In the automotive world it’s not uncommon to have a design regarded as a classic. Ferrari’s 248 GTO, Holden’s 48-215, Ford’s GT40, Aston Martin’s DB5 and Jaguar’s evergreen E-Type.
Enzo Ferrari called the E-Type “the most beautiful car ever made.” Controversial due to its phallic styling, especially when painted red, its immensely long bonnet in comparison to its compact cabin gives it proportions at odds to its handling. A svelte, curvaceous car, it’s still regarded as being outstandingly beautiful over fifty years later.
Spread over three distinct series, the Series 1 was released, initially intended as an export market item only, in March of 1961.Early models came fitted with Jag’s stalwart 3.8L six cylinder, fitted with the beautiful triple SU carbies, pumping 198kW and 325 Nm of torque.
Towards the end of 1964, just as The Beatles really began their climb to stardom, the 3.8L was ditched and replaced with the torquier 4.2L, up to 384Nm. Chrome bumper strips, a small air intake, glass covered headlights and centrally mounted exhaust tips give it away externally, whilst the interior looked almost the same between the two.
Another external ID was the difference in badging with the 3.8L showing simply “Jaguar” whereas the 4.2L had “Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type”. Tyres were laughably skinny by today’s standard, finishing off with high profile 185 rubber on 15 inch wire wheels. A 2+2 version was also made available in 1966, being slightly longer and with a different roofline as well. Underneath at the rear was Jaguar’s now famed independent rear suspension. Production of the S1 concluded in 1968.
The series 2 was released with open headlights, larger and relocated indicators, a larger “mouth” and electric fans fitted to the radiator. Different seats were fitted, in a different style to the originals which some Jaguarphiles claimed didn’t suit even though they are said to be more comfortable.
Aircon and power steering were made available as options. Finishing up in 1971 there were nearly nineteen thousand made: Series 2 production numbers: fixed head coupe saw 4855, convertibles 8628 and the 2+2 had 5326.
The series 3 ran through to 1975; of major note was the addition of the wonderfully smooth 5.3L V12. The fixed head coupe was discontinued, the 2+2 and convertible came only with the V12 (proudly identified by the badging). Another visual ID was the change to a slatted grille, wider wheel arches and massive blocks of rubber on the bumpers for the American market.
Just short of eight thousand convertibles were made and an almost even amount of 2+2s.
Revered, respected and renowned world wide, the Jaguar E-Type is truly a classic car.