50 Years of the Jaguar E-Type

As we all know this year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type, arguably one of the most famous and desirable cars in automotive history. There are not many cars that I would highlight as beautiful, cool, desirable and iconic, but without doubt the Jaguar E-Type ticks all these boxes.

At every car event this year that I have attended a fuss has been made of the E-Type, and rightly so, it is a beautiful car and a British icon.

Launched in 1961, the appeal of the E-Type transcended the automotive world. Such is the inherent rightness of its proportions, stance and purity of line, that it is a permanent exhibit in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

The now iconic Jaguar E-Type set new standards in automotive design. Its influence is still apparent in Jaguar’s modern range of cars, that offer a peerless blend of performance, comfort, cutting-edge technology and award-winning design.

Jaguar has celebrating this special anniversary year at motoring events throughout 2011. The company marked the anniversary at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Goodwood’s Revival and Festival of Speed, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Nurburgring Old Timer Grand Prix and a host of Jaguar events worldwide.

I enjoyed very much the seeing all the E-Types at the 2011 Silverstone Classic.  We later discovered that the Guinness World Records confirmed that a new record was set for the ‘largest parade of Jaguar cars’ when 767 Jaguar E-types took part in a special parade lap of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.

“Half a century of progress has not diminished the significance of the E-Type,” said Mike O’Driscoll, Managing Director Jaguar Cars and Chairman Jaguar Heritage. “It was a sensation when it was launched, and remains Jaguar’s most enduring and iconic symbol. The E-Type is simply one of the most exciting cars ever created and a legacy to the genius of Jaguar’s founder, Sir William Lyons.”

E-Type owners have included celebrities such as George Best, Brigitte Bardot, Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen and the sports car became as synonymous with the Swinging Sixties as the Beatles and the mini skirt have.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact the E-Type had when it was unveiled in 1961,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar Design Director. “Here was a car that encapsulated the spirit of the revolutionary era it came to symbolise. The E-Type is a design that even today continues to inform the work we do in styling the Jaguars of the future.”

Capable of achieving 150 mph, but costing a fraction of the price of rivals with similar performance, it was the affordable supercar and became an instant icon – remaining on sale for 14 years.

Interesting Facts

  • Presented to the world’s press at the restaurant du Parc des Eaux Vives in Geneva on 15th March 1961.
  • Even Enzo Ferrari admitted it was “the most beautiful car in the world.”
  • The E-type’s straight-six engine had powered Jaguar to five Le Mans victories in the 1950s and by 1961 in 3.8-litre form produced 265bhp and 260lb ft of torque, making the car a genuine 150mph proposition and, like its XK120 predecessor, the fastest production car in the world.
  • At launch the E-Type cost £2,256 15s, including purchase tax and the all-important optional wire wheels, the equivalent today of just £38,000.  The Aston Martin DB4 cost £4,084 but could only manage 140mph, while a Ferrari 250GT cost mega money at £6,469.
  • The E-Type’s perfectly proportioned bodywork was the work of Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical engineer by training who also applied his aerodynamic expertise in shaping the earlier Le Mans-winning C and D-Type racers.
  • The E-type remained in production for 14 years, selling 72,007 units, making it Europe’s first mass-produced sports car.

I cannot wait to own one, and I will…

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