The Jaguar E-Type (a.k.a. Jaguar XK-E) is a British sports car, manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1974.
|Also called||Jaguar XK-E|
|Body and chassis|
|Related||Jaguar D-Type Jaguar XJ13|
|Successor||Jaguar XJ-S Jaguar F-Type|
Its combination of good looks, high performance and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. More than 70,000 E-Types were sold.
In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in a The Daily Telegraph online list of the world’s “100 most beautiful cars” of all time.
In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the Jaguar E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.
The Jaguar E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a rear-wheel drive grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as a two-seater convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). A “2+2” four-seater version of the coupé, with a lengthened wheelbase, was released several years later.
On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”.
Later model updates of the E-Type were officially designated “Series 2” and “Series 3”, and over time the earlier cars have come to be referred to as “Series 1” and “Series 1½”.
Of the “Series 1” cars, Jaguar manufactured some limited-edition variants, inspired by motor racing :
- The “‘Lightweight’ Jaguar E-Type” which was apparently intended as a sort of follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, two have been converted to Low-Drag form and two others are known to have been wrecked and deemed to be beyond repair, although one has now been rebuilt. These are exceedingly rare and sought after by collectors.
- The “Low Drag Coupé” was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognised the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.
After the company’s success at the LeMans 24 hr through the 1950s, Jaguar’s defunct racing department was given the brief to use D-Type style construction to build a road-going sports car, replacing the XK150.
The first prototype (E1A) featured a monocoque design, Jaguar’s fully independent rear suspension and the well proved “XK” engine. The car was used solely for factory testings and was never formally released to the public. The car was eventually scrapped by the factory.
Jaguar’s second E-Type concept was E2A which, unlike the E1A, was constructed from a steel chassis with an aluminium body. This car was completed as a racing car as it was thought by Jaguar at the time it would provide a better testing ground. E2A used a 3-litre version of the XK engine with a Lucas fuel injection system.
After retiring from the LeMans 24 hr the car was shipped to America to be used for racing by Jaguar privateer Briggs Cunningham. In 1961, the car returned to Jaguar in England to be used as a test vehicle. Ownership of E2A passed to Roger Woodley (Jaguar’s customer competition car manager) who took possession on the basis the car not be used for racing. E2A had been scheduled to be scrapped. Roger’s wife Penny Griffiths owned E2A until 2008 when it was offered for sale at Bonham’s Quail Auction. It eventually sold for US$4,957,000.
Series 1 (1961–1968)
The Series 1 was introduced, initially for export only, in March 1961. The domestic market launch came four months later in July 1961. The cars at this time used the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre six-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from theXK150S. Earlier built cars utilised external bonnet latches which required a tool to open and had a flat floor design. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8-litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in October 1964.
The 4.2-litre engine produced the same power as the 3.8-litre (265 bhp;198 kW) and same top speed (150 mph;240 km/h), but increased torque from 240 to 283 lb·ft (330 to 384 N·m). Acceleration remained pretty much the same and 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) times were around 7.0 seconds for both engines, but maximum power was now reached at 5,400rpm instead of 5,500rpm on the 3.8-litre. That all meant better throttle response for drivers that did not want to shift down gears.
All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension with torsion bar front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were power-assisted. Jaguar was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to equip cars with disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 can be recognised by glass-covered headlights (up to 1967), small “mouth” opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the number plate in the rear.
3.8-litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and a Moss four-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for first gear (“Moss box”). 4.2-litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox. 4.2-litre cars also have a badge on the boot proclaiming “Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type” (3.8 cars have a simple “Jaguar” badge). Optional extras included chrome spoked wheels and a detachable hard top for the OTS. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted Dunlop 6.40 × 15 inch RS5 tyres on 15 × 5K wire wheels (with the rear fitting 15 × 5K½ wheels suupplied with racing tyres). However the 4.2 Fixed-head Coupé fitted Dunlop 6.40 × 16 RS5 tyres and the 4.2 2 + 2 Automatic fitting SP41 185 − 15 tyres.
A 2+2 version of the coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of an automatic transmission. The body is 9 in (229 mm) longer and the roof angles are different. The roadster remained a strict two-seater.
Less widely known, right at the end of Series 1 production and prior to the transitional “Series 1½” referred to below, a very small number of Series 1 cars were produced with open headlights. Production dates on these machines vary but in right hand drive form production has been verified as late as March 1968. The low number of these cars produced make them amongst the rarest of all production E Types.
Following the Series 1 there was a transitional series of cars built in 1967–1968, unofficially called “Series 1½”, which are externally similar to Series 1 cars. Due to American pressure the new features were open headlights, different switches, and some de-tuning (using two Zenith-Stromberg carburetters instead of the original three SUs) for US models. Some Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style. A United States federal safety law affecting 1968 model year cars sold in the U.S. was the reason for the lack of headlight covers and change in switch design in the “Series 1.5” of 1968. An often overlooked change, one that is often “modified back” to the older style, is the wheel knock-off “nut.” U.S. safety law for 1968 models also forbid the winged-spinner knockoff, and any 1968 model year sold in the U.S. should have a hexagonal knockoff nut, to be hammered on and off with the assistance of a special “socket” included with the car from the factory. This hexagonal nut carried on into the later Series 2 and 3.
An open 3.8-litre car, actually the first such production car to be completed, was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1961 and had a top speed of 149.1 mph (240.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 7.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.3 miles per imperial gallon (13.3 L/100 km; 17.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £2,097 including taxes.
The cars submitted for road test by the popular motoring journals of the time (1961)such as The Motor, The Autocar and Autosport magazines were specially prepared by the Jaguar works to give better-than-standard performance figures. This work entailed engine balancing and subtle work such as gas-flowing the cylinder heads and may even have involved fitting larger diameter inlet valves.
Both of the well-known 1961 road test cars: the E-type Coupe Reg. No. 9600 HP and E-type Convertible Reg.No. 77 RW, were fitted with Dunlop Racing Tyres on test, which had a larger rolling diameter and lower drag co-efficient. This goes some way to explaining the 150 mph (240 km/h) maximum speeds that were obtained under ideal test conditions. The maximum safe rev limit for standard 6-cylinder 3.8-litre E-type engines is 5,500 rpm. The later 4.2-Litre units had a red marking on the rev counter from just 5,000 rpm. The maximum safe engine speed is therefore 127mph (3.31:1 axle) and 137mph (3.07:1 axle) at the 5,500 rpm limit. Both test cars must have reached or exceeded 6,000 rpm in top gear when on road test in 1961.
- 15,490 3.8s
- 17,320 4.2s
- 10,930 2+2s
Series 2 (1968–1971)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe2-door 2+2 coupe2-door convertible|
|Engine||4.2 L XK I6|
|Kerb weight||3,018 lb (1,369 kg) (FHC)2,750 lb (1,247 kg) (OTS)3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)
Hallmarks of Series 2 cars are open headlights without glass covers, a wrap-around rear bumper, re-positioned and larger front indicators and tail lights below the bumpers, better cooling aided by an enlarged “mouth” and twin electric fans, and uprated brakes.
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The engine is easily identified visually by the change from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial “ribbed” appearance. It was de-tuned in the US with twin Strombergs and larger valve clearances, but in the UK retained triple SUs and the much tighter valve clearances. (Late Series 1½ cars also had ribbed cam covers). The interior and dashboard were also redesigned; rocker switches that met US health and safety regulations were substituted for toggle switches. The dashboard switches also lost their symmetrical layout. New seats were fitted, which purists claim lacked the style of the originals but were certainly more comfortable. Air conditioning and power steering were available as factory options.
Official delivery numbers by market and year are listed in Porter but no summary totals are given.
Series 3 (1971–1974)
A new 5.3 L twelve-cylinder Jaguar V12 engine was introduced, with uprated brakes and standard power steering. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued and the V12 was available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. The convertible used the longer-wheelbase 2+2 floorplan. The Series 3 is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille and flared wheel arches, and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. Cars for the US market were fitted with large projecting rubber bumper over-riders (in 1973 these were on front, in 1974 both front and rear) to meet local 5 mph (8 km/h) impact regulations, but those on European models were considerably smaller. US models also have side indicator repeats on the front wings. There were also a very limited number of six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales literature. When leaving the factory the V12 Open Two Seater and V12 2 ± 2 originally fitted Dunlop E70VR − 15 inch tyres on 15 × 6K wire or solid wheels, though British police forces would eschew this tyre and fit a higher performing 205/70VR15 Michelin XWX to their Series 3 E-Types.
Two limited production E-Type variants were made as test beds, the Low Drag Coupe and Lightweight E-Type, both of which were raced:
Low Drag Coupé (1962)
Shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to investigate the possibility of building a car more in the spirit of the D-Type racer from which elements of the E-Type’s styling and design were derived. One car was built to test the concept designed as a coupé as its monocoque design could only be made rigid enough for racing by using the “stressed skin” principle. Previous Jaguar racers were built as open-top cars, because they were based on ladder frame designs with independent chassis and bodies. Unlike the steel production E-Types, the LDC used lightweight aluminium. Malcolm Sayer retained the original tub with lighter outer panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel sub frame remained intact, the windshield was given a more pronounced slope, and the rear hatch was welded shut. Rear brake cooling ducts appeared next to the rear windows, and the interior trim was discarded, with only insulation around the transmission tunnel. With the exception of the windscreen, all cockpit glass was perspex. A tuned version of Jaguar’s 3.8-litre engine with a wide-angle cylinder head design tested on the D-Type racers was used. Air management became a problem and, though a higher performing vehicle than its production counterpart, the car was never competitive.
The only test bed car was completed in summer of 1962 but was sold a year later to Jaguar racing driver Dick Protheroe. Since then it has passed through the hands of several collectors on both sides of the Atlantic and is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
Lightweight E-Type (1963–1964)
Twelve cars plus two spare bodies were made by Jaguar.
In some ways, this was an evolution of the Low Drag Coupé. It made extensive use of aluminium alloy in the body panels and other components. However, with at least one exception, it remained an open-top car in the spirit of the D-Type to which this car is a more direct successor than the production E-Type which is more of a GT than a sports car. The cars used an aluminium block tuned version of the production 3.8-litre Jaguar engine with 300 bhp (224 kW) output rather than the 265 bhp (198 kW) produced by the “ordinary” version. All factory-built lightweights are fitted with Lucas Fuel Injection and a ZF 5 speed gearbox.
The cars were entered in various races but, unlike the C-Type and D-Type racing cars, they did not win at Le Mans or Sebring but were reasonably successful in private hands and in smaller races.
One Lightweight was modified into a Low-Drag Coupé (the Lindner/Nocker car), by Malcolm Sayer.
Another Lightweight was modified into a unique Low-Drag design (the Lumsden/Sargent car), by Dr Samir Klat of Imperial College. Along with the factory LDC, this lightweight is now believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
Many were fitted with more powerful engines as developments occurred.
Bob Jane won the 1963 Australian GT Championship at the wheel of a “lightweight” E-Type.
The Jaguar E-Type was very successful in SCCA Production sports car racing with Group44 and Bob Tullius taking the B-Production championship with a Series-3 V12 racer in 1975. A few years later, Gran-Turismo Jaguar from Cleveland Ohio campaigned a 4.2-litre six-cylinder FHC racer in SCCA production series, and in 1980 won the National Championship in the SCCA C-Production Class, defeating a fully funded factory Nissan Z-car team with Paul Newman.