1971 Jaguar E-Type 5.4 V12 Manual Series 3 OTS
Thanks to spending much of its life in pieces, this 1971 E-Type is one of the most original Series 3s we’ve seen.
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL WALTON
Original S3 E-Type survivor — An unusually original Series 3 which comes with an interesting history and spent a large part of its life in boxes.
Whether it’s to describe below average food to an enquiring waiter or a bad haircut to the stylist, we often use the word perfect when the opposite is true. Yet when it comes to this 1971 E-Type V12 open-two-seater, there’s no better adjective. Thanks to having only a handful of owners and covering a mere 25,000 miles as well as a sensitive yet thorough recommissioning by leading specialist, M&C Wilkinson, being in pieces for over two decades has resulted in one of the most original and unmolested Series 3s we’ve seen.
With production of the V12 roadster not starting until August 1971, five months after the model’s initial launch, by leaving the Browns Lane assembly line on 11 October the same year it makes this British Racing Green example (chassis 1S 1103) one of the first. Supplied new through T Baker & Sons in Reading, Berkshire, it was originally registered to a doctor, Nigel Hannen, on 30 November. He obviously used the car sparingly since according to the surviving service records, by 1974 it had only covered 10,280 miles.
Sometime in the early Eighties, the E-Type suffered from an accident which damaged the front corner of the bonnet and although Dr Hannen claimed the insurance, the car was never repaired and on 21 January, 1981, it was sold to David Walker of Fareham.
As an ex-Jaguar and Aston Martin engineer, Walker soon dismantled the car in preparation to repair it, purchasing a new bonnet to replace the damaged original. Yet Walker never finished the project and for the next 25 years the car remained in pieces. When Walker, by then in his eighties, passed away suddenly in the mid 2010s, his collection of Jaguars and Aston Martins was bought by well-known classic car dealer, Graeme Bull of Camberley Marine and Sports Cars based in Surrey. Having known the green E-type when still owned by Dr Hannen and therefore aware of its originality and provenance, Graeme had originally wanted to buy it in 1981.
With too many projects on the go, in 2016 Graeme decided to sell the green E-Type. Since it was a special car, he contacted someone he knew would appreciate its condition: Michael Wilkinson from established Jaguar specialist, M&C Wilkinson. Although the car was still in what he calls “big lumps” (body, rear axle, independent rear suspension, engine, gearbox and interior) it was also in a timewarp condition, showing no corrosion or any signs of repair while the paint and interior were all original.
Michael bought the Jaguar for himself and over the next 12 months put the car back together using as many of the original parts as possible, the exception being the vinyl hood since the original was looking tired and the rear screen now discoloured. Due to the engine sitting unused for such a long time, it was rebuilt but to standard specification.
Once finished, Michael used the car sparingly over the next five years but due to health issues preventing his wife Christine from travelling in a convertible with the top down, Michael decided to sell the car through his separate sales business, Sayer Selection (sayerselection.com).
Current owner, Nick Sladen, first saw the E-Type while one of his other Jaguars was being serviced at M&C Wilkinson earlier this year. “I decided that I quite fancied an E-Type and started looking at them,” says Nick. “But it’s a minefield; some are over £200k while others are forty. When I went to see my car at M&C Wilkinson, Michael and I got talking about E-Types and he showed me this one which I immediately liked due to its low mileage, originality and condition.”
Michael Wilkinson told me of the car and its unique history during a recent visit to M&C Wilkinson and I was immediately fascinated. So when Nick invited me to Motorvault – the exclusive storage facility located deep in the Leicestershire countryside where he keeps it – for a drive, I didn’t need to be asked twice.
Despite being surrounded by much newer and faster cars, it’s the E-Type that catches my eye, looking magnificent under Motorvault’s bright fluorescent lighting. Although the paint is over five decades old, due to its rich lustre it could have easily been applied more recently. Together with the unmarked chrome and equal panel gaps, it’s a perfect example of an E-Type Series 3. But unlike when I was served a cheese-less pizza or that time the hairdresser made me look like a Lego figure, I genuinely mean it.
When I open the long door and sink down into the seat, the interior is equally immaculate, the cinnamon-coloured leather showing so few signs of wear I question whether the car has been used at all. Together with the uncracked black vinyl that covers the dash, plus carpets that are so clean I fear just looking at them would make them dirty I can’t imagine the car looked any different to the day Dr Hannen first collected it over 51 years ago. Even the Bakelite gear knob, that usually becomes scratched by wedding rings, is unmarked. But when I check the odometer, this condition starts to make sense; still at 25,057, that’s a yearly average of 491 miles. I do more miles that that walking the dog.
Rather than slowly churning over a couple of times like every other V12- engined Jaguar I’ve driven has done, this one bursts into life the moment I turn the key. After releasing the clutch, the car moves forward effortlessly, the four-speed box clicking easily into second. With the road ahead of me clear, when I squeeze the throttle pedal, the V12 delivers all of its 272bhp in an instant, resulting in a hard yet still refined surge of acceleration. No matter how hard I push the car, the engine is never loud or raucous, remaining smoother than late night jazz radio.
It’s also remarkably torquey, having the ability to accelerate from a low gear no matter the speed. If the four-speed ‘box wasn’t such a delight to use, it would be almost redundant.
Although the steering is light it’s also accurate which, together with the firm suspension, allows me to scythe effortlessly through bends, the big Pirellis finding plenty of grip on the smooth, dry asphalt. Add the eager, responsive nature of the engine and a transmission that slots into gear like a hot knife through butter and it results in a genuinely fast sports car.
I’ve driven plenty of E-Types over the years and I can genuinely say this is one of the best. Due to its unbroken history, low mileage and beautiful condition, this is a very special car, one that I have no hesitation describing as… flawless
Thanks to: Nick Sladen, M&C Wilkinson (mandcwilkinson.com) and Richard Grout from Motorvault (motorvault.co.uk)
TECHNICAL DATA 1971 Jaguar E-Type Manual Series 3 OTS
- Engine 5343cc V12
- Max Power 272bhp
- Max Torque 304lb.ft
- 0-60mph 7.2 secs
- Max speed 143mph
- Transmission 4-spd
For the next 25 years the car remained in pieces