Series 3 E-Type with a straight six Engine

Our E-Type Forum Coordinator Art Lawrence has been on the trail of the elusive 6 cylinder Series 3 E-Types for a while now and after a call to our editor Nigel Thorley to inspect an E-Type another one was tracked down. The August 2017 edition of "Jaguar Enthusiast" has the full story, but you can read some of it here.

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Back in October 2015,and January 2016 Art Lawrence reported in these Forum pages on a UK specification series 3 4.2 litre engined car belonging to one of our members. That car was a roadster and Art had the opportunity to drive it following some service work at Ken Jenkins'workshop in North Nottinghamshire. The car was claimed to be one of the development cars produced by Jaguar ahead of the launch of the Series 3 model.

Jim Patten of Jaguar World provided some background to these cars for our January 2016 feature,and I quote from Jim's text. "EXlOO was bought from the factory and fitted with a V12 engine by Peter Taylor and used for racing."

Club member Robert Latham wrote in to say that he is the owner of EX101 and has had the car for over 15 years. This car (painted Willow Green) featured in Jaguar publicity material at the time. Another car (EX102) is on XKE Data as being registered in the UK,although in the picture on XK data it is clearly a left hand drive car,but it has no badging or rear hatch vent which should be there. Could this also be one of the two USA cars?

There is also on XKE Data an Australian car claiming to be EX104. However if the above cars are correct and started with EX100, then there cannot be an EX0l 4 as this would make the total up to five cars. That then leaves EX103. Art and the Editor have met another of these rather elusive development cars that was for so long not known to still exist. Art continues the story.

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Where does the trail start?

The story starts with our Editor Nigel Thorley who received a telephone call to ask if he would go to inspect an E-type which a major UK media celebrity was preparing to sell. On enquiring which model of E-type it was, Nigel was informed that it was a 4.2 litre Series 3 ,at which time the intrigue grew. Nigel agreed immediately to go over to see the car and called me to ask if I was available to assist him in inspecting the car, knowing that I had previously inspected and driven one.

A meeting was duly arranged but our visit took us not to the USA, but to Cheshire. The call had come from a mechanic who specialises in servicing exotic sports cars, and who was prepping the car for sale. John Greatorex runs a small automobile engineering company, Area 51 Engineering, and informed us that he had been commissioned to service the car, find out more about it, obtain some idea of value and how to market the car, given the owner was not to be identified.

It seems that rather than languishing in the USA since the early seventies as many still felt both cars were, this car had actually been in the UK for at least 29 years! The celebrity owner, a classic car enthusiast even back then had come across the E-type for sale in a New Jersey local advertisement. The lady owner had been asking the USD $equivalent of £1800 (probably $4,000) and a deal was struck at £1600. The price of a new E-type Series 3 would have been around $4000 in 1971/72, so although the price may sound ridiculously cheap in today's terms, it was probably a reasonable market value at the time, assuming that the owner had not realized its significance. When the celebrity owner returned it to the UK, he put the car into storage at his home, and there it remained in a hay barn for over 26 years. When John got the call to re-commission the car, he pulled it out of the barn and was amazed at the condition of it after such a long time.

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What did Nigel and Art think?

Both Nigel and I were a little sceptical as there have been so many stories about so-called 'rare'or 'unique' cars, particularly these days with E-type prices continuing to rise. However, when we arrived at the garage, we were amazed at how good the car looked. The paintwork was very well done, but also the original chrome work and body fittings looked in good shape (and original). The body was entirely straight with excellent door gaps and finish and even all the rubbers  were in fine condition.

Having a restored E-type myself, this car confirmed to me that there is nothing quite like an 'original', unmolested example as this one clearly is. One of the things that struck me was the ease with which the windows wound down and up. Never do you get the same today!

Under the bonnet, the engine bay was dry but still covered in accumulated road dirt. The 6-cylinder XK unit appeared to sit a little higher than a normal 6-cylinder car,and the engine frames and unusualengine mounts were identical to the previous car that I had inspected at Ken Jenkins' workshops. The cylinder head on each combustion chamber had a square headed blanking plug adjacent to the spark plug. This I don't recall seeing on the previous development car and will try and look at this further.

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Want to read more?

You can read the full article and see all the pictures on pages 18 - 22 of the August 2017 Jaguar Enthusiast. Members of the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club receive this 140 page magazine every month as well as access to an online version on our website all included in the membership fee.

The car itself is due to appear at auction at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford on 15th November 2017 presented by H&H Auctions. We will be keeping an eye on the result this car brings.

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