New Order. The Series 2 Jaguar E-type was a Billy Fury machine in a post-Beatles era’. Big test of the E-type’s period price rivals. Can the old warrior fend off its true rivals? Jaguar E-type vs Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Lotus Elan Sprint S3, Alfa Spider 2000 and Triumph Stag. The E-type’s speed and handling may have been revolutionary when new, but could the S2 really fend off its price rivals at the end of the Sixties? Words: Sam Dawson Photography: Charlie Magee.
The heart of a British winter probably isn’t the best time of year to test-drive a Jaguar E-type Roadster. Winter air whips over the low-cut windscreen, freezing my eyes and ears with each press of the accelerator and drowning out the seductive thrum of the XK engine. It’s certainly evocative of the great Jaguar sports-racers of the Fifties, no question, and Mike Hawthorn would have been familiar with the view down that long, louvred bonnet. It’s pure D-type-at- Le-Mans theatre. But there’s still a problem.
You see, this is a 1970 car. By the Seventies, Le Mans was dominated by wild mid-engined super-coupes from Porsche, Ford and Matra. The E-type may have radiated a rosy nostalgic glow, but the Series 2 was a Billy Fury machine in a post-Beatles era.
The E-type has had an easy ride in the classic car press. When it’s not being lauded for its style or having its 150mph-for-two-grand story retold for the millionth time, Sis are being pitted against fields of Italian exotica and winning.
An awful gearchange, painful driving position and masochistic cabin ergonomics can be forgiven when a road-tester points out a car costing strong but still realistic money is capable of bothering a Ferrari 250GT, but what of the E-type’s real-world opposition? And what of the car itself once Browns Lane had stopped fibbing about the top speed? Today, this S2 Roadster is joined by four alternatives for an imaginary early-Seventies drop-top customer with just more than £2000 to spend. Would the Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider appeal even given the hefty import duty, or will it be found wanting? How will the fast-but-fragile Lotus Elan Sprint compare? Was the Triumph Stag a genuine contender? And in America, was the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray a better choice for the money? We’ve brought them all together to find out.