If ever there was an auto manufacturer to take lessons learned from racing and apply them to their street cars, it was Jaguar. The legendary D-type was a formidable competitor on the track and Jaguar included all the D's best traits when it debuted the E-type in 1961. Arguably the most well recognized sports car of its era, the E-type had a perfect combination of curvaceous lines, high performance and affordable price. This winning combination helped establish it as an instant hit and its popularity has only grown stronger. The evolution of the E-type is well documented. The initial 3.8-liter model lacked footwell space, had uncomfortable seats, massive brake fade and an engine prone to overheating-yet it was loved. Ten years and numerous improvements later, Jaguar launched a V12 engine in its E-type that provided lots of torque and horsepower. The V12 was not the only improvement for the third and final series of E-types-it was now well appointed with features, while drivability benefited from power steering and brakes. The result was a sophisticated grand tourer. The V12 model pictured here is fresh from a complete nut-and-bolt restoration to JCNA standards. The no-expense-spared restoration was completed four years ago; since then, the car has remained in a bubble, virtually untouched. It is beautifully finished in red with biscuit interior and is complete with optional wire wheels. The four-speed gearbox makes best use of the powerful 12-cylinder engine and the air conditioning will keep you cool in warm weather. These late-model E-types mark the end of an era, and their user-friendly operation makes them highly suitable for all enthusiasts to enjoy on a regular basis.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Jaguar E-type Series III V12 convertible
Years Produced:1971-74
Number Produced:7,990
Original List Price:$8,475
SCM Valuation:$30,000-$47,500
Tune Up Cost:$600
Distributor Caps:$40
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on plate pop-riveted to top center of engine compartment
Engine Number Location:Stamped on top of engine block, at rear
Club Info:Jaguar Clubs of North America, 888/258-2524
Alternatives:AC Ace Bristol, Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III, Jaguar XJS V12 convertible
Investment Grade:B

This car sold for $50,600, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Meadow Brook sale, August 3, 2002.

Denis Jenkinson, legendary English motoring journalist and co-driver for Stirling Moss when they won the Mille Miglia in the Mercedes 300 SLR, tested the brand-new Jaguar Series III V12 in comparison to his SII daily driver. His conclusion was that it could do everything the earlier six-cylinder E-types could do, just at 20 mph faster and at seven fewer miles per gallon. Concluding that he no longer had the reflexes or will to outwit the constabulary by cruising at 120 mph, nor would his expense account handle the double hit of rising petrol prices and decreased gas mileage, he decided to stick with his Series II.

In today’s market, enthusiasts seem to make much the same decision. In spite of the fact that the 5.3-liter V12 engine with its four Zenith Stromberg carburetors, two on each cylinder bank, offers much the same verve and performance as a V12 Ferrari, collectors aren’t willing to spend a premium over the six-cylinder cars.

In many ways, the Series III really was the best of the E-types. With a lengthened wheelbase, the model offered more space and comfort on the interior. Stylists would argue that in many ways, the design sorts out some of the awkward details of the SII, while preserving the voluptuous lines that characterize the entire E-type line. Of course, there was the problem of the punching-bag rubber bumper overriders that were Jaguar’s answer to the US bumper regulations instituted in 1974, the last year of the model.

At first glance, the V12 engine looks very complex. Pollution-control equipment, as well as standard power steering and air conditioning, with which most SIIIs were equipped, add a plethora of pipes, compressors, condensors and hoses to the engine compartment. Nevertheless, experienced Jaguar mechanics say the engine is one of the best features of the car. If it has been well maintained, it is quite reliable, and the one-piece bonnet makes all parts of it quite accessible. As an added bonus, in states with a rolling 30-year exemption for smog testing, modifications can now be made. Jason Len of XKs Unlimited says a replacement SU carb kit and removal of extraneous smog equipment can add 30 horsepower while improving gas mileage.

On the interior of the Series IIIs, safety regulations undermined the charm of traditional Jaguar design. Wood and metal trim had been replaced by padded vinyl. Metal toggle switches had been replaced by plain plastic rockers. And the lovely wood-rimmed steering wheels with polished plastic horn buttons had been replaced by a leather-wrapped rim and molded rubber hub. However, a large tachometer and large speedometer still bracketed the steering column, supplemented by a clock and four no-nonsense gauges above the console, all with black faces and white lettering.

This particular car was in excellent restored condition and the buyer was willing to pay at the upper end of the normal trading range for the quality of the restoration. There’s no indication that the car has been entered in any Jaguar Clubs of North America concours events, so the true test of the point-quality of the restoration is yet to come. And since the car has not been driven in the four years since it has been restored, it will surely need to be fettled.

Nonetheless, given the apparent thoroughness and quality of this restoration, this car should be considered well bought. If properly maintained and driven sparingly, it should do nothing but appreciate in the future.-Gary Anderson

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