On the road
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