The E-Type Is Born
The company knew they had something special when Jaguar’s D-style racing car won the
24 Hours of LeMans race three years in a row in the mid-fifties. While they had enjoyed success with the XK120 and 150 models, they had been producing them for more than ten years. Knowing that their competitors, Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo, were all gearing up to introduce new models, Jaguar needed something new to add to their lineup.
The Jaguar E-type was unveiled to the assembled press corps at the Geneva Motor Show, creating tremendous buzz. Early reports were so favorable that a month after its debut in Switzerland, it was the New York International Motor Show star attraction. By the end of the show, Jaguar had secured over $30 million in potential orders, most of them being demands for the new E-type sports car. When Enzo Ferrari viewed the XK-E, he declared the car to be “the most beautiful car ever made.”
The initial price of $5,595 made the E-Type an excellent value (compared to $10,000 for a Mercedes). Jaguar initially prepared the new car for export, and a few months later, began selling the car domestically. Jaguar struggled to meet the demand for its new product, and by August 1961, only 372 models had been produced. The company raced to retool to meet the ever-widening demand for the XK-E.
The Series 1 (1961) was given a 3.8L inline six-cylinder engine that produced 265 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. The car had a top speed of 150 mph and posted a 7.1 second 0 - 60 mph time. The car was a unique design with a front subframe cradling the engine (rather than a ladder-style frame). The car was equipped with a four-speed transmission, rack and pinion steering, independent front and rear suspension, and unibody construction that were unique to the automotive world then.
In 1964, the engine size was increased to 4.2L inline six, with a new block to accommodate the larger bore size and a modified crank. The improvements provided better low-end torque and improved acceleration to 6.4 seconds (0 - 60 mph). Two years later, Jaguar added a 2+2 fastback coupe, which was significantly longer with a slightly altered roofline to the lineup. A total of 38,412 Series ones were produced through the 1968 model year.
Series 2 Provides Changes
Pressured by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandates, Jaguar made several design changes in 1968 to continue to compete in the American market. The inclusion of head restraints, improved seat belts (seat belt anchors had been a part of the car since the mid-sixties), a collapsible steering column, and less glass all improved the car’s safety. Taillights and front turn signals were increased in size again to meet US standards. Interior changes included using plastic rocker switches (rather than metal toggles), and moving the ignition to the steering column from the dash-mounted location in the Series 1.
In addition, Jaguar detuned the car’s engine to help meet every tightening emissions standards.
During the Series 2 production, the only engine Jaguar offered was the 4.2L inline-six with less power, producing 246 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. The Series 2 lasted only until 1971, with a production of 18,809 units.
The Series 3 Gets a Beast Motor
The Series 3 Jaguar XK-E was introduced in 1971 with a new 5.3L V-12 engine, improved brakes, and more standard equipment (power steering was standard). The most significant alteration was the increase in wheelbase (the more diminutive roadster was dropped as Jaguar offered only the 2 + 2 and convertible for Series Three). The larger vehicle provided more room for the interior cockpit and helped ease what many previous Series 1 and 2 owners had been complaining about for years.
The new V12 engine produced 272 hp and continued to offer a sub-seven second 0 - 60 mph time. The engine had four Zenith carburetors providing the air/fuel mixture, (Zenith had been providing carbs to many foreign carmakers at the time). The engine produced a top speed of 146 mph, which thrilled American buyers who had a love for fast cars.
Unfortunately, the Series 3 did not generate the sales traction that Jaguar hoped for. While over 15k units were produced between 1971 - ‘74, the new XJS was in the pipeline (it looked more like a sedan than a sports car), and the XK-E was discontinued. (An oil embargo in 1973 spelled the death knell for the iconic sports car).
The F-Series Debuts In 2013
The British carmaker had been toying with a Jaguar F-type concept car since 2000, (even introducing the new car to the public) but failed to bring it into production. (Had Ford not interfered with its cost-cutting measures, the world might have had the F-Type much sooner). Unfortunately, when Ford squashed the project, citing the car’s lack of feasibility, any whisper of mass-producing the concept car vanished.
It would be a dozen years before Jaguar would have the courage to bring the F-type into production. The company introduced a convertible variant early on at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, and then a couple surfaced at the 2013 Los Angeles and Tokyo Motor shows. The initial response was swift and overwhelmingly positive, as the F-Type was hailed as the “spiritual successor” of the E-Type sportscars of old.
Initially, the new F-Type featured several different models. The entry level had supercharged 3.0L V6 producing 335 hp and posting a 5.1 second 0 - 60 time. The S convertible was offered both a V6 and V8, but the eight-cylinder (5.0L V8 - also supercharged) produced 488 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque with a top speed of 186 mph and 0 - 60 mph time in 4 seconds flat. At the top of the food chain was the R and SVR (introduced in 2014) with the 5.0L V8 but putting out between 542 - 567 hp and posting a 3.5 second 0 - 60 mph time (top speed of 200 mph).
Jaguar took some styling cues from the XK-E but built the new sports car with a more streamlined look. The dynamic front grille was increased in size, the cockpit moved from the rear toward the center, and the rear roofline tapered down, giving the car a balanced but aggressive style.
Jaguar produced about 15k units until it decided to provide a facelift to the ever popular sports car in 2019 (for the 2021 model year).
The F-Type Rules
The current F-Type has come a long way since the early XK-E, but it bears the soul of all that Jaguar has tried to accomplish in the last sixty-plus years. And while Jaguar only offers the V8 engine (a four-cylinder and V6 were dropped in 2022), the car still has plenty of power under the hood. The supercharged V8 produced 444 hp for the P450 and a whopping 567 hp for the R model. The high-powered V8 engine can post 3.5 second time, still provide plenty of torque to the rear wheels, and set one back in the driver’s seat.
While not as quick as its other high-performance sports cars, the car still provides a comfortable ride if it isn’t pushed too hard. If you want a worthy successor to the E-type, this car is about as close as it gets, but most reviews indicate that there are better choices in the premium sports car market for those who crave more spirited handling. In our minds, the E-Type is still the best car, and we feel it is also the most beautiful car Jaguar ever made).
The F-Type has increased in price since the early sixties, and improved both in safety and convenience features. Priced at over $75,000 for an entry level, the sports car has a host of driver assist features like lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear park assist, and forward collision warning with automated braking.