Nothing on the road can put quite as much of a skip in your step as driving one of these cars. Even a Series 3. They’re still fast. They’re still fantastic. They still feel sharp. It makes a great noise, it’s got wicked acceleration. My name’s Danny Hopkins and I’m editor of Practical Classics magazine, and I’m here at Bicester Heritage, talking to Nigel Thorley, from the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club. Nigel, we’ve got here a Series 3 E-Type Jaguar drophead. Tell me, what’s the difference between the Series 3 and the earlier E-Types? – This was the first E-Type to take the V12 engine which was an entirely new engine Jaguar designed in 1971 and befittingly, it should have gone into a sport car first, so it went into this car, even though it was intended for the X-T saloons later on.
It’s a real grand touring. It’s probably one of the best grand touring cars in the world. – It’s fantastic. It’s reflected in value somewhat. I understand the Series 3 are slightly less valued than the earlier cars? – That’s right, again people go for the purity of line, the original E-Types designed by William Lyons. This car had to be adapted to suit the V12, a much heavier, much larger engine. So, people don’t think it’s not quite as E-Type as it’s supposed to be, but nevertheless, it’s a superb motor car. – It is, and that makes it, I think, the entry-level E-Type, if you like. – If you like, yes, if you like. – In which case, would you help me? Because I’d like to see the things that you need to check for if you were to purchase one of these fabulous vehicles. Should we start on the front? – Yeah, fine. The body’s the most important thing. It’s far more important than the mechanics, because this is the main structure of the car. If you could bear in mind this car doesn’t have a chassis. It’s a monocar construction, so all the strength is in the front and rear bulkheads, it’s in the floors, it’s in the sills.
So any corrosion is vital to look out and identify. The bonnet represents about a third of the whole car, and because of that you need to look at the bonnet first. You can still buy a brand new bonnet, made by the same people who used to make it for Jaguar in the first place. The problem is, it’s not just an expensive things to buy, it’s an extraordinarily expensive thing to fit, because every bonnet has to be hand fitted to every individual car.
– Should we have a look at the engine? – Sure. The V12 engines are virtually unburstable, but they must be well maintained. Head gaskets can be a problem. This is an all aluminium engine, so you can have major problems if they’re not filled to the right percentage anti-freeze and that sort of thing. Not maintained, oil changed regularly, and all the rest of it. Simple things like can go wrong with most of these cars, this is a beautifully engineered capstan that operates the throttle linkages for all the carburetors, and if it’s wrongly adjusted, you’ll never get the performance out the car, you’ll never get the feeling of what the v12 is really like. It’s getting the details right. – Well, I’m gonna take this for a drive in a minute, is there anything I should look out for on the road? – You should feel at one with the car. They are silky smooth. The rack and pinion steering is good. The performance should be effortless. They’re a real grand touring car. – It is fantastic.
Now, when you’re on your test drive, just keep a few eyes out for whiffs of smoke in the back. Again, these engines are very, very, very strong, but if they’ve suffered a head gasket failure you might need to look out for a variety of woes that are familiar to every classic. Be really aware that the rear suspension should feel nice and planted. If it isn’t, you might have bush trouble, you might have radius arm trouble. Take it on a reasonably long test drive. Let it get hot if you can. As long as you feel centered on the road, then you should be OK. Anything else, investigate. If you have to do an awful lot of work on your Series 3, you might not necessarily make your money back in the same way as you would on a Series 1 or 2. For me, though, a Series 3, if you want to take it on a long journey, for daily use, it’s the E-Type to have.