The Jaguar E-Type needs little introduction, since every motoring enthusiast worth the petrol in his veins should already have the beautiful V12-powered example of sixties England on his wish list. I am one of them, and today I get the chance to drive one, this 1973 Mark III.
“My father collected classics Jags,” owner Matthew Brett explains while we ogle. “He had a Jaguar Mark II among others but always coveted an E-Type, and never bought one. So I was kind of aware of that, and the car was always on my radar. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? The sculpting just goes on forever! The style is timeless, and the bonnet is a thing of beauty!”
No arguments here. Everywhere we look there’s something else to make us go weak at the knees: the almost impossibly sleek bodylines, the subtly aggressive front grille, intricate air inlets, and just enough chrome detailing to keep us out of bling territory. A design now over 50 years old and one that seems to get better with each passing year.
Much the same can be said of the cabin too, once I’ve helped Matthew take the roof down. Even in the heart of the Middle East, the sense of old England, flat caps, driving gloves and a weekend spin in the country is impossible to ignore.
“It’s a real sports cars cabin,” explains Matthew, “and it’s not too dissimilar to an old fighter cabin with the switches and the dials! The chrome bonnet releases are just beautiful, and the seat leather is original too. When you’re surrounded by it all, it’s difficult not to feel patriotic.”
The thing is though, once I’m buckled up on point and have fired the Big Cat into life, I lose a lot of my nerve. Since this particular model arrived in the UAE a little under two years ago, only two people have been allowed behind the wheel: one is Matthew, the other is me. This is a prized collector’s item and as such has received the best upkeep possible since before I was born. So much as kerbing one of the delicately intricate alloys will get me in a lot – A LOT – of trouble.
Which is possible, since the E-Type is not the easiest of cabriolets to drive. The bonnet is a thing of beauty, true, but having even the vaguest idea where the front of it is from behind the wheel is next to impossible. Even despite an astonishing amount of feel through the front wheels, I don’t want to push my luck. There’s also the low ride height:
“I’ve just got to be really careful when I’m driving it. There’s a couple of really low speed bumps where the sills are just brushing on the side. That’s a very uncomfortable noise in a 40-year-old car (laughs)!”