Jaguar XK-E (E-Type)

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Jaguar XK-E (E-Type)

1961 - 1975
United Kingdom
6 cyl. and V12
3781/4235/5343 cc
265 bhp
4 spd. man 3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
241 km/h
Number Built:
5 star
This car was arguably the most beautiful sportscar of the 1960's with its cool aerodynamics and unashamed showmanship. It was amazingly quick at 241 km/h making it Britain's fastest production car, as well as being a bargain price-wise as it undercut its nearest rival (Aston Martin DB4) by around a third.

Its curvy body was very rigid which made it all the better to handle the wishbone and coil-sprung independent rear suspension. Its ride was limousine like with comfort and vice-like grip, and even with its slender cross-ply tires, it handled superbly. It was powered by a 3.8-liter L6 XK engine which was combined with a somewhat elderly slow-shifting gearbox.

The E-Type was immensely popular with pop stars, racing drivers and royalty adding their names to the ever growing list wanting one. Jaguar were happy - they were selling every car they could make. In 1964 the engine was changed to a bigger 4.2 liter with a much improved gear box and brakes. The interior and electrics were also improved resulting in this model being the pick of them all.

In 1966 a two-plus-two version appeared, as did an automatic as Jaguar tried to increase sales in America. In 1968 came the Series 2 E-Type, a mild makeover of the original designed to ensure the car met the stringent new US Federal safety regulations.

The E-Type line-up remained unchanged, comprising of three models, the 2 seat Roadster, 2 seat Coupe and 2 + 2 Coupe. All continued with the same body, although the 2 + 2 did receive its own minor re-styling touches. Every E-Type that came off the production line was built to US spec, although the lower powered emission controlled engine remained a fitment for US bound cars only. Thankfully all other markets around the world kept the triple-SU 265 bhp engine.

The most obvious styling changes were to the bonnet, US illumination laws requiring the headlamps be moved 4.5 inches forward and be exposed (the aerodynamic lamp covers actually being discarded in 1967). The front air-intake was subtly enlarged by 68%, the importance of getting more cooling air over the radiator due to the high heat rejection emission-controlled engine used for the US market. The front bumper was now full width and included a bar across the previously uncluttered air intake. The side lamps and indicator mouldings were made substantially bigger too, and Jaguar fitted side reflectors in the side wings ahead of the front wheel arch.

Most important though, from a styling perspective, was the treatment afforede the 2 + 2. The E-Type's bodyshell adopted a much more stylishly raked windscreen, the rake angle going up from 46½° to 53 ½°, this being achieved by moving the base of the screen forward while retaining the original crown line. An incidental change was that two large wipers replaced the triple wiper setup, although the latter version remained on the Coupe and Roadster. At the rear changes were confined to the tail lamp clusters, which were now much larger than before. Many believed the new units unattractive in comparison to the Series 1, however these were a necessary change if the E-Type was to comply with the new US regulations.

The interior had some minor revisions too, including standardisation of the rocker switch set up in the central panel being standard to all models. Jaguar also introduced a steering column mounted combined ignition and starter key, which doubled as a column lock when removed. The door handles were recessed and big soft knobs were fitted to the winder handles.

Mechanically the most important change was the addition of Adwest Pow-a-Rak power-assisted rack and pinion steering as an optional extra. The same system was used for the Jaguar XJ6, although there was no change in steering ratio. You could also option your E-Type with chrome plated pressed-steel disc wheels, although the wire-spoked variety that had been standard on the E-Type since 1961 remained unchanged. The steering column now incorporated a Saginaw mesh type collapsible section together with two universal joints. As with the XJ-6 the helix angle on gear teeth had been increased to provide even more silent running, but ratios were not altered.

The final V12 Series 3 cars were smooth and fast but uglier in appearance with its fat arches and cheap chrome grille. By 1975 Jaguar was gearing up to replace the E-Type with the XJS, but despite its demise the design and appeal of the E-Type had earned it a place in the Museum of Modern Art. 'Nough said.

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Also see:

Reflections - Looking Back On The Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar XK-E Series 1 & 2 Technical Specifications
Jaguar E-Type Series 3 Technical Specifications
Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Brochure
Jaguar Heritage
Swallow Sidecars - The William Lyons Story
Jaguar - A Racing Pedigree
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