The golden era of Jaguar Cars got off to a great start with the XK120 and XK150, but the company really hit the jackpot with the E-Type (XK-E in America). This is regarded as the finest-looking sports car of all time (The most beautiful car ever made’ was Enzo Ferrari’s verdict) and also the most influential – leading the way for many fabulous brethren that made the 1960s a seminal decade for super sports cars.
Series 1 was launched in 1961, consisting of two-door convertibles and coupes with a 3.8 litre engine carried over from the XK150S. The cars featured torsion bar front ends with independent rear suspension and disc brakes all round. A 4.2 litre engine was introduced in 1964, along with styling changes. The 2+2 version with a stretched coupe body appeared in 1966 and further modifications followed to meet American requirements, sufficient to justify the Series 1.5 tag applied by some.
Series 2 followed in 1968, retaining the 4.2 litre engine and all three body styles. Modifications towards the end of Series 1 were extended to meet US regulations, which also required the triple-carb UK engine to be detuned. Headlights had lost glass covers, a wraparound rear bumper appeared and the cooling system was improved. New seats added comfort, whilst air conditioning and power steering were optional extras. Series 2 carried the E-Type forward into the 1970s.
Series 3 ran from 1971 to 1975, and saw the introduction of a 5.3 litre V12, discontinuation of the short-wheelbase coupe and switch of the convertible to the longer 2+2 floorpan. The cars acquired an aggressive slatted grille, flared wheel arches . . . and boastful V12 badge. With 15,000 Series 3s completing an overall production run of 70,000, it was a fitting climax to 15 years of breathtaking sporting motoring.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1961 (until 1975)
3,781 cc, 4,235 cc Straight Six; 5,344 cc V12
Series 1 with 3.8 litre engine – top speed of 149 mph (238 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The rarest E-Types are either those from the first batch of 500, which have flat floors and external bonnet catches (after which the floors were swiftly modified to provide more leg room and bonnet catches were repositioned internally) or the few Series 3 cars built using the old 4.2 litre straight six engine. Take your pick!