E-Type Jag and Lady Godiva…

Posted: January 1, 2022 in Compound curvature, Icons & Iconoclasts
Tags: , ,
sebring e type

Sebring 1970, marvellous composition by Bill Warner

To me, iconic images of the 1960s include John F Kennedy, The Beatles, the Vietnam War, the Bikini and in an automotive sense the Mini and E-Type Jag…

This photo at Sebring in 1970 was published in Automobile Year 18. A swag of its elements appealed to me at 13, primarily they are the mutual admiration of compound curvature by both the E’s driver of the young filly, as we say in polite society, and said filly of the Jag.

Enzo Ferrari famously described the E-Type as the ‘most beautiful car ever made’, quite a statement given his own contribution to Automotive Erotica.


Geneva Show 1961 (Getty)

Prototype E1A…

The first concept E1A was developed by the defunct Jaguar Racing department at Browns Lane in 1957. The brief was to use D-Type construction methods to build a road-going sports car to replace the XK150.

E perhaps stood for experimental, more likely it’s the letter after D, it’s not clear. 1 is clear, and A is for aluminium, the material used to construct the chassis.

The prototype used a monocoque chassis and independent rear suspension, unlike the XKD’s live axle, and a 2.4-litre variant of the XK engine. The car was running by 1958 and did thousands of miles on the road, test and race tracks. It was ultimately scrapped, few pictures exist, one of which is below.


Prototype E2A…


E2A used a steel chassis, aluminium body and 3-litre, alloy-block, Lucas fuel injected 293bhp XK engine. It competed at Le Mans in 1960 driven by Dan Gurney and Walt Hansgen, but failed with head-gasket problems during the tenth hour of the race.

While similar in looks to its predecessor the car was conceived as a racer, many within Jaguar hoped the marque would return to Le Mans. The car had the 96 inch wheelbase of the forthcoming road car, it was set aside as a test hack at the factory before Briggs Cunningham was asked to race it. The car was competitive too, finishing lap one in third position, but a broken fuel-line caused the first of many stops.

The car was then raced in the US by Cunningham’s team fitted with a 3.8-litre, Weber-carbed engine. But the mid-engine revolution was underway so the car was put to one side. It was ultimately sold and still exists, as a critical part of  Jaguar’s history.

le mans

Gurney/Hansgen Jag E2A, Le Mans 1960, the car showing the signs of the engine maladies which caused its retirement in the tenth hour (Bonhams)


Vic Berris’ cutaway drawing of E2A

The Production E Type Jaguar…

The story is well known, the Series1, as it was retrospectively called was launched in March 1961 to export markets, going on sale in the UK in July 1961.

The car featured a steel monocoque chassis with subframes to carry the 3.8-litre DOHC, triple SU carbed XK engine carried over from the XK150S. Independent front suspension utilised upper and lower wishbones with torsion bars, the independent rear used coil springs. Girling disc brakes were fitted all round. The early, manual Moss gearbox had no synchro on first, later models had a gearbox with synchromesh on all ratios. The car was fitted in standard form with steel wheels, in Australia as for all export markets, wires were fitted, completing a quite stunning performance, visual and drivers package, Fixed or Drophead.

E Type in the Alps

4.2 FHC with the Alps as a backdrop. (Ami Guichard)

The 4.2-litre engine was introduced in October 1964 and developed the same power as the 3.8, 265BHP, but more torque – 283 rather than 240lbs ft.

The performance for the day was outstanding, on a bang-for-buck basis it was unrivalled. Autocar magazine tested a 4.2 FHC Coupe in May 1965 achieving a top speed of 153mph, a 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds and a standing quarter mile of 15.1 seconds, it was the fastest road car they had tested to that point.

The 2+2 FHC was launched in 1966, and with it an automatic gearbox. Series 1 production totalled 38,419, series 2 18,809, and Series 3 15,287.

The Series 3, built from 1971 to 1975, featured a 5.3-litre, SOHC, Lucas fuel injected V12 engine, albeit the car was much softer than before, both FHC and DHC were available but both were built on the longer 2+2 wheelbase.

The cars were the transport choice for movie stars, pop-stars and the great-and-the-good for a decade. But they were also a car the average-joe on a reasonable income and using consumer credit, which grew exponentially in the 1960’s could afford.


George Harrison and his E Type 1964. A great car and motor racing enthusiast! (Unattributed)  

E-Type Lightweight…


(Bruce Wells Collection)

Bob Jane’s E Type Lightweight, Warwick Farm, Sydney circa 1966. Jaguar’s experimental departments last cars were 12 lightweights built in 1963, eight more were built in recent times.

Jane’s car, #S850667, won the Australian GT Championship in 1963. A multitude of modifications made these might quick cars; aluminium body, close-ratio four-speed gearbox, Thornton Tork-Lok slippery diff and 3781cc engines developing 293bhp using the wide-angled head, fed by Lucas fuel injection.


Le Mans 1964. Linder/Nocker Lwt, DNF head gasket after 149 laps (Klemantaski)


assembly line

jag coupe cutaway


Series 1.5 interior… (unattributed)


This Monza Automotive Ltd shot of an FHC being restored shows the XK engine, front subframe supporting it, wishbone front suspension, front discs, steering rack, and steel monocoque chassis…


Photo Credits…

Barnes & Lipman, Bruce Wells Collection, Vic Berris cutaway drawing of E2A, Motor cutaway drawing of E Type, Ami Guichard, Automobile Year

Tailpiece: Literally!…



  1. David E M Thompson says:

    The initial magazine road tests of the E-type all reported a 150 mph top speed. The cars delivered retail pooped out at 130. Any subsequent Jaguar performance claims were worth the proverbial bucket of spit. Or less.

  2. DavidE M Thompson says:

    At my current 74 years, the Geneva Show 1961 shot of the original E-type looks much sweeter than the swinish rear end shots from Sebring 1970 or the bovine shot at the end.

  3. Terry Sullivan says:

    Yes even Bob Jane’s lightweight full competition E Type could only manage 148mph down Con Rod Straight

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s