The E-type turns 50

The London Design Museum is putting on a special display to celebrate 50 years of the Jaguar E-type from its launch at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961. In the late 1960’s as an apprentice in England, the E-type represented the stuff of our dreams. But back then when my weekly wage as an engineering apprentice was £3- 10s per week, the £2,000 price tag was as unattainable as a date with Sophia Loren!

In the 1970’s when I could aspire to more,  I actually considered the Triumph GT6 – also known as the “poor-man’s E-type” – but instead I settled for a much more sedate Renault -12. And by the time I could consider its price tag the E-type was no longer in production and my tastes had a decided preference for the comfort of a Mercedes.

The Design Museum celebrates 50 years of the iconic Jaguar E-Type with a display in the Design Museum Tank.

Jaguar E-Type series 1, 1961

Originally launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, the E-Type’s caused an instant sensation. With a 3.8 litre XK engine, a top speed of 150 miles per hour and a price of £2000, the E-Type was an accessible dream and signalled the new era of modernity of the 1960s. Between 1961 and 1974 over 70,000 E-Types were produced.

The bullet-like design of the E-Type was the result of the mathematical and engineering talent of Malcolm Sayer and the E-type was the first large-scale production road car to be developed from the study of aerodynamics. The founder of Jaguar, Sir William Lyons combined his flare for style and luxury with his business and marketing skills to ensure the E-Type became the car of celebrities from George Harrison of the Beatles to footballer George Best

The E-Type on display was manufactured in 1961 and has been provided by Classic Motors Cars Limited.

On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”.


Jaguar e-Type series one: image Wikipedia

The E-type was 4.4 m long with a 3.8 litre engine while the GT6 had a length of 3.7 m and a 2 litre engine. Technically and in looks the Triumph GT6 never came close to the E-type, but it looked fast. On the few occasions when I drove a friend’s GT6, my main memory is that it had a decided “tail-wag” when cornering.

1973 Triumph GT6: image Wikipedia

Bot nowadays my tastes are much more sedate and the Jaguar E-type remains the dream it always was. So I shall make do with my Mercedes E-class.

Mercedes E-class 2010: image via Flickr



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