When Jaguar Cars stopped making the E-type they ended the run with a batch of fifty Series III V12 cars, the last of which the firm kept for their own publicity purposes. The forty-ninth of the series was sold to a private Jaguar enthusiast and was painted green, while all the rest of the batch were painted black. Each car had a small brass plate on the instrument panel, giving the car details and inscribed with Sir William Lyons’ signature. This was in 1975 and the cars were sold at the normal V12 E-type price of £3,743 for the manual version and £3,937 for the automatic.
A motor dealer in Surrey bought two of these black V12 E-types, numbers 2823 and 2845, presumably at a trader’s discount price of 17% under the list price. He salted them away, unregistered, unused and brand new, and kept them in an air-conditioned showroom. He is now offering them for sale at around £25,000 each!
Having driven the very last E-type V12, Registered Number HDU555N when it left the production line I wept no tears at the end of the E-type, for by 1975 it was terribly dated. The V12 engine was fabulous, but the rest of the car could not cope with it. If you used the potential of the 5.3-litre V12 engine you soon ran out of brakes, the road-holding was sadly lacking, the steering was only just adequate and the whole car was very old-fashioned in its manner of going, though still a super car to look at. Tempering one’s driving style to suit the car, as regards a feeling of personal safety and well-being, I found that one was using the potential of a good 4.2-litre 6-cylinder E-type (like the one I was using at the time). When I returned the V12 roadster to the factory I said I thought the engine was terrific but it needed a new car around it. The Jaguar men just smiled and said nothing, for they knew they had the XJ-S coupe about to go into production. As we now know the XJ-S can use the potential of the 5.3-litre V12 Jaguar engine in all respects, and after you’ve driven one you know it is a good car.
The Series III V12 E-type was really only stop-gap model used to get the V12 engine into production before it went into volume production for the XJ saloon and the XJ-S coupe. In effect the V12 E-type was a test-bed for the production engineer at Jaguar cars, otherwise the E-type would have ended with the Series II 4.2-litre 6-cylinder. It had been in production for over ten years before it became dated which is the sign of a successful car.
The Surrey motor dealers who want £25,000 for a car they bought for under £4,000 four years ago are obviously not looking for a motorist as a customer. Anyone who knows about motoring would buy an XJ-S coupe for a lot less money and have enough left over to pay for using it for 50,000 miles or more. You could even buy a Porsche 928 and have money left over.
Are “collectors” lunatics, clever, dishonest, good business men, endowed with more money than brains, or perhaps they don’t really exist, except in the imagination of the motor dealers? If these two nondescript cars from the final batch of 50 E-types are worth £25,000 each to the dealers, then one wonders what the Trade would ask if they could get their hands on HDU555N, the very last production E-type Jaguar – D. S. J.