Once or twice in a generation does a car come along, so revolutionary in appearance and performance, that it instantly becomes a classic. Such a car appeared on the automotive scene in 1961 with the introduction of the Jaguar E-Type, and the general public’s image of what a sports car should look like changed forever. Manufactured from 1961-1975, it was a combination of distinctive appearance, incredible performance, and renowned bloodlines.
In 2004, Sports Car International magazine ranked the E-Type as number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s and the world-renowned Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made.” It was all of that and more. More than 70,000 of these classics were sold during its lifespan and to own one, or even just to have driven one, is the equivalent of dying and going to heaven.
The Jaguar E-Type was an extension of the original racing car, the D-Type, which won the famous LeMans road race in 1953, 1955, 1956, and 1957. After its last road race in 1960 the D-Type was retooled for public purchase and renamed the E-Type. It featured independent coil spring rear suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, and a 4-speed gearbox with a 3.8-liter engine which was changed to a 4.2-liter engine in 1964. The original model, offered as a 2-door coupe and a convertible, was capable of speeds of 149 mph and for its time was an engineering marvel. The E-Type underwent three production series: Series I was produced from 1961-1968; Series II from 1969-1971; and Series III from 1971-1974, at which point the engine was a 5.3-liter 12 cylinder monster. Most of the changes that occurred during this time were cosmetic in nature but the classic lines remained over the years.
When it was first offered to the public in 1961, the Jaguar E-Type sold for a remarkable price of $5,600, more than the flimsier Corvette but a great price considering the vehicle being offered.
It’s interesting when a product is labeled a classic. Many such “classics” attain that level of admiration and acclaim years after the fact. The Jaguar E-Type was labeled as a true classic the first year of its production. Sleek, powerful, aerodynamic in every sense, this European import car was, and is, a car for the Ages.