Timeless Elegance And A Few Modifications Create An Ideal E-Type Experience
Photography by AutoLeven
Any E-Type Series I in decent shape is a joy to look at, let alone drive on open, calm, 3rd and 4th gear roads. It’s a car that’s perfect for Sunday cruises or track days depending on your preference—they look equally appropriate parked on a fashionable side street near Marble Arch as they do with tape on their lights and an inside wheel hovering above a rumble strip. It’s one of those sports cars that manages the tricky feat of being both a blank canvas and an icon. The C- and D-Types may have more clout at Le Mans, but the E-Type is arguably the most impactful cat in Jaguar’s bag.
Whatever you feel about the E-Type’s place in British and general sports car history though, it’s almost universally agreed that if you’re going to get one, the Series I cars are where it’s at. This particular example was delivered to one of the major Hollywood studios in Los Angeles in 1964, and a few months shy of exactly 30 years later it was purchased by a Dutch enthusiast who had plans to fully restore the car that had seen the typical sun-beaten life in Southern California. Unfortunately, due to a lack of time (I wonder how many restorations have ended with someone taking the car apart and nothing beyond that), the Jag had never been given the proper restoration that it deserved. This is where the current owner came into the picture, as you can clearly see.
In 2013 he purchased the car to have it completely restored by an experienced Jaguar specialist—after all, if you’re being paid to do it, restorations are more likely to come to completion. The car came without papers or any form of documentation when it came over from the States, and for this reason the owner felt an urge and an opportunity to play around with the car a little bit beyond its OEM specifications so he could enjoy it to the fullest. The most material of these changes is under the clamshell, where the 4.2L inline-six became a 4.7 instead. The SU carbs were swapped for a set of Webers in the process.
The gearbox has been upgraded to a five-speed manual setup, and a new higher ratio differential has been installed as well. This results in significantly faster acceleration, but of course a lower top speed—we all know which is the more fun side of that trade off.
To create a better driving position for his rather tall self, the owner removed the frames underneath the seats so he could fit more comfortably and lower the effective center a gravity just a smidge as a bonus. Aside from lowering the driving position, the rest of interior has received its due attention too. Most notable is the new, full leather interior and Alcantara headliner that have been installed in place of the tired, cracked original pieces, with the headliner being a touch more modern than the rest, but I think you’ll agree that it’s not egregious. The list of modifications continues below the bodywork, and besides the engine the chassis dynamics have received the most attention.
The car now sits on a set of Öhlins shock absorbers which were dialed in and correctly adjusted by an official Öhlins dealer. This more capable suspension setup makes the car stick to the road like something decades newer, but this newfound degree of grip doesn’t come by way of super-stiffness, and it’s not the kind of harsh ride that turns nice cars into rattling jalopies after a few potholes. The setup of this car make it more than suited for weekly use as well as weekend abuse. There’s always a compromise to be made toward one end of the spectrum when it comes to suspension on road cars, but on this thing it’s genuinely hard to tell.
On the narrow, winding roads in the Dutch countryside, the car is an absolute dream to drive like the souped up GT it is. Switching between second and third with the shorter-ratio five-speed, combined with the occasional backfire from the exhaust, that’s just a magical experience, especially so in a car that looks as exceedingly proper and well-mannered as this.