A Universal Icon: 60 Years Of The Jaguar E-Type

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type, perhaps one of the most iconic and universally loved cars to have ever been created.

It’s launch in March 1961 was something of an unconventional affair. Prior to the car’s grand unveiling at that year’s Geneva Motor Show, one of two examples was lent to UK journalists to assess the car. The test drives lasted longer than originally planned, which left very little time for Jaguar bosses to get the E-Type over to Switzerland.

The tale goes that the model, number plate 9600HP, was driven flat out from Coventry to Geneva arriving with 20 minutes to spare. The car was rolled out on stage, fresh from its 730-mile expedition with the assembled media and public none the wiser. It was a debut that laid the foundations for the E-Type’s elegant grand touring credentials.

The first Series 1 E-Types were launched with 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine developing 265bhp enabling it to hit a top speed of 150mph – at the time it was the fastest production car in the world. Such was its appeal, customers include the likes of Frank Sinatra and George Best.

The E-Type was continually developed throughout the years with design tweaks and new engines, but the biggest upgrade came in 1971 when the Series 3 was launched, arriving with a thumping 5.3-litre V12 engine.

In 1975 Jaguar phased the E-Type out of production, where it was eventually replaced by the XJ-S. Today, first-class examples of the E-Type can fetch in excess of £300,000, although if you’re willing to invest some time and love into a restoration you can pick up early examples for around £30,000.

Jonathan Burn

Jonathan Burn is a world renowned automotive journalist, and Ape's resident car expert with a deep appreciation for anything that drives fast.