The 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1: The Car That
July 4th 2017
We know it now as a classic British sports car, a piece of machinery that has not only stood the test of time but one that continues to define elegance and showcase impeccable British engineering. When the original 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the motoring world took a collective gasp. Even Enzo Ferrari famously proclaimed it to be “the most beautiful car ever made.”
The initial buzz from the press at the show made it necessary for Jaguar to rush another car from Coventry to Geneva. One of the test engineers dropped everything to answer the call, making the trip in about twelve hours, arriving with only minutes to spare before the show got underway.
Combined with its ground-breaking impact on the sports car world and its glorious reception at the Geneva Motor Show, the Series 1 Jaguar is the most coveted E-Type from its nearly 15 years of production. Thousands of orders flooded into Jaguar after Geneva, and the company worked tirelessly to meet the demands of buyers. The E-Type Series 1 was produced from 1961 – 1967 and began with the 3.8 litre (from 1961 – 1964), of which 7,828 cars were built. From 1964 – 1967, the Series 1 shifted to a 4.2-litre engine, and slightly less of these were made, with numbers at 6,749. Overall, combing the various models of the Series 1 (including the incredibly rare Lightweight Open Two Seater and the later 4.2 Two Plus Two), Jaguar built 33,205 Series 1 E-Types between 1961 and 1968.
But what’s so special about the E-Type? What has made this classic sports car so successful and iconic? The reasons are endless, but in reality, there were a few particular factors that set the E-Type apart from just about every other car.
First, the sheer speed of the Series 1 E-Type took the world by storm. It clocked in at 150mph with 265bhp, making it the fastest production car in the world at the time. By the time it was built, Jaguar already had a strong background in the racing world, and the E-Type channelled those racing roots not only in its roaring speed but also its edgy style.
Next, it’s affordability took people by surprise. It has been said that the press didn’t write a single criticism about the E-Type after it’s introduction at Geneva, apart from the fact that it was too reasonably priced. The price at which the car was launched was about £2,250 (roughly £38,000 in modern value). This was distinctly more affordable than the E-Type’s nearest competitor, the Aston Martin DB4 which was priced at just shy of £4,000. For a car that looked and drove priceless, the fact that it was attainable drove people wild.
Finally, it was the unique, elegant and simply cool design of that car that truly made it stand out. The futuristic curves unique to the E-Type at the time were a result of the genius of Malcolm Sayer, who also designed the D-Type. Sayers’ background in aeronautical engineering and aerodynamics meant that he designed cars from a mathematical approach, which certainly plays a large part in the E-Type’s unrivalled design appeal.
To learn more about the 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1, you can view our infographic on its history. We have extensive experience in servicing, restoring, as well as purchasing and Series 1 E-Types sales. For more information, get in touch with us today.