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Garage Find: 1970 Jaguar XKE Series II Coupe

As popular as Jaguar’s first post-war sports car was, the XKE outdid it by a mile. It didn’t hurt that the XKE’s US introduction at the 1961 International Automobile Show in New York was conducted by Marilyn Hanold, Playboy’s June 1959 Playmate of the Month. Some 300,000 attendees were more than willing to gaze at both models. But we don’t aim to distract from the car itself, for it was brilliant, offering exquisite looks and performance comparable to much more expensive cars. The glorious Aston Martin DB4GT cost over $12,000 new, and produced a top speed of 152 mph; here was the XKE at $5670, supplying a top speed of 150. Of course, only 75 DB4GTs were made; would-be XKE owners have some 67,000 examples (minus extinctions) from which to choose. Here on eBay one of these – a 1970 Jaguar XKE Series II coupe, bid to $25,100, reserve not met. Painted in Pale Primrose, this project car is being sold by the son of the owner.

By 1970, the superlative 4.2-liter twin overhead cam six-cylinder engine was suffering the effects of US emissions regulations, losing its three jewel-like SU carbs in favor of a couple of unlovely Strombergs. The whole kit was down on power versus the Series I cars, but zero to sixty still came up in about seven seconds. While later buyers of XKEs did have to put up with performance concessions, they also saw some benefits: the gearbox was fully synchro’d, the cooling system improved, and braking was sharper. Power steering became an option, too. This car has only been started once since its brakes began to fail in about 2002.

The interior is worn: the carpets are missing, the seat leather is cracked, the rubber seals are corroded. The seller notes that the back hatch hinge was removed at some point, and the rear window is delaminating. By 1970, the elegant toggle switches on the dash had been turned to rockers – just one in a long line of safety “features”.

The car has a few scratches and dents. The seller reports minimal rust, but at the least, the area under the builder’s plate is gnarly. The front end is blessedly straight: the fitment of an XKE bonnet that needs a rebuild is the very definition of hell. This photo is a reminder that Jag was still employing lovely all-chrome bumpers; the worst of the bumper brigade arrived in 1974. The list of differences among the various XKE series is long; we’ve only scratched the surface. The consensus of the market boils down to: buy an early car for collectibility; buy a Series II for comfort; buy a Series III if you don’t mind mechanical torture. Coupes tend to sell less expensively than roadsters, and 2+2s are the low car on the totem pole. There is nothing cheap about fixing an XKE, either. My sense is this car should be close to its reserve, but what do you think?


  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rack Member

    GREAT comparison with the incredible DB4GT, Michelle.
    There was a time when one could buy an XKE for chump money. A blown motor, age (the car and/or the driver), additions to the family (motor or bipod). You’d often see them with small block transplants and nobody thought it sacrilegious.
    We see them now as when we first saw them as new-an achingly beautiful sculpture begging for a run to stretch it’s legs.
    This one is decent enough, but you have to admit the glassed in headlights made the XKE look all the better, and the silly reasoning for the toggles being replaced was typical of a chest-puffing official government job justification.
    It’s a shame this cat hasn’t stretched its legs in awhile, that might lead to compounding and creating additional issues.
    Regardless, GLWTA.

    Like 7
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      You reminded me with Michelle’s comment on the DB4. In ’67 I passed up a chance to buy a DB2 for $500. Hindsight is a wonderful thing….

      Like 3
    • Ken Nesbit

      You’re right on the money, bought one in 1974 when I was 21 for $2,000, had a crunched nose…took a body shop class at the local community college for $25 and fixed, just wish I would have had the sense to keep it…

      Like 0
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    First XKE I ever saw in person was a dark blue coupe with a tan interior we parked next to at a fancy eatery. Stood out there 20 minutes looking at that beauty before we went in. Never forgot that car. Sure out shined my Midget.

    Like 9
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      First XKE I experienced was my father’s. It was a dark blue coupe and I am not sure why he bought it. We had deadly boring American cars before the Jag – my dad never viewed any car as anything other than utilitarian (I got my ‘car genes’ from a second cousin – I have stories about THAT too). My dad was a neurosurgeon, subject to sudden calls to the hospital for which he needed reliability. The Jag was uncooperative. I will never forget one trip as he drove me to high school: we were going through Washington Park and the car dropped a part on the road. He idled and asked me to get out and retrieve it. When I came home from school, there was one of the worst Thunderbirds Ford ever made in his garage space – new. After I entered college, inflation was rampant, and I had only two worries for my life: I wouldn’t be able to afford a house, and I wouldn’t be able to afford a Jag. Took me a few years – well many few, but I got there in both respects.

      Like 14
      • BigDaddyBonz

        Michelle, don’t be too tough on Dad. As a neurosurgeon, people’s lives depended on his expertise and reliability. At the time, I’m sure he was less concerned about his automotive status and more concerned about his patient’s welfare. The Thunderbird delivered comfort and reliability which was far more important to him. Happy to know that you were finally able to obtain your dreams.

        Like 5
      • Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rack Member

        More than a few folks have never attained their goal. You did both. Good on you, Michelle.
        “.. to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication..” – Gail Devers

        PS thank you cousin for us BF folks!

        Like 2
  3. Joe Mec Member

    Looks like a nice example of a solid, solid driver. Interior looks good with just a clean up and some carpeting. Here is an example after all the sorting to get it drive properly, the owner shouldn’t be afraid to drive it! It will be interesting to see what it brings on Ebay. It might double the current bid on BAT. You never know!!

    Like 2
  4. Big C

    I wonder why the seller’s not fixing the brakes? LOL

    Like 2
  5. RichardinMaine

    Old &Tired. List of issues that will crop up will be LONG. Ad doesn’t state that engine is free. It will need a rebuild regardless. The S2 cooling system changes solved the overheating issues, so his father’s concerns point to a problem there, up to a bad head gasket. Suspension rebuild. Ditto brakes. Rear end as well. But the body is solid, most of the interior is salvageable. There will be electrical gremlins. It’s a 54 year old car that has not been coddled. Wouldn’t buy without an inspection.

    Like 3
  6. Cobraboy

    “Bid to $25,000, reserve not met” made me chuckle out loud.

    Like 1
  7. JagManBill

    Reserve should have been $10,000 ago. It hasn’t moved in 22 years. It hasn’t been started in almost as long. So your looking at a complete rebuild on the brakes already (parts alone will be in the $700-$1,000 range), very possibly a rebuild on the engine (have it done? kiss off about $15,000) parts alone will be in the $1,500-$2,000 range. Then there is the rubber that thankfully is available but will still be in the $4-500 range. Have it done? just what you can see in the add will cost you $20,000. And at that point, you’ve got $45,000+ into a scruffy interior decent exterior driver. And that why I’m bidding on it….

    Like 2
  8. tompdx

    Should be worth about $40k, as is. If you do the work yourself this will be a money maker at that price.

    Like 2
  9. tompdx

    “Ended” not “Sold” at $31,850 yesterday.

    Like 1

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