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It’s hard to believe that the production version of the V12 engine turns 50 years old this year.

Originally conceived as a racing car engine in the sixties, the 1971 Series 3 E-type was the first Jaguar to receive this shiny new power plant, followed by the XJ12 saloon shortly afterwards.

By the time that it was finally retired in 1997, it had seen over a quarter century of service in 5.3 and 6.0 production car form in various models as well as the DOHC 7.4 litre 750 horsepower variants powering Le Mans winning XJR’s of the eighties and early nineties.

Listening to those monsters howling down the Mulsanne straight with the throttles wide open remains one of the most vivid and exciting memories of the 24-hour races I attended thirty something years ago. To be fair, all of the machinery there sounded good, but the V12 Jaguar’s and the Mazda 787B’s with their screaming rotary engines, were on a completely different level for me.

It’s been argued that the Series 3 E-type, with its big displacement and additional flares and bulges, was the least pure of the E-type line and less of a sports car that its predecessors, leaning more towards a GT perhaps. It’s worth remembering too that Jaguar was now a part of British Leyland and quality and reliability were at an all-time low. If you also consider the fuel crises of the decade, the odds of its success were seemingly stacked against it.

However, they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and as such, I have to say that personally, I love it – always have, always will. As a car-mad child of the 1970’s growing up in the Midlands with a father who had spent a lifetime in the British motor industry, it was hard not to be in complete awe of the Series 3, especially in roadster form.

What a machine the V12 powered E-type was and still is! Even by today’s lofty standards, the ability to effortlessly waft along behind 5.3 litres of rotating luxuriousness remains a treat and an experience that is not oft repeated.

Perhaps one of our most popular and appealing upgrades for the Series 3 focuses on weaknesses in the original Lucas Opus (Oscillating Pick Up System) electronic ignition. Whist an innovation in itself, it was also the first production electronic ignition system that Jaguar had ever fitted. In fact, its origins were from the Formula One of the day, but it wasn’t without issues as time passed. The Vee mounted and iconic looking finned transistorized amplifier unit was prone to heat-soak issues that would cause it to break down and the ferrite rodded nylon rotor and pick-up assembly proved quite fragile as the heat cycles increased. Attempts were made to remedy this issue by relocating the amplifier to the front engine frame where increased air flow could keep it cool, potentially at least, but whilst this helped, it didn’t entirely eradicate the problem.

For the past 20 years, SNG Barratt has been producing and selling a solution that is manufactured in-house.

A number of non-standard solutions had been on the market for a while and, while their function was fine, their form was not universally appreciated as the modern looking components were radically different to the original setup and were much less visually appealing. For the past 20 years, SNG Barratt has been producing and selling a solution that is manufactured in-house and utilises later and more reliable electronics that have been engineered to fit within the original components. As such, our set up looks entirely original but is not affected by heat. It also represents excellent value for money as it encompasses a distributor with cap, an amplifier, a ballast resistor and a new coil; essentially a refresh for the entire ignition system in one package.

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