TTAC is great: Amongst all the brew-ha-ha about the unions, the Commie-in-Chief and the current state of the automotive world…

    Yes!!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Chuck – great article, and lovely car. Demanding, but lovely. Too many people who bought cars like the XKE expected them to run like the family wagon, and I think that’s where the bad reliability rap comes from. I found that out for myself at the tender age of 12.

    I grew up in a very well off neighborhood with lots of type-A execs, and was fortunate enough to watch their midlife-crisis-mobiles every day at the bus stop. Most drove Caddy or Lincoln pimpmobiles, but there were quite a few Porsches and Corvettes. Nobody, though, had a cooler ride than my neighbor and my dad.

    My neighbor owned an early-70s XKE convertible in British Racing Green, with a tan leather interior. Beautiful didn’t cut it. For a 12-year-old kid, as erotica, it was right up there with the episode of “Charlie’s Angels” where they all went to a women’s prison and had to take a group shower on the way in.

    But the Jag had its problems…nothing serious, just starting when it got below 40 degrees, or having the entire electrical system go Poltergeist on the way to work (gotta love Lucas). The coup de gras, though, was the beautiful spring day when he hit the driveway a little too hot, listening to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” (kid you not), and deposited the Jag’s entire exhaust system on his curb. He had the music up so loud that he didn’t even know he’d screwed the pooch until he got out and went to the mailbox.

    But that was NOTHING compared to my dad’s ride, a ’73 Citroen SM…and believe you me, we found out EXACTLY what “SM” meant with that car. In theory, it was all leading edge stuff for the mid-70′s – teardrop shape, full hydraulic steering and suspension (which could be raised and lowered, much to the delight of onlookers). It also had a Maserati V-6 with triple Weber carbs that sounded like Tazio Nuvolari’s wet dreams when you opened it up. It was also incredibly luxurious inside.

    What was the hitch? Why, nothing…it was fabulous when it ran, which was about fifty percent of the time; when the mercury dropped below 40 degrees, the odds went to about 100 to one.

    Like your dad’s E-Type, the SM caused plenty of marital strife…not because Dad spent too much time with the car, but because he had to take my mom’s car to work about half the time, leaving her stranded.

    Strangeness ensued from there.

    Remember the scene from “The Longest Yard” when Burt Reynolds gets landed in the joint for going Captain Nemo on his girlfriend’s SM? My dad was actually grinning evilly when he saw that.

    The whole thing hit a nadir when he threatened immolate the SM, Buddhist-monk-style, in front of the Citroen dealership (a contradiction in terms if ever there were one).

    Then, my dad somehow blew the engine on his SM while in second gear at 35 mph, and dealer told that it would be six months and five grand to get another one from Italy. Faced with the iniquity of driving my mom’s Olds wagon to work for six months (or, more likely, no sex), my dad bought a Mercedes 450 SL. After getting the SM fixed, he sold it to a lawyer down the street, and never made eye contact with the guy for fear of a lawsuit.

    My neighbor ended up trading his XKE for a Datsun 280Z.

    Nothing as cool as the XKE or the Citroen ever set a tire in my neighborhood after that. Thank God.

  • avatar

    Um…my father’s two Bugattis (see the review here in TTAC) always started, always ran…in fairness, they were put away in the winter (in KY). But they were as dependable as a hammer…and the cars were 30 years old at that point (the early ’60′s). One was a Type 49 cabriolet drop-head coupe, the other, a slightly subscale body prototype for the 57SC. A truly well designed sports car does not have to, ipso facto, be unreliable; after all, unreliable cars don’t win races……
    We seem to have sold ourselves as a sort of unreliability masochism, hurts so good.

  • avatar
    Jaywalker

    Probably the best-looking car I’ve ever seen, but the reliability jokes were pretty pointed, even when they were new. “Why do you need the 2+2? – That gives you room for the mechanic and his tools on trips.” “Why no E-Types at the drag strip? They can’t go a quarter mile all at once.” “Why a 12-cylinder? Gives the best chance of six running at the same time,” and so forth…

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    Chuck, nice review, my own ’61 E-Type is still in a million pieces, as you well know.

    (I also wanted to say that Lucas gear is pretty good, actually. It’s not Delco but it’s also not the crap that is Bosch. I’ve driven nothing but Lucas-equipped cars, many of them in “interesting” condition, for 25 or more years and haven’t suffered any electrical maladies that weren’t caused by room-temp-IQ idiots trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.)

  • avatar

    Re: Lucas. I have a ’98 original Mini….Rover had gotten it right, with a real electrical system (and computerised ignition) that worked. Alas, what brought it low was the 1950′s metallurgy in the diff which lost a cog while tamely motoring around a corner…….

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    So you hunger for a Jag XKE:

    http://www.autotraderclassics.com/find/vehicle/vehicleDetail.xhtml?adId=129601&conversationId=57694

    http://www.autotraderclassics.com/find/vehicle/vehicleDetail.xhtml?adId=126572&conversationId=57694

  • avatar
    OldWingGuy

    I’m one of the fortunate few. Mine is a ’67 Series 1 1/2 fixed-head. What can I say, it’s better than sex.

  • avatar

    Excellent article!

    The E type Jag what a car!

    Ever since i first saw one of these delightful cars i have fell in love.

  • avatar
    Oregon Sage

    As soon as I saw that 77 miles sign it brought instant Lolo Pass flashback. A great road in a car, better on 2 wheels.

    I used to live at the western end of that route until 5 years ago. 2 years ago I made a cross country run from Winnipeg and found myself in Missoula with no room at the inn. Took a short breather and ran Lolo Pass in the moonlight to finish off the day. Best part of the whole trip.

    Eastern WA and Northern Idaho are some of the best driving and riding territory around. Lolo is a great stretch, but Hwy 14 to Elk City is just a few miles south and even better.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    My three-year-old son owns a little Hot Wheels E-Type of the same vintage and colour, and it’s his favourite car out of the many he has.

    This gives me some hope for him (eg, that he’ll have better taste than I)

    Good article. If we’re ever out your way, I’d like to show him the car. He’d probably stand shell-shocked for a while.

  • avatar

    psarhjinian: Let me know when you’re in the area. I’ll give you both a ride.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    CPTG

    Wasn’t the 1970-ish Datsun 240Z a knock-off on the ’65 JAG? I agree the lines on the ’65 JAG were/are stunning—kinda like the 63 Vett hardtop (torpedeo back). My question is what was/is the reliability of the ’65 JAG—can you drive it to the mall and back and hope to get yourself home?

    This, then is why America has soured on its love affair with the automobile. They have no distinctive line and are all variations on the theme ’rounded edges’. They all look ubiqious, rounded and boring. Take off the badge plates on an Infinity, a Lexus, a Buick, a Nissan Altima, a Crown Vickie and a Sebring and I defy you to tell me which car is which. In the 60-70′s you had choices.

    Suggestion for your next two cars: A 1972 Buick Rivie (the one with the glass back that looked like a P61 Nightfighter) and my BOSS 302 Fastback (that looks cool at the light but snakes above 90mph!!!).

  • avatar

    CPTG: “Wasn’t the 1970-ish Datsun 240Z a knock-off on the ‘65 JAG?

    The designer of the Datsun fairlady/Z cars is said to have been influenced by the E-type fixed head coupe, but I can’t confirm the notion.

    Technically the E-type was introduced in 1961, and did not really change much in body until 1971 when everything got longer and wider.

    “My question is what was/is the reliability of the ‘65 JAG—can you drive it to the mall and back and hope to get yourself home?”

    Remember that all cars of this era were in need of far more maintenance than todays machinesappliances. Additionally this was the pre-British-Leyland Jaguar, where they had earned a reputation for performance in endurance racing. You can’t win if you don’t finish as the saying goes. The drivetrain of the E-type is nearly bulletproof. The only reason Americans swapped Ford V8s into Jaguars is due to familiarity, not reliability. The DOHC cross flow XK engine looks completely alien in a world of V8s. I’ve had literally hundreds of people (some of them real car guys) look at it and exclaim “Look, a V-12!”

    The E-type was technologically advanced for its day, and is a significantly more complex car than most of its contemporaries. It is however vastly easier to work on than all of today’s cars. I do most of my own maintenance and repairs, and try to drive it at least 5000 miles a year. It is not very practical for shopping trips, but does make for an excellent road trip car.

    I have a few other reviews of classics in the queue, so stay tuned.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    NYandMaine

    Great article. My thanks to Chuck Goolsbee for such a fun read.

    I have a 1969 E-Type FHC, in Ascot Fawn. I bought it brand new in May 1969…. and don’t intend to ever get rid of it. While it has now earned a quiet semi-retirement in my garage, I loved driving it. Most of my driving was in and around New York City, and I didn’t mind working a “real” clutch a bit.

    During its active years, the Jag did need a moderate amount of maintenance, but not to the extent of the horror stories one hears of British cars. The main problem was cooling, and it did go through the Lucas electric motors that drive the radiator fans. There is also the Lucas voltage regulator, but this was rather easily repaired, just by soldering the places where they used rivets as electrical connections. Silly design.

    In its later years, there have been other minor annoyances, such as the fuel pump failing, and the wiper (oh sorry, windscreen wiper) motor seizing. Come to think of it, all the problems lead back to Lucas electrics.

    Considering all the years, it served me well. I wouldn’t have had any other. From the first time I saw one in 1961, to this day, I still believe it was the most beautiful car ever built! And absolute fun to drive!!!

    —Rick

  • avatar
    Sled108

    Oh, Yes…It’s all been Said Above, and More…This is Mine…1970 2+2…Waiting now on a new Water Pump..

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=177327895&albumID=569894&imageID=4156996

  • avatar

    Sled,

    I have two knock-offs from my dad’s 1970 E-Type as paper weights on my desk.

    Unfortunately it is all that I have of her as dad sold her for an Alfa 2000 GTV. Frankly, a real Italian mistress would have been more dependable and less expensive. Neither, though, would have had the enduring beauty of an E-Type.

  • avatar
    Charles Russell

    I bought a 68 ots about 5 years back and the previous owner had put a motolita steering wheel on it and that was the first thing i replaced with the restores original wheel.


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