Jaguar E-type: the poor man’s Ferrari 250 GTO?

The title of this post is a bit provocative. A Jaguar E-type is by no means a 'poor man's' car. On the contrary. The 'E' is a true legend, one of the most iconic classic sports cars and a valuable collector car. As a thought experiment, let's try to compare it to the most valuable car in the market: Ferrari's 250 GTO. Both these cars were introduced in the early 1960's and had a significant impact on sports car design. One car might even have inspired the creation of the other.

While unfortunately I have never had the chance to drive a GTO (nor will I probably ever), I have first hand experience with 6 and 12 cilinder E-types. I am also a bit biased, both as an E-type owner and as a Ferrari aficionado. For the sake of a rational thought experiment, I attempted to compare the two on a couple of factors: styling, performance, value and motorsport laurels.

Styling

In 1961, Enzo Ferrari called the E-type the most beautiful car ever made. That was before he crafted the GTO and the 275 GTB, the latter of which was clearly inspired by the Jaguar. The E-type had been styled by an aircraft engineer and aerodinamist, Malcolm Sayer. Sayer is known to have been inspired by the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante - a futuristic concept car from 1952. He used mathematical furmulas and an instinctive design approach to come up with an initial concept, further developed by primitive wind tunnel tests. The whole approach was quite revolutionary in the pre-CAD, pre-wind tunnel era.

Before then, Ferrari's designers had never paid much attention to scientific aerodinamics. They simply trusted on the superbly engineered V12 engines. When Enzo first saw the E-type, he probably scratched his head in reflection of his earlier quote:


Aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines.

Enzo Ferrari

It is said that the rumoured arrival of the lightweight E-type racer led to the prioritisation of the 250 GTO project. Ferrari's design team used the university of Pisa's wind tunnel to blend its brilliant engine design with aerodinamic efficiency. The result was a road legal racer that defied competition and raised the bar. It became the first Ferrari with such an emphasis on aerodinamic design.

Nowadays, both these cars are still seen as design icons. The E-type is part of the MoMa's permanent collection, having defined the paradigm of the modern sports car. Both cars are frequently found on various top 10 lists of iconic and legendary automobiles.

Performance

Under the Series One E-type's long bonnet lied the 3.8 litre straight six XK engine from the 1950's, tuned to 265 bhp. The gearbox was an old-fashioned 4-speed Moss box. Power was distributed to the D-type's independent rear suspension, that continued to be used in the Jaguar XJS and Aston Martin DB7. Top speed was tested at 241 kph, with 0-100 kph in 6.4 seconds. In standard road trim, the car weighed 1315 kg.

The GTO was powered by a 3 litre V12, essentially the same as in the 250 Testa Rossa. It offered 296 bhp and was linked to a 5-speed gearbox and a solid rear axle. Curb weight was only 880 kg, thanks to a lightweight tube frame and aluminium body work. Top speed was tested at 237 kph (although Ferrari claims it to be 280 kph), with 0-100 in 6 seconds.

Clearly, the GTO beats the standard E-type when it comes to performance. The on-paper comparison does not seem fair, as the GTO was a road-legal homologation model of a thoroughbred racer. Jaguar had its motorsport equivalent: the 1963 lightweight E-type and the 1962 low-drag coupé. The lightweight produced 300-340 bhp, with a 1009 kg curb weight. It would be more than interesting to get these cars together for a direct comparison.

Motorsport career

The GTO was built to be raced, both by the Ferrari factory team and in the hands of privateers. The car was not as dominant as some other Ferraris though. It finished second in the 12 hours of Sebring, reached two wins in the Tour de France and won three consecutive FIA touring car championship titles. Although GTO's often met E-types on smaller events and classic car races, they were never direct competitors on the race track.

The E-type was more of a GT tourer than a thoroughbred racer, even though it was inspired by the race-bred C- and D-type. Jaguar's factory team only used the lightweight E-type briefly. The factory team was planning on competing in the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1963, with Peter Lindner as lead driver. A fatal crash at Monthlery halted the Le Mans project, as the car was wrecked beyond repair. After the tragic event, Jaguar's attention shifted to the mid-engined V12 XJ13 racer. The E-type's motorsport career was mostly in the hands of privateers, leading to victories at Silverstone, Goodwood and a class victory in the Sebring 12-hours.


Jaguar E-type Lightweight Low Drag Coupe, By Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England - CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18252781

Value

Putting things in simplified perspective, let's say a decent but scruffy driver quality Jaguar E-type can be bought for around US$ 100.000. The latest GTO sale was a spectacular $ 48.405.000, while rumour has it that another one was sold for $ 70.000.000 in a private sale that same year (2018). One GTO therefore has a value of anywhere between 484 - 700 Jaguar E-types. True, it is a silly comparison. Only 36 Ferrari 250 GTO's were ever made, versus almost 79.000 Jaguar E-types. This includes the 12 original lightweight E-types, a car that might be better comparison material to the GTO because of its competition origins. One of these 12 E-types sold for $ 7.370.000 in 2017.

Back when these cars were new, the price difference was a little less significant. At time of introduction, a new E-type sold for $ 5.620, while $ 18.000 plus Enzo Ferrari's personal approval were required to buy a GTO. Oh yes, and both cars could have been bought for very little money, back when there was still not much of a matured classic car market.

The GTO's value has come a long way since this advertisement.

Useability

Both cars do not qualify as daily drivers, although the dandy and extravagant might consider an E-type for their daily commute. Enjoyment is something with different facets. Some owners only get to enjoy their collector's piece by looking at it while keeping it in a maximum-security man-cave. Others take their wheeled toys to the race track, and cannot be bothered when it gets scratched or dented.

Usability of any of these classics depends on their owner's attitude and budget. A specialty car transporter once told me about the precautions taken to move a GTO a few 100 km's across France. The costs plus insurance premium were enough to take a large chunk out of a tatty E-type's restoration budget. Quite a worrisome white elephant.

The E-type definetely scores points here. It is the more sensible car that can actually be taken out and enjoyed without hours of preparation and increased stress levels. Although if you are able to spend 40+ million on a car, you probably cannot be bothered about such marginalities.

The verdict

Comparing a street legal race car to a GT sports car is a ridiculous excercise. Both these cars have become icons in their own right. Both are also dream cars, although the dream of owning an E-type can be realised. Even the more hard-headed E-type fans will admit the GTO to be a more spectacular car. However, the Ferrari 250 GTO will simply remain out of reach for non-billionaire enthusiasts, while the E-type falls into a segment that is actually reachable for moderately wealthy and frugal petrol heads. With its sleek lines and excellent performance, it gets close to being a match for the GTO. To me, the Jaguar E-type qualifies as the ultimate 'poor man's Ferrari 250 GTO'.

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Why the Jaguar XJS gets better with age – and why now is the time to get one

The Jaguar XJ-S (later renamed XJS) is a car you either love or hate. At the time of its introduction in 1975, its styling was considered too forward-looking, while at the end of its lifecycle in 1996 it was already considered a classic. At the time of writing, even the youngest XJS is more than 20 years old, while the older XJ-S models are over 40. With many different versions around there are substantial differences in character, although they all share a level of smoothness and sophistication that is matched by very few other cars. Having evolved from the Jaguar E-type and having served as a blueprint for the Jaguar XK8 and Aston Martin DB7, the XJS is often misunderstood. It is about time to give it some extra credit.

Jaguar's launch poster was not quite modest

 

Different car, different styling.

For a long time, the XJ-S stood in the shadow of its legendary predecessor, the E-type. It is wrongly considered to be the E-type's successor. Instead, it was more of a GT, an evolution that was started when the Series 3 E-type received its silky smooth V12. Except for its drivetrain, the XJ-S did not look like anything close to an E-type. It lacks the dramatic elegance of the earlier Jaguar sports cars and does not have the classical looks of the Jaguar XJ sedans, that the public came to associate with Jaguar's distinctive image. Whereas the XJ-S's styling was definitely  brave and forward-looking, the design of the later XK8 was clearly inspired by the curvy lines of the E-type. This was an era where retroism dominated the design of many sports and luxury cars. As the XK8 aged, potential buyers of modern classics have overlooked the XJS and chose the retro XK8. With modern Jaguars having finally taken on a more radically different styling, the distinctively different XJS is on the up.

Evolution of the Jaguar XJ-S and Jaguar car design

The XJ-S stayed in production for more than 20 years, seeing the company evolve through its most difficult period. At the time of introduction, it was built in an antiquated factory that still mostly relied on tooling from the 1950's. Reliability issues and a heavy thirst almost led to its discontinuation at the end of the 1970's, but the introduction of the modified High Efficiency engine attracted buyers again in the early 1980's. It wasn't until Ford Motor Company invested heavilly in modernisation and quality improvements that a more refined 3rd version of the XJS (note the different spelling) came into existence. Quality wise, the car had now overcome most (if not all) of its earlier issues. Rust prevention was also on a much higher level, while the electrics had finally become reliable. For a long time, these were the best Jaguars ever built.

The design of Jaguar cars however, got neglected under the umbrella of Ford. One could say that Jaguar's design department had lacked sheer courage for a very long time, basically eversince the XJ-S was introduced. The XJ's basic design was still inspired by the XJ6 Series 1 from the late 1960's. Not a bad source of inspiration, just not really worthy of a company like Jaguar, of which all of its classics had a forward looking design philosophy. Worst of all, the newly introduced X-type and S-type shared a platform and many technical components with the Ford Mondeo and Lincoln LS. So much for a distinctive character, Jaguar was now spitting out badge-engineered McMotors.

This came to an end when the first new cars under design director Ian Callum introduced a radically modern look. The new XK and XF came out shortly before Tata Motors took over, marking the beginning of a whole new era in Jaguar's history. In hindsight, the XJ-S had been the last truly brave and forward-looking design that came out of Coventry for a long time.

The XJS as an appreciating classic

Many enthusiasts agree that the XJS gets better with age, confirmed by recent increases in market value. In our opinion, the Jaguar XJS is still underpriced though and we expect values to keep rising as more and more people are getting used to Jaguar's more modern design philosophy. It will never be as desirable as an XK 120 or E-type, but it has finally stepped out of the shadows and is now appreciated for its differentness and significance in Jaguar's history.

 

Looking for a Jaguar XJS to buy?

Dandy Classics specialises in british sports and GT cars, like the Jaguar XJS. Take a look at our current stock, by going to our collection page.

 

Read more about the Jaguar XJS:

Recent article by Bring a Trailer: https://bringatrailer.com/2018/02/20/why-we-love-them-jaguar-xj-s/

Some thoughts on market values, by Classic Car Auction Results: https://www.classiccarauctionresults.co.uk/jaguar-xjs-next-e-type/Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram

Jaguar E-type V12 FHC restoration: on the road to Santiago

Every restoration is a callenge of its own. The level of dedication and perseverance required can make it somewhat of a spiritual journey for its owner (if not for the ones around him). In the case of this E-type Jaguar, it was the car itself that went on a pilgrimage on the Camino Real.

The 1973 Jaguar E-type S3 V12 2+2 coupé featured here was not really in a bad condition. Having been sold new in the USA, it became part of a multi-car collection after being imported to the Netherlands. For over 20 years, the big cat was kept indoors, only to be taken out for a yearly 'spin-around-town' on dealer plates. With 75.000 mls, it had never been restored and was in running and driving condition. Time had left its marks though; the body had several flaws and the Jaguar needed to be brought back to a state of preventive maintenance.

 

1973 Jaguar E-type V12 2+2

The e-type in unrestored condition. Sold by Dandy Classics, to a new Spanish owner.

 

We sold the E-type to a new caretaker from Galicia, Spain. With a thorough approach and with respect to originality, a restoration was started. The body was taken down to bare metal, before being refinished in its original silver colour. Mechanically, the car has been freshened up, with complete rebuilds of front and rear suspension, carburettors and cooling system. The interior was kept original, preserving the leather seats rather than reupholstering them.


 

The new owner can be proud of his achievement of turning this monumental car into a stunningly beautiful and reliable driver. It must be a treat to drive a car like this on winding Spanish coastal roads. If you ever visit Galicia, watch out for this big cat leaping up from behind.

Need inspiration for your next holiday destination? The 'Caribbean beach' in Galicia heads the list of top 10 beaches of the world. Read this article from the Guardian…

Did this article inspire you to take on a restoration project by yourself? Take a look at our collection and see what's in store.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram

Jaguar XJS V12 te koop

New arrival: 1988 Jaguar XJ-S V12

Jaguar XJ-S for sale Jaguar XJs interior red

Jaguar's luxury sports GT has finally stepped out of the shadows of the legendary E-type. Classic car enthusiasts are starting to appreciate its distinct looks and character. The car that we recently added to our collection has only covered slightly more than 25.000 mls since new. After almost 30 years, it needs attention to the body to make it a perfect modern classic.

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