History of E-Type
The iconic Jaguar E-Type has a long history, with three series of the car produced over a period of 15 years. The British sports car was reputedly named the “most beautiful car in the world” by none other than Enzo Ferrari and is often considered to be one of, if not the greatest, sports car of all time.
The car was first displayed to the press on 15 March 1961 to an unbelievable level of excitement, giving birth to a true automotive icon - but it almost wasn’t to be. Such was the demand for road tests from the British media that the E-Type scheduled for Geneva was still on UK shores on the evening of 14 March 1961.
So, in fittingly dramatic style, Jaguar executive Bob Berry drove the car flat-out from the factory in Coventry all the way to the Parc des Eaux-Vives in Geneva - arriving just 20 minutes before the car was to be revealed to the world. Of course, 20 minutes later, pandemonium ensued.
The car was revolutionary in many ways, but it was the stylish and iconic bodywork that set it apart from the rest of the cars currently in production. It also featured faired-in headlights and a centred twin exhaust, which was different to all other production models at the time.
It wasn’t just the looks that impressed many about the Jaguar E-Type and made it one of the most desirable cars in production, though. The launch price of the car was around £2,250, comparatively valued at £38,000 in today’s money, which made it surprisingly more affordable than many other sports cars. It also featured much more modern specifications such as independent rear suspension and all-round disk brakes that put it ahead of its time.
The 3.8-litre engine produced 265bhp and could reach a top speed of 150mph, which made it the fastest production car in the world at that time. That was just as well, as Jaguar had already printed brochures claiming it was capable of the magic 150mph before the car went into production.
E-Type has been - and continues to be - one of the most desirable cars ever made, with celebrity owners including some of the biggest names around. Frank Sinatra is said to have taken one look at the Jaguar upon its 1961 reveal and said “I want that car, and I want it now” - just the beginning of the E-Types love affair with celebrities. Other famous owners included George Harrison, Roy Orbison, George Best, Tony Curtis and Peter Sellers to name a few.
Look back at Car and Driver’s 1961 review of the Jaguar E-Type here.