I had a thirsty but fun weekend in a friend's Series 3 E-type roadster, a nice North American spec left-hooker complete with auto 'box and air conditioning.
The destination was Lulworth Cove for some photographs for an Italian advertising shoot promoting clothes. At least I think it was; I had to ‘model’ a dodgy anorak and a jumper, both of which were a rather snug fit.
The E-type perfectly fitted Andrea’s conception of an English sports car in English countryside, although Lulworth has become a bit of a tourist spot since I lasted visited there when comparing a Sunbeam Tiger and an AC Cobra.
We had a good blast across Hardy country from Cirencester, unfortunately with the hood up, wipers slapping and feeling slightly cautious about the American tyres the car was wearing. In fact they never gave cause for concern.
Even with the Borg Warner automatic and Federal smog equipment, the Jag had impressive overtaking powers, but the way fuel disappeared brought back memories of a blast back from Scotland in a manual Series 3 fixed-head with (presumably) a low ratio differential.
I also realised that the E-type is a car that does not cross my mind all that much.
The last time I got deeply involved with them was when I wrote the Classic and Sportscar E-Type File book in the mid 1980s. I’ve occasionally thought an early coupé would be cool – a nice original one like the one Richard Falconer has – but otherwise I increasingly feel I’m more of a Jaguar saloon man with leanings towards the early XJ-S and the first of the XJ12 saloons.
Although, having said that, my standard reply to the ‘what’s the best car you’ve ever driven’ question is still the XKSS.
Anyway we introduced our Italian visitors from Turin to the grease-fest of fish and chips (which amazingly they polished off), did a few more shots on cliffs with enough dry spells to keep the hood down now and finally retired to our stylish 1930s hotel in Bournemouth.
Andrea had booked himself into the one next door originally, only to find it was run along Fawlty Towers lines that he may have found amusing if he had ever actually seen an episode of Fawlty Towers.
He managed to dig out a restaurant for dinner (Gilby’s) where we chatted about Italy without Mr Berlusconi and a Flaminia Coupé that is coming up for sale.
Next day the E-type had to be dropped off for detailing with Mike Sloper in Marlborough.
Mike was positively salivating at the prospect of getting hold of it, but before he did I gave my pal Jon a go and he returned the favour by giving me a terrifying ride back to Cirencester in his manual XJ-S… which still goes pretty well even on nine and a half cylinders out of 12.