Jaguar E-Type

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Jaguar E-Type


Jaguar E-Type

1961 - 1975
  United Kingdom
  6 cyl. and V12
  3781/4235/5343 cc
  265 bhp
  4 spd. man 3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
  241 km/h
Number Built:
  5 star
Jaguar E-Type
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5


This car was arguably the most beautiful sportscar of the 1960's with its cool aerodynamics and unashamed showmanship. It was amazingly quick at 241 km/h making it Britain's fastest production car, as well as being a bargain price-wise as it undercut its nearest rival (Aston Martin DB4) by around a third.

Its curvy body was very rigid which made it all the better to handle the wishbone and coil-sprung independent rear suspension. Its ride was limousine like with comfort and vice-like grip, and even with its slender cross-ply tyres, it handled superbly. It was powered by a 3.8-litre L6 XK engine which was combined with a somewhat elderly slow-shifting gearbox.

The E-Type was immensely popular with pop stars, racing drivers and royalty adding their names to the ever growing list wanting one. Jaguar were happy - they were selling every car they could make. In 1964 the engine was changed to a bigger 4.2 litre with a much improved gear box and brakes. The interior and electrics were also improved resulting in this model being the pick of them all.

In 1966 a two-plus-two version appeared, as did an automatic as Jaguar tried to increase sales in America. In 1968 came the Series 2 E-Type, a mild makeover of the original designed to ensure the car met the stringent new US Federal safety regulations.

The E-Type line-up remained unchanged, comprising of three models, the 2 seat Roadster, 2 seat Coupe and 2 + 2 Coupe. All continued with the same body, although the 2 + 2 did receive its own minor re-styling touches. Every E-Type that came off the production line was built to US spec, although the lower powered emission controlled engine remained a fitment for US bound cars only. Thankfully all other markets around the world kept the triple-SU 265 bhp engine.

The most obvious styling changes were to the bonnet, US illumination laws requiring the headlamps be moved 4.5 inches forward and be exposed (the aerodynamic lamp covers actually being discarded in 1967). The front air-intake was subtly enlarged by 68%, the importance of getting more cooling air over the radiator due to the high heat rejection emission-controlled engine used for the US market. The front bumper was now full width and included a bar across the previously uncluttered air intake. The side lamps and indicator mouldings were made substantially bigger too, and Jaguar fitted side reflectors in the side wings ahead of the front wheel arch.

Most important though, from a styling perspective, was the treatment afforede the 2 + 2. The E-Type's bodyshell adopted a much more stylishly raked windscreen, the rake angle going up from 46½° to 53½°, this being achieved by moving the base of the screen forward while retaining the original crown line. An incidental change was that two large wipers replaced the triple wiper setup, although the latter version remained on the Coupe and Roadster. At the rear changes were confined to the tail lamp clusters, which were now much larger than before. Many believed the new units unattractive in comparison to the Series 1, however these were a necessary change if the E-Type was to comply with the new US regulations.

The interior had some minor revisions too, including standardisation of the rocker switch set up in the central panel being standard to all models. Jaguar also introduced a steering column mounted combined ignition and starter key, which doubled as a column lock when removed. The door handles were recessed and big soft knobs were fitted to the winder handles.

Mechanically the most important change was the addition of Adwest Pow-a-Rak power-assisted rack and pinion steering as an optional extra. The same system was used for the Jaguar XJ6, although there was no change in steering ratio. You could also option your E-Type with chrome plated pressed-steel disc wheels, although the wire-spoked variety that had been standard on the E-Type since 1961 remained unchanged. The steering column now incorporated a Saginaw mesh type collapsible section together with two universal joints. As with the XJ-6 the helix angle on gear teeth had been increased to provide even more silent running, but ratios were not altered.

The Series 3 E-Type

When the Series III E-Type hit the market, the big news was not so much the more aggressive stance of the car, but the new power unit. It seemed sacrilege to some that the Coventry HQ had switched from their faithful XK-series six-cylinder engines - even though those engines had been in production for 23 years. The main change to the Series III was found on the roadster, which was based on the nine-inch longer coupe platform chassis. This allowed the use of larger doors and more luggage space in the cockpit.

Both models inherited some features from the fantastically successful XJ6 saloons, including anti-dive front suspension geometry and 6JK wide-rimmed road wheels shod with Dunlop SP Sport radial tyres. Externally, the Series 3s were distinguishable by their revised radiator grilles, and flared wheel arches to accommodate a 3.25 inch increase in track. At launch both six-cylinder 4.2-litre and V12 5.3-litre engines were available, and Adwest power-assisted steering was standard on the bigger-engined versions. Manual or automatic transmission could be specified, and further Series 3 improvements included through-flow ventilation in the coupe and hardtop roadster variants.

The Jaguar E-Type range has proved one of Britain's most successful export products since their introduction in 1961. Initial production quotas for the Series 3s reflected this success, with 78 percent bound for the United States, 11 percent for Europe and 11 percent retained for the home market.

The V12 engine from Jaguar had been rumoured and prophesied ever since the late 'fifties, and their famous engineering team of William Haynes and Cecil Baily began kicking Vee-ideas around in 1957, soon after the D-Type's last Le Mans 24-Hours victory. Progress seems to have been slow on this low-priority project, and not until sometime in the early 'sixties did the prototype of this new competition engine appear. It was a 5-litre V12 with double overhead camshafts per bank, hemispherical combustion chambers and fuel injection, and even in early bench tests it was churning out 500 bhp at 8,000 rpm.

Walter Hassan and Harry Mundy

Then came the final decision not to re-enter competition, and this fearsome-sounding mill was shelved. Meantime two more renowned "engine men" had joined the Jaguar strength - Walter Hassan and Harry Mundy. Walter had worked with Bentley, ERA and Coventry-Climax, and had a long association with Harry, who had been with him at ERA and Climax, and who had also worked on the 1.5-litre V16 blown BRM engine. Under "Bill" Heynes' leadership this team set about the task of producing a new V12 for volume production.

The brief called for greater smoothness, silence and flexibility than then current engines, allied to power outputs comparable with the best figures obtained from an XK "six". When the XK engine had been introduced in 1948, its basic output approximated to the best ever achieved from a tuned version of the existing pushrod unit. Similarly, the V12 had to Achieve in standard trim the output of a competition-tuned XK. The result was a beautifully clean-looking 60-degree V12 aluminium engine, with a capacity of 5343 cc (326 cu in.).

The V12 Engine in Detail

Bore and stroke were 90 mm x 70 mm (3.54 in. x 2.76 in.), and power output was 314 bhp gross at 6200 rpm, or 272 bhp DIN at 5850 rpm. Maximum torque was 304 lbs/ft DIN at 3600 rpm. After the retirement of Heynes and,Baily, Hassan and Mundy saw the engine through to the production line. A big departure from previous Jaguar practice was the use of an aluminium block. This saved 116 lbs weight in comparison to the same block cast in iron, but there was some concern about higher noise level in an alloy unit. It seems the designers were most surprised to find no detectable level difference once the engines were installed in a car, but some iron components such as bearing caps and fully-machined cast wet liners were retained.

A number of single-cylinder test engines were built to prove various head designs and the very over-square bore/stroke ratio. A flat-head design was eventually chosen, with combustion chambers in the piston crown giving excellent burning and going a long way towards satisfying anti-pollution requirements. Production cost and simplicity requirements persuaded the design team to use just one camshaft per bank, overhead mounted and driven by a simple chain-drive. These also allowed a low bonnet line in the car, more room for mounting ancillaries and a weight saving of 22 lbs per head assembly over a DOHC layout.

Heron Head Design

The V12 was built on 60 deg cylinder-opposition configuration, employing cross-flow Heron head design, with combustion in the piston face. The whole engine was relatively simple to make, with "one-short" machining operations producing the flat cylinder heads. Great attention was paid to pollution limitations and the good combustion characteristics were the design team's flying start. They then wanted an ignition system which would retain accurate timing throughout its life, and this led to fitting a transistorised electronic Lucas "Opus" system, making the Series 3 V12 the first production car to feature this type of ignition.

Sparks are provided by a simple flywheel and pole pieces so there were no mechanical "make-and-break" points to wear and upset the timing. The system had been proved thoroughly in racing engines over the previous 10 years and was a real "race-bred" contribution to the production car business. Carburettors or fuel injection could be used, but since carburettor pollution control was better advanced, a quadruple Zenith 175 CD SE system was fitted, including air injection. A pump fed air into the exhaust tract above the valve and prolonged burning time, removing most of the nasties before the charge was exhausted into the atmosphere.

Great attention was paid to making the lubrication as efficient yet compact as possible, and the crescent-type gear pump was tucked away under the nose of the engine. A unique type of coil oil cooler was situated in the front of the sump, and this lead oil around a gilled heat exchanger through which the cooling water flowed for the normal engine system. This oil-to-water system produced a drop of 22 deg C in oil temperature for a rise of 1 deg C in water temperature, and had the added advantage of needing no external piping or extra radiator, and kept the engine cool in hot weather and warm in cold!

A Rare British V12

Back then, and even today, British-made Vee engines can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and V12s are even rarer. Daimler built their double-six pre-war, while Bentley designed the Lagonda V12 and Rolls-Royce Phantom III was another "twelve''. Atlanta and Allard both used V12s at some time, but these were Lincoln Zephyrs imported from the States, so Jaguar's effort was, in our eyes anyway, the fourth V12 to have come from Blighty. When properly tuned, the engine was as smooth as an electric motor, and just as quiet until it approached its 6500 rpm limit where the exhaust note would begin to intrude.

With bags of torque it was possible to surge away from as little as 800 rpm in top gear with the manual, and although performance figures were not much better than the original 1961 3.8 litre "E", the Series 3 V12 cars were dragging about a lot more weight and there was also a lot more pollution plumbing at play. Nonetheless performance was still searing, with 0-60 mph times of 6.4 sees, 0-100 mph in 16.15 secs and 0-120 mph in 25 secs. Top speed was quoted as 150 mph, but only a handful of lucky road testers had enough tarmac to prove it true. At that speed the 2+2 would feel very stable and steady, the light power-assisted steering giving a lot of feel and confidence.

Behind the Wheel

Cruising at 100 mph was easy and undramatic, and on winding roads the Series 3's Sp Sport tyres really gave a feeling of security, and power-on the car would squat down on the outside rear wheel and sweep through in a stable and almost neutral attitude. On tight bends with power-on, the tail would settle down beautifully and you would be surging away, clutching a thin-rimmed leather steering wheel.

The manual was precise and efficient, but the movement was long and notchy and didn't really stand up against the competition of the time. The automatic was much more impressive in a way, able to put down the power with ease and glide through the gears. The kick-down was a little slow, as if it was wondering if you really did need a lower cog, but once the ratios were engaged acceleration was just as impressive and neck-bending as the manual. Jaguar quoted fuel consumption of 13-16 mpg dependent on how you drive. If you drove it gently the V12 was a refined and smooth form of distinguished transport. Drive it hard and it was a quick, controllable and safe fun car.

At release the British prices ranged from 2,866 pounds ($A5700) for a manual 6-cylinder roadster to 3,529 pounds ($A7000) for an automatic VI2 coupe. The 23-year-old XK engine had established a virtually captive market for Jaguar Cars, and in the words of Harry Mundy, "... I am sure, like the XK engine, which still remains in production, it'll become a world-beater."
Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type

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Also see:

Reflections - Looking Back On The Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type Series 1 & 2 Technical Specifications
Jaguar E-Type Series 3 Technical Specifications
Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Brochure
Jaguar Heritage
Swallow Sidecars - The William Lyons Story
Jaguar - A Racing Pedigree
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