JAGUAR E TYPE 4.2 ROAD TEST
By Matt Nichols
If you’re struggling to make sense of aspects of modern living then I may have found the perfect tonic for you in the form of this magnificent bright red Jaguar E-Type Coupe. I drove this car on roads I am very familiar and at times get completed frustrated with, and yet I had one of those enlightening moments in this car when suddenly everything made sense. Viewing the world through the tiny windscreen, triple wiper blades and achingly long vented bonnet whilst firmly gripping the thin rimmed wooden steering wheel, I re-tuned into and got Britain once again. The countryside was perfect and able to be enjoyed at 60mph, a speed which also felt just right, as did 30mph which was no longer the unnecessary delay it often feels, but instead an opportunity to absorb some fine architecture and realise that life is good when you’re in such excellent company.
|1969 Series 2 E Type||Sculpted shape|
|4.2 litre 245 bhp engine||Classic chrome wheels|
|2 seater fastback||The road ahead|
|Britain's best view?||Traditional E Type interior|
I’ve previously had the pleasure of driving two other E-Types from Great Escape Classic Car Hire and this car confirmed that in the same way bumble bees shouldn't be able to fly with their large bodies and tiny wings but of course they do. E-Type's, being so long and narrow, shouldn't handle and yet they do. In fact the handling is sublime.
This red 4.2 Coupe moves from bend to bend with hardly any slack and virtually no body roll. In any other car that would also mean a bumpy ride, but not in an E-Type as all road imperfections are glossed over like Dulux’s finest without any hint to suggest anything was there in the first place. So much so I guarantee you will start to question how that is possible in a car over 40 years old and without a magnetic damper in sight. This coupe also comes with the trademark brakes that although require a firm press and whole leg movement will easily lock both fronts at 60-70mph. Better still the brake pedal draws level with the throttle pedal once depressed and so perfect for a quick sideways flex of your right foot and a cheeky little downshift blip of the engine.
The luxurious red leather interior offers room for your passenger to stretch right out once they’ve made it in through the narrow door and over the wide sill, a gentleman would of course look away, and also provides a splendid place for you both to enjoy the journey ahead. The long bonnet, which is further accentuated by the red paint was fully appreciated by Mrs Nichols at the time of testing, I did of course offer my own theories as to why that might be, but apparently it was definitely just the bonnet she was referring to. There are no rear seats on this strict two seater but there is an attractive and practical hatch, only missing some period luggage for a complete 60’s weekend break experience. Luckily there is still the 40 year old indicators to enjoy, which make a distinguished grandfather clock ‘tock’ noise from the relay located somewhere behind the passenger glove box.
I did have one question before driving this car, which is do you need a V12 in your E-Type to make it a real one and I can categorically advise that you do not. The 4.2 litre DOHC straight six in this car is superb, providing a very purposeful growl when you decide to push on or overtake as well as offering such range in capability you realise four gears are all that is required. Better still, whilst on the move you need just one gear, 4th, something that makes a mockery of more up to date machinery with 6, 7 and even 8 available these days. How did we allow that to happen, because in this car I found myself staring in disbelief at the rev counter at times when from 30–70mph at no point did the dial climb above halfway, quite brilliant.
In terms of classic car traits the absence of power assisted steering means that 3 point turns can easily extend to 4-5 which is no issue, except for maybe a slight reddening of the gills if anyone happens to be watching at the time. Some exhaust fumes can make it into the cabin, which was the same as the V12 Coupe I drove, so just keep a window open, and there is a slight knock in the left hand rear of the car as drive is taken up, which I understand to be quite normal. Other familiar E-Type traits include a snatch of synchromesh when going back down from 4th to 3rd gear, something double de-clutching helps smooth once mastered. But these are all minor points and I think now surely regarded as features on a car of this age. Also, if you’ve read other reports and picked up on a minor obsession I have around whether the clock works or not, then all I can advise is remember to wear your watch.
This beautiful and bright 4.2 E-Type Coupe is the first classic I’ve driven and thought seriously that in the right circumstances I could quite easily use every day, and do you know, I think if I did the world would never cease to be a truly wonderful place.
Verdict - 1969 E-Type 4.2 Series 2 Coupe
Sublime, feeling light, nimble and tight and never crashing over bumps
Potent 4.2 litre DOHC 6 cylinder unit proves your E-Type doesn’t have to be a V12
Max Power: 265 bhp @ 5500 RPM
Max Torque: 283 lb ft @ 4000 RPM
0-60mph: 6.1 seconds
Top Speed: 150mph
Superb, a firm press of the pedal means you can, if required, lock the front wheels at virtually any speed
One of life’s and arguably physics mysteries, how a car so long and narrow can handle so well
Series 2 E-Types are the least well loved, which translates into a great opportunity for entry level ownership
It’s an E-Type
Buying: OK so it’s not the purists favourite, but make sure it’s a good one and you’ve still got an icon in your garage