1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 'Flat Floor' 3.8-Litre Roadster
'Here we have one of the quietest and most flexible cars on the market, capable of whispering along in top gear at 10mph or leaping into its 150mph stride on the brief depression of a pedal. A practical touring car, this, with its wide doors and capacious luggage space, yet it has a sheer beauty of line which easily beats the Italians at their own particular game.'
There have been few better summaries of the Jaguar E-Type's manifest virtues than John Bolster's, penned for Autosport shortly after the car's debut in 1961. Introduced in 3.8-litre form, the E-Type caused a sensation when it appeared, with instantly classic lines and a 150mph (241km/h) top speed. The newcomer's design owed much to that of the racing D-Type: a monocoque tub forming the main structure, while a tubular spaceframe extended forwards to support the engine. The latter was the same 3.8-litre, triple-carburettor 'S' unit first offered as an option on the preceding XK150. An optimistic 265bhp was claimed, but whatever the installed horsepower, the E-Type's performance did not disappoint; firstly, because it weighed around 500lb (227kg) less than the XK150 and secondly because aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer used experience gained with the D-Type to create one of the most elegant and efficient shapes ever to grace a motor car. Taller drivers though, could find the interior somewhat lacking in space, a criticism addressed by the introduction of foot wells (and other, more minor, modifications) early in 1962. But of all the versions of Jaguar's long-lived and much-loved sports car, it is the very early 'flat floor' 3.8-litre cars built prior to February 1962, which, for many enthusiasts, remain the most desirable.
According to its accompanying Jaguar Heritage Production Record Trace Certificate, this particular example - chassis number '876192' - was built on 23rd November 1961 and despatched to Jaguar Cars' New York distributor eight days later. Originally finished in Carmen Red with black leather and matching hood, it was supplied new by Falvey Motors of Ferndale, Michigan to a W H Mansfield. Relocated to the more car-friendly Californian climate thereafter, the E-Type was repatriated by the vendor during late 2014 on the understanding that it was 'rust free' and retained 'all factory sheet metal, no cut out or replacement panels'. Said to be a 'nice driver' at the time, the E-Type was nevertheless entrusted to renowned marque specialist XK Engineering of Coventry with instructions that they restore the car to its former glory.
Stripped back to bare metal and re-profiled as necessary, the bodywork was then painstakingly re-sprayed in its original Carmen Red, while the interior was re-trimmed in black, likewise to factory specification. The wiring, fuel system, exhaust, brakes, steering, and suspension all received attention, with numerous components being refurbished and repainted. The brightwork was renewed or re-plated, and a brand new black hood installed. Considerable time and effort was spent on ensuring that the opening panels (bonnet, boot, doors) fitted properly and sat well within their apertures. Rubber seals were replaced throughout and the wire wheels shod with fresh Avon tyres. In keeping with XK Engineering's ethos, the wood-rim steering wheel was refurbished rather than replaced because it was deemed to be the one with which the car had left Browns Lane.
Crucially retaining its original 'matching numbers' engine, this E-Type has been upgraded with one of Getrag's five-speed manual gearboxes (Jaguar four-speed 'box included). Not long emerged from XK Engineering's workshops, '876192' is a testament to their craftsmanship and worthy of the closest inspection.