Gatherings of British Cars over the Labor Day weekend is a tradition throughout much of the U.S. This year, a “British Invasion Show and Shine” was held at Alderbrook Park in Brush Prairie, Washington.
A 30-mile drive, predominantly on back roads, it would be a perfect opportunity to use our 1971 Jaguar E-Type S3 coupe (VIN 1S71487BW). I purchased it in January on Bring A Trailer for $39,375 with commission. Including transport to Portland and fettling here, I have about $42,000 “invested” in the car.
While I have put nearly 1,500 miles on the car since its arrival in January, this would be its first car show.
The drill was familiar. Check all the fluids and tire pressures. Put a six-pack of Diet Pepsi in the cooler. Take two folding chairs, which fit nicely in the rear of the Jag. Get the cupholders properly positioned. Make sure the JBL Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker was charged, and that all the necessary adapters and cables were present to keep our modern-day electronic appliances happy.
Unique to the 1971 Jag coupes, the rear seatback pivots forward to provide more storage space.
The interior of the Jag is an oxymoron. Despite the long, lithe lines of the hood, the seats are actually very narrow, as are the footwells. You don’t “get into” the car, you “insert” yourself.
Once behind the wheel, you are clearly in a 49-year-old car. The analog gauges and mechanical switches are nicely if slightly haphazardly arrayed across the dash. There is a separate control for each demister fan, one for the passenger’s and one for the driver’s side of the windscreen.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel is dainty.
The manual choke needs to be pulled out three clicks before the quartet of Stormberg carburetors are happy.
After a quick trip to a Starbucks drive-through, and getting a proper road-trip breakfast of a tall non-fat latte and chicken biscuit sandwich, we were off.
I’m constantly surprised by the superior road manners of the Jag. While in no way a nimble car like the six-cylinder E-types, the 5.3-liter, 272-hp V12 engine gives it a personality of its own. Coupled with its relatively light weight (2,970 pounds), the car accelerates briskly if not ferociously. The 3-speed automatic Borg-Warner transmission is a perfect match for the output of the V12. It cruises effortlessly at 80 mph.
Ours is a particularly pleasing example to drive. Having covered just 23,000 miles from new (which I have researched and verified), it’s like a driving a two-year-old car.
When the car arrived, Ed Grayson of Consolidated Auto Works in Portland replaced all of the front suspension bushings with OEM rubber items. The “upgraded” polyurethane ones in place had disintegrated with age.
The car’s interior and exterior are completely original, with the exception of the headliner, which was replaced some years ago.
I have never owned a classic car in such original, “as-new” condition, and driving it is a revelation. The power-assisted steering feels just right and not vague. The Jaguar is sure-footed.
Surprisingly, the air conditioning system can turn the interior of the car into a meat locker. Upgraded to R134, it is operated by two dials, one for temperature and one for fan speed. The challenge, even in the 90-degree weather we were in, was finding a way to keep the car just cool enough but not arctic.
I had always looked down my nose at these jumbo-sized E-types as being not true to the original intent of the car. Our car has taught me that they are simply a completely different animal. With its smooth, powerful engine and capable a/c, the Jag is a high-speed touring car. I could easily see covering hundreds of miles a day in it.
We arrived at the British Invasion and enjoyed the cars on display, perhaps 200 in all.
The next day there was an organized tour to Stoller Vineyard. More than a dozen cars followed the 49.9-mile route on delightful back roads, ending in Dayton, OR.
Thank you to Reid Trummel for organizing this.
I rate the Jag’s first car-club outing to be a success. The car was fast and comfortable. We didn’t have to call a towing service. Between our cupholders and Bluetooth speaker we enjoyed modern conveniences in a classic car.
I won’t wait until next Labor Day to take it out again.