The Jaguar E-Type, certainly the most quintessential British made sports car of all time. Its unmistakable curves, rich heritage and iconic style continue to make it one of the most desirable classic cars to own.

But what are the options, when did history begin to be made and what are the differences between a series 1, 1.5, 2 and 3? Read on to find out…

Jaguar E-type Series 1 – 1961-1968

The series 1 e-type was released in March 1961 for export and in July for the UK market. The six cylinder 3.8 litre engine with triple SU carbs was the same block used in the XK150S and produced around 265BHP. Astonishingly the car could do 0-60 in around 6.4-7 seconds and would achieve over 100mph with ease. The gearbox was a four speed ‘Moss-box’ which had no synchromesh for first gear.

The very early (and most rare and valuable) 3.8s featured a flat floor pan and even had bonnet catches that required a tool to open them with! This was soon changed and the floor pan dished to allow for more legroom in the driving position.

As with all series E-types the 3.8 had independent spring rear suspension and torsion bar in the front end.

Series 1 E-types can be distinguished by the small ‘mouth’ opening at the front of the car, glass covered headlights and the indicators and tail lights are above the bumpers. This is true for all Series 1s except for the very late ’67 models. The 3.8 also has a simple ‘jaguar’ badge on the boot as opposed to the later engines that had the litres badged also.

In October 1964 the new 4.2 litre E-type was released. The car had a completely redesigned engine block and had several other ‘upgrades’ on the 3.8 litre version including better more comfortable seats, a fully synchromesh 4 speed gearbox and improvements to the breaks in the shape of a conventional servo.

The 4.2 gave similar results in terms of power outputs but the max power was reached at lower revs which improved the throttle response in day to day driving. This in my opinion is one of the reasons that makes the 4.2 altogether more enjoyable to drive on a regular basis.

Up to this point Coupes and Roadsters were available in both the 3.8 and the 4.2 cars. It wasn’t until September ’65 that the 4.2 2+2 car was introduced. The body was increased in length by 229mm and the roof angles differ from the standard FHCs. An option of an automatic transmission was also added at this point.

The unofficial series 1 ½ was produced from ‘67-68. This was due mainly to pressure from the US market which had brought in legislation that meant that glass covered headlights, interior switches and a couple other things had to be changed. The carburettors were also changed for the US market to twin Zenith-Strombergs which resulted in a drop in power to 246. I wasn’t long before the Series 2 was released which incorporated many of these changes from initial production.

More on the Series 2 E-type to follow in another post! Stay tuned for more.

Production Figures

FHC OTS 2+2  Total
S1 3.8 7,670 7,828 0 15,498
S1 4.2 5,830 6,749 3,616 16,195
S1.5 1,942 2,801 1,983 6,726
Total 15,442 17,378 5,599 38,419


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