1961 Jaguar E-Type SIRoadster
Year of manufacture1961
Car typeConvertible / Roadster
Number of doors2
Number of seats2
1964 Jaguar E-type Series 1 3.8 roadster
Original RHD UK-market car
Recently restored to concours condition
Subtle upgrades include Tremec five-speed gearbox
This Jaguar E-type Series 1 3.8 roadster was built on 23 January 1964. Chassis number 850818 was finished in Opalescent Golden Sand with a Light Tan interior and a Sand soft-top, and was dispatched from the Browns Lane factory to Henlys London on 31 January 1964. It was fitted with engine number RA 5237-9.
An original UK-market, right-hand-drive E-type, it was restored during the early 1990s, a process that included an engine rebuild. After being acquired by a new custodian in 2013 – by which time it had been given an unleaded cylinder head conversion – it was restored again, beginning with a complete strip-down to a bare shell. New floors and rear wings were fitted, but the doors and bonnet were found to be in good condition and were retained.
The E-type was subsequently resprayed in Old English White, the brightwork was rechromed and new glass was fitted. All of the rubber seals were replaced, too.
The triple SU carburettors were stripped and rebuilt, and a Classicfabs stainless-steel exhaust system was fitted. A Tremec T5 five-speed gearbox was installed – a popular upgrade among E-type owners, and one that genuinely enhances the driving experience. The braking system has been improved with the addition of Coopercraft four-pot front calipers and vented discs.
The rear axle was stripped and all the bearings and bushes replaced, and new gaskets and seals were fitted to the diff. The suspension features Polybushes throughout, a new wiring loom was fitted, and the interior was retrimmed in Oxblood Red. There is a new black mohair hood as well.
The result is an absolutely pristine example of the E-type that many consider to be the most desirable of them all – the Series 1 3.8 roadster. Now offered for sale by The Classic Motor Hub, it is a beautifully restored example that is ready to be used and enjoyed in the model’s 60th-anniversary year.
Few cars can truly claim to be landmark models, but the Jaguar E-type undoubtedly belongs in that category. It caused an instant sensation when it was launched at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. Its triple-carburettor, 265bhp, 3.8-litre straight-six engine could propel the road-test cars to 150mph – a figure that generated headlines around the world and created a level of demand that Jaguar initially struggled to keep up with.
But not only was there other-worldly performance, there was the iconic shape, which was the work of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer – the same man who had been responsible for Jaguar’s Le Mans-winning C-type and D-type. Beneath the skin, in fact, the E-type owed much to the D-type. It used a monocoque centre section with a subframe carrying the engine and front suspension. At the rear, however, independent suspension was fitted at a time when many of Jaguar’s rivals still employed a traditional live axle.
Production was slow to get under way during the summer of 1961, and to begin with it was mostly focused upon roadster models for the all-important US market – only 342 cars, for example, were built that year for the UK market. In August and September, the fixed-head coupé also started to trickle out of Browns Lane, and both models were offered at a fraction of the cost of the Ferraris and Aston Martins that were the E-type’s only real performance rivals.
In October 1961, the external bonnet locks were replaced with an internal arrangement, and in May-June 1962 footwells were added to the previously flat floors. Both of those features – the external bonnet locks and the flat floors – are now used as a shorthand way of describing specific periods of early E-type production.
In late 1964, the 3.8-litre engine was replaced with a larger 4.2-litre variant of the venerable XK straight-six. A new Jaguar all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox was also fitted, in place of the old Moss gearbox. The Series I was eventually replaced by the facelifted Series II in 1968, having cemented its place in history thanks to its timeless blend of stunning looks and immense performance.