Little Known Facts About the Jaguar E-Type

With the first concept of the Jaguar E-Type hitting drawing boards more than six decades ago, no-one could have dreamt that the road race car would go on to become a true classic. Still one of the most sought-after vintage cars on the road, the Jaguar E-Type has a romantic appeal that is enduring.

While you might have appreciated its clean lines and aerodynamic chassis, you may not know all there is to know about the car's history. To bring you up to speed on all things E-Type related, here are some of the lesser-known facts about this magnificent beast.

Created By An Aircraft Engineer

The E-Type was never intended to be a racing car, but due to changes made by FIA and the car’s phenomenal performance, Jaguar couldn’t resist.

This was due in no small part to the aerodynamic design created by an engineer, Malcolm Sayer. Previously an aeronautics engineer who had worked for the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the critical period of World War II, Sayer was responsible for the unique curved style.

The long Jaguar E-Type bonnet, providing maximum space between the dashboard and the headlights, gentle curves from top to bottom and side to side, creating a compelling first impression. The rest of the car is no less interesting, with every surface rounding to finish in a sleek design.

The sheer perfection of these lines provides an irresistible aesthetic, but it also contributes heavily to the car’s speed.

It was the smart styling by Sayer and the fast speeds that led to the E-Type being the car that every celebrity wanted. From Frank Sinatra to George Best, Sid James, George Harrison and Tony Curtis, the Jaguar E-Type Model was the fashionable, high-class luxury that every wealthy man wanted during the swinging 60s.

Countless Orders - But Nearly Didn’t Make It

Following the creation of the prototype in 1957, Jaguar had pencilled in the Geneva Motor Show in 1961 as the right moment to unveil its new road car. With its impeccable design and sleek looks, Jaguar was quietly confident that it would be a hit.

However, the Jaguar Classic E-Type nearly didn’t make it to the motor show on time. In their desire to make every last detail perfect, Jaguar underestimated how long it would take to get the car to the show. In the end, it had to be driven from its Coventry manufacturing base to Geneva in a hurry, a total of 700 miles. Forced to drive through thick black fog in France and averaging 70mph, the E-Type arrived in Geneva with just 20 minutes to spare.

The mad dash was worth it, as 500 orders were taken at the show. But the crazy rushing around wasn’t quite over yet. The intense clamour to show off the E-Type Model’s capability meant that a second car was needed; Sir William Lyons instructed chief tester, Norman Dewis, to bring another model to Switzerland - quickly. Driving through the night, Dewis managed to get the second vehicle to Geneva in just over 11 hours.

Only a month later, in April 1961, the car was also shown at the New York International Auto Show and sold six in the first half an hour alone!

The E-type Lightweight

Although the E-Type was created to be a road sports car, it also has a phenomenal history as a race car. But to get the best performance out of the model, engineers had to make a few tweaks over the years - such as losing some of the weight.

Between 1963-1964 they set about making the ‘Lightweight E-Type’. A car that weighed less, had even more power and was more stable during high-speed racing. They achieved this aim by making a lighter, aluminium version of the E-Type, which helped shed around 114kg in comparison to the standard E-Type. They also featured a stripped-back interior. The Lightweight E-Type retained the eye-catching curves of the original design, keeping the aerodynamic shape but just losing some of the load.

But, did you know that there were only 12 of these lightweight E-Types originally made? Despite designing a blueprint for 18 lightweight E-Types, Jaguar only produced 12 of them. The remaining 6 lay dormant until 2014 when Jaguar's Heritage Business announced it would be building the six 'remaining' lightweights from their unused chassis codes. Just goes to show that the history and legacy of this great car runs deep.

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