In the summer of 1980 I passed my college entrance exams, at my third attempt and before finally fleeing the family nest in Wembley to attend Trent Polytechnic, I got a summer job at a local Honda dealership to tide me over.
One of the dealership owners many cars, and even more motorcycles, was a black Jaguar E – Type Convertible like the one in these photographs one of the last fifty made, all available only in black, a fact that is noted on a brass plate mounted on the glove box cover.
In 1971 the Series 3 E-Types ushured Jaguars second ever completely new motor into production, an all aluminium 5.3 litre / 326 cui V12 with 2 valves per cylinder design that had it’s origins in a design intended for racing dating back to 1954. This motor would eventually be developed into a 7 litre / 427 quad cam that would be used to win at Le Mans twice, 1988 and 1990.
All Series 3 E-types were built around the longer 2+2 chassis pan, most with the V12 engine but a few Series 3 models were built with the older 4.2 litre / 256 cui 6 cylinder motor.
The brass plaque on the right of this photo gives the chassis number as IS 2857 which according to the only list of XKE chassis numbers I have seen suggests this car was originally supplied in Right Hand Drive form.
This particularly splendid example, seen here at the recent Silverstone Classic, has been restored and ‘sympathetically’ upgraded winning the Speis Hecker World Masterpiece competition for outstanding coachwork re-finishing.
My own 30 year old memories of the V12 E – Type were that it was certainly a buzz taking the car to the petrol pump down the road, it turned heads, the engine was silky smooth, the steering was light but it inspired little or no confidence, even on a roundabout at perfectly legal speeds, in it’s handling capabilities, it seemed to lean in the corners rather that hug the road as even my pedestrian FIAT 128 did, and parking a car with such a long nose was an absolute nightmare on a crowded parking lot.
Overall I was disappointed with how the car drove a bit like meeting a rock star whom one has held in high esteem only to find that he / she has all the usual human traits some of which are not so pleasant or different from our selves, or driving an air cooled Porsche for the first time to find that interior has the same smell of fumes as an air cooled VW Beetle, more boulevard cruiser than the track racer which I was expecting.
Thanks for joining me on this E-type edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !