Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy 50th Birthday- Jaguar XK-E


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.
Toad

4 comments:

Divine Theatre said...

3 guys died and were met by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. St. Peter said, "OK you guys all your sins are forgiven but before I let you in, I have to ask you a couple of questions. Your answers will depend on the kind of car you get. You have to have a car in Heaven because Heaven has zillions of miles of highway!
Peter asks the first guy,"How long were you married ?" First guy replies, 24 years.
Peter asks, "Did you ever cheat on your wife ?". The Guy replied, 'Yeah , 7 times........ but you said I was forgiven. Peter said, "Yeah, but that's not too good. Here's a beat-up old Pinto for you to drive.
The second Guy walks up and gets the same question from St. Peter. The second guy said, 'I was married for 41 years and cheated on her once, but that was our first year and we really worked it out. "Thats very good" Peter said. You get a Lincoln.
The third Guy walked up and said, Peter , I know what you're going to ask. I was married for 63 years and didn't even look at another woman ! I treated my wife like a queen ! "Peter said, That's what I like to hear. For you a a brand new Jaguar ! "
A little while later, the 2 Guys with the Lincoln and the Pinto see the guy with the Jaguar crying on the golden sidewalk so they went to see what was the matter. When they asked the guy with the Jaguar what was wrong, he said, 'I just saw my wife, she was on a skateboard !"

ADG said...

My bedtime reading of late is McQueen's Machines...you gotta get a copy of it. I was also reading about Jaguar Racing in the mid 1950's. They were kicking a_s.

The Down East Dilettante said...

*swoon*. I still remember the first time I saw a photo of the XKE, back those fifty years ago. Love at first sight. Eight years old, I must have owned at least five model representations of same.

And I too wish I still looked as good...

Kathy said...

I knew a fellow years ago who had an E-type he had named Pandora. Having driven my share of Triumphs, I completely understood the reference.