CarAdvice had the incredibly rare opportunity to drive the very last Jaguar E-Type ever built. This 1974 V12 Jaguar E-Type Series 3 with the famous HDU 555N number plates, has been in the hands of Jaguar from day one.
It was part of a special run of 50 E-Types built to conclude the 13 years of the model’s production. Jaguar built 72,529 E-Types in total, with 15,292 of them being a Series 3.
The beauty and history of the E-Type Jaguars is far too intricate to go into here, being a subject which has led to many books. In many ways the E-Type arguably shaped the sportscar as we know it today.
Series 3 E-Types were powered by a 5.3-litre V12 with 198kW, which at the time was the only mass-produced V12 engine in the world. The model was offered in open two-seater and two-plus-two coupe bodystyles. Most were sold as automatics but a manual gearbox was available.
Of the last fifty made, all except one were painted black. Number 49 was embraced in British Racing Green to become a collectors item and all fifty carried a commemorative plaque, bearing Sir William Lyon’s signature.
Despite its relatively competitive starting price of £3123 ($4,650), it managed to do the 0-96km/h (0-60mph) in just 6.4 seconds (remember we’re talking about 37 years ago).
For our short drive around the backstreets of London, we were asked to ‘take it easy’ given this particular E-Type is a gem in Jaguar’s rich history.
It’s hard to explain the feeling you get driving an E-Type to those that haven’t driven one. The series one builds were a bit more raw and demanding to drive but the series 3 (at least the example we tested), pretty much drove like a normal modern car (but with a lot of character & soul).
Sure, the steering wheel was thin and the pedals and gearbox felt a little unnerving at first but after about five minutes you come to the solid realization that this is a proper sportscar, but one that can also be a daily commuter.
It’s the sort of car you can actually legitimately still drive to work on a daily basis. It’s smooth, easy to drive and puts a smile on your face constantly.
Despite being 10 years older than this humble writer, the E-Type Series 3 still accelerated with a great deal of enthusiasm, being able to hit 60 mph (~96km/h) in second gear and pulling hard into third.
The most fascinating aspect of the series 3 E-Type (apart from it’s gorgeous looks), was the interior. It’s just amazing to see the attention to detail and also the level of quality craftsmanship that went into creating these timeless machines. From the switchgear on the dash to the leather seats, it’s a work of art.
Around the tight and crowded streets of London, the famous Jag drew the attention of nearly everyone that laid eyes on it. It’s without a doubt a car that has captured the hearts and minds of car lovers across the world. Despite not being an avid fan of classic cars, it’s almost impossible not to appreciate the E-Type for what it is.
This particular example, the very last E-Type ever, is currently owned by Jaguar’s Heritage trust. A non-for-profit organisation that maintain a collection of Jaguar’s most collectible cars.