Jaguar E-Type Masthead
Buying and Owning a Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type Jaguar E-Type
Photos courtesy of Neil Zlowzower


How reliable is the Jaguar E-Type? You have probably heard that they are either undependable or extremely undependable.

We are not going to disagree and tell you that they are reliable. Before we answer the question however, it is important that things are put into perspective.

Cars built today are very reliable. That might not be a popular concept (everybody knows that in the *good old days* everything was more reliable) but it is a fact. Common maladies of 25+ years ago, such as blown head gaskets, sucked in valves, etc. are rare today. Even general maintenance, such as tune-ups, including points and spark plug replacement, is either greatly reduced or has been completely eliminated. A number of manufacturers advertise that no major engine maintenance is required for 100,000 miles.

Put in that context, no car made 25 to 39 years ago, the age range of the available Jaguar E-Types, is reliable.

Still, the Jaguar E-Type reputation of being unreliable has a basis in reality. The basic drivetrain, which includes the engine, transmission, and differential, is bulletproof. It is the things attached to it that cause problems.

The biggest problem is that the Jaguar E-Type is a complicated car. One automotive writer, when comparing the Austin Healey Sprite to the E-Type, noted that there is probably more going on in one door on the E-Type than there is in the entire Sprite.

Bumper Sticker
A 1969 owners survey by Road & Track revealed that there is justification for the E-Type's reputation. Nine specific problem areas were reported by more than 10% of owners, more than for any other car. They are, in order of severity:
  • Instruments
  • Cooling System
  • Oil Leaks
  • Generator
  • Clutch
  • Fuel Pump
  • Starter
  • Body Parts
  • Rain Leaks
Lucas electricals, which are used in the E-Type, confirmed their poor reputation by appearing four times on the list. The survey showed that the instruments did improve in later years. Updates to the cooling system in 1967 also helped.

In defense of the E-Type, it must be considered that it is a high performance car. This affects reliability, as such cars tend to be driven hard. It is also fair to point out that other performance cars of the era were often "under the weather". Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati, Corvette and Porsche usually required similar, if not more, maintenance.

Jaguar E-Type It is also a fact that many E-Types are owned by enthusiasts of average means. There are several ways they accomplish this feat. The first, and most important, is that they take the time to learn about their cars. Subscribing to the xke-Lovers mailing-lists is an excellent practice. The expertise and dedication of the participants is impressive. Limiting the mileage also helps. For most, the E-Type is a weekend or fair weather car. Almost nobody has an E-Type as their only car; doing so would place too many demands on it and could strain the ownership experience.

Jaguar E-Type oil filter assembly An example of how E-Types and their owners not only survive, but prosper: The XK engine's oil filter is a cartridge based system. Replacing it involves a number of parts and some mechanical assembly. Here an owner made some detailed notes to assist with the process.

Jaguar E-Type

Paying the dues…

Owning a Jaguar E-Type might not be easy, but there is one thing that owners unanimously agree on: it is worth it. No other car, they insist, has performance, style and grace comparable to the E-Type. The look in their eyes as they describe the wonder of their cars and the experience of owning them says it all.

Buying a Jaguar E-Type

There are two rules to keep in mind when shopping for an E-Type.

  1. The cheapest E-Types (those in the worst condition) are overpriced.
  2. The more expensive E-Types (those that are in the best condition) are underpriced.

Actually, these rules apply to the purchase of any classic car, but are especially true when shopping for a Jaguar E-Type, as they are complicated beasts. The basis for the statement is a marketing reality: people tend to shop with a heavy emphasis on price. This natural and unfortunate, fact of economic life tends to boost the prices of those cars at the bottom of the heap and to deflate those at the top. Put another way: it is always cheaper to buy a car in good condition than to buy one in poor condition and then bring it up to the higher standard. A LOT cheaper.

Jaguar E-Type Pricing

100% frame-up concours restoration, including the cost of the car: $100,000+

Series I Roadster: $15,000 - $50,000

Series I Coupe: $7,500 - $25,000

Series I 2+2 Coupe: $6,500 - $21,000

Series II Roadster: $14,000 - $35,000

Series II Coupe: $6,000 - $22,000

Series II Coupe 2+2: $6,000 - $19,000

Series III Roadster: $15,000 - $42,000

Series III Coupe: $9,000 - $25,000

Note: These are only estimates gathered from recent (late 1999, early 2000) sales results. Cars in extremely rough shape will (should!) be cheaper and the absolute best - say, those fresh from a top flight restoration shop - will be higher. If you are interested in pursuing the Jaguar E-Type market, we suggest a subscription to Sports Car Market. Another source of E-Type market information is the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company site. A search page with past auction results is available. Select Jaguar and enter "xke" as the model. Entering "0" as the year will cause all years to be listed. E-Type prices can also be found at Collector Car & Truck Market Guide.


We have told you the bad part about owning an E-Type, so it is only fair that we share the good news also. Besides being good for the soul, they are favorable to the wallet. Like many quality items in diminishing supply, E-Types are increasing in value. The recent rises have not been spectacular like they were in the late 1980s, but they are steady and likely to continue. Another way to look at the purchase of an E-Type: consider what the same money can buy at a new car lot. The most expensive E-Type, an excellent condition Series I roadster, will cost $50,000. A Lexus or Lincoln dealer can put you in a nice car for the same amount, but it will depreciate heavily, especially in the first few years. A well bought Jaguar E-Type will not. A little less money, say $20,000 for a nice Series II coupe, will get you a middle level Honda Accord. The Accord is a nice car and dead reliable, but consider the smiles, fun and (dare we say) spiritual ecstacy that E-Type ownership endows. Looks like a bargain, doesn't it?

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