JAGUAR E-TYPE V12 REVIEW

We take a look at the most affordable of the E-types...

When the Jaguar E-type first broke cover in 1961 it was universally accepted as the most exciting and beautiful, yet attainable, sports car that had been ever been built. 

As time went on though, the E-type strayed from the design purity which the original Series 1 was famed for. Some changes improved the car, namely the move away from the tough-to-use Moss gearbox, but others were much less welcome. The Series 3 E-type became the least popular iteration due in part to the thirsty 5.3-litre engine, which upset the cars handling, but also its extended 2+2 floorpan that many believe spoiled the attractive proportions of the earlier cars. It’s because of this that the V12 E-type is the most affordable of the range, and can provide a bargain route into E-type ownership.


VITAL STATISTICS

Jaguar E-Type V12

Engine                                    5344cc/12-cyl/SOHC

Power (bhp@rpm)                  272bhp@5850rpm

Torque (lb ft@rpm)                 304lb ft@3600rpm

Top speed                                146mph

0-60mph                                  6.4sec

Consumption                            14mpg

Gearbox                                    4-spd manual


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS
 

Rust will be your chief concern when looking at a car of this age. However, the value of the cars is now so high that the majority have been restored. So your main worry should be the quality of that restoration. Panel fit will be the first giveaway of a poor job, so make sure gaps are equal and even over the entirety of the car. Check for rippling in the bodywork and any signs of excess filler use – a magnet wrapped in a soft cloth is a useful tool to have to hand. The history file shouldback up work that has been done.  

If it’s at the lower end of the market then you should be wary of rust. The base of B-pillars is a common rot spot and sills can be vulnerable too. If you can, get the car up on ramps to inspect the underside, paying particular attention to the anti-roll bar mountings. Also check the rear wheel arches – these panels are double skinned and moisture can creep in along the leading edge. 

 

ENGINE

The big V12 engine is less desirable than 3.8- or 4.2-litre variants due to extra weight upsetting the E-type’s handling, but also because it has a prodigious thirst. All told though, the 5.3-litre engine is a great piece of engineering that is capable of lasting much longer than its smaller relations. 

Despite its ability to cover big miles, its aluminium heads are vulnerable to overheating, as are delicate internal components. An electric fan is a good sign, but it can be used to hide overheating problems. Fire the car up and let it idle for 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on the gauges. Thenwatch for ignition amplifier troubles on hot re-starts. 

Both automatic and manual gearboxes are reliable and pleasant to use, but many owners choose to upgrade to Borg Warner units. This shouldn’t affect value unless the car is to concours standard, and is generally accepted within the Jaguar community. It is still wise to check for any unusual noises, worn synchromesh and any signs of jumping out of gear.   

 

RUNNING GEAR

The oily bits of the V12 E-type are quite rugged, but can be vulnerable to road salt and grime on examples that are less well cared for. Even if the bodywork looks good, make sure you get under the car to inspect the suspension to check for signs of corrosion – the rear radius arm is a common rot spot.

Make sure that the brakes are strong and pull evenly. As inboard units they can be a real pig to fix yourself, and will cost a fortune if you have to outsource to a specialist. Check for any leaks, as the differential will have to be removed for access. 

If chrome wire wheels are fitted, make sure that they are in good condition. Tap the spokes and check for a ringing noise. Look too for signs of regular cleaning. Refurbishment or replacement is very expensive, so take this into account if you find any flaking chrome or snapped and bent spokes. 

Be aware that many E-types have been repatriated from the Unites States and converted to right-hand drive – their values will be less than original UK cars. The chassis number will provide a clue. If it begins in 1 or 5, it is right-hand drive, if it begins with 2 or 7 then it was originally a left-hand drive example. 


INTERIOR

Electrics are relatively simple, so shouldn’t pose any issues in restored cars. A project is a different matter – brittle wiring can cause havoc, with the only real option being a new wiring loom. This is an expensive undertaking and will need to be taken to a specialist. 


OUR VERDICT

The range is fairly rare in this country, although it has a huge following in Europe where the cars are more plentiful. A black one is the ultimate baddies’ car from Cold War thrillers, and your perception of the range might be coloured just as much by this as by the fact that thousands of them served as taxis all over the world. 

But the Fintails were much more than all those things, because the range also embraced high-spec, high-tech six-cylinders at the top end. These aren’t for the weak of wallet if they need work, but they are rewarding to own and to drive, and you can guarantee that you won’t often see another one at a classic car event.

All the cars are built like the proverbial tank, all of them offer plenty of room for family transport to and from events, and basic running costs are reasonably affordable too. Just don’t expect to find very many spares at autojumbles in the UK. Your starting-point for spares should be one of the used parts specialists; some of them have New Old Stock parts too, so you might just get lucky.

There aren’t enough roadworthy Fintails about for you to be too picky when you go looking. Basically, if it’s a good sound car and you can afford it, we’d recommend you go for it. Otherwise, you might hold out for a more desirable specification for a very long time.

In an ideal world, you’d probably go for a manual-transmission 220 or 220S, with carburettor six-cylinder engine and a reasonably comfortable specification – though don’t forget Mercedes charged extra for just about everything in the 1960s, so equipment levels can be surprisingly spartan.

A Fintail Mercedes isn’t quite as easy to live with as more popular and numerous British-made classics, but in some ways it’s more rewarding because of its relative rarity. As they say of so many things, the highs are higher but the lows are lower!

Recently Added

0a2325ad 02b8 4326 8242 aa95d1100852Sponsored Ad
1973
£11,595
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107612
1973 Triumph Stag Mk2 Automatic Finished in Red With Black Trim. This is a great opportunity to a...
18
01626244206
View details
Dino mainSponsored Ad
1972
£549,995
246 GT
  • 34,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1069787
ON HOLD
22
02084 189191
View details
Img 0494Sponsored Ad
1976
£23,990
  • 10,300
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107608
Tudor Classics of Manchester restored in 1991, but still looks great!
19
01904 829728
View details
Img 0401Sponsored Ad
1992
£12,990
S4 2.0
  • 55,302
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1107604
Freshly restored, and sporting a potent little engine!
17
01904 829728
View details
50990 1Sponsored Ad
2004
£Auction
S
  • 181,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107607
The Mercedes-Benz W220 was a series of flagship saloons which constituted the Mercedes-Benz S-Class
6
02381 247 805
View details
50989 1Sponsored Ad
2006
£Auction
350
  • 91,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107606
The fifth generation Mercedes SL was in production between 2001 and 2008. The all-new SL, initially
6
02381 247 805
View details
50988 1Sponsored Ad
1994
£Auction
320
  • 28,100
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107605
In Europe the base R129 model was the 190 hp 3.0 L inline 6 300SL with 12 valves. The 228 hp 3.0 L i
1
02381 247 805
View details
Placeholder cbe6c9521c21456cf9170dc847e3e1de3931371c967e81955c16862b992b5364Sponsored Ad
1986
£Auction
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107603
Offered for sale is a 2.0L 1986 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth manual that has been with the current own...
0
01926 321 945
View details
51001 1Sponsored Ad
1986
£Auction
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107602
Offered for sale is a 2.0L 1986 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth manual that has been with the current own...
3
01926 321 945
View details
51000 1Sponsored Ad
1984
£Auction
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107601
Offered for sale is a 2.8L 1984 Ford Capri 2.8 Injection Special manual that has been with the cu...
3
01926 321 945
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale