FAST CLASS

THE ICONIC SHAPE AND PLENTY OF POWER TO BACK UP THE LOOKS.

WORDS & PHOTOS ALEX AFFAT

JAGUAR’S GORGEOUS E-type stunned the automotive world from the moment it was unveiled at the 1961 Geneva motor show. With a stratospheric, for the time, 150mph claimed top speed, and looks that last to this day, the E-type has become one of the world’s most desired cars.

When new, it was around half the price of a Ferrari, and Jaguar’s marketing department had a field day hawking the abilities of the E-type’s D-type-derived underpinnings.

With sophisticated independent rear suspension, disc brakes at all four corners, and a racing-derived 3.8lt straight six found in the first cars, Jaguar’s poster-child enjoyed its brief moment as the world’s fastest production car.

It was later discovered that Jaguar had been a little creative with their test cars, which featured a number of small – almost visually unidentifiable – modifications. What was irrefutable, however, was just how quick the car accelerated. Out of the box it could cover a standing quarter in 15 seconds, quicker than the capabilities of offerings from most other marques at the time.

It was, however, critiqued both at the time and still today for its slight packaging quirks: Leg room is largely imaginary. Taller folk will struggle to get the seat far back enough. Early gearboxes were notoriously fickle. Also the narrow track rendered its mid-corner grip under lateral loads a little perilous at times.

Many of these problems were improved upon however throughout the later series of E-types and finding the limits of lateral grip isn’t really a major buying criterion anymore.

One reason is… well, just look at the thing! There’s a reason that Il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari himself, conceded that it was the most beautiful car he’d ever laid eyes on.

Another is they’ve served their tour of duty in the competitive stat-sheet wars and have been honourably discharged as the ubiquitous classic sunny Sunday cruiser.

They are one of the hallmarks of contemporary automotive collecting, and frequently change hands for eye-watering sums.

1972 JAGUAR SERIES III E-TYPE

BODY 2-door Coupe

ENGINE 5.3lt V12

POWER & TORQUE 206kW/408Nm

PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h 6.4 seconds

TOP SPEED 220 km/h

TRANSMISSION 4-speed synchro manual

BRAKES Discs (inboard rears) PRICE $225,000 + orc

WHERE healeyfactory.com.au

“ITS NEW OWNER DOESN’T RUN MUCH RISK OF PARKING UP NEXT TO ANOTHER”

Series I is the most coveted, and examples are usually proclaimed as the most visually pleasing, thanks to a more sculpted and sensuous snout that features less chrome work and a delicate small grille.

The Series III however had its own party piece when the curtains dropped in New York in 1971. Housed under its long bonnet sat a singing 5.3lt V12.

It was the V12 engine that grew the Series III’s front grille for additional cooling properties, where a larger radiator resides. Derived from a racing V12 intended for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the engine breathed through four Zenith carburettors, and was capable of 203kW.

An automatic transmission was a popular option and the floorpan now in use, from the longer 2+2, offered more cabin space.

This particular Series III E-type is for sale at the Healey Factory in Melbourne. In original specification, it represents one of only 1871 factory right-hand-drive convertibles (less than a quarter of the entire open-top production pool), and further still, one of the 12 per cent of all Series IIIs. It’s also one of the rare factory manuals which, according the Healey Factory, is the rarest specification of all this generation.

So it’s safe to say its new owner doesn’t run much risk of parking up next to another drop-top factory manual Series III.

So how much for this gorgeous classic convertible you might be wondering? Well, the car is listed at $225,000 unregistered.

Yes, that’s a lot of money, but far more affordable than a coveted Series I in this condition, and try to find a drop-top V12 Ferrari of the same vintage for anywhere near this price.

In today’s motoring climate of greyscale SUVs, and electronic gadgetry, the feeling the wind in your hair with all twelvecylinders on full song has to be worth something!