Your January articles on the E-type and Mr. W. S. Baker’s letter in February have inspired me to write to you about my own car, which came to Kenya in 1963. I bought it in new condition the following year and have done some 30,000 miles in it.
I set up the rear suspension to increase the ground clearance by half an inch and fitted Koni shock-absorbers and have found the car admirable for all normal roads, but not for the sort of roads over which the E. A. Safari is run because the ground clearance is still too low for the worst roads of Africa. I have found the suspension to be excellent at all speeds and the cornering and handling exceptional. The car is undoubtedly strongly built and it has proved very reliable. I cannot complain about the oil consumption which has averaged 280 miles per pint, and does not show any signs of increasing. Petrol consumption has worked out at an average of 22.22 m.p.g. over the whole time I have had the car with a 3.07 to 1 axle which is 27,500 miles, and an country runs it improves to 23 or 24 at averages of 80 m.p.h. from place to place. (There are no castles in Kenya.) We do not have the traffic that you have in England, nor do we have the smooth roads of Europe on which to travel. The main drawback to the car for a hot country is the small body which causes one to feel hot, but for those of us who buy a car for its performance and good handling, one cannot have a very large one.
In the 42 years I have been driving, I have had almost as many cars, most of which have been of a sports character, varying from Alvis 12-50 and Speed Twenty to one of the earlier Lotuses, an XK120 and now the E-type.
In answer to Mr. Baker, I can only say that neither of my Jaguars has been rusty, and both are still running. The XK was still racing as recently as last year in short races, and still putting up good times. Its mileage must be considerable, but Jaguars last a very long time and are well built in spite of their moderate price. Much as I liked both my Alvises I cannot say that I found the bodywork good. Both had to have their bodies rebuilt after about 100,000 miles. The Speed Twenty is still running well and I occasionally renew its acquaintance. An Austin 7 required an extra passenger to hold its doors shut, but it was otherwise a good, reliable car for its time and served us well while we had it.
I know of one Mk. 7 Jaguar that has done 180,000 miles in the hands of its original owner. It is still in excellent order and in regular use. My own Mk. 8 has only done 100,000 miles, and with overdrive does 19 m.p.g. on a fast run.
Nairobi. P. B. Robson.