Jaguar E-Type Masthead
Jaguar E-Type Series III
Jaguar E-Type Series III
As the 1960s were coming to a close, Jaguar had a problem with their E-Type. It was popular and successful, yet getting long in the tooth. Smog and safety regulations were the law of the land and often tough to meet while maintaining acceptable performance. The XK engine had been in service since 1948 and Jaguar needed a new motor for the E-Type and for the various other cars they produced.

The answer was a V12 engine. The exotic nature of twelve cylinders basically made the Ferrari and Lamborghini companies, a fact not ignored by Jaguar's marketing people.

The new engine was a 60° design, with a single overhead camshaft in each head. The use of double overhead cams was rejected based on cost considerations. Both the head and block were made of aluminum alloy, which was exotic in a mass produced engine for its time. It weighed only 80 lbs. more than the six cylinder XK engine which featured an aluminum alloy head and a cast iron block. Iron cylinder linings kept oil consumption under control.

Jaguar E-Type Series III interior
Series III Jaguar E-Type interior. Air conditioning had become a popular option and was well integrated. The heavier engine made steering power assist a necessity allowing a one inch smaller steering wheel, which unfortunately was no longer made of mahogany.

The basic reason behind the introduction of the V12 engine - to keep performance high despite increasingly stringent emissions standards - was satisfied. Power was 250 hp at 6,000 RPM and most acceleration reports indicated the V12 was about as fast or faster then the pre-emissions six cylinder XK engine.

Since cost was a major consideration, the Series III was based on the same wheelbase as the 2+2 coupe, making all Series III coupes 2+2. The result was a less claustrophobic feeling to the interior and additional room for an automatic transmission in the roadster, which was available for the first time. The cost, at $7,599, kept alive the tradition of the E-Type as a performance bargain.

Jaguar E-Type series III grill The radiator opening on the Series III was much larger than that in the six cylinder Series II E-Types, which probably was the reason behind the fitting of a grill for the first time. The larger opening improved cooling which was sometimes a problem with the six cylinder XK engine.

The reviews for the new engine were laudatory, (it reved nicely, sounded and looked wonderful) but the rest of the car was criticized. The engine was new, but it was the same old body and characteristics that were charming and quaint when the E-Type was introduced in 1961 became tiresome by 1972, when the series III was first available. An October 1972 Road & Track article criticized the heating and ventilation system as being "antiquated . . . . and laughable". Seating, clutch effort, foot space and the power assisted steering (new for the Series III) were also harshly dealt with.

The Series III represents the end of the legendary Jaguar E-Type. They were last made in 1975, although quantity production ended in 1974. The last 50 were black roadsters and identified by a special plaque on the glove box door. Since then, Jaguar and car enthusiasts have been looking for a replacement. The XJS followed the E-Type, but with its focus on luxury and grand touring, few got excited about it. In an interview, the president of Jaguar said that he is constantly asked when they are going to come up with a sequel to the E-Type. In the hearts and minds of those who love and follow fine automobiles, that may never happen. Jaguar E-Type Series III

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