"E-type : End of an Era"

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By Chris Harvey. 236 pp. 10 1/4 in. 8 1/4 in. (The Oxford Illustrated Press Ltd., Shelley Close, Headington, Oxford. £12.00.)
Chris Harvey is a former Editor Of Penthouse who now works or the Sun; the fleshy attractions of his workaday life are tempered by an all-consuming passion for a man-made sexual symbol, the Jaguar E-type. His Journalistic abilities and knowledge of, and overwhelming enthusiasm for, the Coventry marque are combined in this interestingly-presented volume, which is well stocked with black and white and colour photographs.

This is much more of a handbook on the E-type than a marque memorial. True, it starts with a sentimental tribute to this already legendary sports car and provides an interesting compendium of resumes and quotes from contemporary road test reports, in-cluding W.B.’s Motor Sport feature. Incidentally, this Sun journalist contrives to quote Motor Sport on the book’s page 3, a numeral which denotes the infamous flesh page in his daily journal! This section gives the lie to the oft-quoted belief that the 3.8 Model was the fastest production E-type of all: Autocar and Motor Sport both achieved higher maxima with Series 1 4.2-litre cars.

One chapter explains the detail differences between the various series, a description of gradual production development, and clarifies the status of the almost mysterious Series 1A 4.2.-litre model.

But the true worth of the book lies in the wealth of more practical information which is heaped liberally upon its glossy pages. It must be an invaluable companion to anybody contemplating the purchase of an E-type, and at times an almost frightening guide to the pitfalls of purchase and maintenance. The major weakness—rust—is graphically portrayed in the detail photographs accompanying the warning words. The weaknesses are more than adequately offset by the many strengths, by the way! These illuminating chapters are made all the more valuable and understandable by the exploded diagrams taken from the almost impossible to obtain Jaguar parts manuals.

The practical E-type owner should find a blessing in the description of short cuts to some of the more complicated maintenance and repair work (how many other cars require the removal of the complete rear suspension and final-drive assembly to renew the handbrake cable?) and in the advice on interchangeable parts.

These practical chapters are made easier to understand because the writer is an enthusiastic amateur expounding his knowledge to other amateurs in the same not-too-technical language. At the same time, even the amateur reader will find some of the information in the warning sections to be too general, too well known to require repetition.

There are chapters on racing E-types, the men behind the car’s development, concours cars and their preparation and improvements to be made—although advice to fit glass-fibre bonnets when the rust bug has struck is hardly likely to improve the ultimate value of the investment. Some of the quotes from E-type owners around the world smack too much of padding.

On the face of it “E-type : End of an Era” is too much money for what it is, especially for E-type owners without practical minds. But for practical owners, or those contemplating purchase, it should save its cover price instantly. This is the first of a series of similar hooks from the same author, of which MG and Big Healey titles follow shortly. -C. R.