Trunk space is limited largely by the shape: wide and flat. A couple of suitcases will fit in but must be quite thin. The push-button door latch has a handle that will only accommodate finger tips. The doors themselves open wide, clearing high curbs, but a little practice is needed before the side members can be hurdled gracefully. Once inside you have the feeling of the car being built around you, a snug but not restrictive fit.
The heater worked well, although we didn’t encounter any really cold weather, but defrosting left a lot to be desired in spite of the great number of ducts. The three-bladed wipers gave a good sweep but on our car the driver’s blade was defective and only smeared the glass. Furthermore the two-speed wipers could use a faster high speed for heavy rains. Smokers will want to install another ash tray to supplement the small capacity and inconvenience of the built-in receptacle. The cigarette lighter is located next to the starter button which is also round and black so a glance in that direction would be wise before pushing anything. The minor controls are efficient in their layout and operation and if you forget which toggle does what, you can read the illuminated strip beneath them.
As is well known, the whole nose section of the car hinges forward to reveal the powerplant. Accessibility to the engine and its accessories is excellent and that old Jaguar mechanic’s bugaboo “I’d fix it if I knew where it was” should be forever buried. The Champion N-5 plugs (N-3 for all-out efforts) are right on top of the engine. Shielding from dust and water is good. The engine compartment kept remarkably clean in spite of driving through a number of deep puddles and dusty stretches, but under torrential conditions water will get at the Lucas distributor located at the right front of the engine.
The three SU carbs are almost at waist height for easy maintenance and the cross-flow radiator has a separate header tank that’s also accessible. The battery is mounted in its own compartment on the left rear side of the engine room away from most of the heat and fumes. Master cylinders and reservoirs are easily checked. The engine should be almost as easy to remove as a Volkswagen’s and leaves the car with the transmission from underneath in VW fashion.
Front end parts, looking almost spidery-thin, are easy to reach for lubrication. In fact the only item that is even partly elusive is the oil filter located on the lower right side of the engine, underneath the carb air cleaner assembly. Removal of these things should ease the filter change job. Ducts are built into the hood to direct cold air to the carbs and cockpit vents. The car has 22 grease points and it seems that the trend toward “sealed-for-life” fittings does not go over in Coventry the way it does in Detroit. One item that requires no maintenance is the Lucas fuel pump which replaces the SU unit familiar on all previous XK-series Jaguars. It’s completely sealed and is submerged in the fuel tank. Delivery pressure is pre-set during manufacture and since no vacuum can occur at the intake port, the pump can maintain constant pressure on the delivery side.
The plastic hoods over the headlights give the E-Type an air of mystery at night. Putting in a good deal of night driving, and encountering a variety of traffic and road conditions, we learned to appreciate all the little luxuries which adorn the cockpit, some of which may pass unnoticed on a short run. These include the headlight flasher, windshield washer, anti-glare rear view mirror, variable instrument lighting, all standard equipment but often taken for granted in fast cars. The instruments themselves add to the pleasure of driving the car and are as complete as you’d want, as may be seen from the dashboard diagram.
Bumper protection at the front is negligible and the rear isn’t much better, but it’s nice to be able to see what a car looks like without heavy, if practical, bumpers. The XK-120, you will recall, began its life the same way with handsome, flimsy bumpers and before the 150 came out, sensible armor had been mounted. The centrally located dual tailpipes under the upturned tail end just at the edge of the car. Smoke and soot soon cover the license plate, its lights and the back-up light, so these need to be cleaned every 500 miles or less.
To say the E-Type attracted interest wherever we went is a gross understatement. Men and women in all age and income groups pressed us with questions: What kind of car is it? How fast will it go? Did you drive it that fast? How much does it cost? More knowledgeable types had questions about the horsepower and torque, the handling, the ride, etc., etc. We visited the New Hope, Pennsylvania annual concours and were literally swamped by interested observers. The E-Type is that kind of car. One bystander commented, “These will be seen all over pretty soon, so I guess I’d better get something else.” The E-Type is not that kind of car. It is a great crowd drawer and can be a terrific ego booster, but if you want to get away from it all, we can’t think of a nicer way to go.