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Jaguar XKE Series 3 V-12

Jaguar XKE Series 3 in America

Even to Americans who had seldom experienced a "happy care-free motoring paradise," the XKE Series 3 seemed outdated and inadequate.

Road & Track subtitled its October 1972 XKE Series 3 convertible evaluation with this stark critique: "A magnificent engine in an outclassed body."

The Jaguar XKE Series 3 V-12 had better leg room with a 105-inch wheelbase span.
Big rubber bumper guards needed to meet U.S.
impact standards helped identify American-market
Jaguar XKE Series 3 V-12s.

What it found wrong with the latest XKE included these complaints: "...overall design lacks the sleek appeal of the original ... ventilation system is antiquated and the controls laughable ... no place for the driver to rest his left foot ... clutch effort is quite high so [traffic driving] is more a chore than a pleasure ... Seating is another area in which the Jaguar falls behind the times."

R&T also repeated that "reliability has never been a strong point of any Jaguar we have tested and this XKE was no exception." The actual troubles came to no more than a worn alternator drive belt, but the magazine's own wariness of Jags in general paralleled that of its readers as revealed in surveys.

However, the Road & Track crew found much to like about the twelve-cylinder car: "Overall the XKE is an easy car to drive and is most at home when driven hard and fast," they reported.

The new leather-wrapped steering wheel earned good marks for its feel and adjustability -- it had three inches of travel up and down its column and also retained the old XKE virtue of being adjustable for rake, although a wrench was still needed to take advantage of that.

The brakes rated a "very good," the manual gearbox once again won high praise, and the ride comfort and the convertible's body rigidity on rough roads were both judged very good.

Although the tires themselves didn't stick well at all -- R&T said that the contemporary XJ6 sedan cornered faster on the skidpad despite being several hundred pounds heavier -- Series 3 handling was found "neutral under all conditions except for extremely heavy applications of power. On such occasions the tail comes out gently and predictably."

There was quite a pronounced torque-veer, however: When the engine was pulling hard, the car swerved to the left, then darted back to the right when the driver's foot lifted.

Some other contemporary tests mentioned the same phenomenon, by the way, but it should be noted that others made a point of saying their test cars showed no trace of such behavior; perhaps something to do with the condition of the rubber mounts in the rear suspension subframe, or in the way individual vehicles had been assembled.

For more on Jaguar and other great cars, see:

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  • New Jaguars: Reviews, ratings, prices, and specifications on the current Jaguar lineup from the auto editors of Consumer Guide.
  • Used Jaguars: Reviews, recalls, trouble spots, and more on pre-owned Jaguars starting with the 1990 model year. From the auto editors of Consumer Guide.