As well as the latest products from the worlds manufacturers on display at the recent SMMT Test Day at Millbrook, a number of more classic cars were on show, and the opportunity was seized to take out a 1971 series 3 E Type V12 5.3 litre with a manual gearbox. Purists may argue that this was the least memorable of the E Type generations, yet it still, to me at least, retains all the magic of the earlier versions.
This particular car, Regency Red WHP 205J had an interesting history. Originally part of Jaguars press fleet, it had a memorable claim to fame when it was used to “race” a Jaguar jet fighter aircraft. It has been retained as part of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection ever since.
Clambering over the surprisingly wide & deep sill into the tight-fitting bucket seat, it was immediately striking just how narrow the cabin was compared to a modern car. Indeed, the whole all-too-brief drive served to remind us just how far car technology has advanced since the days forty-plus years ago when this model was the peak of automotive excellence. Even pulling away from stationary demanded care, with just the right amount of throttle needing to be applied to prevent embarrassing learner-driver style kangaroo hops.
Once on the move though, the car was smooth and responsive, although stopping required a surprisingly heavy push on the brake pedal. Foot movement from the accelerator to the brake also required care, as the space between the pedals was minimal. And yet these little quirks in no way detracted from the magnificence of the beast. Although it demanded 100% attention, this was a car you need to engage with to savour it. And the smell of exhaust fumes after they had passed through those four Zenith Stromberg carburettors could be bottled and sold for a fortune!