The 4.2-Litre Jaguar E-type



A lengthy road test of the 150 m.p.h. E-Type

We have been running a 3.8 E-type as a staff car for about six months now and the Assistant Editor has covered 9,000 relatively trouble-free miles so far. We thought it would be a good idea to compare the two cars item by item.

Engine: The 4.2 engine is a good deal more than just a bored-out 3.8 as it is not really possible to get more than 4-litres by straight cylinder boring. The cylinders have been repositioned somewhat, numbers 2 and 5 remaining in their original position, with 3 and 4 moving together and 1 and 6 moving towards the ends of the block. This has necessitated a new crankshaft, so the opportunity has been taken to stiffen the seven-main-bearing shaft. The four balance weights have been moved to reduce bearing loads and a new torsional damper is fitted. Water flow is freer around the bores and a new type of piston has been introduced to fit the new 92.07 mm. bore; the stroke remains unchanged at 106 mm. to give a capacity of 4,235 c.c.

The 4.2 engine is quieter than the 3.8 without a doubt; we are not sure why this should be but there has been considerable use of additional sound-deadening material in the 4.2, although this has mainly been used in the rear to further deaden exhaust and final-drive noise. At 5,500 r.p.m., where the red line starts, the engine sounds much less fussed than the 3.8. Power output has not been increased, but maximum b.h.p. of 265 is reached at 5,400 r.p.m. instead of 5,500 r.p.m. It is impossible to detect any difference in the acceleration between the two cars and, in fact, due to slightly greater weight, our stop-watches found no appreciable diflerence. The cylinder head is unchanged but a new inlet manifold is fitted due to the fact that the old bellows brake servo has been replaced by a suspended vacuum type, allowing more room on the carburetter side of the engine. The new manifold gives straighter inlet tracts for the three 2-in. S.U. carburetters, but on both our own 3.8 and the test 4.2 the idling is rather lumpy and erratic, and requires careful setting-up to eliminate. Other innovations on the 4.2 engine are the Lucas alternator, which reaches full charge as low as 910 r.p.m., and a new pre-engaged starter which remains in mesh all the time the starter button is being pressed. It is, however, noisier than the 3.8 starter.

Transmission: The gearbox of the 4.2 is of inertia lock baulk ring type and is the greatest single improvement over the 3.8. Perhaps the greatest boon of the new box is the low noise level, for the box on the 3.8 gives off a good deal of whine, especially in the lower gears, and is certainly not in keeping with the rest of the car. The new box has unbeatable syncromesh and a quick if rather springy movement between gears. Any gear can be selected at any speed, and first gear can be selected with no drama at 40 m.p.h. It can also be selected when at rest nine times out of ten, which is more than can be said for the box on the 3.8 version. A diaphragm spring clutch is fitted to the 4.2 but later versions of the 3.8, including our car, also had a diaphragm clutch; the pedal pressure is somewhat higher on the 4.2, no doubt due to the fitting of stiffer springs to take the additional torque of the bigger engine. The rear compartment of the 4.2 coupé has been given more luxurious treatment and sound deadening material is increased, so that final-drive noise is completely eliminated; on the 3.8 some final-drive whine can be heard. The standard final-drive ratio is now 3.07; the car started out with this ratio, then went over to 3.31, and on the 4.2 is back to 3.07. For the American market an even lower ratio of 3.54 is fitted as standard while a high ratio of 2.9 is available for racing. At 120 m.p.h. the engine is revving at 5,381 r.p.m. on the 3.54 ratio, 5,031 r.p.m. on the 3.31 ratio, and 4,665 r.p.m. on the 3.07 ratio. As Jaguar do not recommend exceeding 5,000 r.p.m. for long periods, the cruising speeds on the three ratios are 110 m.p.h. for the 3.54, 120 m.p.h. for the 3.31, and 130 m.p.h. on the 3.07, as these speeds correspond to approximately 5,000 r.p.m.

Handling: The suspension of the 3.8 and 4.2 is virtually identical, the only difference being slightly stiffer springs at the rear to reduce the tendency for the suspension to bottom on bad bumps. Later 3.8 models have been given virtually the same characteristics by fitting spacers under each of the four springs. Motor Sport‘s car has been fitted with the spacers, which has had the desired effect of eliminating bottoming, and it is now virtually impossible to detect any differences between the handling of the 3.8 and 4.2. The rack-and-pinion steering is unchanged and the lock remains at 2-1/2 turns.

Brakes: The Dunlop discs are unchanged but a new servo with a constant supply of air from the manifold is fitted. This gives more bite, especially at low speeds, and the brakes feel more powerful all through the range. On the test car they tended to be slightly “sticky” as the car was still braking for a fraction of a second after the pedal had been released. The off-side front brake also tended to pull under heavy braking.

Cockpit: The only significant change in the interior is the new type of seat which, by virtue of its curved squab, gives the necessary support in the small of the back which is lacking in the 3.8 model. The seat, is comfortable over long journeys and the driver does not start to squirm with irritating backache after 100 miles or so. The thicker squab does, however, reduce the already cramped driving quarters, and this is one of the few major criticisms that can still be levelled against the E-type. Tall drivers find it difficult to obtain a comfortable driving position and their legs tend to foul the steering-wheel rim. Pedal positions are not beyond criticism as it is difficult to place the feet squarely on the clutch and brake pedals, while it is very difficult to make heel-and-toe gear-changes. The interior also tends to get rather too warm as a good deal of heat is transmitted through the bulkhead and transmission tunnel.—M.L. T.
* * * * *
On English Motorways in a 4.2 E-type

Because the Assistant Editor flashes about in a Jaguar E-type while the Editor pedals around in a Morris 1100, it seemed expedient that he should write the road-test report on the improved 4.2-litre version of this famous sports car. But the pleasure of driving this exhilarating motor car was too great to forgo; so when the Production Manager suggested going out in it to sample the present state of some of the English motorways, the Editor was quick to acquiesce.

A start was made at Colnbrook, where A 4(M) runs to Maidenhead Thicket. Our equipment for this two-day round trip was the aforesaid Jaguar E-type press car, with its Dunlop RS5s blown up to 32/35 lb./sq. in., a Japanese Asahi Pentax camera, that useful R.A.C. “Know Your Motorways” map, and a Breitling Navitimer wrist stop-watch. Incidentally, the Jaguar was not equipped with safety-belts and the Editor refrained from wearing a crash-hat..

A 4(M) is a 2-lane motorway, crowded at 10 a.m. with trucks, so that our speed fell repeatedly from 130 m.p.h. to 40 m.p.h. Even so, its 10.5 miles (per the Jaguar’s trip mileometer) were disposed of in eight minutes, an average speed of 78.7 m.p.h., which, considering that we had by-passed congested Slough and diversionary Maidenhead, was useful. The time we had saved at the start of this imaginary business excursion round England was lost because we did not see the run-off to A 4 and got to Henley and Peppard before striking the Bath Road via Reading.

The Editor now took over because he knows the route to Ross-on-Wye, on this occasion lorry-infested from Gloucester onwards, with fog from Cirencester.

Having run off A 4(M) at 10.14 a.m., we came onto M 50, the Ross Spur Motorway, at 12.40 p.m. This deserted 2-lane 21-mile motorway occupied 15 minutes of Jaguar motoring (84 m.p.h.), after which we stopped at “Services” for lunch, served in a spacious, spotlessly clean restaurant, quite expeditiously, although the tendency here is to adopt something of the French attitude and linger over the food and wine, the latter ignored by we E-type drivers.

After “Services” M 50 becomes M 5, en route for Birmingharn, bringing Ross within 45-1/2 motorway miles of the Industrial City, a charming thought for those who appreciate the peace of the Wye Valley! “The remaining 24.3 miles took us exactly a quarter-of-an-hour (97.2 m.p.h.), along a fairly thickly-populated road in heavy rain, spray fanning out behind the E-type’s upswept tail.

It was 2 p.m. when we came off M 5 and thereafter came a tedious, traffic-infested crawl through Staffordshire before M 6 was entered from A 449 just south of Stafford, which absorbed 56 minutes of travel time.

The M 6 to Preston is a fine 3-lane motorway reminiscent of such roads on the continent, I think because the country flanking it is mostly on the same level, while the road winds and undulates in a manner which identifies it from the straight, often elevated M1.

The rain was by now torrential—we were skirting Manchester, of course—as the Jaguar swept on majestically in the outer lane, beneath drifting clouds, in a fantastic plume of spray. Alas, it was by now evident that fumes were entering the body, so a pause of 16 minutes was made at the first Service area to drink tea and buy Aspro.

This enabled us to discover another very comprehensive and well-planned building, containing a grille-and-griddle restaurant, snack bar with carry-away meals service, a party catering room, a Post Office, and, naturally, automatic machines serving cigarettes and chocolate, a well-stocked book-shop, telephones and toilets, the last-named incorporating babies’ changing rooms. It was all very bright and cheerful and nicely-done, typical of the Motorway-age, but we should have appreciated it a lot more if the Jaguar’s propensity for picking-up exhaust and diesel fumes hadn’t made us feel ourselves rather like babies in need of changing.

Discounting this tea-drinking breather, the 82.4 miles of M 6 to where it dwindled into a 2-lane road with single-lane diversion after by-passing Preston took 53 minutes (93.3 m.p.h.). (The police here have white M.G.-Bs.)

The Lancaster Spur of M 6 was entered at 4.32 p.m., the interconnecting road having absorbed 27 minutes, and the remaining 11-1/2 miles were covered in 14 minutes (46.45 m.p.h.), the slow speed being due to single-lane working. M 6 is a useful and pleasant motorway, making light work of a journey from Stafford to Carnforth.

That concluded our first day’s motorway investigation and we drove on to the Lake District, to spend the night in an extremely comfortable hotel beside Lake Windermere. (It was on this lake, years ago, that Sir Henry Segrave was killed while attempting a new Water Speed Record for Britain, thus increasing our prestige in the eyes of the world. Such prestige for this country is equally essential today, and is being ably looked after by the present generation of racing drivers.)

The next morning, after a night of gale-driven rain had given way to frozen sunshine, the Editor was instructed to drive over Wrynose and Hardnott Passes, because the Production Manager sometimes fulfils the role of Second Photographer and wished to exercise some camera-craft.

We then came over to Penrith via Tan Hill, of R.A.C. Rally memory, and turned on to A 1 just below Catterick, a once-notorious road now improved to 2-lane near-Motorway standard with remarkably little fuss or publicity. The Jaguar proved very willing to eat it up at 115 m.p.h., with occasional bursts of 135, speeds which dropped to an indicated 0 m.p.h., literally, when a stream of “heavies” had to fall in behind one of Mr. Pickford’s abnormal loads through the diversion after Weatherby, old roads and stately stone walls ending abruptly here, where the new dual-carriageway embankments have bi-sected them.

Another E-type, its occupants strapped-in, was overtaken on A 1 and it was with relief, having memories of long delays in Doncaster in the past, that we ran onto A 1(M) which by-passes it. This 15-mile 2-lane motorway was well salted against frost and is much bridged. We covered it in 11 minutes (81.8 m.p.h.), being held down frequently to 75 m.p.h. by heavy traffic.

The route now lay through Leicester, where “M 1” signs, with a few exceptions, are easy to follow, impressive rail-type road-laying machinery being noticed making the new A 46 beyond this straggling town.

M 1, followed south in its entirety, apart from the final M 10 spur, was the usual tedium of 3-lane down to 2-lane, then a single-file diversion bringing the speedometer swinging from 130 to 40 m.p.h., up to 3-lane, down to 2-lane; both sides, then single-lane again. . . . We caught up with a Lotus Elan on trade plates which proved able to hold the Jaguar on acceleration up to 135 m.p.h. and re-passed, it being necessary to go to an indicated 140 to leave it behind. Dropping back to 5,000 r.p.m., or 130 m.p.h. (3.07-to-1 axle ratio), the E-type felt entirely stable and happy, and took what curves there are on M 1 at over the ton. The 67 miles took 40 minutes (100.5 m.p.h.).

Before anyone writes in to complain, may I say emphatically that there were no incidents of any kind, nor did we see any evidence that any one of the hundreds of cars overtaken—nothing, bar that Elan, overtook the E-type—was in anyway inconvenienced. Both of us are happily married men with children and no desire to be snuffed out and, apart from one van which pulled across suddenly in front of us on M 6, there was never the most momentarily suggestion that we should be. If this account proves that England has at least some motorways which expedite fast travel in this very congested island, our expedition will have served its purpose.

The sequel was much less illustrious. Having commented on the very clear signposting to London Airport from the end of M 1 these signs took us to Wembley and then left us on our own— lost in the Harrow wilderness. How foreign visitors manage passeth understanding. Nevertheless, having left the Lake District that lunch-time, we were at Isleworth by 4.30 p.m., where the P.M. retrieved his Porsche SC, which he prefers to an E-type, and the Editor went on at (for him) elevated motor status in the Jaguar.

* * * * *

My personal observations of the latest E-type follow. The new gearbox is a definite improvement, both from the viewpoint of its excellent syncromesh and the fact that no longer does the clutch pedal have to be thrust right down to ensure quiet gearchanges. It was disappointing, though, that clutch drag on the test car made selection of bottom and 2nd gears a heavy-handed task. The clutch itself is heavy and the gearbox notchy.

The brakes are admirably suited to the car, light, yet fully master of its very high performance but, again, were inconsistent in pedal feel, due to a fault in the improved servo. Idling degenerated from 800 r.p.m. to 1,300 r.p.m. towards the end of the test, the heater picked up fumes, as already recounted, the catch of the boot-lid played up once or twice, and there was some suspected loss of performance due to retarded ignition, in spite of which the engine sometimes “pinked” on Super Shell and similar grade petrols.

It was disconcerting that faults of this sort should develop in a car made in a factory in which notices proclaiming “Quality Is Vital To Us All” are displayed prominently.

The new seats are comfortable, and remain so throughout day-long driving, in spite of upright non-adjustable squabs and, I thought, rather short cushions. Because the new engine is heavier than the old 3.8-litre, and sound-damping has also increased weight, to a total of about a cwt., there is no noticeable increase in performance, but the performance figures we recorded will bear testimony whether or not impressions are deceptive. The slightly-offset driving position is good, aided by an adjustable steering column, and the minor controls sensibly placed, except for a facia headlamps’ dimmer-switch being so attenuated that it was necessary to remove the right hand from the steering wheel to operate it.

The rear-window demisting was effective and much appreciated. This bigger-engined E-type is a quiet sports car but any idea that it will slog away in top like a Yank sedan is untrue; the carburation of the test car was very fluffy low down, but the power did come in from as low as 1,500 r.p.m, or so.

Motorway cruising at over the ton, allied to traffic work and a little pass-storming in Lakeland, failed to undermine the notable economy of the E-type, fuel consumption averaging a creditable 18.7 m.p.g. After 1,300 miles we had added 6 pints of Shell X-100 engine oil to restore the sump level.

Handling characteristics are reassuring, although heavy downhill braking gives the impression of some nose-heaviness.

I do not agree with M. L. T. (December issue, page 1010) that this latest E-type has virtually everything one could desire in a GT car. For one thing, before I set off to rush across Europe in it I should want a bigger fuel tank (the present fuel range represents scarcely more than 2-1/4-motorway hours), and for another I should require more powerful headlamps. Nor does the E-type make a good rally car, because the long bonnet with its big “power bulge” cuts off visibility up 1-in-3 hills. The car is essentially a 2-seater, with more luggage space than two keen motorists should normally need to lug about.

But the Jaguar E-type has been one of the world’s outstanding sports cars from the day it was first announced, representing quite extraordinary value-for-outlay and a high degree of driver satisfaction. In its latest form it is very near perfection.—W. B.

Jaguar E-type 4.2
Engine: Six cylinders, 92.07 x 106 mm. (4,235 c.c.). Twin overhead camshafts. 9-to-1 compression ratio. 265 b.h.p. at 5,400 r.p.m.

Gear ratios: First, 8.23; 2nd, 5.34; 3rd, 3.90; top, 3.07.

Tyres: 6.40 x 15 Dunlop RS5 on wire wheels.

Weight: 1 ton 2 cwt. 2 qtr. (maker’s dry weight).

Steering ratio: 2-1/2 turns lock to lock.

Fuel capacity: 14 gallons (Range approximately 260 miles).

Wheelbase: 8 ft. 0 in.

Track: Front, 4 ft. 2 in.; rear, 4 ft. 2 in.

Dimensions: 14 ft. 7-5/16 in x 5 ft. 5-1/4 in. x 4 ft. 0-1/8 in. (high)

Price: £1,648 (total, £1,992 17s. 11d.)

Makers: Jaguar Cars Ltd., Browns Lane, Coventry.


0 – 30 m.p.h. … 3.0 (2.9) sec.

0 – 40 m.p.h. … 4.0 (3.8) sec.

0 – 50 m.p.h. … 5.4 (5.3) sec.

0 – 60 m.p.h. … 7.3 (7.2) sec.

0 – 70 m.p.h. … 9.3 (9.2) sec.

0 – 80 m.p.h. … 11.6 (11.5) sec.

0 – 90 m.p.h. … 14.3 (14.1) sec.

0 – 100 m.p.h. … 17.6 (17.4) sec.

s.s. 1/4-mile … 15.1 (15.0) sec.
(Figures in parentheses are best times.)
Speed in gears: 1st, 51 m.p.h. (5,500 r.p.m.); 2nd, 80 m.p.h. (5,500 r.p.m.); 3rd, 110 m.p.h. (5,500 r.p.m.); 4th, 150 m.p.h. (6,000 r.p.m.)