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Jaguar XKE: Which Series Would You Pick

Jaguar XKEs

Which kitty would you choose? Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Pretend you could only bring one of them home, and budget was part of the consideration—I have my favorite, and it surprised me a little! The 1963 Series 1 roadster is located in Port Jefferson Station, New York and is listed here on eBay with bidding over $55k and reserve not met. The 1968 Series 1-1/2 2+2 Coupe is located in Clio, Michigan and is offered here on eBay with bidding currently at only $305 but reserve not met, while the Series 3 2+2 is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is offered here on eBay with a buy-it-now of $34.9k and bidding currently at $15k with reserve not met.

1963 Jaguar XKE

From a Jaguar collector’s point of view, the Series 1 roadster is the most desirable, and this one certainly has some things going for it. Garage-kept from new and still with its original family, the car shows very nicely in pictures, looking slightly worn but very original. It’s obviously been loved for a very long time; my only clue that there may have been a troubled period is the rust and what might be mildew in the factory tool kit (but it’s GOT the factory tool kit!).

1963 Jaguar XKE Interior

Pictures of the car are great, including a lot of detail shots, and the car benefited from a bare metal respray in 1998 and all chrome replated at the same time. While that certainly dismays those originality seekers out there, for someone looking for a really nice driver this is a good opportunity. But there are drawbacks, too; the transmissions in these early cars are somewhat difficult to deal with, and I’ve heard the early seats are an ergonomic nightmare although I’ve never personally sat in one this early. Finally, you will have to pay quite a premium for this car; the value guide pegs this one at an average retail of $104,600. Ouch!

1968 Jaguar XKE

The Series 1-1/2 2+2 benefits from even more and clearer photographs, as well as what seems like a refreshingly honest description. Noting flaws such as transmission shift hesitation, a flaky temperature gauge and a non-working speedometer, the seller nonetheless states that this has been babied.  Of course, it includes the classic non-working air conditioner (but like the Series 1 tool kit, at least it is present). Cosmetically it certainly looks the part, with glossy paint and a decent interior.

1968 Jaguar XKE Interior

But what’s that in the (dirty) center console? An automatic? So with this car, you have the additional seats (ok, not for adults, but what if you have young children), no need to operate a clutch (hey, some folks don’t like to, even if I personally don’t understand that), and at least the potential of air conditioning. Also, you’ll be paying a lot less—the value guide lists this car at an average of “only” $33,200—less than 1/3 of the roadster.

1971 Jaguar XKE

Finally, we get to the Series 3 2+2. Powered by the V12 rather than the XK 6-cylinders in the other two cars, the E-Type by this point had morphed into a GT rather than a sports car. While the description in the auction is not detailed, it does mention new paint and a new headliner 18 years ago. The ad also mentions that there’s no rust and the original steel wheels go with the sale. Oh, and of course, the AC is non-functional (who’d have thought!). But this V12 is a manual transmission model and I love the color; the blue really stands out to me.

1971 Jaguar XKE Engine

Having spent a lot of time in a V12 XJS, I can attest that all the “turbine smooth” comments about the Jag engine isn’t hyperbole. And I’ll take these four CD175 Strombergs over the nightmares that I had with the Jag fuel injection (just my experience, yours may vary); it’s just 2 TR6’s worth of carbs. With a buy-it-now price below the average retail price of $37,500 in the value guide, I think we have a winner here! So I’m really surprising myself by choosing the later 2+2, but after taking my 9-year old out yesterday morning to church in my Spitfire, I think I’d like having those back seats, as well as avoiding spending $60,000! Which one would you choose?


  1. Vince Habel

    I would take the blue 71. Just like the color better.

  2. cory

    I’m with you on the blue one. Why settle for a six when you can have 12. I think the coupe has better lines than the roadster And the grill is much nicer.

  3. julian

    Just to be awkward, non of these.
    I Would like a series 2? with the much better gearbox, better seats and the 4.2 litre engine.
    Oh, and it would have to be fixed head 2 seater.
    I had a series 1 FHC and the Moss box was horrible, the brakes were iffy and you had to be very brave to go over 120 mph. I sold it for peanuts and now its been restored to concours for much money.

  4. John D

    I like the roadster and fixed head coupe better than the 2 + 2, which I think looks pregnant. I’m probably biased because I had a flat floor Series 1 roadster and thoroughly enjoyed driving it despite the fact it was used as a parts car in the 70’s. As I recall the factory speed specifications, the S1 had a higher top end speed than any subsequent XKE. So the 6 is fine with me and the 12 is a bear to work on in my opinion after quoting a spark plug replacement to a customer with an XJS.

  5. John M

    I would take any XKE roadster or hardtop as long as it wasn’t a 2+2. Those few inches the roof is raised and the larger windows on the 2+2 takes too much away from the original “work of art” that the XKE is. I just don’t get it. If you want a classic car with a back seat, then why not get something that was originally designed with that in mind? The XKE 2 seater is just too perfect a shape to mess with, roaster or hardtop. And if you go for the 2+2 simply because it is cheaper, you will always be looking with envy whenever you see a 2 seater go by. Further IMHO the V12 in any model doesn’t even compare with the original version. (and who cares about AC in these cars?)

  6. Cameron Bater UK

    Out of all Jaguar’s models I found the E-Type to be the most beautifull and Inspireing, oh sure one could argue that the C and D Type(s) are equally beautiful and I’d have to agree but the fact is you can or rather could buy an E-Type cheaper than a Ferrari at the time and even now.
    Most people go for the Fire-Engine Red (Blaze?) or perhaps British Racing Green but me personally I’d quite like a Recency Red over Black Leather, something like this…×450.jpg

  7. Dolphin Member

    I would take the Series 1 open car—-more plusses than minuses.

    Lets get the minuses out of the way first:
    – The Moss (not Stirling) gearbox, with the non-synchro 1st gear. They are cranky, but so are a lot of other vintage gearboxes. And you can always change it out for a later all-synchro box.
    – Less structural rigidity and greater aero drag than the coupe
    – Probably the most expensive to buy among these 3 cars

    The plusses:
    – The first Jag I ever drove was an open S1 E-type one summer evening and the whole experience was so terrific that I didn’t notice any problem with the gearbox, maybe because I had owned mostly British sportscars up to that point.
    – The interior is a vintage car lover’s delight
    – The triple carb engine revs more quickly than later 2-carb engines
    – It will appreciate more than the other two cars without costing any more to maintain or fix.

    That value guide is a bit out of date. RM sold two open S1 E-types in Phoenix recently for $220K and $280K. They were both excellent restored cars, but the cheaper one was just a better than average driver. Gooding and Bonhams each sold a holy grail S1 E-type—early 1961 build/flat floors/external bonnet latches—for $363K and $275K respectively.

    The open white car might end up being a real good buy if bidding doesn’t match what happened in Phoenix, which I don’t think will happen.

  8. Paul B

    Series 1 Roadster. All the annoyances noted above aside including price, it’s the pure design. We’re not talking practicality here anyway: It’s a Jag for heaven’s sake! Fortunately for me I don’t have to make a choice as there’s no way I’ll be bidding. But I sure like that white roadster as a survivor driver with one typical respray! Good to fantasize about.

  9. John M

    My favorite color XKE

  10. Grr

    I’ve always liked the series 3 cars. They’re so voluptuous and sexy. I even like the 2+2 version others think ungainly.

  11. jim s

    first no automatic. if i was going to buy a xke,and could only buy 1, i would go for the V12. i love the look and sound of the motor and can overlook the bigger body.but it has a ” minor ” oil leak from rear main seal equals needs a new clutch. how hard could that be?!! great finds.

  12. JLS

    what ever roadster didn’t have the bulky front bumpers. that was a bad time in cars the 5mph zone bumpers. uk. The XKE is without the most beautiful auto ever built in my guesstimation.

  13. Ross W. Lovell


    The wood in the 2+2 is not original to the car, but it is done very nicely.
    I’ve had a S1.5 Roadster it wasn’t comfortable 50 lbs ago.
    This time I’d opt for the S3 just because the V12’s feel like an electric motor.

  14. charlie Member

    My college roommate who knew more about cars than I did, and that was a lot, commented on a ’63 E type, at the time, and the ’60 XK 150S that I had a bit later, “a $12,000 engine in a $6,000 car”. Now it was before the internet, and the only place to buy a part for the XK 150 appeared to be Inskip on Long Island NY, and they charged several arms and legs if they even had it. So buy one for a lawn ornament, or living room ornament, but not to drive anywhere unless you have AAA with 100 mile free tow, and even then, make sure it is towed on a flat bed, not a hook! You can buy a not as pretty 1990 convertible in good shape for less than $10,000 these days and actually drive it.

  15. Alan (Michigan)

    To me they are all beautiful, but I have always had a thing for these cars. In the mid eighties, there was a Toledo local guy who used to autocross one of the V12 2+2 cars. Sounded great at WOT, rising up through 2nd gear…. He’d run it every summer, then put it in a barn on the family farm every fall. One year he just did not show up for the season. I figured that the car must not have started in the spring, and always wondered what became of it, and him.

    For me, a classic sports car with an automatic just does not cut it. I’d have to be another 20 years older to even consider that it might be a good idea. That’d put me in nursing home range….

    Like 1
  16. St.Ramone de V8

    The Roadster. I don’t really need a house, or other cars, or a family, …or a wife… YEP! The Roadster. Supermodel beauty and seduction. My family will understand when I leave them all for her, right? Right?…

    Like 1
  17. John

    The ’63 series one… I drove one a few years ago, it was quirky and definitely took some adjustment but a very cool car, if out of tune at the time..

  18. John

    I dealt with a good many Jags over the years (my father had a 3.8 sedan).

    Life is simply too short to try to deal with what they require. While the original XKE 3.8 still has to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made (especially the coupe), it must also have been designed by a committee whose members never talked to one another. I’d rather try to figure out Hillary’s email system than to look at the Lucas electrics (with exposed element fuses). I’ll leave all of them as beautiful things to look at. Then I’ll go home to my wife.

  19. Monsieur Le Baton

    i had an S3 (73) in exactly the same colour, its called Jaguar powder blue, it wasn’t an e-type colour, but back then you could have it any colour available across the current range at the time. The colour was specific to the Jaguar 420 as an option, hence you really dont see many in that colour.

    here’s mine at coys a few years ago –

    the main problem they had is the leaking rear seal – its a pain to fix, engine out and expensive for a £2 part.

    I also had an S2 (68) not as quick as the s3 obviously and had the US emissions pack on it, 2 carbs instead of 3 – but still an equally beautiful car. – i’d take the s2 if i had a choice, mainly for ease of working on it.

  20. Mark-A

    I’d definitely choose either of the earlier cars, the Series 3 just got Fat & Ugly compared to the earlier ones, the older ones just flow better in my opinion! I definitely wouldn’t touch the V12, can’t imagine trying to balance the carbs on it, plus the Mouth (Hood Vent) is just horrible looking compared to the S1/S2.

  21. 69rsZ28

    I bought a 63 xke fixed head coupe in 1977 for $1500, the car had been brush painted white, and the previous owner had cash problems, I snapped that car up quick even though it wasn’t running, had bald flat tires, put a new battery in it, dam thing started right up, although ran rough, tachometer wasn’t working, needed a new distributor, tach was cable driven needed a new one of those also, new set of points, cap wires plugs, ect, rebuilt SU trips, push button starter, fired right up, ran like new, did need a new electric cooling fan, and brake’s, front discs was an easy fix, rear be not so, had an access panel under carpet, rear disc’s we’re center mounted outside of the pumpkin, old pads had frozen had to drop independent suspension to get them out,. other than that, new set of Michelin red line tires, Imron pearl red with 5 coats of clear, in total about 2grand in parts, paint, tires, my labor, one of a kind, beautiful car, wonderful memories, sold it for $ 10,000 in 1983, still kicking myself.

    Like 1
  22. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    These cars have such a timeless look.

    Like 1

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