Unleashing the Series 3 E-type

New restomod V12 finally addresses the issues that have put off buyers for years. How does this change the driving experience?

We all know how the V12 Series 3 E-type has suffered over the years, always thought of as the least desirable of the range, although in fact it’s a great grand tourer.

But seeing as there’s no shortage of S3s around, who can object to one that’s been given the restomod treatment? The only surprise is that so few have been upgraded previously.

This is E-type UK’s second V12 ‘Unleashed’ (as it’s known) build, but the first created to largely its own specifications. In metallic black paint, with a factory hardtop and lowered, it looks mean. There’s no other word for it. It also looks sleeker than a typical S3 – and not just because it’s closer to the ground.

It takes a while to work out why. It’s all in thoughtful detailing, which the factory rather failed on in period. Look at the bumpers; they’re slimmer in profile, without the original’s overriders. At the rear, this has necessitated making a highly curved one-piece bumper rather than the three-section original – tricky given how closely it sits against the body. The separate reversing lights have been removed and incorporated into new rear lenses instead. Neat touch.

At the front, the chrome around the grille has gone, as has the upright centrepiece, and there are 50 percent more bonnet louvres as part of the cooling upgrades. Those chunky indicators are still there, although there is an option to delete them and move the flashers into the headlamps.

While we’re on the headlights, you will notice they’re the modern units used on so many of these restomods, incorporating daylight running rings. I’m not the greatest fan of how they look, but they do work much better than the originals.

Inside, the modern air-con unit blows out through new directional vents in an all-new centre console that’s reminiscent of the S1’s lovely polished-metal item. Custom-made seats and reprofiled door cards and armrests are all treated to leather with subtly contrasting stitching, and parts of the dash and undertray receive similar treatment in the reverse colours. It’s all very tasteful and, as it turns out, comfortable, too. The switchgear is all to original style but with the markings neatly remade to suit their revised functions.

The fully rebuilt V12 is bored out to safe limits, taking it to 6.1 litres and just over 400bhp, running on fuel-injection throttle bodies and mapped ignition. The ’box has five speeds, although a six-ratio or auto can be optioned. Suspension and brakes are of course upgraded, set up to sit slightly nose down, the hydraulic power-assisted steering rack is a higher ratio than standard, the custom-made wheels are wider and the chassis has been strengthened. Occupants sit lower than usual to improve the centre of gravity.

On the road, all this translates to a much sportier feel, although never uncomfortable or tiring. The front damping is too soft for me, allowing the front to bounce slightly, but the car is set up for life in California rather than on UK B-roads. The V12 is a gem; it’s as smooth as you’d expect but also faultless in its delivery, oozing torque and pulling from low down at any speed. Beautiful!