E-Type 4.2 Convertible Driven

Fast flowing A-roads really suit the E-Type

The Series 1 E-Type opened the chapter on one of the most famous car stories of all time. Step forwards to Series 2 and things were already on the move with changes to the rear lights, bumper, front lights and grill. Changes that didn’t please everyone, particularly the longer chassis on the later series 3 roll out cars. Thankfully there is some middle ground to explore in the range with this stunning in green Series 2 E-Type 4.2 Convertible.

Now OK there was only one Series 1 car feature that survived intact, but critically it was the length of the chassis to leave this model with a compactness lost on the 2+2 Series 2 and later series 3 cars. For that reason alone it has got to be worth a look, this one especially so with some Series 1.5 touches added. As a convertible access in and out is eased because like it or not the only real way into the driver’s seat in an early E-Type is from above. Even later cars with wider doors are tricky to enter and exit from, especially in Coupe form. Today however there is no such problem; the sun is shining brightly, the roof down and once successfully installed we are off with the wind blowing our (increasingly grey!) hair.

E-Type 4.2 Convertible
Series 2 car sits bang in the middle of all three generations

British Racing Green on a still relatively early E-Type 4.2 Convertible ensures admiring glances and waves everywhere, a nice touch although not an essential ingredient for having a good time. If you’ve not driven an E-Type 4.2 Convertible before, then I guarantee you will be seriously impressed with the pace. This car absolutely flies and there can be no disputing its 150mph capabilities when just trying to keep within the speed limit proves to be such a challenge. In fact, other than your conscience and the law, the only other limiting factor is the brakes, also carried over from the earlier incarnation and thankfully improved on later models. Because despite pressing very hard indeed slowing down from speed is well at times rather exciting. Arguably a bit too exciting and so an E-Type 4.2 Convertible is best enjoyed with a little constraint. Brake early to avoid disappointment.

E-Type 4.2 Convertible
Early 4.2 Convertible looks achingly cool in British Racing Green (note the triple wiper blades)

The long bonnet that dominates all E-Types reminds me of the offset pedals in an early Porsche 911, in that on the second or third drive you don’t notice them anymore. In the case of a E-Type 4.2 Convertible, junctions require a bit more care, despite the driving position being quite high, the nose does protrude forwards an awfully long way. The only advice, particularly if vision is impaired, is to stop shy of the line and edge forwards to be on the safe side. Other than the brakes and becoming accustomed to that long, long bonnet the only other trait on an E-Type 4.2 Convertible is a snatch in third gear, something all of the E-Types I’ve driven suffer from. Double de-clutching on downshifts sorts this, as does toe and heeling, although the latter needs serious prioritisation in favour of the brake pedal to ensure the car also stops on time. No point saving the gearbox’s synchromesh just to shorten the bonnet after all. The following audio clip reveals how (roof down) the engine, transmission and wind noise are all delivered to you in glorious symphony.

Fast flowing A-roads really suit the E-Type

Inside the E-Type 4.2 Convertible you get the usual gloriously large Jaguar period dials for engine rpm and mph and then in the centre of the dash some uniqueness. The Series 1 car has chrome toggle switches and later 3 cars plastic rocker switches.  Both work equally well in their own right. In this Series 2 E-Type 4.2 Convertible there are plastic covered toggle switches in an attempt to style it as an earlier Series 1.5 car. Not its best feature, but then you have so much fun driving it not a particular issue either. The soft top is easy to erect and drop back down again, simply attaching to the windscreen with three chromed over-centre clamps. The view through the windscreen is also enhanced further by the trade mark triple wiper blades, being achingly cool as a feature. How original is that and missing completely on the later Series 3 cars.

On the road the Series 2 E-Type 4.2 Convertible is fast and responsive to direction changes. Push really hard through bends and you begin to feel the slack being taken up in the back axle beyond which over-steer must surely lurk. The thrust from the engine is truly impressive requiring no more than 4000rpm in each gear to deliver serious cross-country pace. There is a definite timelessness about the E-Type 4.2 Convertible; it just shouldn’t go this quickly. In fact keeping up with modern traffic proves to be less of a problem and more of a hindrance. Below is the video we made, although worth saying when we tested this car originally we thought it was an earlier Series 1.5.

E-Type 4.2 Convertible balances compactness of earlier cars with the later and more powerful six cylinder power-plant. Something that could be exploited even more on this car with a brake upgrade.

How does this car make you feel?

In one word: Driver

As a favourite meal: Sausage and mash with onion gravy

Anything Else: Head and heart; quick, agile and classy versus it’s going to bankrupt me isn’t it?

Key Ingredients: Compact chassis, powerful 4.2 litre engine, open top motoring and the very fact it is an E-Type.


With thanks to Great Escape Classic Car Hire


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