Jaguar E-Type celebrates its 50th anniversary

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 25, 2011

For those who don’t know, 2011 is a very important year for Jaguar as this year marks the one of the most famous model of the British manufacturer: the E-Type. As a result, Jaguar announced that it will celebrate this special anniversary year at high-profile motoring events throughout 2011.

This means that the firm will mark the anniversary at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and go on to celebrate at Goodwood’s Revival and Festival of Speed, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Nurburgring Old Timer Grand Prix and a host of Jaguar customer, dealer and lifestyle events worldwide.

The Jaguar E-Type was launched back in 1061 and set new standards in automotive design and performance. The car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, and caused a sensation due to the fact that it was capable of achieving 150mph, but costing a fraction of the price of rivals with similar performance.

As expected, the E-Type made quite a buzz among celebrities as Jaguar says that some of E-Type owners included celebrities such as George Best, Brigitte Bardot, Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen.

When the Jaguar E-Type made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, this new supercar instantly became an icon. After all, it could run as fast as 150mph but is not as pricey as other supercars boasting a similar performance.

It was such a hit that it remained on sale for 14 years with over 70,000 units sold during the period, making it the first mass-produced sports car in Europe.

When Jaguar presented the E-Type to the global media at the du Parc des Eaux Vives restaurant in Geneva on March 15, 1961, the press also pushed for a demonstration of the vehicle’s capability with a run up a nearby hillclimb.

The media uproar for the new model had been so strong that Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons instructed chief test driver Norman Dewis to drive another model from Coventry to Switzerland. When it first became available to the public, the E-Type was priced at £2,256 -- including purchase tax and optional wire wheels -- equivalent to around £38,000 today.

It was powered by a straight-six engine that gave Jaguar five Le Mans victories in the 1950s. By 1961, this engine – bearing a displacement of 3.8 liters – was capable of delivering 265bhp of output and 260lb ft of torque, which made the car powerful enough to reach 150 mph and make it the fastest production car in the world.

Its body work was credited to Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical engineer by training. Sayer was also responsible for shaping the earlier Le Mans-winning C and D-Type racers. No less than Enzo Ferrari had claimed that the Jaguar E-Type was "the most beautiful car in the world."

Press Release

Jaguar Celebrates 50 Years of Iconic E-type

Jaguar will be celebrating this special anniversary year at high-profile motoring events throughout 2011.

The company will mark the anniversary at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and go on to celebrate at Goodwood's Revival and Festival of Speed, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the Nurburgring Old Timer Grand Prix and a host of Jaguar customer, dealer and lifestyle events worldwide.

When it was launched in 1961, the appeal of E-Type transcended the automotive world. Such is the inherent rightness of its proportions, stance and purity of line, that it is a permanent exhibit in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

The now iconic E-Type set new standards in automotive design and performance when it was launched in 1961. Its influence is still apparent in Jaguar's modern range: cars that offer a peerless blend of performance, comfort, cutting-edge technology and award-winning design.

"Half a century of progress has not diminished the significance of the E-Type," said Mike O'Driscoll, Managing Director Jaguar Cars and Chairman Jaguar Heritage. "It was a sensation when it was launched, and remains Jaguar's most enduring and iconic symbol. The E-Type is simply one of the most exciting cars ever created and a legacy to the genius of Jaguar's founder, Sir William Lyons."

E-Type owners included celebrities such as George Best, Brigitte Bardot, Tony Curtis and Steve McQueen and the sports car became as synonymous with the Swinging Sixties as the Beatles and the mini skirt.

"It is impossible to overstate the impact the E-Type had when it was unveiled in 1961," said Ian Callum, Jaguar Design Director. "Here was a car that encapsulated the spirit of the revolutionary era it came to symbolise. The E-Type is a design that even today continues to inform the work we do in styling the Jaguars of the future."

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1961, Jaguar's E-Type caused a sensation. Capable of achieving 150mph, but costing a fraction of the price of rivals with similar performance, it was the affordable supercar and became an instant icon - remaining on sale for 14 years.

E-Type facts for editors:
• The E-Type was presented to the world's press at the restaurant du Parc des Eaux Vives in Geneva on 15th March 1961. Such was the media excitement and clamour for demonstration runs up a nearby hillclimb that Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons instructed chief test driver Norman Dewis to drive through the night from Coventry to bring another model to Switzerland.
• Even Enzo Ferrari admitted it was "the most beautiful car in the world."
• The E-type's straight-six engine had powered Jaguar to five Le Mans victories in the 1950s and by 1961 in 3.8-litre form produced 265bhp and 260lb ft of torque, making the car a genuine 150mph proposition and, like its XK120 predecessor, the fastest production car in the world.
• At launch the E-Type cost £2,256 15s, including purchase tax and the all-important optional wire wheels, the equivalent today of just £38,000.
• The E-Type's perfectly proportioned bodywork was the work of Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical engineer by training who also applied his aerodynamic expertise in shaping the earlier Le Mans-winning C and D-Type racers.
• The E-type remained in production for 14 years, selling more than 70,000 units, making it Europe's first mass-produced sports car.

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