Jaguar E-Type Overview of the Series
By James Groth for The English Car Company
Swift… Stylish… Sensuous
If I were writing ad copy for the E-type, as I once did for Jaguar, this would have been my summation statement for this automotive icon: Swift… Stylish… Sensuous.
Swift: Certainly with better than one horsepower per cubic from 3.8 liters, the Series1 produces 265 bhp, with 2.93 rear axle ratio, it’s good for 150 mph.
Stylish: Absolutely, from its announcement in 1961 to present day if you arrive in an
E-type you are noticed. heads nod, smiles appear, and no one ever asks to see your invitation. The E-type is your calling card in all social circles.
Sensuous: The silhouette, the lines, they work from any angle, in particular from above so you can absorb all of its marvelous curves.
James Groth shares insights to his 1963 Fixed Head Coupe Series 1 3.8 liter and highlights the differences between it and the Series 1.5, 2 and 3 versions of this automotive icon.
There is sheer excitement driving an E-type on the open road. A Series1 car has a very mechanical feel and sound. If one passed you at speed, there was no mistaking the snarl of the straight-six exhaust note. From behind the wheel the acceleration is visceral, primal and addictive; once experienced it is etched in one’s mind.
Look out over the E-type bonnet, first you notice its length and then the glorious curves accented by the power bulge running the length of the nose.
Sitting behind the wheel, looking at the gauges mounted in a aluminum dash you get the feel of an aircraft cockpit. This was perhaps influenced by Jaguar’s role in World War ll producing aircraft parts and repairing planes. Under the direction of founder Sir William Lyons, the man credited with the design of the E-type was aircraft designer Malcolm Sayer
Lifting the bonnet of a Series1 reveals one the best looking motors produced, featuring polished cam covers and triple SU HD8 carburetors. The clamshell bonnet makes access to all the major components easy. But it can take up to the better part of a day to refit one, since it represents the entire front end on an E-type. When the fit is proper it should hold itself up in place at any angle without the support of your hand regardless of position. To help keep the motor cool, Jaguar placed two sets of beautiful louvers in the bonnet, and yes these are functional and necessary.
The 1961 through 1964 3.8 liter cars are less user friendly due to their Moss gearbox with its non-synchro first gear. However, one develops a knack for shifting them by moving the gear lever towards second while at rest in order to align the synchros, then shifting into first gear. These cars are easy to identify compared to their brethren due to their high-pitched whine in low gear. The 3.8L doesn’t particularly like city driving. They will lurch, longing for revs and the open road where they are the most exhilarating after 2,500 rpm in second and third gears.
One of the main things that set the E-type apart from its competition of the day was its price. Compared to its Italian or German competition an E-type could be purchased for a third of the cost. Another unique feature was its independent rear suspension. The like much of the early E-types this one piece unit came from the successful D-type race car that won Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957. The unit incorporated inboard rear brakes, these are better for distributing unsprung weight but are costly to service.
Steering is rack and pinion wth 2.5 turns lock to lock. While very responsive on the road the steering is heavy in parking for many people. With its long nose the turning ratio is 37 feet. The 3.8 liter motor is considered to be the most dependable and responsive, but 3.8L cars are best suited for the purist.
Major changes came with the introduction of the Series1 4.2 liter motor in 1965. The 4.2L had the same 265 horsepower, but with additional torque it was more manageable in city driving. However, the red line of 5,500 on the 3.8L dropped to 5,000 rpm on the 4.2L. The 4.2L also had an all-synchromesh 4-speed transmission considered a major upgrade from the Moos box in the 3.8L. The 4.2L cars from 1965 to 1967 also improved the four wheel Dunlap disc brakes that were marginal for the speed of the the 3.8L cars. Girling became the supplier for disc brakes.
The last of the purists Series1 cars were 1967 models. The Series 1.5 cars were introduced in 1968 and reflected changes mandated by the US government. Briefly the most noticeable changes were that the cars no longer had the beautiful glass covered headlamps Gone too were the two-eared knockoffs that adorned the wire wheels. The interior was also missing the aircraft style toggle switches. They were replaced with what is considered a safer rocker arm switch. Performance also suffered since the triple HD8 carbs where replaced with a twin Stromberg carbs.
The Series 2 E-type was introduce in 1969 and ran into 1971. The Series 2 cars remained essentially the same as the 1.5 but with the addition of larger taillights replacing the original slim version. Most of the obvious changes in the Series 2 cars were made in order to comply with the US government rules regarding safety for all cars. The Series 2 cars had air conditioning as an option.
1971 was all about the introduction of the Series 3. During that same year Jaguar was still selling the remaining six cylinder cars off. In 1971 it was possible to have two distinctive variations of the E-type both in motor and size of the car, each with its own personality and following.
The Series 3 is uniquely different from all previous E-types in that it introduced the 5.3 liter V-12 in a much larger body car. This move made the E-type more of an all around grand touring car than a sports car. There were two versions, a convertible and 2+2. You could still get a 4-speed manual but most had a three speed automatic transmission model twelve from Borg Warner.
The Series 3 2+2 cars had significantly more interior room for the driver and passenger and was now more viable to carry a passenger in the rear. Much of this was due to an increase of nine inches to the wheel base and two inches on height. Jaguar introduced its first 2+2 model in 1966.
The performance of the Series 3 from 0-100 mph is 15.4 seconds besting the 4.2L at 17.2 seconds. At 680 pounds the V-12 motor was only slightly heavier that the 4.2L due to its block being cast aluminum rather than iron.
This was a single overhead cam design with four Zenith carbs. This is a magnificently smooth motor producing 272 hp at 6,200 rpm and 349 lb ft of torque at 3,800 rpm from 5.3 liters. The Series 3 cars were manufactured from 1971 thru 1974, with the final fifty cars being painted black.
The New York Museum of Modern Art has a Series 1 E-Type as part of their permanent collection, need I say more…
- Engine manufacturer: Jaguar XK6 4.2-Litre
- Engine type: spark-ignition 4-stroke
- Fuel type: petrol (gasoline)
- Fuel system: 3 carburetors
- Charge system: naturally aspirated
- Valves per cylinder: 2
- Emission Control: SU HD8
- Emission standard: DOHC
- Cylinders alignment: Line 6
- Displacement: 4235 cm3 / 257.5 cui
- Bore: 92.07 mm / 3.62 in
- Stroke: 106 mm / 4.17 in
- Compression ratio: 9 : 1
- Horsepower net: 154.5 kW / 210 PS / 207 hp (DIN)
- Torque net: / 5500
- Horsepower gross: 198 kW / 269 PS / 265 hp (gross)
- Torque gross: 384 Nm / 283 ft-lb
- Redline rpm: / 4000
- Car power to weight ratio net: 108.6 watt/kg / 49.3 watt/lb
- Car weight to power ratio net: 9.2 kg/kW / 6.8 kg/PS / 15.1 lbs/hp
Dimensions and Capacity
- Length: 4686 mm / 184.5 in
- Width: 1657 mm / 65.25 in
- Height: 1270 mm / 50 in
- Wheelbase: 2667 mm / 105 in
- Front track: 1270 mm / 50 in
- Rear track: 1270 mm / 50 in
- Ground clearance: 140 mm / 5.5 in
- Turning circle btw. curbs: 12.5 m / 41 ft
- Drag coefficient estimated by a-c: 0.42
- Legroom – 1st row: 41.75 in / 1060 mm
- Headroom -1st row: 35.5 in / 902 mm
- Headroom – 2nd row: 33 in / 838 mm
- Calculated EPA passenger volume: cu ft / m3
- Boot length: 1067 mm / 42 in
- Boot length max: 1333 mm / 52.5 in
- Boot width: 991 mm / 39 in
- Approach angle (deg): 21
- Departure angle (deg): 21