01 September 2011
As the legendary Jaguar E-Type celebrates its 50th anniversary, Chris Clifford charts the history of this magnificent vehicle and explores a few collectable model replica options. ...
Few cars have managed to capture the spirit of the times like Jaguar’s E-Type. An automotive icon, it ingrained itself into social culture and its desirable curves still delight and excite today. Evolved from racing stock, the E-Type became the favourite of die-hard car fans and celebrities alike and, after its sensational launch in 1961, motoring journalists gushed with praise. The Daily Mail branded it ‘the most wanted car in the world – it will be a winner everywhere’. And, it was!
Publicity at the time trumpeted that the first order for an E-Type came from the husband of Brigitte Bardot, Jacques Charrier. If a man ever knew a thing or two about curves, on women or cars, it was he!
A fine pedigree
In 1948, Jaguar’s XK120 caused a huge stir in the motoring world. At its heart was a new six-cylinder XK engine, cloaked in aluminium bodywork. The car was so popular, it changed the way Jaguar operated and mass production beckoned; it did shed the aluminium though, in favour of steel bodywork.
Much of its design was so successful that the XK120 paved the way for the C and D-Type Jaguars which became the darlings of the racing world. That most famous and gruelling of races, Le Mans, became dominated by Jaguar, which recorded wins in 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1957.
Developments made through these cars also found their way into Jaguar’s later models, including the E-Type itself in that it also relied on the redoubtable XK engine. Other prototypes edged Jaguar ever-closer to its 1961 launch vehicle, but not before engine capacity was uprated to 3.8 litres and the production Series 1 E-Type assumed its true form...
The spirit lives on
To mark the E-Type’s 50th anniversary, a celebratory extravaganza is set for the Sandown Park Toy Collectors’ Fair, on Saturday 3rd September. Several real E-Types will be on display, including the Lindner Nocker (the only factory low-drag, lightweight version ever built), along with the first and last E-Types ever built. Jaguar’s chief test driver from the 1960s, Norman Dewis, will also be present, and a Concours d’Elegance is sure to attract some of the best E-Types still running. More than 500 stalls will also be packed with all manner of models, Jaguars included, so make sure you don’t miss it!
The Toy Jaguar Book by Michael Driver will also be launched at Sandown Park Toy Fair on 3rd September. It explores the world of Jaguar cars through the many toys and models produced including the E-Type, XK120, XJ6 and many others. In essence, a homage in miniature to all the real cars produced by Jaguar over the years. A Lindholm Forres book, more details can be obtained from Tel: 0207 243 2149.