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Buying a Jaguar E-Type 3.8 1961-64

The Jaguar E-type would make it into most people’s list of Top Ten Cars. Even if they knew nothing about its race-type construction or its road-handling, it would figure because of its stunning looks.

Launched at the March 1961 Geneva Motor Show, it was described as one of the “most beautiful cars in the world”. It was the talking point of the motoring world and finally went on sale in July of that year.

The sleek monocoque body was powered by a 3781cc XK engine, giving 265 bhp and a top speed in excess of 145 mph.

Only a limited number of motoring writers were fortunate enough to have this new E-Type for a road test, and all were overwhelmed by its rapid performance, the way it turned heads wherever it appeared and the long, louvred bonnet with faired-in headlights which swept back to the windscreen in a graceful flourish. The lines extended through the cockpit area to the boot. However, the E-type did not get full marks out of 10 and did draw some criticism, especially for the “bellow” type of braking system which was no match for its performance. Also, drivers over 5’10” found the car a little uncomfortable; but for only £1550, plus £647 purchase tax for the two-seater Fixed Head Coupe model, or £1480 plus £618 purchase tax for the two seater Roadster version, Jaguar was certainly onto a winner both on and off the track.

Today, buying an E-type can have its drawbacks. You must remember that probably 70 per cent of surviving examples have, at some time, been rebuilt or totally restored. Check that the engine and body numbers match that of the logbook, and careful inspection should be given to the monocoque.

The most highly sought are the first batch of 3.8 models, especially the Roadsters despatched from the factory. These can be easily identified by an outside “T” type locking external bonnet catch mounted on either side of the front wings. Only 91 right-hand-drive Roadsters were built with these bonnet locks. The bonnet louvres were separate and a spot welded line is visible. On these models a 25mm thick chromium windscreen surround was used and both driver’s and passenger’s floors had no footwells — hence “Flat Floor” models. A total of 357 “Flat Floor” E-types were produced.

Price Guide

R/H drive models only
1961
Outside bonnet-locks Roadster Restoration £18,000 — Concours £45,000 +

1961
(later internal bonnet locks, still flat floor) Restoration £12,000 — Concours £35,000 +.

1961
Fixed Head Coupe (first 4 RHD cars were fitted with external bonnet locks) Restoration £8,000 — Concours £28,000 +.

1962-63
Roadster Restoration £10,000 — Concours £30,000 +.

1964
The improved Synchro first gearbox superseded the older “Moss” type gearbox.

1964
Roadster Restoration £10,000 — Concours £30,000.
Fixed Head Coupe Restoration £8,000 — Concours £25,000 +

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