First drive: Jaguar E-Type V12 roadster

The iconic E-type has turned 50 this year and I was lucky enough to get a brief drive of the very last car, a 1974 V12 Jaguar E-Type Series 3 with the famous HDU 555N number plate.

Powered by a 5.3-litre V12 with 266bhp, this collectable Jaguar is the last of 50 finished in black. It's also fitted with a commemorative plaque, bearing Sir William Lyon's signature on the dashboard.
Personally, I think earlier E-Types are prettier, but at least the last E-Type is the more attractive two-seater convertible version.

Much easier to get comfortable in than the last classic Jaguar I drove (the infamous NUB120 Jaguar XK120), the leather seats seem snug rather than supportive. Even though this car is over 30 years old, the quality of the switchgear and leather trim impress.

The thin three-spoke steering wheel and a dashboard stacked with switches and instruments give away the E-Type's age, but there's more character and soul inside an E-Type than most modern roadsters.

I turn over the V12, there's a small cough and then the charismatic sound of the 5.3-litre V12 rumbles into life. The clutch is light and progressive as I slot the four-speed manual transmission into first.

I'm told to take it easy because of this car's worth, but I'm making good progress through the gearbox and the speed is building quickly. It's easy to believe that the E-Type V12 managed to do the dash to 60mph acceleration in just 6.4 seconds.

This E-type only really shows its age when braking and cornering are necessary. This car might have disc brakes, but the pedal is small and the feel is mushy. The E-Type seems like a tidy handler and the large three-spoke wheel is assisted, but the steering still feels imprecise compared to modern sportscars.

Still, there are few cars of this age that have aged so gracefully as the E-Type. It's hard not to see why this car appeals to car lovers all over the world. Happy Birthday E-Type, here's to another successful 50!

Read Full Story