While the SIII roadster, with its longer wheelbase and flared wheel wells, could be considered an attractive design by most admirers, the 2+2 coupe is another matter altogether
|Vehicle:||1973 Jaguar E-type Series III V12 coupe|
|Original List Price:||$7,500|
|Tune Up Cost:||$750|
|Chassis Number Location:||stamped on plate riveted to bulkhead|
|Engine Number Location:||top rear of block by bellhousing|
|Club Info:||Jaguar Club of North America, 1000 Glenbrook Road, Anchorage, KY 40223|
|Alternatives:||1980-84 Ferrari 400i; 1970-72 Aston Martin DBS V8|
The SCM analysis: This 1973 Jaguar XKE SIII Coupe sold for $24,710 at the Bonhams Beaulieu, U.K., sale held on September 11, 2004.
Much has been said and argued, and voluminous material written concerning the evolution of the Jaguar E-type from its inception in 1961 to the last generation V12 SIII configuration of 1971-1974. At one end of the spectrum are the self-described “purists” who feel the Holy Grail of the E-type is the original 3.8-liter, raw, without frills, full of torque. Anything more refined is a needless dilution of the species, according to these folks. At the other end are those who feel the V12 is the ultimate evolution.
Take one look at the sale price here, when we routinely see earlier Jags topping six figures at auction, and it’s obvious which of the camps the market sides with.
My own sympathies are somewhat divided. Having owned an SIII roadster for years, I can attest to the wonderful sounds and sensations the V12 engine has to offer. I will admit to running the car repeatedly through a tunnel near my home at 2,500 rpm in second gear just to hear the intoxicating mix of mechanical noises reverberating off the concrete walls.
The Jaguar V12 is a silky smooth, finely engineered powerplant that had been in the minds of Jaguar engineers since the ’50s, when Ferrari was torturing all rivals with its own V12. An aluminum alloy block and head with a single-cam design, it is only 86 pounds heavier than its iron DOHC six-cylinder predecessor. In the E-type it has an impressive and steady pull above 70 mph that can make freeway traffic into small specks in the rearview mirror in a instant, should you be so inclined.
But the design and complexity of the powerplant caused major consternation to the average mechanic that had not benefited from factory training. A clutch job on a V12 E-type for even the most ardent gearhead could easily become “your winter project,” as the entire powerplant must be removed. The engine is fueled by four Zenith-Stromberg 175CD carburetors (two on each bank) fed by a double-ended SU fuel pump. Getting the carbs and throttle linkage set up correctly pretty much requires a mechanical engineering background.
Quality control at the time was lost in the maze of corporate parent British Leyland. One design miscue was the decision to route a main wiring
harness and the ignition amplifier down the center of the engine galley, the hottest point on the engine. Failed amplifier units were the result, and the factory later offered a kit that moved the amp unit to the top of the radiator, a much cooler perch. Most if not all of these gremlins were eventually rectified, at least in my case, as my ’74 failed me only twice in nearly a decade. Once a frozen air pump and once an alternator diode.
The Series III chassis is based on the longer 105-inch SII 2+2 wheelbase, allowing the Borg-Warner Model 12 automatic gearbox to be offered for the first time in roadster form as well as the 2+2 coupe. The longer wheelbase and slightly heavier engine elicited some complaints of understeer when cornered hard. A slightly wider track and redesigned front framework allowed the basic monocoque design of the E-Type to remain the same, as well as simplifying assembly, as it allowed the engine to be installed after the sub-frame was fitted to the body.
While the SIII roadster, with its longer wheelbase and flared wheel wells, could be considered an attractive design by most admirers, the 2+2 coupe is another matter altogether. Some writers have referred to the exterior styling as “unfortunate” or “attractive only from a few angles.” With the steeply raked windscreen and overly high roofline that is completely out of proportion with the rest of the car, I’ll just call it butt-ugly.
A reasonable person cannot really blame Sir William Lyons, for if you were chairman and hurting for bucks, as Jaguar always was, of course you’d let the bean counters satisfy the Stateside demand for an E-type with a place to put the kids and groceries. With over 7,000 2+2s sold, obviously the market was there. But an E-Type with coat hooks? I guess it fits in with an interior that is generally regarded as an ergonomic nightmare.
At least the SIII coupe was spared the indignity of the federally mandated “Enersorb” rubber bumper overriders for 1974, as production of the 2+2 ceased in 1973. But like the Rover V8-powered Triumph TR8, as long as you are in the cockpit, an SIII E-type coupe has all the right sounds, aroma, and performance.
The 1973 XKE SIII Coupe pictured here sold for $24,710, near the upper end of the SCM Price Guide range, without deductions for its automatic gearbox, steel wheels, and lack of A/C-not to mention its rather unattractive color. To its credit, it was in apparently excellent unrestored condition, with some records. But for $25k, I would have been tempted to throw in another $5k for a decent roadster that may actually appreciate with the market at large.
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)