1961 was an optimistic year in the UK. The last of the war ration restrictions were lifted, automakers were once again busy, the swinging sixties would usher in the golden age of the British motorcar. At the Geneva Auto Show in March, 1961 Jaguar introduced the XK-E type, which immediately won "Best car of the show" honors.
Derived from the Le Mans winning D Type
The Jaguar E Type was the best of cars, it was the worst of cars.
The good parts. The E type roadster is stunningly beautiful. Nothing looked like it, its 3.8 litre 6 cylinder OHC engine was a reliable work horse which sounded great, top speed was advertised at 150 MPH. The interior was comfortable and well laid out.
Just enough useful storage was on hand to make it semi-practical, and at 1500 GBP ($7000 US) a good value for such a stunning car.
The Bad parts: The car was built for export, in a hurry. Jaguar relied on their customers to work the kinks out, and to tell the factory what worked and didn't, although they were too busy building cars to pay much attention. Like most pre-Ford Jags reliability was never taken seriously. Dealer support near non existent. Owners reported the sound of rust eating their car kept them up nights, disturbing their slumbers.
Automobile aerodynamics was an unheard of field in 1961. Clever engineers would test designs using skills they learned on aircraft during the war, but no one took it very seriously. It's a shame, for the E type Jag for all its flowing lines is a brick.
Long ago, I had dinner with former Managing Director, Lofty England, and asked him why they built such crap. His honest reply was that they were afraid to slow down. He then asked me why Americans were so interested in such old cars. I've had 2 Jags but never had an E. It's a car I would like to have in the garage, if only to remind me of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, or the 72 NHL Champion Boston Bruin line, Bob (Orr) and Carol (Vadnais) and Ted (Green) and Dallas (Smith) but have no desire to own.
Should you be interested, every single part, of every E type, and all post war Jags is available for sale, at mostly not unreasonable prices. But you knew that.
Happy 50th. I wish I looked as good.