The E-type is an automotive masterpiece. Of course, Enzo Ferrari famously said that “the Jaguar E-Type is the most beautiful car ever made”. Honest words coming from Mr. Ferrari! Amusing too, at least for my dad and I – we love to joke that he must have turned to his Ferrari peers asking, “Why the hell couldn’t any of you design something as pretty as that?!”
Well, the moment has passed. No car will ever come close, for the E-type cannot be recreated – and I do not want it to. The E-type is the final statement. I might be a little biased though, with my father and late grandfather to ‘blame’. Dad will laugh and say that I have been brain-washed, but I don’t mind – I am a proud petrolhead! I even believe that the E-type is much more than “the most beautiful car ever made”. So much more. The E-type in fact represents a perfect moment in time. Everything coming together. This year, 2021, marks 60 years since that moment…
Manufactured by Jaguar from 1961 to 1975, the Jaguar E-type, or Jaguar XK-E for the North American market, is a British sports car combining beauty and high performance whilst encapsulating the ’60s. Indeed, both Steve McQueen and George Harrison owned an E-type. Yet, despite appearances, the sports car was attainable and affordable at the time. Development of the E-Type began when Sir William Lyons (a.k.a. ‘Mr. Jaguar’) looked to replace the XK sports car. Of course, the intervening years had seen Jaguar dominant on the racetrack, particularly at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the C and D-Type. Not only was the E-Type name decided, but lessons were also learned from these cars that informed the E’s design. Sir William Lyons declared that the E-Type was introduced as the “beauty, speed, and innovation of a sports car”. And she does innovate.
The E-type is, always has been, and will always be, an icon! She is personal too, playing a big and wonderful role in many individual lives. A love for the E-Type purity runs through families. I know this because my family is one of them.
My grandfather Evan Ivory, also my idol, acquired our straight-six 4.2 Jaguar E-Type series 1.5 in 1996. I hope she is in the family forever. Naturally, the series 1.5 feels like the ultimate E-Type and motoring experience. The open-top is simply awesome, with the E-type shape remaining beautiful. Certainly, you can drive flat-out and it feels great, but going fast isn’t even what it’s about. The E-Type can allow her passengers to savour the drive. I have been lucky enough to grow up with this sentiment, constantly learning why driving should be a joy and not a chore. One of my earliest memories of the E is of grandad taking me out in her after school. I experienced pure exhilaration that day. He went ‘around the block’ once, and as we approached the house – where my sister sat eagerly waiting for her turn – the only word I could produce was “again”.
These special moments have continued as well – during the summer, it has become a weekly Sunday ritual to take the E out early in the morning. An ‘early morning sortie’, as Dad and I call it. All I can say is that each Sunday morning, it just feels right. When we get back, we sit and drink coffee on the garden wall just to look at her. As put by Ian Callum, the Jaguar Director of design, “you could own an E-Type, never drive it and still love it.” Need I say anymore here.
So-called ‘non-petrolheads’ will fall in love with her too. Jay Leno once perfectly remarked that the E-Type is capable of attracting both sexes equally. Hence, the E-Type innovates. She is a pioneer with many admirers. Dad and I, for example, both recently enjoyed the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch. This involved different racing series such as the Masters Historic Formula One race, the Masters Historic Sports Cars, and Endurance Legends. Not only did we see some hairy-armed racing, but also a few very attractive and iconic cars — the Ferrari 250 SWB, the Lola T70, a Ferrari 512 Le Mans racer, and a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce (… to name a few!). Some notable motorcars for different reasons. Yet the E-Types going round the circuit still managed to stand out.
Wherever you might be, it seems only natural to gravitate towards an E-Type. This is part of her charm! Indeed, for 60 years now we have relished the E-Type. The pleasure of ownership is special, but the memories and moments created in such a car are even more special. I love this car!
About the Author: Rebecca Ivory is close to completing her Masters in Philosophy of Medicine and Psychiatry at Kings College, London. She has inherited the passion for all things motorsport. Her late grandfather Evan Ivory was the first private owner of the TR2 OVC 276 which had a prestigious competition history. This year, Rebecca and her dad will be taking part in the E-type parade organized by Jaguar Drivers’ Club (JDC) marking the 60th anniversary at Silverstone Classics.