On the road

Classic Sports Car - - Buyer’s Guide -

The V12 E-type has huge torque through­out the rev range and should feel ef­fort­less and to­tally un­tem­per­a­men­tal to drive. If it doesn’t, some­thing is not right. Check what elec­tronic ig­ni­tion is fit­ted – the Lu­cas OPUS is rarely still in place, but can be recom­mis­sioned for orig­i­nal­ity. Don’t ig­nore a mis­fire – it may de­note a dropped valve or a cracked head.

Oil pres­sure at speed should be at least 60psi; if it’s lower, lis­ten care­fully for rum­bles and knocks that may in­di­cate an engine in im­mi­nent need of re­build. Ex­ces­sive oil leaks and breath­ing are also sure signs of a worn engine. Re­place­ment with a fuel-in­jected XJ-S unit is pos­si­ble but com­plex, and this may af­fect the car’s value in the long-term. The Stromberg car­bu­ret­tors give trou­ble when old, but are easily re­built with new di­aphragms and so on – a rat­tle at the front is the tim­ing chain, which is not such a big job.

When driv­ing, the car should feel com­fort­able and not ex­ces­sively wal­lowy. Worn dampers and bushes ruin ride and han­dling, but are not ex­pen­sive to re­place: parts sup­ply is su­perb and com­pe­ti­tion keeps prices keen. If the rear end needs to be dropped, for at­ten­tion to the brakes, hand­brake, drive cou­plings or axle ra­tio, costs mount un­less you do it your­self be­cause it’s a time-con­sum­ing job, and it’s worth do­ing ev­ery­thing while it’s down. Rear brakes and the hand­brake of­ten seize, and discs rust, due to in­fre­quent use. If wire wheels are fit­ted, check for bro­ken spokes and worn splines.

Bags of torque means an ef­fort­less drive, but it shouldn’t feel wal­lowy. Tired bushes and dampers hurt the han­dling, but new ones won’t break the bank

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