The history of the Jaguar E-type

   

The Jaguar E-Type (UK) or XK-E (US) is a British automobile manufactured by Jaguar between 1961 and 1974. Its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. A great success for Jaguar, over seventy thousand E-Types were sold during its lifespan.
The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). The 2+2 version with a lengthened wheelbase was released several years later.
On its release Enzo Ferrari called it "The most beautiful car ever made".
The model was made in three distinct versions which are now generally referred to as "Series 1", "Series 2" and "Series 3". A transitional series between Series 1 and Series 2 is known unofficially as "Series 1".
In addition, several limited-edition variants were produced:
- The "'Lightweight' 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, one is known to have been destroyed and two others have been converted to coupé form. 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.
After their success at LeMans 24 hr through the 1950s Jaguars defunct racing department were given the brief to use D-Type style construction to build a road going sports car, replacing the XK150.
It is suspected that the first prototype (E1A) was given the code based on: (E): The proposed production name E-Type (1): First Prototype (A): Aluminium construction (Production models used steel bodies)
The car 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 E1A was constructed from a steel chassis and used a aluminium body. This car was completed as a race 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 testing mule.
Ownership of E2A passed to Roger Woodley (Jaguars customer competition car manager) who took possession on the basis the car not be used for racing. E2A had been scheduled to be scrapped.
Series 1 (1961-1968)
Body style(s) 2-door coupe, 2-door 2+2 coupe, 2-door convertible
Engine(s) 3.8 L XK I6, 4.2 L XK I6
Wheelbase 96.0 in (2438 mm) (FHC / OTS), 105.0 in (2667 mm) (2+2)
Length 175.3125 in (4453 mm) (FHC / OTS), 184.4375 in (4685 mm) (2+2)
Width 65.25 in (1657 mm) (all)
Height 48.125 in (1222 mm) (FHC), 50.125 in (1273 mm) (2+2), 46.5 in (1181 mm) (OTS)
Curb weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg) (FHC), 2,770 lb (1,256 kg) (OTS), 3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)
Fuel capacity 63.64 L (16.8 US gal; 14.0 imp gal)
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 6-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from the XK150S. The first 500 cars built had flat floors and external bonnet latches. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin bonnet latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8 litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in October 1964.
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 auto manufacturer 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 licence 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 4-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for 1st gear ("Moss box"). 4.2 litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and an all-synchromesh 4-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 Open Two Seater.
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 with a more vertical windscreen. The roadster remained a strict two-seater.
There was a transitional series of cars built in 1967-68, unofficially called "Series 1", which are externally similar to Series 1 cars. Due to American pressure the new features were open headlights, different switches, and some de-tuning (with a downgrade of twin Zenith-Stromberg carbs from the original triple SU carbs) for US models. Some Series 1 cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1 cars, but always with the Series 1 body style.
Less widely known, there was also right at the end of Series 1 production and prior to the transitional "Series 1" referred to above, a very small number of Series 1 cars produced with open headlights. These are sometimes referred to as "Series 1" cars. Production dates on these machines vary but in right hand drive form production has been verified as late as March 1968. It is thought that the low number of these cars produced relative to the other Series make them amongst the rarest of all production E Types.
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 0-60 mph (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 £2097 including taxes.
Series 2 (1969-1971)
Body style(s) 2-door coupe, 2-door 2+2 coupe, 2-door convertible
Engine(s) 4.2 L XK I6
Curb weight 3,018 lb (1,369 kg) (FHC), 2,750 lb (1,247 kg) (OTS), 3,090 lb (1,402 kg) (2+2)
Open headlights without glass covers, a wrap-around rear bumper, re-positioned and larger front indicators and taillights below the bumpers, better cooling aided by an enlarged "mouth" and twin electric fans, and uprated brakes are hallmarks of Series 2 cars. De-tuned in US, but still with triple SUs in the UK, the engine is easily identified visually by the change from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial 'ribbed' appearance. Late Series 1 cars also had ribbed cam covers. The interior and dashboard were also redesigned, with rocker switches that met U.S health and safety regulations being 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.
Series 3 (1971-1975)
Body style(s) 2-door 2+2 coupe, 2-door convertible
Engine(s) 5.3 L Jaguar V12
Wheelbase 105 in (2667 mm) (both)
Length 184.4 in (4684 mm) (2+2), 184.5 in (4686 mm) (OTS)
Width 66.0 in (1676 mm) (2+2), 66.1 in (1679 mm) (OTS)
Height 48.9 in (1242 mm) (2+2), 48.1 in (1222 mm) (OTS)
Curb weight 3,361 lb (1,525 kg) (2+2), 3,380 lb (1,533 kg) (OTS)
Fuel capacity 82 L (21.7 US gal; 18.0 imp gal)
A new 5.3 L 12-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. It is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. There were also a very limited number of 4.2 litre six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales literature. It is believed these are the rarest of all E-Types of any remaining.
In 2008 a British classic car enthusiast assembled what is surely the last ever E-Type from parts bought from the end-of-production surplus in 1974.
Two limited production E-Type variants were made as test beds, the Low Drag Coupe and Lightweight E-Type, both of which were raced:
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. 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 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 plexi. 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 major problem and, although much sexier looking and certainly faster than a production E-Type, the car was never competitive: the faster it went, the more it wanted to do what its design dictated: take off.
The one and only test bed car was completed in summer of 1962 but was sold a year later to Jaguar racing driver Dick Protheroe who raced it extensively and eventually sold it. Since then it has passed through the hands of several collectors on both sides of the Atlantic and now is believed to reside in the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.
In some ways, the Lightweight E-Type 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 a 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. At least one car is known to have been fitted with fuel-injection.

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