New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words: Donn An­der­son Pho­tos: Adam Croy


Half a cen­tury and a be­wil­der­ing ar­ray of mod­ern equip­ment sep­a­rate these two highly distinc­tive British sports cars, and we might won­der which one qual­i­fies as a de­sign mile­stone. As clas­sic car lovers, we might tend to favour old over new, with­out al­ways be­ing ra­tio­nal.

It is more dif­fi­cult now to make a sig­nif­i­cant mo­tor­ing im­pact, given the huge num­ber of avail­able mod­els and ar­ray of ad­vance­ments, yet there is no doubt that the Jaguar E-type was a huge hit in its day, and the F-type is en­deav­our­ing to em­u­late its pre­de­ces­sor. How­ever, is the F-type an­other ‘mission im­pos­si­ble’ for Jaguar? Is it truly a mod­ern-day suc­ces­sor to the mighty E-type that was much more than an early ’60s mo­tor­ing icon? The mar­que has driven down this road be­fore, with lim­ited suc­cess, so is the F-type a game-changer?

When E-type pro­duc­tion ended in 1975, the XJS re­place­ment was never cast in the same light, al­though time would be kind to a de­sign that is now re­garded more favourably. Two decades later, in 1996, the stylish Jaguar XK8 was el­e­gantly pro­por­tioned — but still not an F-type. Fast for­ward to 2013, with the wraps lift­ing off a new Jaguar road­ster and coupé, and, fi­nally, the two cars bear­ing F-type badg­ing.

Few peo­ple have the op­por­tu­nity to drive both the Eand F-type on the same day, yet here we are sam­pling each trea­sure on quiet ru­ral roads near Auck­land in change­able au­tumn weather. Fifty years apart, the two cars come from dif­fer­ent worlds, while shar­ing the same sport­ing phi­los­o­phy.

The story be­gan in 1948 with the ar­rival of the XK120 and the out­stand­ing XK en­gine that ran for 38 years and was ini­tially the only power source for the E-type.


The silver Se­ries II long-wheel­base ex­am­ple seen on these pages is a re­mark­able one-fam­ily-owned car that is un­re­stored and to­tally orig­i­nal. Built seven years af­ter the E-type broke cover in 1961, Pat Kerr’s left-hand-drive 2+2 4.2-litre coupé was pur­chased new by her par­ents in New York in 1968. Pat had mar­ried Phil Kerr, one­time man­ager for Mclaren Rac­ing, and re­set­tled in New Zealand, when, in 1996, a call came from her par­ents in the States ask­ing her if she would like the Jaguar.

There could be only one an­swer, and the E-type was duly shipped here with a mere 20,000 miles (32,187km) on the clock. Since then, the car has cov­ered lit­tle more than 3220km and still has the orig­i­nal tyre on the spare wheel.

When the Jaguar was reg­is­tered lo­cally, a suit­able E-type per­son­al­ized plate could not be found, un­til the post of­fice came up with an ex­pired trailer rego — ‘68XKE’ — per­fect, given the year the car was made and the fact E-types were la­belled ‘XKE’ in North Amer­ica.

When the Jaguar was reg­is­tered lo­cally, a suit­able E-type per­son­al­ized plate could not be found, un­til the post of­fice came up with an ex­pired trailer rego — ‘68XKE’

E-type pric­ing was ex­traor­di­nar­ily low at launch — many pun­dits sug­gested it could com­fort­ably have been 50 per cent higher; how could it be cheaper than the out­go­ing XK150, they pon­dered? In­deed, some deal­ers wished that the car had cost more, as that would have given Jaguar the op­por­tu­nity for more at­ten­tion to de­tail.

In the early years, the E-type re­tailed at a lit­tle over £2K in Bri­tain, and £2500 ($5K) in New Zealand. To­day, the 3.0-litre V6 F-type starts at $149K for the rear-wheel-drive coupé, and $164,900 for the con­vert­ible. Sit­ting on 20-inch Pirelli P-zero rub­ber, our Loire Blue F-type coupé test ex­am­ple is a $204K 5.0-litre V8 R with four-wheel drive that is $15K less costly than the con­vert­ible equiv­a­lent. The fixed-glass panoramic roof is $2750 ex­tra, and light­ens up a some­what claus­tro­pho­bic all-black in­te­rior, while a car­bon-fi­bre roof al­ter­na­tive is a costly $5600.

All six- and eight-cylin­der F-types boast en­gine su­per­charg­ing, and if the R still fails to stir your per­for­mance pas­sion (un­likely), there’s an even more pow­er­ful SVR for $240K, or $255K in con­vert­ible form. The SVR is the fastest, most pow­er­ful pro­duc­tion Jaguar road car, and you can spend more by op­tion­ing $14,850 for the car­bon ce­ramic brake pack and forged wheels, and $9050 for an ex­te­rior car­bon­fi­bre pack for the power vents, bon­net lou­vres, mir­ror caps, and bumpers.

Four dif­fer­ent types of brakes are on of­fer, and the top-shelf car­bon ce­ramic discs re­duce un­sprung weight by a use­ful 21kg, pro­vid­ing the most pow­er­ful stop­pers ever fit­ted to a Jaguar road car, which con­trasts sharply with those on the early E-types. Drive the car hard, and the torquevec­tor­ing sys­tem ap­plies brake pres­sure to slow the in­side front and in­side rear wheels in­de­pen­dently to re­duce un­der­steer.

There is now a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der tur­bocharged model that adds a new di­men­sion to the F-type and is un­der eval­u­a­tion for New Zealand. It would clearly be more af­ford­able than the sixes and eights, while still en­joy­ing their stun­ning styling and great road manners. A sign of progress, the four­cylin­der In­ge­nium mo­tor pro­duces 295bhp (220kw) — more than any six- or 12-cylin­der E-type.

Re­mark­ably, the 2.0-litre F-type’s claimed max­i­mum of 249kph (155mph) is higher than any E-type model, while a gen­er­ous 400Nm of torque is avail­able

from as low as 1500rpm. There’s no prob­lem dis­tin­guish­ing the var­i­ous en­gine op­tions, with quad ex­hausts for the V8, dual for the V6, and a sin­gle ex­haust for the in-line four.

In­de­pen­dent test­ing

In 1961, much was made of the E-type’s top speed of 150mph (241kph), achieved only af­ter Jaguar had sifted through sev­eral en­gines to source an es­pe­cially good one for an in­de­pen­dent test in the hands of the late Mau­rice Smith, then edi­tor of The Au­to­car weekly. It seems that the 265bhp (198kw) at 5500rpm from the 3.8-litre XK was of­ten op­ti­mistic. Nor were the Dun­lop cross-ply tyres safe for ex­tended run­ning over 120mph (193kph), so Dun­lop R5 rac­ing rub­ber was fit­ted.

Run­ning on a Bel­gian mo­tor­way early one morn­ing, Smith found that the Jaguar would wind up eas­ily to 145mph (233kph), but that the final 8kph was a long time com­ing. Dur­ing one high-speed run, the oc­cu­pants were shocked by a ter­ri­fy­ing bang that sounded like a ri­fle shot or blown tyre. Ap­par­ently, the body had flexed, and with the re­duc­tion of out­side pres­sure round the out­side of the doors, to­gether with the in­te­rior pres­sure, the pas­sen­ger door had sprung open onto its safety catch. For­tu­nately, there was no loss of con­trol.

Small details, like the front bumper over­rid­ers and faired-in head­lights (that would later be dropped) could af­fect over­all top-end per­for­mance, as did op­tional gear­ing. Ei­ther way, the E-type was a stonk­ing per­former in its day. It cruised at 99mph (160kph), and own­ers mar­velled at the way that the long nose of the car rose with a floor­ing of the ac­cel­er­a­tor.

That stun­ning ac­cel­er­a­tion has been car­ried through to to­day’s SVR F-type coupé, with its claimed top speed of 195mph (314kph). The V6 ver­sion does a highly re­spectable 162mph (260kph) and the R V8 reaches 186mph (300kph). Per­for­mance is never lack­ing in any of the F-type vari­ants.

Spirit of an era

When it comes to body style, there has never been any dis­sen­sion over the older Jaguar. Dale Har­row from the Royal Col­lege of Art in Bri­tain has said that few cars are truly mile­stones, but that the E-type is a won­der­ful sports car as well as a de­sign of sim­ple beauty that cap­tures the spirit of an era. Ex­perts agree that the orig­i­nal 1961 3.8 drop-head and fixed-head coupés, with their cleaner, un­clut­tered lines, are the best-look­ing E-types. Sadly, US reg­u­la­tions man­aged to have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the car’s beau­ti­ful looks.

When the 4.2-litre XK mo­tor ar­rived in 1964, Jaguar claimed the same 265bhp (198kw) out­put and a slight in­crease in torque, and while the thirsty 5.3-litre V12 Se­ries III in 1971 might have been qui­eter and more re­fined, it was also only marginally ahead in the power stakes at 272bhp (203kw). To­day’s F-type power ranges from 340bhp (250kw) and 380bhp (280kw) for the V6s to 550bhp (405kw) for the R and 575bhp (423kw) plus a

mas­sive 680Nm of torque for the SVR — lit­tle won­der that the SVR ac­cel­er­ates to 62mph (100kph) in 3.5 sec­onds, and ramps on to a top speed of 200mph (322kph).

Put the two cars to­gether, and the F-type’s 4482mm over­all length is only marginally up on the E-type’s and vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal to the 2+2 model’s, but the bulkier new car is 1923mm wide com­pared with 1676mm for the 2+2 E-type that launched in 1968 with its higher roofline. The F-type wheel­base of 2622mm com­pares with 2438mm and 2667mm for the re­spec­tive E-types.

In­stead of be­ing welded, the highly rigid F-type’s body is bonded and riv­eted with al­loy side pan­els, but the light­weight alu­minium ar­chi­tec­ture of the F-type is not enough to counter the mas­sive in­crease in equip­ment. This el­e­vates the kerb weight of the all-wheel-drive coupé to 1730kg, while the E-type coupé is 1402kg and the E-type road­ster a light­weight 1315kg.

How easy it is to be ab­sorbed by the ar­rest­ing looks of these two cars, each of which is a work of art!

To­tally in­tox­i­cat­ing

On the road with the two cars, the E-type cer­tainly feels and is roomier, with its min­i­mal rear seat­ing, brighter red leather trim, and larger glass area en­hanc­ing vis­i­bil­ity. The F-type is a tight ship, with al­most no space be­hind the front seats and a boot largely taken up by the spare wheel. With both cars, the long bon­net makes for tricky low-speed ma­noeu­vring, height­ened in the E-type’s by its heavy non-as­sisted steer­ing. The older car’s ven­ti­la­tion is medi­ocre — there’s no air con­di­tion­ing, of course — with heat soak around the trans­mis­sion tun­nel and the less-thanbril­liant seats. Early man­u­als suf­fered from a slow gear­box that was re­placed in 1965 by an all-syn­chro­mesh baulk-ring box, and there were much-needed brak­ing im­prove­ments as the model pro­gressed. Yet, some­how, you can for­give any neg­a­tives for the unique drive ex­pe­ri­ence, and the will­ing­ness of the twin-over­head­camshaft straight-six.

As pro­duc­tion ended, John Lan­g­ley, one-time mo­tor­ing edi­tor of

The Daily Tele­graph na­tional news­pa­per in Bri­tain, was the last jour­nal­ist to road test an E-type. He said, “In years to come I am sure the de­fi­cien­cies will be for­got­ten.

Re­mark­ably, the 2.0-litre F-type’s claimed max­i­mum of 249kph (155mph) is higher than any E-type model, while a gen­er­ous 400Nm of torque is avail­able from as low as 1500rpm

We shall re­mem­ber only the glam­our of the car, its su­perb per­for­mance and the thrill of that first view down the long, lou­vred bon­net.”

Jackie Ste­wart re­called the car as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Swing­ing Six­ties and a “to­tally in­tox­i­cat­ing car with el­e­gance, and dar­ing, and speed and smooth­ness”. Fel­low racer Innes Ireland reck­oned that he al­ways drove his 3.8 E-type at around 130mph (209kph) on the M1 mo­tor­way, and “it never gave me any trou­ble at all”.

In the F-type, you rel­ish the smooth and flex­i­ble fast-act­ing eight-speed ZF auto trans­mis­sion that has three modes (stan­dard, sports, and full man­ual), the 52/48 front-to-rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion that helps to pro­mote ex­cep­tional road manners, the air vents that van­ish into the top of the dash­board, the mar­vel­lous ad­vance­ment of equip­ment, and the unique styling.

The large aero­dy­namic rear wing de­ploys at 70mph (113kph) (60mph [97kph] on the con­vert­ible) and stows at 50mph (80kph) (40mph [64kph]), but it can be left in an el­e­vated po­si­tion. When de­ployed, the wing gives a drag-co­ef­fi­cient re­duc­tion of two per cent and a lift-co­ef­fi­cient re­duc­tion of 15 per cent. Of aca­demic in­ter­est — un­less you are track­side — the wing is stowed to re­duce drag when ex­plor­ing the max­i­mum top speed.

The F-type’s sport­ing traits are fur­ther em­pha­sized by a ride that tends to err on the side of firm­ness, and the Ac­tive Sports Ex­haust that will wake the neigh­bours on start-up, even in quiet mode.

Like the long-gone E-type, this is a se­ri­ous sports ma­chine, and your friends — and other road users — will clearly know and hear you have ar­rived.

Sen­sa­tional looks

And so the leg­end con­tin­ues, even if the ar­rival of the F-type has been un­able to cre­ate the storm of its pre­de­ces­sor. Ini­tially, Jaguar boss Sir Wil­liam Lyons thought that about 1000 E-types would sat­isfy mar­kets, but, over a pro­duc­tion pe­riod of 15 years, 72,518 E-types were made, with the ma­jor­ity of pro­duc­tion go­ing to North Amer­ica. Most pop­u­lar was the Se­ries I, with 38,419 made, split al­most equally be­tween 3.8- and 4.2-litre en­gines. Be­tween 1968 and 1971, a to­tal of 18,809 Se­ries IIS found own­ers, and 15,290 Se­ries III V12s were made. Just 8000 E-types were ex­ported to 73 coun­tries (ex­clud­ing North Amer­ica), and Aus­tralia and New Zealand took about 1500 of these. Bruce Mclaren owned an early black con­vert­ible, but the most famous New Zealand–res­i­dent E-type owner was the late Sy­bil Lupp, the first New Zealand woman to achieve na­tional promi­nence in mo­tor rac­ing. Sy­bil owned no fewer than 15 Jaguars, in­clud­ing her much-loved gold 1972 E-type V12 that was well re­garded around Wellington streets.

Mean­while, in the first four years of pro­duc­tion, just over 40,000 F-types have been built, and 186 new–in–new Zealand ex­am­ples have been sold — a sur­pris­ingly high num­ber given the specialist na­ture and high cost of the car. One in five F-types sold here since launch has been a con­vert­ible.

The F-type is a mod­ern-day in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a dream-jaguar-made-re­al­ity 57 years ago, al­though it may not stir the senses to the same de­gree as did the E-type. Sen­sa­tional looks are com­mon to both, and each rep­re­sents a rare ex­pe­ri­ence. The F-type is an ex­quis­ite de­sign that is un­likely to date — yet, in the years ahead, will we judge to­day’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion in the same light as the E-type?

How­ever you view the F-type, there is lit­tle doubt that it is an au­to­mo­tive landmark that fol­lows in the wheel tracks of the leg­endary XK120, XK140, XK150, and E-type. Pon­der, too, on this. Given the pace of tech­nol­ogy and a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing en­vi­ron­ment, peo­ple born to­day may never drive a mo­tor ve­hi­cle. For clas­sic car en­thu­si­asts, the thought is al­most too hard to bear. So re­joice while you can in these two rather spe­cial Jaguars.

The F-type is an ex­quis­ite de­sign that is un­likely to date, yet in the years ahead will we judge to­day’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion in the same light as the E-type?

Left: 1968 – Pats mother stands by her new car Be­low left: 1972 – Pat get­ting into the car – she cer­tainly en­joyed driv­ing it Be­low: 2007 – Pat with Jack Brab­ham, when he was in NZ for the A1 GP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.