Jaguar E-Type – The History Of An Icon

Picture of By Rob Harvey
By Rob Harvey

Marketing Manager - Bridge Classic Cars

When it comes to iconic symbols of classic cars, few vehicles can compare to the Jaguar E-Type. Unveiled in 1961, this masterpiece of design and engineering has been the classic of choice for many collectors, enthusiasts, and petrolheads for decades.

Its blend of beauty, performance, and innovation not only set new standards throughout the automotive industry but also cemented the E-Type’s place as one of the most significant vehicles in automotive history.

Conceptual Beginnings

The creation of the Jaguar E-Type can be traced back to its predecessors, most notably of which, was the Jaguar D-Type, a Le Mans-winning race car. The E-Type’s creation was guided by the vision of Malcolm Sayer, an aerodynamicist who applied his expertise to craft the car’s distinctive shape.

Meanwhile, Sir William Lyons, the founder of Jaguar, oversaw the project, ensuring that the final product not only excelled in performance but also in aesthetics. The combination of Sayer’s aerodynamic design and Lyons’s attention to detail resulted in a car that was as fast as it was beautiful – a perfect example of the innovation that Jaguar has become known for.

The Jaguar E-Type made its grand debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961 and it caught the attention of the entire automotive world!

Design and Engineering Of The Jaguar E-Type

The Jaguar E-Type is known for its stunning aesthetics. From its long bonnet, sleek lines, and distinctive shape, even Enzo Ferrari himself is rumoured to have called it “The most beautiful car ever made.”

However, beyond its beauty, the E-Type was an engineering masterclass too. It featured a monocoque construction, a rarity at the time, which contributed to its strength and lightweight structure. Under the bonnet, the E-Type was fitted with a powerful XK engine, initially a 3.8-litre inline-six, which was later expanded to 4.2 litres.

The E-Type’s independent rear suspension was another groundbreaking feature, enhancing its handling and ride quality, and setting a new standard for sports cars.

Jaguar E-Type Variants

Over its production span, the Jaguar E-Type evolved through three main series.

The Series 1 (1961 to 1968) is often considered the most desirable for its purity of design and performance. It featured glass-covered headlights, a smaller grill, and toggle switches on the dashboard.

The Series 1.5 (1968-1971) introduced several changes for improved safety and comfort, like open headlights, a larger grill, and improved cooling.

Lastly, the Series 3 (1971-1975) brought some big changes with the introduction of a 5.3-litre V12 engine. This offered a new level of performance and smoothness to go along with changes like a larger grille and revised bumpers.

Legacy and End of Production

The production of the Jaguar E-Type came to an end in 1975, but its legacy certainly continued way beyond that.

Today, the Jaguar E-Type holds a highly sought-after spot in the classic car market. Some examples, especially those from the early Series 1 production, are valued and sell for 6-figure prices at auctions and are considered a premium edition to any collection.

The Jaguar E-Type is an icon in the classic car world and, as it has its 63rd birthday on 15th March this year, I hope that it is celebrated as much as it deserves to be.

5 responses to “Jaguar E-Type – The History Of An Icon”

  1. Rod Hollingsworth avatar
    Rod Hollingsworth

    First saw the E Type in Moss,s Garage Luton just after launch.. I worked at Vauxhall just around the corner(Sales Dept) and I used to spend my whole lunch hour at this dealership just looking and admiring.( I had a Mk.V11 at the time which of course had the XK engine. I just couldn’t get over the beauty of the car although I was aware of it,s D Type heritage, this fixed head in silver blue was in my opinion the most beautiful and awesome car ever produced.This was 1961 and having been in the motor industry for 42 years have never been so impressed by any car launch since.

  2. Frank Gustafson avatar
    Frank Gustafson

    Just To Drive An E-Type Jaguar Would Thrill Any Red-Blooded Car Lover.

    1. M G LaMar avatar
      M G LaMar

      I have one. If it did not “mark its spot” every day it would be perfect.😉

      1. Malcolm Cook avatar
        Malcolm Cook

        Great advertisement. Malcolm Cook

  3. Steve Haynes avatar
    Steve Haynes

    I saw my first E when I was 6 years old in 1967. It was being driven down East Grinstead High Street. It was an incredible sight because only superstars and famous footballers drove them.
    Ever since then the E has been my ultimate dream car.

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