The Jaguar E-Type
(UK) or XK-E
(US) is a British automobile
legend, manufactured by Jaguar between 1961 and 1975. It is a combination of
good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing, as at the period a
Ferrari cost three times more and supplied less horse power, this established
the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. A great success for Jaguar, with more
than 70,000 E-Types being sold during its lifespan.
In March 2008, the Jaguar
E-Type ranked first in the Daily Telegraph's list of the "100 most
beautiful cars" of all time. In
2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one
on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.
The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a grand tourer
in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as convertible (OTS or
Open Two Seater). The 2+2 version with a lengthened wheelbase was released
several years later.
On its release Enzo Ferrari called it "The most beautiful car ever made".
The model was made in three distinct versions which are now generally
referred to as "Series 1", "Series 2" and "Series 3". A transitional series
between Series 1 and Series 2 is known unofficially as "Series 1½".
In addition, several limited-edition variants were produced:
- The "'Lightweight' E-Type" which was apparently intended as a sort of
follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only
a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, one is known to have been destroyed and
two others have been converted to coupé form. These are exceedingly rare and
sought after by collectors.
- The "Low Drag Coupé" was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately
sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the
private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
The Museum of Modern Art recognised the significance of the E-Type's design
in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of
only six automobiles to receive the distinction.
After the company's success at the LeMans 24 hr through the 1950s, Jaguar's
defunct racing department was given the brief to use D-Type style construction
to build a road-going sports car, replacing the XK150.
It is suspected that the first prototype (E1A) was given the code based on:
(E): The proposed production name E-Type (1): First Prototype (A): Aluminium
construction (Production models used steel bodies)
The car featured a monocoque design, Jaguar's fully independent rear
suspension and the well proved "XK" engine.
The car was used solely for factory testings and was never formally released
to the public. The car was eventually scrapped by the factory.
Jaguar's second E-Type concept was E2A which, unlike the E1A, was constructed
from a steel chassis with an aluminium body. This car was completed as a race
car as it was thought by Jaguar at the time it would provide a better testing
ground. E2A used a 3-litre version of the XK engine with a Lucas fuel injection
After retiring from the LeMans 24 hr the car was shipped to America to be
used for racing by Jaguar privateer Briggs Cunningham. In 1961 the car returned
to Jaguar in England to be used as a testing mule. Ownership of E2A passed to
Roger Woodley (Jaguar's customer competition car manager) who took possession on
the basis the car not be used for racing. E2A had been scheduled to be scrapped.
Roger's wife Penny Griffiths owned E2A until 2008 when it was offered for sale
at Bonham's Quail Auction. It eventually sold for US$4,957,000.
The Series 1 was introduced, initially for export only, in March 1961. The
domestic market launch came four months later in July 1961.
The cars at this time used the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre 6-cylinder Jaguar
XK6 engine from the XK150S. The first 300 cars built had flat floors and
external hood (bonnet) latches. These cars are rare and more valuable. After
that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches
moved to inside the car. The 3.8 litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in
All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension with torsion bar
front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were
power-assisted. Jaguar was one of the first auto manufacturers to equip cars
with disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 can be
recognised by glass-covered headlights (up to 1967), small "mouth" opening at
the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under
the number plate in the rear.
public domain by its creator,
Jaguar E-Type, manufactured in 1966. At a Classics
Rally, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, England, in June 2003.
3.8 litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed
centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and
a Moss 4-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for 1st gear ("Moss box"). 4.2
litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems,
and an all-synchromesh 4-speed gearbox. 4.2 litre cars also have a badge on the
boot proclaiming "Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type" (3.8 cars have a simple "Jaguar"
badge). Optional extras included chrome spoked wheels and a detachable hard top
for the OTS.
A 2+2 version of the coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of
an automatic transmission. The body is 9 in (229 mm) longer and the roof angles
are different with a more vertical windscreen. (this is an incorrect assumption,
the S1 OTS, coupe and 2+2 had identical rake windshields). The roadster remained
a strict two-seater.
Less widely known, right at the end of Series 1 production and prior to the
transitional "Series 1½" referred to below, a very small number of Series 1 cars
were produced with open headlights.
Production dates on these machines vary but in right hand drive form production
has been verified as late as March 1968.
The low number of these cars produced make them amongst the rarest of all
production E Types.
Following the Series 1 there was a transitional series of cars built in
1967–68, unofficially called "Series 1½", which are externally similar to Series
1 cars. Due to American pressure the new features were open headlights,
different switches, and some de-tuning (with a downgrade of twin
Zenith-Stromberg carbs from the original triple SU carbs) for US models. Some
Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2
features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial
Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style.
An open 3.8-litre car, actually the first such production car to be
completed, was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1961 and had a
top speed of 149.1 mph (240.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h)
in 7.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.3 miles per imperial gallon
(13.3 L/100 km; 17.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test
car cost £2097 including taxes.
Production numbers from Graham:
- 15,490 3.8s
- 17,320 4.2s
- 10,930 2+2s
Production numbers from xkedata.com:
Open headlights without glass covers, a wrap-around rear bumper,
re-positioned and larger front indicators and tail lights below the bumpers,
better cooling aided by an enlarged "mouth" and twin electric fans, and uprated
brakes are hallmarks of Series 2 cars. De-tuned in US with twin strombergs and
larger valve clearances, but still with triple SUs in the UK and the much
tighter valve clearances, the engine is easily identified visually by the change
from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial "ribbed" appearance. Late
Series 1½ cars also had ribbed cam covers. The interior and dashboard were also
redesigned, with rocker switches that met US health and safety regulations being
substituted for toggle switches. The dashboard switches also lost their
symmetrical layout. New seats were fitted, which purists claim lacked the style
of the originals but were certainly more comfortable. Air conditioning and power
steering were available as factory options.
Production according to Graham is 13,490 of all types.
Series 2 production numbers from xkedata.com:
Official delivery numbers by market and year are listed in Porter
but no summary totals are given.
Series III - 1974
A new 5.3 L 12-cylinder Jaguar V12 engine was introduced, with uprated brakes
and standard power steering. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued
and the V12 was available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. The convertible
used the longer-wheelbase 2+2 floorplan. It is easily identifiable by the large
cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches and a badge on the rear that
proclaims it to be a V12. There were also a very limited number of 4.2 litre
six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales
literature. It is believed
these are the rarest of all E-Types of any remaining.
Graham lists production at 15,290.
Series 3 production numbers from xkedata.com:
Two limited production E-Type variants were made as test beds, the Low Drag
Coupe and Lightweight E-Type, both of which were raced:
Low Drag Coupé
Shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to
investigate the possibility of building a car more in the spirit of the D-Type
racer from which elements of the E-Type's styling and design were derived. One
car was built to test the concept designed as a coupé as its monocoque design
could only be made rigid enough for racing by using the "stressed skin"
principle. Previous Jaguar racers were built as open-top cars, because they were
based on ladder frame designs with independent chassis and bodies. Unlike the
steel production E-Types, the LDC used lightweight aluminium. Sayer retained the
original tub with lighter outer panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel
sub frame remained intact, the windshield was given a more pronounced slope, and
the rear hatch was welded shut. Rear brake cooling ducts appeared next to the
rear windows, and the interior trim was discarded, with only insulation around
the transmission tunnel. With the exception of the windscreen, all cockpit glass
was perspex. A tuned version of Jaguar's 3.8-litre engine with a wide-angle
cylinder head design tested on the D-Type racers was used. Air management became
a problem and, though a higher performing vehicle than its production
counterpart, the car was never competitive.
The only test bed car was completed in summer of 1962 but was sold a year
later to Jaguar racing driver Dick Protheroe. Since then it has passed through
the hands of several collectors on both sides of the Atlantic and is now
believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
Lightweight E-Type (1963–1964)
Twelve cars plus two spare bodies were made by Jaguar.
In some ways, this was an evolution of the Low Drag Coupé. It made extensive
use of aluminium alloy in the body panels and other components. However, with at
least one exception, it remained an open-top car in the spirit of the D-Type to
which this car is a more direct successor than the production E-Type which is
more of a GT than a sports car. The cars used an aluminium block tuned version
of the production 3.8-litre Jaguar engine with 300 bhp (224 kW) output rather
than the 265 bhp (198 kW) produced by the "ordinary" version. All factory-built
lightweights are fitted with fuel injection.
The cars were entered in various races but, unlike the C-Type and D-Type
racing cars, they did not win at Le Mans or Sebring but were reasonably
successful in private hands and in smaller races.
Some Lightweights were modified into Low-drag Coupes and fitted with more
powerful engines of 340+ HP.
Jaguar E Type converted for racing
Bob Jane won the 1963 Australian GT Championship at the wheel of an E-Type.
The Jaguar E-Type was very successful in SCCA Production sports car racing
with Group44 and Bob Tullius taking the B-Production championship with a
Series-3 V12 racer in 1975. A few years later, Gran-Turismo Jaguar from
Cleveland Ohio campaigned a 4.2-litre 6-cylinder FHC racer in SCCA production
series, and in 1980 won the National Championship in the SCCA C-Production
Class, defeating a fully funded factory Nissan Z-car team with Paul Newman.
E-Type Jag - Retro Race day Castle Combe - 2007
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