The Jaguar E-Type must be a contender for the title of the world’s most beautiful car, surely? Enzo Ferrari certainly thought so and he was never one to praise other people’s cars with any regularity. Decidedly phallic in profile, it features inch-perfect lines, some of the best engines in the business, and a cockpit straight out of every schoolboy’s dreams.
First launched in 1961 and still hanging around in 1975, the E-Type was designed to be aerodynamic rather than beautiful, which goes to prove the engineering adage that if it looks right then it probably is.
Offered initially with the gorgeous 3.8-litre straight-six engine that develops a heady 265bhp, the Jaguar was a democratic car for all its potent sexual symbolism and mouth-watering performance; its list price was the equivalent of just over £30,000 in today’s money, which even its detractors – and yes, there are a few of those, believe it or not – have to admit was an absolute bargain.
Its engine capacity grew to 4.2-litres in 1964, at which point the Jag started to go as well as it looked. The changes also included bigger disc brakes and an all-synchromesh gearbox. The so-called 1½ Series cars arrived in 1967 and the main changes were that the headlights now lacked the Perspex covers of the first cars, they had twin Stromberg carbs, and the eared spinners on the wire wheels were now hexagonal.
The Series 2 cars lasted between 1968 and 1971. This iteration grew larger bumpers and relocated rear lights, plus a new, safer interior. The coupe was still available as a two-seater, something that was to change with the introduction of the series 3 cars in ’71; all coupes would thereafter be 2+2, with small rear seats that were really only suitable for children. Introduced to the range in 1966, the 2+2 body added nine inches to the wheelbase, and it was a move that many feel ruined its silhouette.
The Series 3 cars spanned 1971 through to its death in 1975. The 2+2 was now the only coupe on offer, and a 5.3-litre V12 engine sat beneath the bonnet. It was now a very different car to the one that has been launched all those years ago being considerably faster, more comfortable, and reliable. It had metamorphosed over the years into the ultimate grand touring car and remains a firm favourite with classic enthusiasts the world over.
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