It’s certainly no secret that we here at ViaRETRO have a profound appreciation of yesteryear’s workhorse heroes – both saloons, hatchbacks and estates. But with our latest four Prime Finds being saloons of varying age and description, even we find ourselves longing for a bit of glamour. Where then better to turn than the iconic Jaguar E-type?
And please understand that when I ask in the topic: “A New Low for the Iconic E-type?”, the question is entirely directed towards current market values. In terms of looks, driving experience and its legendary status in the automotive world, it will forever be impossible for the E-type to reach anything even resembling a low.
But during the past two years or so, the classic car market has gone through a slightly more turbulent development than were the preceding 8 – 10 years. In my own opinion, it was a necessary market adjustment as things were really getting a bit silly. Even so, some models have simply continued their rise in value seemingly unaffected, others plateaued, some took a dive, and others still combined all of the above as values cycled up and down for a while. Generally speaking though, classic cars presented highly original and unmolested with good provenance have proven to hold their values reasonably well through all of this. For many – if not all – models, another contributing factor for how they have fared through the turbulence has been the apparent preference given to early incarnations of pretty much any classic car. Series 1, Mark 1, pre-facelift… call it what you want, but these initial interpretations of what the car should be is what collectors want and market prices have reflected this.
In terms of the fabled E-type, this means that if you have always dreamt of a Series 1 fixed-head-coupé or open-two-seater in concours condition, then you still need a significant bundle of cash tucked away on a Swiss account somewhere. Classic car enthusiasts with more modest means need not apply. But if you are either prepared to accept a bit of a compromise on that British dream of a GT, or you have perhaps always preferred one of the later E-types, then the current market might just have left a door open for you…
I’m sure every ViaRETRO reader will be familiar with how the E-type was developed from Jaguar’s motorsport experience with their successful D-type, and then launched to the public in March 1961 sporting those sensual and elegant Malcolm Sayer lines. It’s especially those early “flat floor” models which trade hands at rather inflated prices and even more so if the E-type in question is so early as to also have the external bonnet latches. But let’s ignore these so-called blue-chip classic cars for a moment. In fact, I intend to even ignore the entire production of the Series 1 cars which were manufactured up until late 1968. Sacrilege I hear you scream! Yes, perhaps. And to be honest, if money were not an object, I too would always choose the purity of the Series 1 over any later E-type. But in the real world where money does indeed play a deciding factor for the vast majority of us, a Series 1 is simply out of reach. As such, I will allow myself a slight reinterpretation of our ViaRETRO motto, and state that: “Any E-type is better than no E-type”.
For the purpose of this Prime Find, we could have probably looked at a Series 2 E-type as manufactured from 1968 to 1971, as these still trade for much less than the Series 1 – especially if you opt for a ‘driver’ rather than a show car. Should you insist on owning a 6-cylinder E-type on a bit of a budget, then this is no doubt your go-to option. But I personally feel that if I can’t have a Series 1, then it’s the Series 3 which would be my next choice.
Introduced in 1971, the Series 3 offered another facelift to the now 10 year old E-type. Most significantly, the 2-seater fhc was phased out, the 2+2 coupé which had been introduced in 1966 continued, and while the ots equally continued, it now utilised the 9 inch (or 23cm) longer wheelbase of the 2+2. This of course resulted in the Series 3 offering its occupants more space than before. For the first time in E-type history, the air intake at the front now had an actual grill in place, the arches were flared allowing for wider wheels and tyres, and at the rear you got all of four centrally placed exhaust tips.
But the real change lie beneath the skin as the 6-cylinder engine was retired from the E-type to give way for Jaguar’s newly developed 5.3-litre V12 masterpiece. Despite American emission controls, the silky smooth V12 pushed out in excess of 250hp which was enough to propel the E-type from 0 – 60 mph in less than 7 seconds on its way to a topspeed of 135 mph (or 217 km/h). With it came upgraded brakes and power steering as stock, while an automatic transmission continued to be an option along with air condition and wire wheels.
All of this added up to change the entire character of the beast. Where the Series 1 was a sportscar, the Series 3 was now a much more grown up grand tourer. I just feel that with a Series 2 in my garage, there would always be this nagging sensation that it should have been a Series 1. But the Series 3 distances itself sufficiently from the Series 1 and thereby creates its own values and identity. While not as pure as the original incarnation of the E-type, there’s just no denying that the GT nature of the Series 3 certainly appeals.
Which brings us to this week’s splendid Prime Find: a left-hand drive 1972 Jaguar E-type Series 3 fhc which is currently for sale in France. It’s obviously a matter of opinion, but in my eyes, this E-type has the optimum specification for a Series 3 car. For starters, it’s the shapely and prettier coupé body. It also has the rare manual transmission. And while a Series 1 E-type looks fabulous on wire wheels, I much prefer the Series 3 sitting on its chrome-plated pressed steel wheels. Granted, with my taste for slightly different shades of colours, I would have preferred it in something like Sable brown or Willow green, but even I can’t deny that red is the signature colour for any E-type. On the inside, there’s a tan leather interior which the seller says has some patina to it – which as long as it’s not too excessive, is a good thing in my book. Here you have pictures borrowed from the advert:
The seller proceeds to explain that the E-type is reliable, comfortable and in mechanically excellent condition. It’s apparently driven once a week and took them on a two week summer holiday last year. The suspension has some new parts, though a bit more detail about which parts this includes would be nice. Furthermore, the body is claimed to be rustfree and wearing an older respray which was applied more than 10 years ago. Pleasingly, there are no US side markers present as is often the case on lhd Series 3 E-types, though the exhaust is clearly not a stock item and does appear a little excessive. As always, a professional pre-purchase inspection is always advisable, but if the advert is to be believed, then this sounds like a very decent E-type which is ready to be driven.
And then there’s the price which honestly leaves me a little sceptical. This iconic V12-engined British GT is up for grabs at a very modest £ 25,299 which currently equates to approximately Euro 29,500. Is this really the new market level for the E-type? Now I realise that this is of course still a fair amount of money, but it just seems to me that it’s been a fair while since I last encountered a good-but-not-perfect, driver-level E-type at such a low. Or is there another explanation? Does this E-type require work which the seller hasn’t disclosed in the advert? Or – in this day and age – is the entire advert a scam of sorts? It’s certainly an intriguing proposition, and if only I had the spare cash, it’s one I wouldn’t mind looking further into. Here’s the link to the advert: 1972 Jaguar E-type S3
Should one of you contact the seller – or better still, see this French E-type in the flesh – please do report back to us on what you found…
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org