Gaydon, 24 January 2011. This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most famous and desirable cars in automotive history – the Jaguar E-Type.
Jaguar will be celebrating this special anniversary year at high-profile motoring events throughout 2011.
The company will mark the anniversary at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and go on to celebrate at Goodwood’s Revival and Festival of Speed, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Nurburgring Old Timer Grand Prix and a host of Jaguar customer, dealer and lifestyle events worldwide.
When it was launched in 1961, the appeal of E-Type transcended the automotive world. Such is the inherent rightness of its proportions, stance and purity of line, that it is a permanent exhibit in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
The now iconic E-Type set new standards in automotive design and performance when it was launched in 1961. Its influence is still apparent in Jaguar’s modern range: cars that offer a peerless blend of performance, comfort, cutting-edge technology and award-winning design.
“Half a century of progress has not diminished the significance of the E-Type,” said Mike O’Driscoll, Managing Director Jaguar Cars and Chairman Jaguar Heritage. “It was a sensation when it was launched, and remains Jaguar’s most enduring and iconic symbol. The E-Type is simply one of the most exciting cars ever created and a legacy to the genius of Jaguar’s founder, Sir William Lyons.”
E-Type owners included celebrities such as George Best, Brigitte Bardot, Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen and the sports car became as synonymous with the Swinging Sixties as the Beatles and the mini skirt.
“It is impossible to overstate the impact the E-Type had when it was unveiled in 1961,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar Design Director. “Here was a car that encapsulated the spirit of the revolutionary era it came to symbolise. The E-Type is a design that even today continues to inform the work we do in styling the Jaguars of the future.”
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, Jaguar’s E-Type caused a sensation. Capable of achieving 150mph, but costing a fraction of the price of rivals with similar performance, it was the affordable supercar and became an instant icon – remaining on sale for 14 years.
The E-Type was presented to the world’s press at the restaurant du Parc des Eaux Vives in Geneva on 15th March 1961. Such was the media excitement and clamour for demonstration runs up a nearby hillclimb that Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons instructed chief test driver Norman Dewis to drive through the night from Coventry to bring another model to Switzerland.
Even Enzo Ferrari admitted it was “the most beautiful car in the world.”
The E-type’s straight-six engine had powered Jaguar to five Le Mans victories in the 1950s and by 1961 in 3.8-litre form produced 265bhp and 260lb ft of torque, making the car a genuine 150mph proposition and, like its XK120 predecessor, the fastest production car in the world.
At launch the E-Type cost £2,256 15s, including purchase tax and the all-important optional wire wheels, the equivalent today of just £38,000.
The E-Type’s perfectly proportioned bodywork was the work of Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical engineer by training who also applied his aerodynamic expertise in shaping the earlier Le Mans-winning C and D-Type racers.
The E-type remained in production for 14 years, selling more than 70,000 units, making it Europe’s first mass-produced sports car.