History of the 1961 - 1962 Jaguar E-type
The Jaguar E-Type stunned the automotive world when it debuted at the 1961 Geneva Salon. Chief Jaguar tester Norman Dewis drove the elegant coupe through the night to Switzerland, then spent his time giving rides to astonished journalists.
The E-Type was designed by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer and William Lyons, and adopted many of the styling cues of the D-Type, this time in steel. The bonnet was one-piece and hinged forward; there were front and rear sub-frames and the centre section was immensely strong. Headlights were cowled, and taillights stripped across the rear bumpers. Throaty dual pipes exited in the centre, but the noise was far behind the driver, and the E-Type was much quieter inside than the XK150.
Performance was impressive. The 3.8-litre, 265 bhp DOHC engine delivered 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, 0-100 mph in 16.2 seconds and a top speed of just under 150 mph. Triple wipers kept the windscreen clear until about 110 mph. The E-Type was fitted with independent suspension and disc brakes all round; with the rear brakes inconveniently inboard. All for £2098 for either Coupe or the OTS (Open Two-Seater), which also offered a removable hard top.
The dash was crammed with gauges, with a row of toggle switches below them. Seats were leather and the precise rack-and-pinion steering encouraged drivers to power out of corners. However it was hard to heel-and-toe on the early “flat floor cars” and the old Moss crash box was tricky. By the time the Series I was replaced by the Series II in 1964, these problems had been resolved.
Production of Series I roadsters totalled 7,669 units, with 7,827 of those being coupes.
The Jaguar E-Type received a boost in engine size in 1964, with the introduction of the 4.2-litre 6-cylinder engine. Torque increased to 283 lb-ft from 260, but horsepower stayed the same at 265 bhp. This would be the last model to be the same in UK and US specifications. After 1967, emissions and safety requirements in the US led to exposed headlights, bigger bumpers and lower rear axle gearing. When the triple SU carburetors were replaced by two Strombergs, power dropped to 171 bhp and top speed fell below 130 mph.
In many respects the 4.2-litre Series I is regarded as the best, and most user-friendly E-type model, with a new all-synchromesh gearbox replacing the much-grumbled-about Moss box, significant upgrades in electrical equipment, and better brakes. Everything that mattered remained the same as earlier cars, or was improved. A 2+2 coupe was introduced in 1966, but many have automatic transmissions, which limits their appeal.
Production of Series I 4.2-litre cars totaled 22,916; with 9,548 roadsters, 7,770 coupes and 5,598 2+2 coupes.