4 May 2020

More than an old car #141: Jaguar E-Type

 Having seen a fair share of classic cars, there are but a few that invariably takes my breath away. Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the eponymous company, once called it "the most beautiful car ever made". It has been recognised as an icon of the Sixties and remains ever-popular despite its age...introducing the Jaguar E-Type!

The E-Type (also known as the XK-E in North America) was the successor of the D-Type racing car, which had experienced success by winning at Le Mans for 3 consecutive years. At that time in 1960, Jaguar employed a novel racing principle: the front suspension and bodywork were directly bolted to the body tub, and the engine was stored in the front subframe. In short, this made the cars very light. It was unveiled to the public in 1961 at the Geneva Auto Show There were 3 distinct generations of the E-Type, namely Series 1 to 3. Series 1 cars remain the most desirable, in part of their low numbers and it was the car that inspired many rave reviews about its elegant curves and long bonnet. In 1964, the engine was upgraded to a 4.2 litre i6 engine, along with relevant modifications such as an electric cooling fan for the radiator. All cars were fitted with wire wheels, which remains part of the allure of an E-Type.

The Series 2, which appeared in 1968, featured a number of design changes, largely due to US regulations. The glass headlight covers were removed and the iconic 'mouth' was enlarged, along with the front indicators being relocated below the bumpers. Furthermore, headrests were also mandated and the dashboard was also redesigned. In 1971, the Series 3 appeared where it featured a large cross-slatted front grille, fender flares and quad tailpipes. Notably, the engine was enlarged to a 5.3 litre V12, which was originally designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans races.

The Series 1 (1962 model) was powered by a 3781 cc XK i6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 240 km/h with an acceleration of 6.5 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4455 mm long and weighed 1250 kg, with a fuel consumption of 16.3 litres/ 100 km.
The Series 2 (1970 model) was powered by a larger 4235 cc XK i6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 231 km/h with an acceleration of 7 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4453 mm long and weighed 1321 kg, with a fuel consumption of 16.5 litres/ 100 km.
The Series 3 (1974 model) was powered by an even larger 5343 cc Jaguar V12 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 241 km/h with an acceleration of 6.7 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4684 mm long and weighed 1515 kg, with a fuel consumption of 23 litres/ 100 km.

Production of the E-Type ended in 1974 with a total of around 72,515 made: of which 943 were the 3.8 litre Series 1 RHD roadsters, 776 were Series 2 RHD roadsters and 1872 were Series 3 RHD roadsters. They were first sold in Singapore in 1961, with a retail price of $15,750 for the roadster and $16,350 for the fixed-head coupe. Reviews back then praised its ease of driving, superb handling and smooth braking, although it was thought that the car boot was too small to be of practical use.

While there are a small handful of E-Types that are originally registered here, there are an increasing number of imported units that have reached our shores. I am not one to praise cars often, but the E-Type really makes you notice its presence based on how graceful it is. It is fortunate that there are still these beauties around here, try to see one if you can!

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