1961 - 1975


The Jaguar E-Type (UK) or XK-E (US) is a British automobile, manufactured by Jaguar between 1961 and 1974. Its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing resulted in a great success for Jaguar, with more than 70,000 E-Types being sold over its lifespan. It is often referred to as the E-Type Jag, and has subsequently become an icon of 1960s motoring. In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in Daily Telegraph list of the "100 most beautiful cars" of all time.  In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960's. 

XKE 3.8 Twin-cam In-line 6 Cylinder

The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a grand tourer in two seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupe) and as convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). The 2+2 version with a lengthened wheelbase was released several years later.

When released Enzo Ferrari called it "The most beautiful car ever made".

The model was made in 3 distinct versions generally referred to as "Series 1", "Series 2" and "Series 3". A transitional series between Series 1 and Series 2 is known unofficially as "Series 1½".

In addition, several limited-edition variants were produced:

  • The "'Lightweight' E-Type" which was apparently intended as a sort of follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, one is known to have been destroyed and two others have been converted to coupé form. These are exceedingly rare and sought after by collectors.

  • The "Low Drag Coupé" was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.


E – Type, Series I

1961 - 1967


1961 XKE Coupe


The Series 1 was introduced in March 1961, using the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre 6-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from the XK150S. The first 500 cars built had flat floors and external hood latches. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8 litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in late 1964.


          All E-Types featured independent rear suspension with torsion bar front ends, and power-assisted disc brakes. Jaguar was the first auto manufacturer to equip cars with disc brakes as standard.

The Series 1 can be recognised by glass covered headlights (up to 1967), small "mouth" opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the licence plate in the rear.

The 3.8 litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and a 4-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for 1st gear ("Moss box"). 4.2 litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and an all-synchromesh 4-speed gearbox. 4.2 litre cars also have a badge on the boot proclaiming "Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type" (3.8 cars have a simple "Jaguar" badge). Optional extras included Chrome Wire wheels and a detachable hard top for the Open Two Seater.

A 2+2 version of the coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of an automatic transmission. The body is slightly longer and the roof angles are different. The roadster remained a strict two-seater.


There was a transitional series of cars built in 1967-68, unofficially called "Series 1½", which are externally similar to Series 1 cars. Because of the American pressure the new features were open headlights, different switches, and some de-tuning (with a downgrade of twin Zenith-Stromberg carbs from the original triple SU carbs) for US models. Some Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style.  (The yellow XKE shown above is  a 1968, Series 1 1/2 Raodster).


Low Drag Coupe 1962 E - Type

Shortly after the introduction of the E-Type, Jaguar management wanted to investigate the possibility of building a car more in the spirit of the D-Type racer from which elements of the E-Type's styling and design were derived. One car was built to test the concept designed as a coupé as its monocoque design could only be made rigid enough for racing by using the "stressed skin" principle.

Previous Jaguar racers were built as open-top cars because they were based on ladder frame designs with independent chassis and bodies. Unlike the steel production E-Types the LDC used lightweight aluminium. Sayer retained the original tub with lighter outer panels riveted and glued to it. The front steel sub frame remained intact, the windshield was given a more pronounced slope and the rear hatch welded shut. Rear brake cooling ducts appeared next to the rear windows, and the interior trim was discarded, with only insulation around the transmission tunnel. With the exception of the windscreen, all cockpit glass was plexi.  A tuned version of Jaguars 3.8 litre engine with a wide angle cylinder-head design tested on the D-Type racers was used. Air management became a major problem and, although much sexier looking and certainly faster than a production E-Type, the car was never competitive: the faster it went, the more it wanted to do what its design dictated: take off.


Lightweight E – Type

1963 – 1964

XKE Factory Lightweight


In some ways, this was an evolution of the Low Drag Coupé. It made extensive use of aluminium alloy in the body panels and other components. However, with at least one exception, it remained an open-top car in the spirit of the D-Type to which this car is a more direct successor than the production E-Type which is more of a GT than a sports car.

The cars used a tuned version of the production 3.8 litre Jaguar engine with 300 bhp (224kW) output rather than the 265 bhp (198kW) produced by the "ordinary" version. At least one car is known to have been fitted with fuel-injection.


Bob Jane won the 1963 Australian GT Championship at the wheel of an E-Type.

The Jaguar E-Type was very successful in SCCA Production sports car racing with Group44 and Bob Tullius taking the B-Production championship with a Series-3 V12 racer in 1975. A few years later, Gran-Turismo Jaguar from Cleveland Ohio campaigned a 4.2 L 6 cylinder FHC racer in SCCA production series and in 1980, won the National Championship in the SCCA C-Production Class defeating a fully funded factory Nissan Z-car team with Paul Newman.


E – Type, Series II

1968 – 1971

The interior and dashboard were also redesigned, with flick switches being substituted for rocker switches that met U.S health and safety regulations. The dashboard switches also lost their symmetrical layout. New seats were fitted, which purists claim lacked the style of the originals but were certainly more comfortable. Air conditioning and power steering were available as factory options. It was available in FHC, OTS, and 2+2 versions.

The interior and dashboard were also redesigned, with flick switches being substituted for rocker switches that met U.S health and safety regulations. The dashboard switches also lost their symmetrical layout. New seats were fitted, which purists claim lacked the style of the originals but were certainly more comfortable. Air conditioning and power steering were available as factory options. It was available in FHC, OTS, and 2+2 versions.


Open headlights without glass covers, a wrap-around rear bumper, re-positioned and larger front indicators and taillights below the bumpers, better cooling aided by an enlarged "mouth" and twin electric fans, and uprated brakes are hallmarks of Series 2 cars. De-tuned in US, but still with triple SUs in the UK, the engine is easily identified visually by the change from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial 'ribbed' appearance. Late Series 1½ cars also had ribbed cam covers.



Enjoyment was also found in the new engine's bottom-end strength. "Low-speed torque and flexibility are so good," Motor observed, that you can actually start in top gear, despite a 3.07:1 axle ratio giving 24.4 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m.

"Driving around town, this fascinating tractability can be fully exploited by starting in first or second and then dropping into top which, even below 30 m.p.h., is sufficiently lively to out-accelerate a lot of cars." Such tactics did tend to soot up the spark plugs, the magazine admitted, but a little high-rpm work would usually clear them.

When driven as a sports car rather than, say, as a limo, the XKE 4.2's greater torque easily dealt with its slightly greater weight and somewhat taller final gearing.

From a standing start, Motor's test coupe reached 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, compared to the 7.1 the magazine had clocked with an early roadster three-and-a-half years before. The time over the quarter-mile was 14.9, versus 15.0.

On the top end, the XKE 4.2 coupe was only slightly faster than the XKE 3.8 convertible -- exactly 150 mph, versus 149.1 -- this despite the slinky fastback's much superior aerodynamics.

E – Type, Series III

1971 – 1975

1971 Series III V12 Coupe

The convertible used the longer-wheelbase 2+2 floorpan. It is easily identifiable by the aggressive, slatted front grill in place of the mouth of earlier cars, flared wheel arches and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12.


There were also a very limited number of 4.2 litre six cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales literature. It is believed these are the rarest of all E-Types of any remaining.


 A new 5.3 L 12-cylinder Jaguar V12 engine was introduced, with uprated brakes and standard power steering. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued and the V12 was available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupe.






 Jaguar XKE V-12 Engine Origins

It was against this darkening background that Jaguar unrolled the drawings of a V-12 engine that it had designed in the very different times of just a few years before. The idea behind the V-12 in the Jaguar XKE Series 3 (see below) could be traced to this V-12 in the XJ13 test car.
Actually, the thought of someday building a Jaguar V-12 dated back to the early XK years of the late forties and early fifties. The idea finally took substantive form in the mid sixties, when some of the firm's competition-oriented engineers secretly built and tested a sports-racing car that promised to again raise high the Jaguar banner at LeMans.

This was the XJ13, an open two-seater with much of the immortal D-Type in its body and chassis, but powered by a massive 5.0-liter, four-camshaft, 500-horse V-12 mounted behind the cockpit in modern mid-ships configuration. The man primarily responsible for the engine-code-named XJ6, by the way-was Claude Baily, a member of the team that designed Jaguar's XK six.

According to the original thinking, the quad-cam twelve would have been developed and proven in racing, then detuned for docility and longevity as a passenger-car powerplant. A sound plan, as Ferrari, Maserati, and others had shown.

For reasons both political and financial, Jaguar abandoned the racing program, but the initial "competition" engine would serve as the conceptual and experiential basis for a new V-12. However, this second unit was never intended for the race track. It was envisaged strictly as road-car power, primarily for a future range of sedans.

Why a V-12, exactly? Engineer Wally Hassan once explained it in an interview with Motor: "Jaguar have always tried to provide luxury at a reasonable cost. Our problem was how to make the most reliable engine with the power to do the job and a lot of torque and refinement as well. We chose a V-12 formation because it gives perfect balance and, as vibration spells noise, this means a quiet as well as a smooth engine. In addition, the three-plane crankshaft is known to be the best configuration from a torque point of view."

Hassan left unstated the equally important commercial consideration that, at the time, only Ferrari and Lamborghini offered this many cylinders in roadgoing automobiles, albeit in very high-dollar exotics. Jaguar could bring the romantic song of the twelve to a great many more people.