Jaguar XK120

Jaguar XK | Legendary engines

Jaguar XK | Legendary engines

Powering everything from Le Mans racers, to tanks, serving for some 43 years from its debut in 1948, is one of the most significant internal combustion engine families not only of Jaguar’s history, but perhaps of all time. We of course refer to the Jaguar XK straight-six engine, the 75th anniversary of which will be celebrated at the 2024 Goodwood Revival.

The engine’s tenure reflects perfectly the brief set by Sir William Lyons back when development of a new engine began, as early as 1942: higher than normal output, that could stay ahead of the competition without revision for many years.

And he had the perfect team for the job, in William Heynes, Walter Hassan and Claude Bailey. As Jaguar (formerly SS) had used four- and six-cylinder Standard engines in the pre-war years, these configurations were drawn up, prototyped and tested, with both single and twin-cams investigated.

Eventually, a six with two overhead cams was found to be the best solution, thanks to the increased versatility and refinement of the configuration, as well as the added benefit of more cylinders being associated with a more premium image. For production sportscars, a longer block good for a bit of extra capacity was added to afford it more torque. And so the XK straight-six was born, debuting in 3.44-litre, 162PS (119kW) form in the 1948 XK120 and would later be seen in numerous (confusingly-named) Jaguar saloons, including the Mark VII, VIII, Mark 1 and Mark 2.

Sir Lyons might have specified ‘without revision’ but the XK’s incremental evolution was arguably underway before the 120 had made its debut at the 1948 London Motor Show.

The hunt for power was on, with power outputs leaping past 180PS. Then, using the C-type (not that C-Type) ‘red head’ for the XK120C adding higher-flow carburettors, improved porting and larger exhaust valves, for up to 213PS (157kW). As compression rose and porting improved, that rose to more than 250PS in the XK150 SE of just a few years later.

The so-called ‘short-block’ 2.4 (more like 2.5-litre thanks to being 2,483cc) powered the lower-powered Jaguar Mark 1 and Mark 2 saloons of the mid-‘50s to late-‘60s.

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It was the power and performance of the XK engine and the slippery bodies of the XK-badged sportscars that yielded the succession of top speed records, with which Sir Lyons was obsessed. That obsession culminated in Sir Norman Dewis piloting a highly modified XK120 to a 173mph speed record on 20th October 1953.

The XK engine was of course the heart of a number of legendary racing cars and powered Jaguar to some truly historic results – victories among them. Beginning with the Le Mans-bound C-Type, the XK got fruitier cams and triple carburettors for over 200PS. The C-Type took victory at Le Mans on its first go in 1951 and again in 1953, though the latter can in addition to the reliability and performance of the XK, be put down to the revolutionary disc brakes.

For 1954, Jaguar introduced the D-Type, perhaps its most famous XK-engined racing car and certainly its most successful. Using a revolutionary monocoque construction and more advanced aerodynamics, the XK was the carryover element, albeit getting improved oiling, valving, breathing and fueling, in addition to both an increased displacement to 3.8 litres for 1957 and reduced displacement (per FIA mandate) to 3.0-litres in 1958.

While the D-Type scored Jaguar its Le Mans hattrick in 1955, 1956 and 1957, it’s the 1957 result with D-Types locking out the top four, in addition to coming sixth, that’s the greatest testament to the XK engine’s sturdiness. Its wings were clipped for 1958 though, with the FIA’s 3,000cc mandate. Though racing versions of the E-Type road car of the 1960s found some success, the top-flight career of the XK ended with the D-Type. In that glorious decade of racing, the XK racked up five Le Mans wins among numerous other sportscar victories the world over.

Nevertheless, powering what Enzo Ferrari described as “the most beautiful car ever made” isn’t a bad post-racing gig, right? Yes, the XK lived on into the 1960s as the heart of Jaguar’s newer-generation sportscar, the E-Type, with 3.8-litre (as seen in the latter years of the XK150) and 4.2-litre versions in the Series 1 and Series 2. Though the V12 took over as the flagship the E-Type in the 1970s, the XK lived on in Jaguar’s saloons.

A 2.8-litre version of the short block served throughout in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the XJ6, before being replaced by the ‘new’ 3.4-litre engine, with a straight-port head and stiffer bottom end to the original.

Having already powered the Mark 2, S-Type, Mark IX and Mark X in 3.8-litre form, the 4.2 carried on in Daimlers and Jaguar XJs for the next two-and-a-bit decades, gaining in some cases modernities like Bosch fuel injection, until being replaced in the early 1990s. The last Jaguar to use the XK6 was the 1987 Jaguar XJ6, surviving in the Daimler DS420 until 1992.

Speaking of non-Jaguar applications, the XK was popular in everything from the Lister and Tojeiro racers of the late 1950s, to the FV101 Scorpion Tank. It was also used in Panther’s cars, alongside the V12.

Even the XJ6 that largely replaced the XJ began life as an XK, though revisions to the block and internals technically informed its new designation. The bottom end of the XK engine went largely unrevised, all the way from its 1948 introduction, to its final outing in 1992.

Due to demand Jaguar itself even began remanufacturing the cast-iron 3.8-litre block – as seen in the original E-Type – in 2020, with the engine supplied with no less than a 12-month warranty. Mission accomplished eh, Sir William?

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Jaguar XJR front exterior

X308 Jaguar XJR | Alternative Classics

X308 Jaguar XJR | Alternative Classics

If you’re on the hunt for a modern-classic sports saloon, but you’re not interested in going for the obvious choice that is E39 BMW M5, there are plenty of other considerations you can make, including this: the X308 Jaguar XJR.

Launched in 1997, the X308 XJR didn’t just have the BMW to worry about, it also had to deal with the W210 Mercedes E55 and later the all-wheel-drive C5 Audi RS6.

But while its rivals focussed on providing Teutonic performance, the XJR was arguably the better motor vehicle for everyday living, courtesy of its butter-smooth ride and the easy, big-lunged performance of its supercharged V8.

While the X308 looks almost identical to the six-cylinder X300 it replaced, the car’s interior made vast leaps both in terms of quality and design, but also practicality, with a usable back seat and a boot that isn’t pitifully small. Having said that, you still get the old-world charm you would expect of a Jag, with leather and thick slabs of wood coming at you from every angle.

It was replaced by the X350 in 2004, but the earlier car’s sleeker looks – much more in keeping with the brand – make it the more desirable of the two, yet it kept the old-school charm absent from the now-defunct X351.

X308 Jaguar XJR: why buy one?

While it’s easy to understand why performance car fans looking for something practical were whipped into a frenzy by the arrival of the E39 BMW M5 – with its naturally aspirated V8 and superb chassis – it does mean the X308 Jaguar XJR tends to be overlooked.

It shouldn’t be. What the XJR lacked in headline numbers and rapid lap time figures, it more than made up for with its generous portion of everyday usability.

Its 4.0-litre V8 was key to this. Thanks to the important addition of a supercharger the XJR had low down grunt – 525Nm (387lb ft) from 3,600rpm – that made short work of problematic overtakes. It wasn’t slow on paper, either, 0-62mph took 5.6 seconds on the way to a 155mph top speed.

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But while the Jaguar could happily chew through country roads at pace, it was equally comfortable pampering you with its oily smooth ride and light steering.

This more relaxed manner could explain why the XJR isn’t the most popular of used sports saloons – buyers of these types of cars want real-deal drivers’ machines. But, their loss could be your gain because it means usable XJRs can be found for less than £5,000.

X308 Jaguar XJR: what to look out for?

Unfortunately, if you’re running an old and complex car like the XJR for any length of time, you’re likely to encounter problems.

One of the most common on the XJR is failed timing chain tensioners (Jaguar, in its infinite wisdom, made them from plastic) that could cause the valve gear to ‘lunch’ itself if not caught. The tensioners were upgraded for part-metal items in 2001, which were later swapped out again for tensioners made entirely from metal.

Pre-2000 X308s can also suffer from failed water pumps and​ bore liner wear – both of which can cause total engine failure. Like any heavy saloon, XJRs can also chew through brake and suspension components so it’s worth checking both are tip-top.

Unlike its aluminium-bodied replacement, the steel-bodied X308 can suffer from rust. Problem areas include the wheel arches and the bottom of the rear windscreen, but it’s worth carefully inspecting the entire body. Sagging headliners are the bane of the interior, so check the mole-fur material is stuck down as it should be.

X308 Jaguar XJR: how much to pay?

One of the XJR’s most attractive features is its price – while you’ll pay £15,000 for a shabby BMW E39 M5, you’ll need less than a third of that to get your hands on the cheapest X308 XJR. Expect such a machine to suffer from corrosion on the outside, a noisy engine and a tired interior.

Spending more is recommended as a result. A £10,000 budget will get you a smart XJR with less than 100,000 miles on the clock, while £15,000 secures you the available – one in mint condition and with closer to 50,000 miles on its odometer.

Looking for a collector’s piece? Then a budget of more than £15,000 puts the XJR 100 within reach. Celebrating Jaguar’s centenary year, it got the R1 performance pack fitted as standard, adding beefy Brembo brakes, revised suspension and 19-inch multi-piece BBS alloy wheels. Just 500 were sold worldwide.

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Jaguar E-type Series II

Jaguar E-type (Series 2)

BUYER’S GUIDE

Jaguar E-type (Series II) review

With the Series 1 grabbing the glory could the Series 2 be a more accessible way of living the E-type dream..?

What Is It?

The original Series 1 Jaguar E-type stunned the automotive world when it arrived in 1961, and rightly became one of the decade’s defining sportscars. An updated 4.2-litre engine, easier all-synchro gearbox and introduction of the more spacious 2+2 all helped improve its offering as the years went on but, by 1968, looming changes to safety rules in the vital US export market meant Jaguar needed to invest in some more significant updates.

Previewed by the so-called Series 1½ changes in 1967, the full Series 2 went on sale in 1968 with various new features like full, wraparound bumpers, revised headlights stripped of their signature aerodynamic fairings and larger, repositioned rear lights.

Good news? While purists will always prefer the Series 1, and pay a premium for them, it’s still essentially the same car underneath and drives just as nicely, meaning a Series 2 could potentially make E-type ownership feel just that bit more attainable.

Corrosive Areas

Bonnet seams

Front bulkhead, sills and floorpan

Rear arches

Checklist

  • The most obvious Series 2 modifications include the repositioned headlights and removal of the clear fairings that covered them on earlier cars, and replacement of interior toggle switches with more conventional rockers; these were introduced on late Series 1 cars, meaning these are commonly referred to as Series 1½ models
  • Full Series 2 cars arrived in 1968 with further modifications, including a much larger ‘mouth’ on the bonnet to accommodate optional air conditioning, bigger sidelight/indicator units now mounted under the new full-width bumper and a similar arrangement at the rear with larger tail lights
  • Series 2 also added the option of steel wheels, power steering and air conditioning to boost appeal in the US market, where the car was sold as the XK-E
  • American-spec XK-Es also had a less powerful, emissions-compliant engine, with two Stromberg carburettors in place of the regular triple-SU set-up
  • The XK engine is well-proven and long-lasting with correct maintenance; check for the usual signs of head gasket failure like emulsified oil on the inside of the filler cap or contaminated coolant, rattling timing chains and persistent smoke or hesitancy once warmed through
  • Consistent oil pressure is a good sign, a rising temperature or fan not starting once warm a bad one
  • Worn diaphragms in the triple SU carburettors can result in lumpiness and requires expert help; retrofitted fuel injection can improve driveability
  • Check for smooth clutch engagement and bite – replacement is a big job requiring engine removal so can be costly
  • Inboard rear brakes can get contaminated by oil from the differential – servicing them is a big job so make sure the car pulls up cleanly
  • Structural corrosion is an ever-present concern, especially in floorpans, sills, rear arches and engine cradles – most cars will have had some degree of restoration by now but make sure this has been done properly and documented by a known specialist
  • Jaguar supports the E-type with parts (up to and including replacement engine blocks) and archive information like verification of the original build date, colour and options

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of Bonhams|Cars

How does it drive?

As the E-type matured so did its buyers, and the rawness and uncompromising sportiness of the early cars was steadily refined into a more luxurious package with more creature comforts. Thanks to its technological head start the E-type was still competitive by the time the Series 2 arrived, given the monocoque construction, all-independent suspension, disc brakes and sharp rack and pinion steering. That makes it a very driveable car on present-day roads, the trademark Jaguar ride quality combined with sharp steering and all scored by the glorious six-cylinder bark of the XK engine.

True, the Series 2 piled on a few pounds but the 4.2-litre version is more muscular and flexible than the 3.8 of early Series 1s and performance is plenty strong and charismatic enough. American market cars – sold as XK-Es – are down on power thanks to the emissions-compliant twin-carb arrangement while power steering (where fitted) on these cars may dull the experience a bit. But restoring power and driveability will be well within the scope of the many specialists who know the E-type inside out.  

 What’s good?

While the familiar Open Two-Seater and Fixed Head Coupe formats carried over with the Series 2 modifications, the 2+2 received some more significant change. The windscreen took on a sleeker rake to make it look less awkward than the original. It may be the least fashionable E-type configuration but if the extra practicality of a 2+2 appeals then a Series 2 is therefore a more appealing option, all things relative.

The purists may mutter into their beards about the ‘uglier’ bumpers and addition of emasculating options like power steering and air conditioning to make the E-type more appealing to American buyers but, as a car to enjoy rather than stash away as an investment, the Series 2’s more civilised features could make it easier to enjoy on a summer’s day.

More macho E-type fans may consider mastery of the earlier cars’ ‘Moss’ gearbox a badge of honour but, in truth, if you’re out for a Sunday cruise the slightly more easy-going nature of a Series 2 is probably going to be nicer. And the fact it’s less collectable means you can enjoy it without stressing too much about a few miles on the clock denting its ongoing value.  

What’s bad?

As a relatively overlooked chapter of the E-type story, Series 2 cars may have had less attention lavished on them over the years, the relative lack of value meaning greater risk they’ve survived on make do and mend rather than full restorations. This could be bad news because the same issues of expensive bodywork repairs can lurk within, and they’ll cost just as much to fix as they would on a more valuable Series 1 but without return on investment.

As with any classic car purchase it’s about making a call on whether apparent savings on a cheaper purchase price stack up in the long-run when you factor in restoration or upkeep, the general rule being this rarely works out in your favour.

It’s also worth considering a significant proportion of Series 2 production went overseas, and while US XK-Es from ‘dry’ states may appeal in terms of relative lack of corrosion they will obviously be left-hand drive and likely running significantly less powerful twin-carb engines.

Which model to choose?

Spared the hype of Series 1 snobbery and the endless debates about the relative values of flat-floor cars, synchro gearboxes versus Moss transmissions and the decision between revvy 3.8 or torquey 4.2 the choices for Series 2 cars are a lot simpler, and basically come down to which bodystyle you want.

As already mentioned, the 2+2 looks a bit sleeker so may enter the equation but most people will be chasing a roadster or regular coupe, the latter generally considered better looking and better to drive. Imported cars may be cheaper to buy and perhaps more plentiful but you’ll end up driving from the ‘wrong’ side while some of the chintzier spec options may not to be European tastes.

Power steering and automatic gearboxes where fitted aren’t really conducive to a proper E-type experience, either. Narrowing it down that leaves a right-hand drive, triple-carburettor manual in the bodystyle of your choosing and the best condition you can afford.  

Specifications – Jaguar E-type Series 2 4.2 Fixed Head Coupe

Engine

4.2-litre six-cylinder, petrol

Power

265PS (195kW) @ 5,400rpm

Torque

384Nm (283 lb ft) @ 4,000rpm

Transmission

Four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Kerb weight

c. 1,265kg (dry)

0-62mph

c. 7.3 sec (varies according rear axle ratio)

Top speed

c. 150mph (varies according rear axle ratio)

Production dates

1968-1971

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Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

The best sports saloons for under £10k

The best sports saloons for under £10k

If for some reason a small two-seater sportscar simply doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, there are other ways of quenching your thirst for exciting driving.

There’s a long list of larger, more practical, but no less exciting sports saloons that are capable of putting a dirty great smile on your face. Here are eight of the best.

W211 Mercedes-Benz E55

The W211 Mercedes E55 comes from a time when AMGs were as much about cosseting as they were about tyre-shredding performance. That said, there’s plenty of the latter. Power comes from a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 that hammers out 476PS (350kW) and a mighty 706Nm (521lb ft) of torque to the rear wheels via a conventional slushbox – factors that make its 4.7-second 0-62mph time all the more impressive.

Standard air suspension ensures it’s very comfortable, giving the E55 a high-speed ride not a million miles away from an S-Class of the period. It’s the ideal mile-crusher. Yet it’s also relatively agile, with neat body control and feelsome hydraulic steering. Having said that, a little more traction in the wet wouldn’t go amiss. Inside, the E55 is starting to show its age but still feels relatively plush. You get comfy armchair-like seats up front – complete with active bolsters that clamp your body in corners – and a back seat with acres of legroom.

The boot is also generously proportioned and there’s an estate version if you need more room. Sadly, you’ll need every one of our £10,000 to get your hands on one.

GD Subaru Impreza WRX

The Subaru Impreza rumbling flat-four could stake an Oasis-like claim to being a sound of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, it’s that recognisable. A delivery of more than 200PS delivered 0-62mph in under six seconds and a top speed of more than 140mph. Permanent four-wheel drive was the secret to the former and it helped the Impreza deal with the UK’s patchy climate.

Sadly, the introduction of cars like the Volkswagen Golf R – with its fancy DSG gearbox and viscous coupling on-demand four-wheel drive – sounded the Impreza’s death knell. But while a WRX wouldn’t see which way a Golf R went on a country road, the Subaru has character a VW can only dream of.

This brings us to this particular GD version of the Impreza. So long as you avoid early ‘bugeye’ versions, it’s a handsome vintage, with a chunky body that earlier models missed out on but without the ugly hatchback rear-end of later offerings. Our £10,000 buys you an exceptionally nice WRX but you could also take a gamble on a leggier (and significantly spicier) STi variant.

X350 Jaguar XJR

While this version of the Jaguar XJR lacks the svelte lines of the models that preceded it, it’s still the one we’d recommend. The X350 XJR is notable for its aluminium body that – larger than the car it replaced – meant the big Jag was capable of surprising fuel economy. Around 30mpg is within reach – not to be sniffed at in a 400PS (294kW) super saloon. That said, it’s the XJR’s performance that’s most notable.

Its supercharged 4.2-litre V8 offers effortless overtaking grunt – even compared to the competition of the time – and a buttery smooth ride makes this a great machine for tackling long distances.

Inside, the XJR misses some of the older model’s character but it’s a lot more spacious, with a usable back seat and a huge boot. Wood and leather are not in short supply, either. The best part about this unloved Jag is the price, with mint examples on offer for well under £10,000.

Saab 95 Aero

In lieu of a Volvo T5 saloon (sorry, fast Volvos need to be estates in our book), it’s the Saab 95 Aero that flies the flag for Sweden on this list. Unlike its countryman, the 95 wears its saloon car body well with a chiselled front end and handsome lines that bring to mind the aeronautical theme Saab loved to play on.

Performance isn’t jet-like but it’s not far off. Turbocharger torque and 250PS (184kW) mean the Saab delivers in-gear performance to humble far more exotic machinery and it is also an exceptionally comfortable cruiser. Unfortunately, it’s no B-road blaster. Traction is limited and the Vauxhall Vectra-derived chassis – although heavily modified by Saab – can feel all at sea if you stray above eight-tenths. But, with your family abroad, you’re unlikely to do that.

Instead, it’s better to marvel at the restrained good looks of the spacious cabin – complete with its Night Panel that reduces distractions by dimming all but the speedo at night. Our £10K budget means you can pick from the best examples.

Audi S4

The Audi S4 takes its place on this list based on its engine alone – a 344PS (253kW) 4.2-litre V8 that produced more thunder than a tropical storm supercharged by global warming (ironically, its replacement would be a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with little of the older unit’s charm). The V8 started with a characteristic rumble that manifested into an old-school bark before you grabbed another gear in the six-speed manual box, revelling in the throaty splutter as the revs dropped. It’s pure theatre.

Which is just as well, because the S4 was not all ‘that’ in corners. With a large portion of its V8 sitting ahead of the front axle, it tended to understeer, which was exacerbated by the standard quattro four-wheel drive.

That said, there’s still a lot to love. The S4 looks as smart today as it did when it went on sale in 2005 and inside you’ll find an example of peak Audi interior – one that’s beautifully built, easy to use and has plenty of room for a family. Prices start from a mere £7,000.

BMW 335i

The days of the £10,000 M car might be far behind us but that doesn’t mean you’re all out of options. The 335i BMW 3 Series is a sparkling example of the hidden gems lurking below the M-car halo. Its lusty turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six has the power to worry hot hatches (and a soundtrack they’d kill for), with over 300PS (221kW), 0-62mph takes well under six seconds and you get a 155mph top speed. The rear-wheel drive chassis is a joy to behold and – unlike newer versions – you can also have a (rubbery) manual gearbox.

Adjustable dampers are another option worth looking out for, giving a handling balance that ranges from surprisingly comfortable to deliciously taut. The 335i gets all the sensible stuff right too. It looks ‘right’, the cabin design is blissfully intuitive and you can tickle 40mpg with a light right foot. All in all, the 335i could be one of the best cars – of any type – available for £10,000.

Alfa Romeo 156 GTA

We couldn’t write this list and not include an Italian stallion with room for four. But while the Ferrari-engined Maserati Quattroporte seems like an obvious choice, the DuoSelect automatic is your only option at this price and it is plagued with slow shifts and dismal reliability. The Alfa Romeo 156 GTA has no such problems.

Its six-speed manual will never age the car (we’d avoid the Selespeed auto), while the Alfa’s magnificent-looking Busso 3.2-litre V6 is arguably more characterful even than the Maser’s unit. Delivering a rich growl you’ll not find in anything modern. Sadly, the driving experience isn’t quite such a delight with torque steer and understeer aplenty. But, hey, at least it’s a challenge.

The standard 156, with its hidden rear doors and offset number plate, looks great and the GTA’s extensive body kit only adds to the sense of occasion. Considering their rarity (around 150 are left), £10,000 for a well-used example of this practical saloon seems like money well spent.

Vauxhall Insignia VXR

While the Vectra VXR was a tyre-smoking, understeering mess of a fast saloon, the Insignia VXR was rather good. It was, like the old car, a performance bargain giving you a 325PS (239kW) 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 (0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and a 155mph top speed) for the price of a bog-standard BMW 3 Series. But, unlike the car it replaced, it could also handle. Sure, it doesn’t have the rear-biassed feel of a fast BMW but standard four-wheel drive means it grips hard and is never flustered.

It’s also very comfortable if you’re looking for something to while away the miles in. The Insignia doesn’t have the wide-boy image of VXRs of old, either. Its clean shape and tight shut lines are more Audi than fast Ford – only the lovely ten-spoke alloy wheels hint that this is the performance model.

Inside, it’s more stereotypically ‘Vauxhall’. A sea of black plastic meets your eyes and the scatter of buttons doesn’t look tidy, but it is roomy. With prices starting from £7,000 for a car that is not much more than ten years old, it arguably offers the best value of all the cars here.

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Jaguar XKR front exterior

Jaguar XKR | Alternative Classics

Jaguar XKR | Alternative Classics

The X150 Jaguar XKR went on sale in 2007 to replace the old X100 XKR model that competed with cars like the Mercedes SL and Porsche 911.

Big news at the time came in the form of its aluminium body that weighed 91kg less than the steel body on the old model and made up for the fact that its engine was carried over, almost unchanged, from the old version.

In truth, the XKR’s engine didn’t need to change. As a large V8 boasting the added muscle of a supercharger, the XKR already had all the overtaking power required and the ability to suck the horizon into the Jaguar’s windscreen like the recoil on a bungee cord.

Handling was also impressive, allowing the Jaguar to occupy the middle ground between the Mercedes SL and serious sportscars like the Porsche 911. It had sharper steering and better body control than the Mercedes but with a more comfortable ride and lazier power delivery than the Porsche.

Available in coupe and convertible body shapes, the XKR was updated in 2009 when Jaguar swapped the 4.2-litre engine for a 5.0-litre version, but the company also offered various special editions, including the Speed, with a loosened speed limiter allowing for a 174mph top speed, and the XKR 75 with more power.

The XKR-S released in 2011 represented the pinnacle of XKR ownership, with more power, bespoke suspension, uprated brakes and a 186mph top speed.

The XKR would be sold alongside the smaller F-Type before it went off sale in 2014 after 60,000 XKs sold worldwide, less than half of which were XKRs.

Jaguar XKR X150: Why buy one?

The X150 Jaguar XKR gives you many of the same sensations – and in some respects was better – than an Aston Martin, but costs a fraction of the price to buy and maintain.

Like an Aston, the XKR’s looks are as big a lure as any. The X150 didn’t require you to make excuses for its appearance in the same way you might have had to with the X100, which suffered from a pastiche E-Type face and a large rear end needed to accommodate two sets of golf clubs.

By contrast, Ian Callum, also responsible for the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, penned the X150, which combined the flowing lines of the former with the bold aggression of the latter.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the XKR still looks fantastic today, and you can choose between the subtle looks of the standard car or the lurid paint job and imposing body kit of the XKR-S model.

The XKR looked like it drove – a sporty GT with a driving experience dominated by its supercharged engine. From launch, the XKR had a 4.2-litre V8 squeezed under its bonnet, good for 400PS (294kW) – 20PS (15kW) more than the old XKR courtesy of variable valve timing – at 6,250rpm and 560Nm (413lb ft) of torque at 4,000rpm.

The result was 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds (half a second quicker than before) and stonking mid-range that made it ideal for overtaking. Top speed was limited to 155mph.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

The XKR never felt agile, but it struck a good compromise between comfort and fun that belied its relatively portly 1,665kg kerb weight. It had the steering feel and grip that inspired you to hustle the XKR in a way you wouldn’t drive the standard XK, but its stiffer suspension settings didn’t harm the car’s excellent ride.

The XKR was facelifted in 2009 with sharper (some may say less pure) looks, and the famous J-Gate swapped for a gear selector that rose from the centre console like in the Jaguar XF. The new 5.0-litre engine produced 510PS (375kW) at 6,000rpm and 625Nm (461lb ft) from just 2,500rpm, which made it feel significantly faster in everyday driving. It got from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds.

The most extreme version came in the form of the XKR–S that, with 542PS (399kW), was the fastest of the lot with 0-62mph taking 4.2 seconds, 0-100mph coming up in 8.7 as it hurtled towards a top speed of 186mph.

Wider tyres, a revised electronically controlled limited-slip differential and a new aluminium steering knuckle, made the XKR-S an alternative to the 911 GT3. However, the Porsche was the clear winner as a driver’s tool. For this reason, the standard XKR might be the better choice for most.

The XKR excels as a long-legged GT car you can still enjoy when you reach some challenging roads. Its interior design might be bland – and its infotainment horribly dated – but it is pretty practical as GT cars go, with back seats and a 330-litre boot with a huge opening that makes it easy to load.

Jaguar XKR X150: Problems to look out for?

The X150 XKR solved many of the reliability issues suffered by the old X100, including fragile plastic cambelt tensioners and rust.

Rust is something the X150’s aluminium body won’t suffer from. Having said that, if the paint is damaged – stone chips or trim pieces rubbing on the paintwork – it can cause oxidation that can spread if not addressed. A known problem area is the back edge of the roof at the tailgate.

Galvanic corrosion can also be a problem where steel fittings – found in the bumpers and wheel well linings – come into contact with the aluminium body. Finally, it’s worth remembering that aluminium-bodied cars are trickier and more expensive to fix than steel-bodied cars.

Components like the subframes are made from painted steel and can corrode. A Waxoyl treatment will stop rust dead in its tracks and is worth considering on any car you buy.

Mechanically, the X150 is considered pretty tough, not suffering from the brittle plastic timing chain sensors and dodgy water pumps that were a problem for X100 owners.

Nevertheless, a complete service history using the correct oil is highly desirable: 5W 30 or fully synthetic (4.2-litre) or 5W 20 for the 5.0-litre model. Both models can also suffer from dodgy thermostats, although, on the upside, replacing them on the XKR is an easier job than on the standard XK.

Rattling variable valve timing could indicate a hydraulic problem, and we’d recommend changing the oil in the ‘maintenance-free’ gearbox every 60,000 miles.

Finally, watch for electrical gremlins caused by a weak battery producing a low voltage – owners recommend changing the battery at least every four years. Owners also recommend driving your XKR for at least 30 minutes daily, although hooking it up to a trickle charger will be more convenient for most or, if you don’t have a garage, a solar charger.

Jaguar XKR X150: How much to pay?

When writing, the cheapest Jaguar XKR available was a tired, five-owner 4.2-litre 2007 coupe with more than 150,000 miles on the clock, advertised for less than £8,000. It’s a tempting price if you’re handy with a spanner and enjoy returning a well-used modern classic to as-new condition, or you just don’t mind gambling that it’ll last long enough to feel like you’ve got your money’s worth.

Most would prefer to pay the extra £1,500 needed to buy a car in much better condition. We saw a two-owner 2007 car with 110,000-mile mileage, finished in deep metallic blue with a mushroom leather interior, advertised for £9,490.

However, £15,000 buys you a car in much better condition. That’s enough to get you a late 4.2-litre model built in 2009 in a desirable colour combination and with plenty of life left in the tank, with a mileage of less than 60,000 miles. You’ll pay over £20,000 for the best 4.2-litre coupes available. Convertible models tend to carry a slight premium and have a lower mileage than coupes of the same age; prices for the rag tops range from £12,000 – 22,000.

For the best performance, you’ll want a 5.0-litre model. Prices start from around £13,000, but a budget of around £16,000 gets you a three-owner car with less than 80,000 miles. Built to celebrate Jaguar’s 75th anniversary, closer to £20,000 buys you an XKR 75 with a stiffer chassis and more power. The car we saw had covered 60,000 miles and had six owners on its logbook.

XKR-S versions, capable of 200mph (if they weren’t limited to 186), are the priciest XKs of the lot. Prices start from £39,000 for a 2011 car with less than 80,000 miles on the clock, rising to £62,000 for a 2014 car that’s barely run-in with a mileage of less than 10,000 miles.

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1961 Jaguar E-type exterior

Original UK-spec Jaguar E-type is up for sale from £1million

Original UK-spec Jaguar E-type is up for sale from £1million

It arrived like a bolt from the blue in 1961 and immediately turned the sportscar market on its head. Flat out, it would do 150mph while just standing still its lines would cause jaws to drop; even Enzo Ferrari is said to have called it the most beautiful car ever made. No wonder one of them has been on permanent exhibition in the New York Museum of Modern Art since 1996. The car? What else but the Jaguar E-type.

Then as now the E-type is one of the most instantly recognisable shapes on the road, and praise be we get to recognise it often because there are plenty of them and they are, relatively speaking, affordable classic cars to buy and run today.

Well, most of them are. The car you see here might look like just another lovely E-type but it’s odds on to be the first million-pound E-type. And the clue to its exceptional value is in nothing more exotic than the bonnet catches.

In the pantheon of E-type variations between 1961 and 1975 –coupe and roadster, manual and auto, 3.8 and 4.2 sixes and then 5.2 V12, short and long wheelbase, two seats or 2+2 – the pure gold for collectors are the words: “External bonnet catches”.

They are the little chrome catches on the outside low down on either side of the E-type’s huge clamshell bonnet. To undo them and open the bonnet you needed a special tool, which probably wasn’t the most convenient thing for owners – and why Jaguar soon moved the latches to inside the cabin.

But not before 500 cars had been made, including the pair you see here. Being early 1961 cars, they are Series I 3.8s, one a fixed-head coupe, the other a roadster and both with the flat floor (it was later dished to get more legroom) that along with the bonnet catches and welded louvres on the bonnet signify them as early production models.

“Early” is a bit of an understatement where these two are concerned. Of the first 500 E-types with the telltale outside latches, only a handful were the coupe and only four of those were right-hand drive (the first were earmarked for export only). This car, the first of those four, was supplied by Jaguar in August 1961 to be the E-type demonstrator for Henlys in London.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

Here then is the very first UK-spec E-type; can the roadster beat that? Well, it can certainly match it, for this car’s claim to fame is that it was the first production E-type sold in the UK. The first owner? That was “Lofty” England, Jaguar’s legendary racing team manager who oversaw Jaguar’s five Le Mans victories with the E-type’s C- and D-type forebears. That’s quite some name to have in the logbook.

What price for this pair of E-type rarities? Gooding & Co, which is auctioning them at its London sale at Hampton Court Palace on 1st September, reckons the fixed-head coupe will sell for between £1-1.4m, and the convertible for between £900,000-1.2m. The million-pound E-type has arrived, making this pair more valuable than any this side of the racing Lightweights.

Not bad for a car that, at first glance, looks like any other early E-type which could feasibly be in your garage for one twentieth the price. And it’s all down to something as simple as the bonnet catches!

Images courtesy of Gooding & Co.

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Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona Coupe front exterior

Goodwood Classic Solutions at the 2023 Festival of Speed

Goodwood Classic Solutions at the 2023 Festival of Speed

Goodwood Classic Solutions is joining the action at the Festival of Speed this weekend. Anyone attending can also get into the draw to win two four-day passes to the Festival of Speed in 2024, simply by visiting us at our stand and getting a quote, or sharing your renewal date to get a quote later in the year. The view the full terms and conditions of the competition, click here.

Our friendly team of experts will be on hand to talk you through the options available to you with Goodwood Classic Solutions, while you can also get a closer look at three beautiful classics which will be on display at the GCS stand.

 

Learn more about everything going on at this year’s Festival of Speed.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

1961 Jaguar E-Type 3.8 Series 1 Roadster

When the long, low and lithe Jaguar E-type was first revealed to huge gasps of delight at the Geneva Salon on 15th March 1961, no less than Enzo Ferrari described it as “the most beautiful car ever made.” This extraordinary high praise set the tone for the now-legendary E-type’s long and successful 13-year production run in both closed Coupe and open Roadster body styles.

The OBL Jaguars served not only as prototypes for the entire E-Type production run but also helped pave the way for the E-Type racers, with very few OBL cars alike, this example being the 88th RHD model built (on 21st July 1961).

Finished in its original dark Opalescent Blue coachwork with black folding roof, over a light blue interior (which is in fact grey), this is one of just five early examples finished in this striking colour combination.

Starting Insurance cost: £197.75 ( based on £99k value )

1988 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 ClubSport

The Porsche 911 ClubSport (option M637, often referred to ‘CS’) was based on the Model Year 1988 911 Carrera 3.2. The CS was designed as a lightweight project, saving some 70kg over the regular 911 coupe, achieved by eliminating the electric front seats, rear seats, rear wiper, spot lamps, sound proofing, and so on. Even the passenger sun visor was removed!

All but one of the 53 RHD UK-market CS models built (with 340 globally) were finished in Grand Prix White with red wheels and graphics, the unique exception being the reverse combination. With firmer suspension, stiffer engine mounts, LSD and a blueprinted engine, the CS had acclaimed handling and road manners to give a more involving and aural driving experience.

Starting insurance cost: £599.50  ( based on £127,000 value )

1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ Coupe

This evolution of the Ferrari 275 GTB4 was a milestone in the history of high-performance front-engined sportscars. Its sleek, modern and influential Pininfarina lines were matched by a development of the 4.4-litre V12 motor, fed by six Weber town-choke 40 carburettors, with an exceptional weight distribution provided by the rear gearbox transaxle to produce a GT of rare balance to guaranty a unique driving experience.

The 365 GTB/4 is more familiar to motoring enthusiasts as the Ferrari Daytona, although the model never officially carried that name from Maranello. With 1,284 examples of the sublime GT Coupe built between 1968 to 1973 as the last of the great V12 front-engined Ferraris of the era.

The example presented here is the more prolific ‘Series 2’ model, easily identifiable by its fixed quad headlights, mounted behind a clear Perspex glass cover. Just a handful of the earliest 1969 365 GTB/4 were with pop-up headlamps.

Starting insurance cost: £1,923.25 (based on £2 million value )
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