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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