Unveiled to a stunned public at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, the Jaguar E-Type offered 150mph speed clothed in elegant proportions for only £1,500. At that time, equivalent offerings from Mercedes and Ferrari were far more expensive.
The first production series ran from 1961 through to 1968, with a simple construction to keep costs down. The cockpit comprised welded steel pressings with independent coil spring suspension carried on a separate sub frame underneath the cockpit. The engine was supported by square section steel tubing in the front, while the front suspension adopted a torsion bar and was mounted on a smaller tubular steel subframe. This front subframe also supported the radiator and that long, forward-hinged bonnet.
The powerplant for the initial cars was Jaguar’s own 3.8 straight six, which delivered 265 bhp and 352 nM to the rear wheels via a four speed manual transmission. Top speed was claimed to be 150mph, and indeed the press cars were tuned to meet this claim, but the normal cars usually topped out in the mid 140s. However, coupled with these speeds and an 0-60 sprint time of 7 seconds, this car was quick for its time.
While this car benefited from power assisted disc brakes on all four wheels, they were mounted in-board at the rear and as a result suffered badly from overheating. Therefore, when the car was given a slight refresh in 1964, the new engine – 4.2 inline 6 – and a better 4 speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on all gears was also accompanied by an improved braking solution. Enthusiasts often refer to this as the Series I 1/2.
Series I cars are distinguishable with the glass covering on the headlights, smaller air intake at the front , all ancillary lights mounted over the bumpers and the exhaust pipes exiting under the rear number plate. Earlier Series I E-types had external bonnet latches that needed a tool to unlock (hmm … what if you lose the tool!), but these latches were moved into the car soon after construction started. At the same time as the latches were moved, the floor was altered from a flat layout to a dished design.
Series I 1/2 cars also differed from the Series I through the adoption of uncovered headlights, and the replacement of toggles with internal rocker switches. These cars also had twin cooling fans in the engine bay, and models destined for the US were de-tuned as two Zenith-Stromberg carburetors were used instead of the original three SUs. This resulted in a net loss of 20bhp for the American versions.
Between 1961 and 1968, 38,412 E-Types were made.
1968 is the official launch date for Series II, but there had been a crossover with Series I since 1966 (see the Series I 1/2 above), Visually, the definitive Series II sold from 1968 to 1971 is marked by its lack of headlight covers and the repositioning of the ancillary lights underneath the bumpers. Cars in this series also have a larger front grille and could be ordered with a larger cabin option for the coupé, allowing for two small rear seats to be added in a 2+2 format.
These changes were introduced in response to safety regulations in the US. These regulations also demanded a steering lock (so the ignition switch had to move to the steering column in order to cater for the steering lock) and headrests, necessitating new seats to be installed. To make the car more comfortable, Jaguar also offered air conditioning and power steering as factory options.
Between 1968 and 1971, 18,808 Series II cars were made.
A new 5.3 V12 engine delivering 272bhp was fitted to the Series III, along with another improvement to the braking system and the standard inclusion of power steering. An automatic transmission appeared on the options list, along with wire wheels and, again, air conditioning. The short wheelbase Fixed Head Coupe (FHC) body style was discontinued, with the Series III available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. Performance of the Series III was nothing short of incredible, with its DOHC and 4 carbs helping the car reach 60mph in 6 seconds and top out at 150mph.
Between 1971 and 1975, when the car was discontinued, 15,287 Series III E-Types were made.
Jaguar E-Type convertible (1970) – Vital Statistics
|Power||198 kW (265 bhp) @ 5400rpm|
|Torque||380 Nm (283 lb/ft) @ 4000rpm|
|0-100 km/h (0-62 mph)||7.1 seconds|
|Maximum speed||241 km/h (150 mph)|
|Fuel consumption (average)||15.6 l/100km (18 mpg)|
|Fuel type, tank capacity||Petrol, 64 litres|
|Engine||Jaguar XK6 engine,|
DOHC, Iron block,
Triple SU HD8 Carburetors
|Cylinders and valves||Inline 6, 12v|
|Transmission||4 speed manual|