When Disneyland first opened, you had to use scrip to get on the rides, and the best attractions required an E-ticket. Jaguar's E-Type has always represented one of autodom's best, and most attractive, rides, but do the mods on today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '65 make it too Mickey Mouse?
There's a different appreciation of the typical Jaguar owner on either side of the Atlantic. In Great Britain, as the rapscallion hosts of Top Gear deride, they're pompous asses. In contrast, American Jag owners are more likely to be the befuddled actuary or tax attorney stranded by the side of the road wondering whether his BMW and Mercedes driving friends are alreadyat the spa, sipping the biodynamic early frost chardonnay.
Truth be told, no matter where you live, it takes a special sort of individual to enter into a relationship with a Jaguar - someone who is willing to dive in with both feet, overlooking the foibles of reliability and modernity, and who relish driving a car that's more than likely to mix the rich smell of Connolly Leather and burled walnut with that of petrol and percolating wiring loom. That level of passion is akin to marrying someone who is knuckle-bitingly beautiful - but who also adheres to the praying mantis' standard of mating ritual.
For Jags, ownership is less likely to be life threatening than destination obtainment hindering. But, when they look as achingly gorgeous as the E-Type, considering a Jag as an immobile artwork installation is a viable alternative to actually counting on it for getting to the church on time.
Today's 1965 Series 1 OTS is priced well below what most open-topped E-Type sellers ask, and that may be due to its looking a little less achingly gorgeous than when it left Coventry. Now, first things first - this car, no matter how bastardized it has been made, is rightfully called an E-Type. The original American sales literature referred to Jag's lithe ‘60s sports car as an XKE, but to the factory, it was always the E-Type. The E-Type shared little from the precedent XK-120, 140 and 150 series, other than their silky double overhead cam six and Moss box. It did however share a semi-monocoque architecture with the remarkable D-Type racer (XK-D), and hence it more closely follows that car's bloodline.
This one sports that drool-worthy XK engine under its tilt-forward bonnet, here in 4.2 litre size. The cams sit under polished alloy covers and are driven by a duplex chain, although this one's could use a little more spit in their polish. Intake is provided by a trio of HD8 side-draught carburetors from Skinner's Union - each with a 2-inch throat. Exhaust is through a set of three into two tubular headers, and the now ubiquitous for the marque pair of up-turned central exhaust pipes. Behind the 265-bhp engine should be a Moss 4-speed - with synchro on first new the previous year. Out back is the classic Jag IRS with inboard dunlop disc brakes and four coil-over shocks. All of the undercarriage on this car looks grimy but serviceable, and appears lacking in copious quantities of rust. Up front it's similarly dirty but complete.
And then there's the body. It's arguable that Jag's E-Type is potentially the most beautiful car ever conceived, and this one is. . . well, a good deal less so. First off, while this is a Series 1 car - which is usually denoted by the clean lines enabled by its glass-covered headlamps and nurse shark-like grill opening. This one has a bonnet from a much later V12 car - and one that has had a lot of questionable work done to it. All the chrome, including the fender capping beading has been denuded, and the headlamps have been frenched in- Ooh-blah-blah. The grille opening, once a single bar-carrying affair, now is a grotesque fish mouth, potentially asking why so serious? And above that, the bonnet bulges like John Holmes in a Speedo.
Outback it's no better, and what I first took to be Porsche 911 tail lights upon closer inspection appear to be cheap pieces of red and white plastic, tenuously held in place with sheet metal screws. Classy, not. The seller says it was set up as a rally car and so the fenders were flared to accommodate wider wire wheels and fat tires. Shed a tear for that. At least the bonnet can be rectified by switching it out with a proper restoration one from XKs-Unlimited, while the remuddling of the rear end will require body shop skills beyond what they taught the reprobates in high school. The interior looks okay, having only a modern stereo spoiling the vintage vibe - but that's something that can get a pass. The top, and the chrome that's there, appear perfectly serviceable, while the fender-mount bullet mirrors look like the top of the punch-list of things to go.
In its favor are the claims of a rebuilt gearbox, fairly new paint, and a larger capacity radiator - a plus because these things are like teakettles in traffic. He also says the engine was overhauled in 1992, which means it probably could have had a couple more since, but hey, at least it runs and parts are relatively cheap for the XK. Lastly, he only uses KIT carnauba wax wash on it, for whatever the hell that is worth.
These days, a rightly kitted Series-1 E-Type OTS will fetch more than six figures, and it doesn't appear that the trend will reverse anytime soon. That's why, even with - or maybe because of - all the modifications, this one's $35,000 price tag seems all the more appealing. With even rusty patches in farmers' fields and E-Type-shaped shadows on garage walls commanding upwards of ten grand if they have a verifiable VIN plate, that seems like a price worth considering. Or is it? What do you think, does $35,000 make this E-Type an E-Ticket? Or, Does that, and the mods, make this Jag an attraction you'd just as soon miss?
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